Losing Johnny Wishbone

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In the end, and as is usual, Big Tiny was right: Johnny Wishbone was lost to us.

When we knew Johnny, it was 20 years ago and he was the graveyard man at the Hideout on lower Decatur Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, a nasty man for a nasty place at a nasty time. He was there the night Angie lit Painless Paul on fire, the night Nashville Pussy drank in there for two days, the night Harry Anderson got jumped.

He was still angry back then, but no more angry than the rest of us in the city’s permanent underclass, and he had some wild theories, too: Johnny Wishbone didn’t believe in clocks, saying it was impossible to capture an entire day into one little circle. As proof, he offered the observation that the supposed two hours between 3 and 5 p.m. lasted much longer than the two hours between 3 and 5 a.m., which flashed by in a moment, we all knew.

The Katrina diaspora pushed him to Portland, Ore. where he became a legit marijuana farmer, spending a few years in his one-bedroom greenhouse with nothing but his laptop, the grow lights and a firearm to keep him company. Eventually life took him to the Florida panhandle, where he started his beautiful family.

And I can’t believe how stupid they’ve all become.

I learned all this after we reconnected on Facebook following years apart. Dubya was president then, and Johnny was a 9/11 Truther. After Obama came on, Johnny became a tea-party Birther, continually questioning the black president’s legitimacy. During of the Obama era, he became increasingly angry in his social media posts — our only real form of interaction — and more vitriolic in his comments.

In the last six months he has become the single most obnoxious presence on my social media feeds, which is saying something.

I don’t have to agree with all of a person’s politics — or, really, any of them — to be that person’s friend. And though I’m no Republican, my Facebook roster includes specimens from all over the right flank of the American political landscape, from the country-club GOP to the vaguely alt-right. They’re people I grew up with, relatives, friends from old jobs. A lot of them are people I used to drink with. And I can’t believe how stupid they’ve all become.

Ha! Seriously, though, I get in Facebook arguments all the time, and I’ve never unfriended anyone over the timbre of the discussion, never blocked anyone except for one crazy coot who kept tagging me in his posts. Not even after Trump.

This weekend I did both of those things to Johnny Wishbone. And I felt weird about it so I called Big Tiny, who I knew would understand.

“S***,” he said. “I can’t believe you lasted this long.”