Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Friar Tuck's Friend

Friar Tuck’s Friend, ©2010 by Ken West, all rights reserved

After a busy day at the bookstore on Washington Street in Boston, we’d go around the corner to Friar Tuck’s, a tavern on Province Place. It was crowded after five with everyone from the surrounding jeweler’s buildings and retail shops. The juke box was always going. The horseshoe bar buzzed with conversations about work, sports, sex, politics, and gambling.

We’d go over as a group of three or four, all minimum wage booksellers ready to drink beer and complain about our jobs. One night I found myself sitting next to some guy who worked in the Jeweler’s building. I had seen him before. He always had on a dark suit and tie, but didn’t look like a big-shot. He looked more like a mid-level kind of guy.

We struck up a casual conversation about the Boston Red Sox, but eventually moved on to the state of the economy and the world. We seemed to be in sync on many things. The beer helped. Meanwhile my fellow booksellers had drifted into other corners of the bar.

Friar Tuck’s was a place with many waves of patrons coming in throughout the day and night. The after-work crowd would be thinning out in a while. New patrons would be drifting in. I was still talking with the guy. He was married and had two kids. Lived out in the suburbs somewhere. He told me about his rich mother who lived in Connecticut. They didn’t get along very well.

Somewhere we crossed an invisible line in our conversation. We seemed to be verging on a potential friendship. Perhaps the beer was exerting its influence. Suddenly he began talking about what would happen next when we became friends.

He mentioned all manner of things, from inviting me and my wife over to his home, seeing each other after work, introducing me to his mother who visited now and then, talking on the telephone, going on trips together, chartering a fishing boat, going to football games… and his mental checklist went on and on and on. He was starting to scare me.

Friar Tuck’s bar crowd was thinning out. The next wave of drinkers hadn’t arrived yet. It was time for me to go home. My new “friend” was going to stay a bit longer, perhaps to contemplate the numerous things that must be done to transition to a full-blossoming friendship.

I avoided going into Friar Tuck’s for about three weeks. When I finally resumed going there after work, I was careful to avoid the part of the bar where the guy usually sat. I didn’t see him on my first week back. About a week later I saw him sitting in the same seat, thankfully conversing with someone else.

We never talked again.

Ken West, a former U.S. Army paratrooper, is president of Better Grip Media LLC and author of Get What You Want! Workbook… available worldwide on and other online booksellers. In the U.S. at

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