WHEN I get to the bar Wednesday night, it was just staring to spit outside, but since it had rained earlier, I know the weather wasn’t serious about doing so again. I go over to the bartender and before I can get my order out, I hear Rhodie’s voice ring out like a gunshot.
“Special! Get ‘im a Special”.
For those who don’t know (like I didn’t until 2009), “The Special” is a shot of whiskey and a bottle of PBR. I was going to order some whiskey, but not the Wild Turkey. I’m also not a big fan of PBR, and the old bastard knows this. (But you keep ordering it for me anyway, don’t you? Just to break my balls.) So he’s looking at me kind of strange, then he gets up and comes over to me. He takes hold of my upper arms and pulls me in for a hug. (Thing is, I’m a lot bigger than he is, so really he sort of pulled himself in for the hug.)
It wasn’t the first time Rhodie has hugged me and I’m hoping it won’t be the last, but it’s not a frequent occurrence. So of course I asked him, what brought it on. We sit down and he tells me that it’s because of my last article.
“That article you wrote…thing of beauty. You went right at the Eagles brass like you didn’t care if they came after you, or if fans did either. With all these Four Things things and the gambling tips you been givin’, it’s been forever since you wrote like that. I was glad to see you hadn’t lost it.”
For the record, the NEXT articles aren’t gambling tips. I cannot stress that enough. They’re just how I see the Eagles games. Still I wanted to know what he meant by “lost it”.
“It just seemed like you got comfortable with your routine. You used to take chances and go out on limbs. You used to write something everyday. Some days you wrote two things! It just seemed like you’d lost your edge. Chip Kelly made you angry and it brought out your passion. It seemed like Kelly took part of your passion with him when he left.”
I was stunned. Rhodie was essentially giving me the speech that Micky gave Rocky, in ‘Rocky 3’, when he told Rocky that the worst thing that could happen to a fighter had happened to him: “You got civilized.” Rhodie was telling me that he thought I’d gotten civilized. That I’d gone soft to a least a small degree. I can argue that I still have my edge, but better than telling is showing. Which means I have some work ahead of me.
But in that moment, in that bar, at that table, Rhodie was proud of me. I’d shown there was some fight still left in me. Shown that the fire still burns in my belly. I’d shown once again, that I’m ready to take on the world, armed with nothing but truth and the courage to stand behind it.
This is who I always was. It’s who I am. It’s who I will always be. I have not gone soft. I have not become civilized. My edge remains as sharp as ever. Wind in my face. Truth as my weapon. Me versus the world. Any time. Any place.
I order a whiskey. It is NOT Wild Turkey.