I have been to enough Irish pubs in my time to know two things about Ireland. First, there is no such thing as happy hour unless you count the hour when the pub opens. Secondly, the end of the night is always going to end up with you eating some kind of chips to soak up the Guinness fermenting inside.
I went to Ireland twice, thankfully during a time when digital cameras were not prevalent and disposable cameras were the way to go. So many embarrassing pictures were avoided because of my 24 shot limit. Taking pictures of yourself and in a bar just wasn't done unless you were with some girls.
There weren't selfies or photobombs, just the plastic click and the grating wind of the Walgreens special. Which, if you were lucky enough, for a few extra bucks could get one with a flash and another third of your pictures might come out.
The adventures over there started immediately. The Emerald Isle was more mysterious than the one we saw Jack Shepard on though there were no literal smoke monsters. I lost my best friend in Dublin the very first night and somehow staggered to my hostel though I had no recollection of where I was actually staying. We never made it to the Guinness brewery though our rental car smelled like one for days.
I climbed Croagh Patrick, the third highest mountain in County Mayo despite my feeble American “conditioning” and was passed by a 90 year old man with a shillelagh who told me to “Pick it up or get the fuck off the mountain”.
I stayed in a bed and breakfast in the middle of nowhere surrounded by pictures of Jesus and crucifixion crosses over my bed while our travelling companion in the next room woke the entire house because of his night terrors. Because of that the owner thought we were demons and I slept in a tiny European car, trying to fold my legs like a circus clown.
I've paid for two nights at a B&B in Cork but never actually slept in the room where my luggage was. I hit numerous golf balls into the ocean and was even chased by some townies with pitchforks and brooms after a crazy night at a pub on the west coast.
I’ve seen the majesty of the Cliffs of Moher and dangled my legs over the side despite any guardrails whatsoever. I am guessing that anyone stupid enough to go over deserves it and anyone who doesn't truly has the Luck O’ The Irish.
I have visited Blarney Castle and have tipped a shifty Irishman for spotting me while I hung upside down to kiss the stone. Luckily for me, he was there to tell me to “mind my nut” which is something I had to do a lot of over there as I was dubbed “The Two Meter Man”. Sometimes I felt like Hagrid.
While there was no pot of gold, there were many containers of liquid gold consumed and even run ins with the Garda while I tossed traffic pylons around Trinity College. Harp and Guinness are good for you but can also have some influence on your behavior.
You truly haven’t seen green until you have been to Ireland. Not even the Chicago River comes close even on the day that they dye it greener than it usually is.
Clearly,a lot has changed since then. A LOT. I had hair back then and lots of it. Every St. Patrick’s Day makes me think about those days in Ireland and my time with my Irish friends in Chicago.
So here's my list of St. Patrick's Day comparisons between BEFORE kids and NOW.
- Before, I thought leprechauns were chasing me. Now I am the one chasing little leprechauns.
- Before, I was bar hopping in Chicago without a coat. Now, I tell my kids if their heads aren't covered, they are going to get sick.
- Before I was drinking until the wee hours of the morning. Now I have to get up in the middle of the night to go wee.
- Before I started the night going out at 11. Now, I am ready to get in bed at 11.
- Before, I was drunkenly dancing a jig. Now, I am trying to teach my kids how to get jiggy with it.
- Before I was interested in causing mischief. Now I am trying to maintain the mischief.
- Before, I used to start drinking at 10 am and go until 4 am the next day. Now, I can hardly get through the day without daddy's quiet time.
- Before, we were Paddy training. Now, we are Potty training.
- Before I was spending lots of time with pints. Now I am spending time with pint sized children.
- Before I sang a rousing rendition of Whiskey In The Jar. Now, I am singing Let It Go.
- Before, my favorite sounds were Slainte! and Black 47. Now, I look forward to “Time for Bed!” and lullabies.