The Irish are so cool they’re the only “i” entity that hasn’t tried a trendy rebrand as something techy, like “iRish” or “iReland.”
I’ve never been to Ireland and am fearful if I go I either wouldn’t fit in, which would be a terminal blow to what little remains of my cool, or else I’d fit in so spectacular they’d by acclaim make me an honorary Irishman and send me on an eternal pub tour that would not expire until I did.
That would be bad because instead of being poor and near home, I’d be poor and a trans-Atlantic flight away from my loved ones, albeit the very ones who refer to me “The Big Hairy Snoring Fart Monster,” something I’m sure no proper Irish host would do.
But a month in Ireland either with my darling family or a bunch of drunken strangers is on my bucket list.
As I said, I’ve may never been to Ireland, but two weeks ago Ireland came to me.
I was invited to “Jump Into Ireland” festivities at Pittsburgh’s Fairmont Hotel. It was a promotional evening hosted by Tourism Ireland. They were eager to stir interest in Emerald Idle tourism.
My ambitions were less sophisticated. Yep, I wanted get good and drunk. Free!
The latter motivation may make me seem small.
See, I forever battle against stereotypical mindsets. I believe in my heart it’s unfair to view any nationality or race through any narrow prism. I make no prejudicial judgements about African-Americans, Mexicans, Chinese, others, etc. I take everyone at face value.
All but the Irish. When the Irish invite me to an Irish soiree, I expect a good brain soaking.
My past is partly to blame. I sort of learned to how to behave in a bar at the feet — some nights literally — of great Irish pubs men.
The bar is The Pour House in Carnegie. It’s still there and it’s still great. It’s much more upscale now, but back then it was one of the few bars that would serve kids with dainty fringes of peach fuzz on their chins.
I think I was 12.
The bartender was one of the greatest characters I’ve ever known. Indeed, he looked just like a leprechaun. His name was Dick Collins, but everyone knew him as Dick the Druid.
He was just this incredibly gifted storyteller, something me and my buddies had never truly experienced. And there was, indeed, a lot of booze.
He, for reasons I cannot recollect, would call shots of Jameson “creatures.” He’d tell a great often filthy story and always conclude with, “and that, gentlemen, leaves us with an opportunity to refresh ourselves with yet another creature.”
I cannot fathom how I survived my reckless youth, but I sure had a lot of fun.
So I was disappointed when “Jump Into Ireland” wasn’t dispensing free Irish liquor. Instead of free creatures, I sipped California wine.
Of course, I still had a great time. The food, the music and especially my Irish hosts were delights.
That’s why I was tickled when a friend of an Irish hotelier sent me an e-mail saying she would love to buy a copy of my book. She wanted my PayPal account (it’s Chris Rodell, btw) info. In fact, the e-mail said she was an editor at a prestigious Irish publishing house.
In my mind, I imagined her being so overjoyed by my book that she’d invite me to Ireland where I’d conduct dramatic “Use All The Crayon” readings to weepy Irish publicans who’d become bored with Yeats, Swift and Joyce.
I responded like it was an audition. I sent this long, witty note conveying how thrilled I was she wanted to buy my book. But one book, I said, might get lonesome. At the risk of appearing opportunistic, couldn’t she think of some friends who’d like the book?
And, hey, how many people live in Ireland?
The form reply was instantaneous: “Thank you for your note. Alison no longer works here . . .”
Despite multiple entreaties, I haven’t heard back since. It’s like the last item on her departure to-do list was “Punk Chris Rodell.”
Doesn’t bother me a bit.
The perhaps unintentional slight by one Irish creature won’t diminish the fond memories I have of so many others.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Related . . .