At the National Press Club bar, there was always one guy.
The guy who held back while the others held court. The one everybody looked to for answers to the question of the day. The guy who could clean anybody's clock at trivia, on any subject but never bragged about it.
The guy who showed quiet competence at the office.
The guy who kept the coolest head.
Al Toulin was that guy.
He was a gentle giant, with a great sense of humor to go along with his tremendous sense of history.
Al was habitual.
He took his lunch every day at Dapoe's bar in the lower part of the Press Club. He devoured books like they were candy. He was one of the boys but would spend time with a kid brought to the office by a single mother, distracting him while mom got her job done.
I spent more than a few lunch hours with Al and the boys shooting the shit. Every time I did, I learned something.
I didn't know Al well, but I liked him.
Everybody liked him.
He was that guy.
Al left this world yesterday and he did so in his own way. One minute he was snoring through Boardwalk Empire, then next minute he wasn't.
Gone, just like that.
Rest in peace, son. See you on the other side.