cup of coffee 

When next you walk into your favorite coffee spot and see a table of old men deep in discussion, pause for a moment and realize, there but for the grace of God go you. My old friend Thad Kelly passed away earlier this week, and I drove to Jackson, Mississippi for the memorial service.

On Thursday morning I met three of my oldest friends for coffee at the Hilton Hotel. The first to arrive was Pat McNease. I met Pat when I went to the gym at Murrah High School to sign up for the football team. It was my first day in Jackson. Pat played quarterback and was a team captain. We have been friends ever since.

Next to arrive was Tommy Carpenter, whom I met when I was in the fifth grade and I had just moved to Cleveland, Mississippi from the Panama Canal Zone. Tommy is a year younger than I, and he and his family moved to Jackson two years before I did. The last of our group, Red Moffat, came a little later, limping on a cane as a result of recent knee surgery.

When everyone was present, I started the conversation by asking McNease how it felt to be living his lifelong dream of watching Ole Miss march toward a perfect season. He summed it up in a word—terrified. No matter how well the Rebels are playing, he keeps waiting for the other shoe to fall. He went to the Alabama game in Tuscaloosa, and planned to go to Gainesville for the Florida game. He said that he might be terrified, but he was gonna be there, just in case.

Carpenter and I are MSU graduates, and we bleed maroon and white. The kindest thing said about our dogs was, “What in the hell is wrong with Auburn?” Like Rodney Dangerfield, we just don’t get any respect. One of the few positive things about being picked to finish last in the SEC West, is that anything you do on the win side is more that was expected.

Moffat is not an avid football fan. He’d rather be playing bridge, so he suffered though the football conversation. Once we finished with the pigskin talk, we moved on to the political landscape. Carpenter opened by allowing that while Donald Trump was an arrogant ass with a bad comb-over, he was saying some things that were resonating with a lot of people. McNease, who is just to the left of Che Guevara, replied that Trump only resonated with the right wing nutsos, like the Tea Party.

Pat and I share the opinion that the vast majority of Americans are young and basically happy campers, and do not share the gloom and doom scenarios of the right. After a spirited exchange, we all agreed that it was unlikely that any of us would live to see any of these problems solved, and that our main interest was seeing Social Security and Medicare left alone. Moffat muttered something like, “I’ll double that thought.”

With football and politics resolved, we touched briefly on the current hospital list. With the exception of Thad’s demise, all of our other friends were still on the green side of the grass. Carpenter reported that Kiley Thames had been admitted to the hospital, and that he planned to visit him after coffee. We all wished Grails a quick recovery. The subject of DNR came up, and we all agreed that we were in favor of it, and all had signed the necessary paperwork, but really preferred euthanasia.

On that happy note, it was time for Moffat to go to physical therapy, Carpenter to the hospital, McNease needed to plan his trip to Gainesville, and I headed to Canton to Thad’s funeral. As everyone said goodbye, I think we were all aware that these coffee meetings were becoming “iffier and iffier.” We’re all getting a little long in the tooth.

So the next time you see a table of old men arguing about football or politics, smile to yourself and be thankful that you haven’t reached that stage in life—yet!

Categories: Uncategorized

7 replies »

  1. Thanks, Tom.

    Good to read something in addition to football.


    Bill Howard Nellysford VA

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. I beg to differ a bit re: the old men at the coffee table. I HAVE reached that point in my life and can tell you these guys are the best of the best of friends. Sure we argue football and politics as well as braggadocio on our stock market genius and the women we knew when it made a difference. We share not only stories but joy and sadness supporting one another in each instance. We and our wives go to plays together, restaurants and on day trips around the state. We are no longer young chronologically but are in all ways that count toward a life of fulfillment. I am 76, old classmate Tommy and take each day as it comes. You can do worse than arguing football and politics in a coffee shop and if somehow we could change today’s world, it might not be altogether a bad idea. It’s always good to read your thoughts And if you come by this way anytime drop by Cups in Brandon and have one on us. Bill Harvey

  3. Lawrence- Read your nostalgia with great interest. Having known Thad and Tommy, this was especially gratifying. Our old buddy T. West turned 77 today and he’s still kicking, and so are we! Enjoy your blogs – keep it up.

  4. Hey Tom,I hope you’re doing well. Would you be interested in coming to Book Mart & Cafe’ for our Downtown Christmas OpenHouse on November 15th 12-3?  That date is on a Sunday and I know we’ll have lots of foot traffic as folks will bebuying Christmas presents.  I decided to not have anymore book signings during the State games as customers are moreinterested in buying tshirts/tailgate merchandise. Please check your schedule and let me know if you’re interested.Thanks Tom! Carolyn

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