Waiter, a Bock (Maupassant)

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Waiter, a Bock
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man encountered his old college friend in a beer hall, who had become a disheveled alcoholic after witnessing his father violently attack his mother during their childhood.

One cold evening, a man went for a walk after dinner and found himself in a beer hall. He sat down next to an old man who had already consumed several beers. The old man turned out to be the man's old college friend, Comte Jean des Barrets.

The Narrator — old college friend of Des Barrets; a business man.
Jean des Barrets — narrator's old college friend; alcoholic, disheveled, and disillusioned due to a traumatic childhood event.

They began to catch up, and the man asked Jean about his life. Jean explained that he did nothing all day but drink beer at the beer hall, and had been doing so for years.

I get along as best I can. I see you do not recognize me. No wife, no children, no cares, no sorrows, nothing. That is best.

The man was shocked and asked if Jean had experienced some great sorrow or disappointment in love that led him to this lifestyle. Jean denied it, but eventually admitted that a traumatic event from his childhood had changed his life forever. He recounted the story of witnessing his father brutally beating his mother in their family's park when he was thirteen years old. The event had left him so distraught and disillusioned that he lost all ambition and hope for the future.

I was cold, hungry, perhaps. At length day broke. I was afraid to get up, to walk, to return home, to run farther, fearing to encounter my father, whom I did not wish to see again.

Years later, Jean's mother passed away, and he never saw his father again. He continued to spend his days drinking beer at the beer hall, with no desire for anything more in life. One day, while talking to his old friend, Jean accidentally broke his pipe, which he considered a real sorrow as it would take him a month to color a new one. He then ordered another beer and a new pipe from the waiter.