Every Wednesday night (with a few exceptions here or there when the homework load is simply too great), Connor and I go to "Dipco" (Lancaster Dispensing Company) for wing night. For those of you who don't know, Dipco is a charming Victorian pub right in the heart of downtown Lancaster. It's a favorite spot of ours. Over a couple beers (my latest favorite is a honey raspberry ale... delish!) and a dozen of their delicious wings, we'll discuss the things you would typically talk about on a Wednesday night. We talk about our classes that week, our homework load, our hopeful plans for the weekend... you know, normal stuff. Connor and I also talk about something else that perplexes us every time we're there.
There's an old man who goes to wing night all by himself every week. He's often dressed in light colored blue jeans with a neatly ironed red or blue plaid shirt tucked in to his pants and a tweed jacket hanging on the back of his chair. His beard is silvery and his jet black eyes sparkle like shards of glass in the moonlight. The man sits at a small table, often in the corner of the restaurant that sits up higher than the rest. He's always there before we arrive and leaves after we've paid the check and gone on our way. Sitting on his table are three items that are there every week, without fail: a glass of white wine (or occasionally a small pitcher of beer), a plate of wings, and an enormous book. Each week I try to strain my eyes to see what book he's reading. They're always monstrously large, a good couple thousand pages each. The man is never at the beginning of the book. He's always in the middle or somewhere towards the end. He seems to be a big fan of any sort of theory, whether it be literary or scientific. Some weeks he reads books on history, or birds. Last week his book of choice was Les Miserables and the week before that was A Tale of Two Cities. So yes, this man has impeccable taste in books.
Now up until this point, my story mostly seems like a charming story about an old man who enjoys a good book or two with his wings and wine. But there's something about him that makes me think there's more going on. When he sits at his table and looks out over the restaurant, there's a sadness in his eyes. He watches the people, follows them with those jet black eyes of his. The corners of his mouth twitch and occasionally he'll scratch his cheek or adjust his glasses higher upon his nose. But mostly, he just sits there. He sits in his chair and reads, takes a sip of wine, and watches.
Those sad eyes make me wonder. I wonder, does he have a family? Does he come to Dipco for wings because he wants some alone time before he returns home to chaos? Or does he come in order to be around people? Perhaps he's looking for an excuse to avoid another lonely night at home in a quiet, empty house. I've never seen the man smile, or hardly even talk. He speaks to the waitress when he has to, but otherwise he keeps to himself. Does he have any happiness in his life? Where does he come from? What does he do every day?
I have so many questions I want to ask the strange man. Perhaps one day I'll try to speak to him. But part of me doesn't ever want to do that. There's something wonderfully mysterious about him, that I'm almost afraid to solve. Perhaps I'll just leave it and keep on wondering about the man in the pub.