As I was leaving work I was asking myself, “WHY am I going to a happy hour with Mark’s coworkers?”
I hardly ever make it to happy hour with my own coworkers. But Mark has worked with Larry since he first started his job, right around the time we began dating. Larry suffered a severe burn while on the job in those early days and that’s when I got to know him and his wife, Jeannie. Larry was in the hospital burn unit with all these bandages on his leg. It was kind of scary, but he came through it alright and went back to work for many more years.
I remember dancing with Larry at my wedding. His leg was still all wrapped up. I remember him making a remark about not having to let someone else dance with me because he was special with all those bandages on his leg.
Now Larry is retiring. It doesn’t seem like that many years could have passed, but we’re all getting old now. Larry sent me an email on Monday, saying, (and I quote,)” HEY TERRI WED 20TH AFTER WORK COME ON DOWN TO THE POINT FOR A BEER MARK IS BUY N”
I thought about whether or not I wanted to go to a hole-in-the-wall bar after work on Wednesday to drink with Mark’s coworkers. And then I remembered, it’s Larry. He’s kinda special. So I responded, “Sounds fun! See you then!”
Larry replied, “SWEET”
(Punctuation is not a requirement in Larry’s world. Nor are lowercase letters.)
So I left work this afternoon and the whole while I was driving to The Point, I was thinking how much I’d rather just go home and see my dogs and kick back in the recliner and watch The United States of Tara on Netflix. (Darn my daughter for getting me hooked on these t.v. shows!) But as I arrived, there was Mark, waiting for me outside the entrance of The Point and thanking me for coming and telling me how important it was to Larry. And then we walked in and there was Larry and he was wrapping me up in a huge Larry bear hug and telling me how happy he was that I had come to help him celebrate his retirement. And soon someone was putting a beer in my hand and Mark was walking me around, introducing and reintroducing me to his coworkers whom I may or may not have met over the twenty-five plus years he has worked for his company. Seemed like everyone was named Bob or Dave and I couldn’t keep all the Bobs and Daves straight. Many of them hugged me and told me how good it was too see me. I remembered Jolene from Larry’s daughter’s wedding and reception a few years ago. I remembered how much fun (too much!) that Jolene and I had had that night.
I finally got to meet Sumitra. Mark has often talked about Sumitra and how much he likes her. The woman had me in hysterics, telling a tale about some acquaintance who had undergone plastic surgery and imitating this person’s facial expressions … or lack thereof. I’m not kidding. I nearly peed my pants. And it was all over for me when she began to imitate Jolene’s various southern accents. Which one Jolene uses is apparently dependent on who she is speaking to and which part of the South they are calling from. I quickly forgave Mark for having a workplace crush on Sumitra.
Soon I was catching up with the other guys’ wives and we were all asking each other why we don’t get together more often. Larry was never without at least two beers in his hands and he was busy hugging all of his guests over and over again. I had all but forgotten my earlier complaints to myself about attending this shindig, I was having so much fun. But soon it was time to eat some dinner and the crowd began to disband. Larry was going to need a designated driver. Thankfully Jeannie was there to drive him home. Jolene was hugging me and kissing my cheek and insisting we do this more often. I promised her we would definitely do this again soon… at Larry’s surprise birthday/retirement party in a few weeks. (Shhhh! Don’t tell Larry!)
Good people these are that Mark works with. I had a good time. I’m glad I went after all. It was definitely a happy hour.