hobart logo
Waiting on a Friend photo

Album: Tattoo You
Artist: The Rolling Stones
Released: August 24, 1981
Label: Rolling Stones
Length: 44:23

At 66, all Jimmy wants in life is to be beat on the golf course by a woman he loves. He says this often, almost every night he works second shift at the last cash bar on this capital city street.

When it is slow, he throws games of pool to keep me around. At all projectile games, Jimmy is a shark. His perfect game bowling pins litter the top of the craft beer refrigerator.

Sometimes, he gives me tips. Most of the time, it is this: “Take your time.”

There is a jukebox by the bathroom that only takes quarters. Beer is $2.25 a glass: there are always quarters enough. Still, my mother gives me rolls for Christmas. She says they are for laundry, and for pool. I offer them all to the jukebox.

The CD’s inside have lived there since Clinton. Jimmy has been here since Reagan.

Sometimes, I ask Jimmy what songs he wants to hear. Most of the time, it is this: “Waiting on a Friend.”

Several “last” tour posters of the Rolling Stones are framed and hang above the pool table.

Jimmy says he always got in trouble in school for doing Louis Armstrong impersonations when the music teacher would leave the room, singing and swinging his cornette up and down the classroom.

Tonight, holding up his pool cue like a cornette, he waves it right along with the coda of “Waiting on a Friend.”

Never mind that it’s a saxophone on the record. Never mind that I’m the only one ever to see it.

“I'm just standing in a doorway/I'm just trying to make some sense,” Mick Jagger sings at some point.

Every time we play, I fall short of winning, always at my own hand, like scratching on the 8 ball or leaving Jimmy too much space.

I am learning, though. I’m taking my time, trusting my eye and tracing a line across the felt, avoiding the dead bumper closest to the bar.

Before I leave, I line up some quarters for Jimmy to play the song again if he wants. I try never to stay until the cold, quiet light of closing time.

Jimmy’s orders.


Drink: Michelob Amber Bock in short glasses


image: Allison Lyons