Sunday evening on Telegraph Avenue

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I’m sitting at the window seat at Pappy’s drinking a pint and watching the Telegraph street vendors pack up and feeling nostalgic. When this guy comes in the front door. He’s bundled up from the cold with a hat pulled down to his eyes and scarfs wrapped around his chin and a big, bulky jacket. He sees me sitting there and shouts:

“ACE! ACE! HOW YOU BEEN?”

“I’m doing alright,” I said. “How are you doing?”

“I’M FINE. I’M FINE! MAN I HAVENT SEEN YOU IN A LONG TIME!”

“That’s life,” I said.

“SO HOW YOU BEEN DOIN’?”

“I’m still alive,” I said.

“ANY DAY YOU’RE STILL ALIVE IS A GOOD DAY! BECAUSE WHEN YOU’RE 6 FEET UNDER THATS A GRIM DAY!”

“That’s for sure,” I agreed with him.

“MAN I HAVENT BEEN IN THIS PLACE IN AGES. I BOUGHT A LITTLE HOUSE IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA. JUST ON THE BORDER OF OREGON BUT STILL IN CALIFORNIA. USUALLY THE FARTHEST SOUTH I GET IS SANTA ROSA. BUT I THOUGHT I’D COME TO BERKELEY FOR THE CHRISTMAS STREET FAIR.”

“You can’t beat the Telegraph Christmas Street Fair.”

“TOMORROW I MIGHT GO TO SANTA CRUZ FOR THE CANNABIS CUP FESTIVAL. THEY’LL BE GIVEN OUT ALL KINDS OF FREE WEED. I COULD REALLY LOAD UP!”

“Can’t beat that.”

“SO HOWS YOUR HEALTH HOLDING UP, ACE?”

“I’m healthier than I have a right to be.”

“I JUST TURNED 59. HOW OLD ARE YOU, ACE?”

“I’m 61. Respect your elders.”

“WE’RE OF THE SAME GENERATION, ACE. BONANZA AND THE RIFLEMAN AND ALL OF THAT. HEY! IS IT OK IF I LEAVE ALL MY STUFF HERE BY YOU? I WANT TO ORDER SOME FOOD.”

“I guess it’s OK.”

He goes up to the counter to order his dinner

I’m embarrassed to admit I have no idea who he is.

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