Tie Night

The Skinny Chronicles, Vito Cole

I have a hard time with February. Don’t get me wrong, February has its good points. My mom’s birthday is in February. I love my mom dearly. My dad’s birthday was in February too, Feb. 12.

Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, too. I guess it’s no wonder that my parents almost named me Abraham Lincoln Cole. I am glad they didn’t. My dad died seven days after his 52nd birthday, I was 24. I saw him at lunch that day. By the time I took my afternoon break, I got the call he was at the hospital. The first song that I heard on the radio as we were driving to Sioux City while my dad was being life-flighted was “Old Man” by Neil Young. “Twenty-four and there’s so much more.” These are important details.

My dad played pool for a team in the Wayne pool league. Every Thursday night he would put on a collared shirt and a tie, a pair of jeans and his Chucks, and play pool with his buddies. Sometimes I would just go along to watch. After he died, I would call up the guys on the team on the anniversary of his death and we would get together at his favorite bar and reminisce about my old man. We would all wear ties, just like dad: Tie night. A couple of the guys didn’t really want to get dressed up so they would just throw a tie over a tee shirt. They were still in. They still wanted to participate, just at their own pace. I appreciated that. We did that every year. One year we ended up drunk at the cemetery with my ex-wife serving as the designated driver/babysitter. We passed around a bottle of butter schnapps and sang “Amazing Grace” before the snowball fight broke out. We were hiding behind gravestones, flinging snowballs with joy and sorrow mixed. Icing up the snowballs just a little bet extra. Just the way I like them.

Eight years ago, I started hosting a show at Mikey’s in downtown Wayne for Tie Night. It started out small: A couple of acoustic guitars between friends and a small P.A. tucked in the corner. A few regulars wearing ties honoring their lost friends, brothers, sisters, mothers, or fathers. The bar has changed hands and is now the Broken Antler. The crowd has gotten bigger, the ties and the music have gotten louder, but the feeling is still the same. I still play for my dad.

I have been defined by music my entire adult life. I am choosing to step away for a while now. I didn’t plan for it. Feb. 21 is Tie Night again here in Wayne. I get to hang with my brothers in the corner of a crowded bar. At some point in the night it will hit me. I am not ready for it. It will hit me square in the jaw that I only have one show scheduled. Next year. Tie Night. Nothing in between. I will take it all in. I look forward to it. I already have my tie picked out. If you need one, I got one you can borrow. Show starts at 9p.m.