FORTY-TWO YEARS AGO, I was sitting in Vispi’s Lounge in Edwardsville, Pennsylvania. I was sipping a Johnny Walker Black neat waiting for my girlfriend to get off of work. It was slow and quiet, with only a few others in the bar—mostly guys having a couple of drinks before heading home. Not unusual in most bars in the middle of the day.
Rita Coolidge’s lobotomized version of “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher” was playing on the jukebox: “Now once, I was downhearted—disappointment was my closest friend.”
Gidget, the bartender, was hanging on my side of the circular bar, chatting about this, that, and the other thing with me.
The phone rang.
Gidget walked to the other side of the bar.
I lifted my glass to sip my whiskey when she spun around and looked at me.
My first thought was, “Oh God, mommy or daddy must have died.”
Gidget hung up the phone.
She turned off the jukebox.
Everyone watched her.
She grabbed the bottle of JWB and filled my glass.
Now everyone looked at me.
I gulped a rock glass full of whiskey down.
I sat and looked at the bartender as if she was the Grim Reaper.
Gidget took my hand and shook her head.
“Elvis is dead.”
She filled my glass again . . .