It was years ago that I started going to this little bar named The Corner Pub (CP). It was in a different location as it is now. It was down in this line of shops that now has a pizza joint on one end, a wonderful Lebanese restaurant on the other (ironically, in the same location as CP was) and a beer growler in the middle.
That CP location was a lot warmer in my vague memory. It was my favorite bar then. I had dinner there almost one night a week – usually, on Monday nights when they had ½ off on their entrees. I usually got the jerk pork chop, grilled sweet potatoes and red beans and rice. (They since took that entree off their menu much to us old timers chagrin).
This was back in the day I was friends with Meagan and Alana and the three of us met out for dinner quite a bit. This was probably the Beverly days. (ex gf.) One night I stole a pint glass that I really wanted (I still have it, too) much to the horror of Meagan and Alana. I think that was the last time I went to the old place because shortly after that it burned down. The dry cleaner next door had a bad fire and it spread to CP.
I was heartbroken. I had to find somewhere else to drink and eat. Then, I moved into a relationship with weird monkey woman (wmw). By this time CP had finally received an insurance settlement and was rebuilding up the street. I was thrilled! When they were in the final stages I would drive by in hopes of seeing a grand opening sign. (This was before FaceBook or I’m sure I would have “liked” it). Finally, it opened and wmw and I went there quite a bit for dinner and drinks. I think it was later I met the parents of the owner – Bob & Nina. So, every time after that when I went in there I would always say hi to them. Bob looks like a skinny Santa Claus with a long grey and white beard. He’s always coming by and giving me a hug and kiss on the cheek and saying, “Hi, honey you doing ok?”
Normally, I don’t appreciate being touched by old men let alone hugged and kissed but it was different with him. He reminded me of my grandfather (although, I would never tell him that – I don’t want him to feel like he’s an old man). I brought gf’s after wmw in there and some would find it weird that we greeted like that. They would wrinkle their noses and say, “Who’s that?” and I would explain and Hippy Dippy (sans Hannah) refused to go in there with me saying that some of her artwork burned in the old place and she never got compensated. I knew then we weren’t going anywhere (along with her being a stoner, a hippy and a little too much hair for my liking not to mention just plain annoying). I would stop in on my way home from work to grab a beer. Sometimes I texted Opie (who always hangs out there) and we’d meet up there for a drink. When I first took Charlie there she took to the parents and bar right away.
I would always go outside and hug Nina who was always holding court around a large table filled with people. I could never get a chair at that table because it was always full but I was ok with this because I always liked just sitting at the bar that wrapped around almost the entire interior and was polished wood that would hold your body temperature in the winter and keep you warm. (Unlike the stone and metal bars that you cringe putting your arms on in the winter) A good bar has to soak in the body heat and hold you there – keep you warm and cozy in the winter and cool in the summer.
My sister being the food snob she is loved the food there despite it being a bar. She took to Bob and Nina as well. The last time she was here we walked by their house at the lake and popped in and said hi. Nina showed my sister her garden and they talked for a good thirty minutes about plants and flowers. Nina was always transplanting some shrub or flower from somewhere or looking for conifers which were her passion.
It was the week I was on furlough, Opie was visiting and told me that there was a rumor out that Nina had cancer and that it was advanced and untreatable. It was going around the bar but everyone who knew anything acted hush about it. No one had seen Bob or Nina for weeks. There was talk that she was having trouble walking. The Friday before last when I was on furlough I was walking the dogs around the lake keeping an eye on Bob’s truck parked out in front of their house. I was wondering if they were going down to CP and if so I was going to run up there and give Nina the cookies I’d baked that day and a bird feeder that Charlie had made her months ago and hadn’t had a chance to give it to her.
Opie called and said she was heading there. I said that I was looking at Bob’s truck at that moment and that I didn’t think they were going that night. She said ok that if I wanted to run up there to let her know. Later, Charlie was home and we were sitting in our usual spots in the carport having beers when Opie called and said they’d just gotten to CP. She was in the bathroom crying. I asked her what was wrong and she said that Nina just looked so bad.
“Go to the bar and order a Jameson and we’ll be right there.”
Charlie and I downed the rest of our beers, grabbed the feeder and the cookies and hopped in the truck only to be stopped by the neighborhood police officer at the end of the road. He was working the high school football game and as we were pulling out he asked if we lived there and we very friendly said Yes, and pointed to our house. Somehow he ended up with his arms draped over the window of the truck, one foot on the foot rail talking about motorcycles. (I do have a way of emitting the motorcycle aura) Not wanting to be rude but thinking at that same time, “Is he being nice or is he going to slap a breathalyzer on us and how pathetic that would be?”
Finally, Charlie’s phone rang and I said, “Sorry that must be our friends looking for us. It was nice meeting you blah, blah, blah….” and finally got out of there. I was relieved they were still there by the time we got there. We pulled up a stool at Nina’s table after hugs and sat down. I spied Opie across the bar, recovered with a smile on her face. Bob came over and we hugged. There was no mention of anything except Nina saying she hated the cane she had in her hand. We gave her the feeder and cookies and moved over to the bar and spoke with Opie. We had a few drinks and then went home to grill out. We’d had chicken marinating that whole time.
“I’m glad we went up there.”
“Me too, it was good seeing them.”
-and, that was the last we saw Nina because Opie called yesterday and said she had passed. I couldn’t believe so soon. That place (and life) is not going to be the same without her. This adds to my ghost list. Yeah, after Laura died every time I go to the Brick store I see her. I’m sure I will see Nina around at CP, too.