Friday, March 4, 2011

Ireland Stories #2: A Toast to Me


Molly and I went to Ireland for our honeymoon, after persuasive argument on my part.  ("Let's go to Ireland!  Please?  Please?  I love Ireland.  I've always wanted to go!  Please?!?!")  As befits a country devoted to poets and writers, many stories were born out of that trip.  A certain creepy story was one, and here's another:

We had just finished our ordeal with Aer Lingus (a story for later) and had made it into Dublin and the hotel at which we'd be spending our first two nights.  We got a nap, showered, got ourselves all spiffied up, and decided to hit the town.

Which was dead.  Turns out it was a "bank holiday," a phrase I'd never heard in the U.S., but in Ireland, at least, means "all businesses are closed and people stay off the streets like the alien invasion had been announced."  It was actually "October Holiday," in which everyone is given the last Monday of October off because, um, October?

So we wandered the empty streets, waiting for the zombies to wander out of the alleys or something, until we saw a pub.  Oh, yeah, remember when I said all businesses were closed?  That obviously doesn't include pubs, because, come on, Ireland.

Even this place was barely populated, just a scattering of people.  I think every other pub we entered for the rest of the trip was crammed to capacity.  Ireland has a population of 4 million (at the time, at least), which means that the population of Ireland's pubs on a Friday night is 4 million.

There was one man at the bar, and we sat a couple of stools down from him.  Within a few minutes, he started talking to us.  This was a pattern we would find over and over again.  If you want to have a conversation in Ireland, just stop moving for a few minutes - someone will introduce themselves.

Obviously he knew we were American, and I told him we were on our honeymoon.

"So what made you decide to come to Ireland for yer honeymoon?  Are you Irish, then?" he asked me.

"You know," I replied, "I've always loved Ireland since I was a kid.  Every movie, every story, I couldn't get enough of it.  But my family never kept records of where we came from.  We were the typical all-American mutt.  So finally, I decided to check out my family history, and you know what I found?"

I paused for effect.  "I'm not Irish at all," I said.  "I'm everything else.  English, Russian, German, god knows what else.  But no Irish.  I was crushed.  I'm Irish in my soul, I guess, but that's all."

There was a brief moment, and then he picked up his beer, turned and faced the room and smiled.

"I'd like to buy a drink," he said loudly to the house, hoisting his beer, "to the first American I've ever met... who isn't fuckin' Irish!"

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