It is a frightening scene. There is vomit and there is spittle and there is terrible worry among those seated at the table, as well as dazed onlookers in the vicinity. How could a night of rapture suddenly become so dark? I know how life can turn tragic in an instant, but this quickly, in the back room at Mahe, where there’s an aura of camaraderie, where the conversation is gentle and the problems are left on Pacific Coast Highway? Jimmy Werner is gasping desperately for air for what seems like too long a period, and is losing his footing, as Stu Ledsman holds him upright. I feel as though I’m in a movie theater, and watching a horrible drama that’s unfolding in front of me, only I know I’m not at a cineplex. A person nearby calls 911. A lady who’s a nurse offers her assistance. I stand there momentarily shocked, and then straggle over to Werner and gently touch his shoulder. He finally stops heaving and finally regains his equilibrium and seats himself in a chair, but still is woozy as he explains how on the previous day he has undergone a medical procedure and how the medication he’s been taking might adversely have affected his swallowing. “I got some chicken caught in the throat,” he says. “I’m all right. I’m all right. I just need some fresh air. Ah, this is so embarrassing.” He is given water, and Stu Ledsman and Mahe’s concerned manager, Brad Davenport, escort him outside where Seal Beach paramedics arrive within minutes. They closely check Werner’s vital signs, and, blessedly, there is no indication of any serious impairment. They depart, and Jimmy Werner, a former amateur boxing champion as a youth in Manhattan, a man with a deep sense of pride, keeps saying, “I’m embarrassed … I’m really embarrassed. What a scene I caused. …” Stu Ledsman and I both chide him for such self-derogatory rhetoric, and I soon go with him in his car to the Huntington Beach home of his longtime girlfriend, Bobbi Whitehead, as Stu Ledsman follows behind us. Ledsman and I then accompany him inside, and a most touching scene ensues, as Ledsman and Werner tenderly embrace and begin weeping. “You saved my life again,” says Werner, recalling another incident many years ago at the Blues Cafe when Ledsman prevented three hooligans from accosting Werner. Stu Ledsman, a very rough fellow with a very soft heart, shakes his head in protest, as tears roll down his cheeks. “Please, I didn’t do anything anyone else wouldn’t have done,” he says. Moments later, Stu Ledsman, his eyes red, admits, “I thought for a moment there I was about to lose one of my closest friends. That would be tough to accept.” Oh yes, boys night out, as innocent an evening imaginable, a frolic among friends, laughter and joy, and then that most ominous tableau, a maddening reminder, a cruel metaphor of the harrowing uncertainties of the world in which we reside. Doug Krikorian can be reached at email@example.com. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! It is an evening of tranquil bliss, and the participants are in a glad mood, having left any private miseries behind when alighting from their cars in the parking lot, having forgotten for a time the normal vexations of everyday existence. At approximately 7:15, I spot the Long Beach State athletic director, Vic Cegles, walking into the back bar at Mahe where we’re ensconced, and I make a big commotion about his presence. “Here comes the greatest athletic director in Southern California since J.D. Morgan,” I yell out with my patented sincerity. But as Cegles approaches our table with a big grin, I turn and watch in horror as Stu Ledsman suddenly has Jimmy Werner in a tight-gripped bear hug, frantically applying the Heimlich Maneuver to him, frantically trying to allow him to breathe, frantically trying to dislodge whatever is cursing him. I can’t believe what I’m observing. It is Tuesday evening at Mahe in Seal Beach, boys night out, conviviality, laughs, relaxation, no worries, no concerns, Lakers playing the Knicks on TV, sake and beer flowing, California rolls and chicken Teriyaki consuming, joshing, story telling, boys night out. It is a group of my pals … Stu Ledsman, aka Bad Stu, UCLA graduate, co-founder of the Belmont Shore Rugby Club, retired environmental construction millionaire, tough guy, character … John Narz, aka Nature Boy, well-known Seal Beach real estate agent and surfer, notorious skirt chaser whom I’ve compared here to the fabled late connoisseur of women, Porfirio Rubirosa, character … Jimmy Werner, aka Junkbond Jimmy, St. John’s graduate, international financier with close ties with Korea, brother-in-law of chairman and CEO of NBC Universal, Bob Wright, New York wise guy, character … and Mark Emerzian, aka Laker Fanatic, Fresno native and former Long Beach resident who now lives in Nashville with wife, daughter and twin sons, former Santa Clara basketball player, devoted Laker season ticket holder during the Show Time era, character. The ambiance is uplifting. There are the bawdy tales and the light-hearted repartee that are regular fare among men of a certain age when gathered among themselves detached from female companionship.