I took Rocky home from Bayside Bar and Grill on Shore Drive. He was waiting in the parking lot when I pulled up. I put down the passenger side window.
“I’m Brian. Hop in.”
When I saw my passenger’s name was Rocky, I expected a character. Rocky didn’t disappoint. He was lean, gray, and grizzled, with skin that looked used to sunshine. He wore shorts and a faded surf shop t-shirt.
He hadn’t entered a destination in the Uber app.
“So, where we going, Rocky?”
“Shixteen seven…shixteen seventeen. Sharonton.” At least that’s what his mumbled response sounded like.
I tried entering Sharonton. The GPS didn’t find a street by that name.
“Say it again, Rocky. What’s the name of your street?”
“Sharnintown. Sherrington. Sharminton. Drive.”
I tried a variety of spellings. No luck.
“Can you spell it, Rocky?”
“Yoop. S…S-H–” He waved his hand. “I gotchoo. No problem. I gotchoo.”
“You know how to get home?”
“Yoop. I gotchoo.”
I was doubtful, but I pulled out and Rocky led the way. He pointed out all the turns and filled in the time between by repeating, “Keep going.” I guess he thought I was considering stopping dead somewhere along the route.
“Shixty-five years old,” he said with a touch of pride.
“What? You’re sixty-five? You don’t look a day over sixty-four.”
He didn’t get it.
“Are you retired, Rocky?”
It took a lot of questions, but I eventually figured out he owns a motorcycle shop with his son.
“Are you married?” I asked.
“Noop. Not married. Been a bachelor for thirty years.”
“Wow. Thirty years. I guess you’re used to it by now.”
“Does it ever get lonely?”
“Lonely? Why would I be lonely? I’m shixty…shixty-one years old.”
I pretended not to notice he got four years younger.
“I don’t know. Lots of people get lonely. I guess you like being on your own.”
“Yoop. Get to do what I want. I’m not lonely.”
“Shixty-two years old. Why would I be lonely?”
“Okay, Rocky. I believe you. You’re not lonely.”
We turned onto his street. It was Sharrendon Drive.
He got out a bit wobbly.
“You gonna be okay, Rocky?”