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Myers and the Chief

Scott Coleman Miller, Tom Myers. Lake Tahoe CA, October 2023.

I traveled to Tahoe with Scott Miller and Tom Myers last week for our sexennial Sierra event, which sounds a bit gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but is the proper way to describe something that takes place every six years. I posted on the last trip back in 2017 and included a similar photo with Miller leaning forward, assuming the dominant position, and Tom responding with appreciative, back footed bemusement. I don’t think I’ve known a more “yin and yang” friendship over the years and am struck by this every time the three of us get together. It isn’t that I’m a third wheel or drop of water to their oily bond. I do add a certain, albeit unessential element to the trio. But I’m not exactly a part of what these two have going on, either. Tom is the deferential fuel to Scott’s Zippo lighter and in his absence the Miller flame can flicker and ultimately give out.  I’m like a separate box of matches altogether.

I picked Miller up at the Reno airport where he was flying in from Minneapolis and we made our way to the Silver Legacy casino to watch his Chicago Bears play Thursday Night Football. Part of our youthful interaction involved the mid-80s Bears-Niners rivalry, but those days are long gone. On this night I fed a twenty into a video poker game and nursed it through the second half while Scott made short work of a burger and stepped outside the dining area to cash in on Nevada’s lenient casino smoking laws. There was a time when we could make a night of it, but gambling’s novelty thins with age and Tom was due to arrive back at the cabin. Reno has always been Vegas’s poor relative and post covid it’s acquired a more pronounced limp. Still, it maintains a certain pathetic charm and this followed in our wake over the mountain with the waft of sheep urine from a livestock truck ahead. Soon we’d overtaken said sheep and were back lakeside, embarking on a stargazing stroll. We returned to Myers’ convertible parked in the driveway and the boy himself inside scarfing a Safeway deli sandwich with bag of salt and vinegar chips. “Those were a mistake purchase,” he confessed, the party having officially started.

It was an active few days at altitude and we fit in multiple restaurant meals, nine holes of regulation golf and eighteen miniature (“goofy” in Miller’s midwestern vernacular), some light gambling at the Hyatt past stateline, and kayaking under sublime late afternoon/early October conditions. Too many highlights to rank but breakfast at the Old Post Office coffee shop was definitely among them. Scott has a long and loving history with the place and was disappointed to discover that his beloved biscuits and gravy (emphasis on the ‘biscuits‘) was no longer on the menu. The dark cloud over his head passed when the waitress informed him it was still available as an off-menu item, but returned quickly when a side plate with single biscuit and frugal dollop was placed in front of him. He was decidedly crestfallen (despite making quick work of his child’s portion) and had to flag down the waitress for supplementary grub. Somewhere in the process I snapped a classic “Miller shot” : mouth agape, hand expressively positioned, head cocked sideways looking to rectify the situation. I would like to make note of my not posting it here as evidence of late-life maturity. Besides, my eggs over easy with corned beef hash arrived on time and in plentiful portion.

Toby Keith, someone I’ve long considered a middling musician, recently performed his song “Don’t Let The Old Man In” for an awards show. Context is everything and Keith has been battling some serious health issues lately. That he wrote the song after hearing the quote from Clint Eastwood doesn’t cost him any points with me, either. It’s a simple but effective tune and contains the line “just ask yourself how old you would be / if you didn’t know the day you were born.” And this is the way I can feel on rare occasion with Myers and Miller. They are a reassuring constant, having bonded the first day they met in the Monaco Labs print department. That I’ll never exactly be a part of their deal is unconcerning and I’d be too caught up in sustaining or evaluating things — a condition neither seems to suffer. I’m glad to provide the occasional spectacular setting, jot down a few words, and know that I’m a good friend to each. That anyone should be so lucky is not to be overlooked.

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