I’ve been a few places, done a few things. I’ve been known as something of a traveller in my day, putting miles and miles of foreign road under my boots. They’ve got all kinds of things on them: bone dust from the catacombs beneath Paris, muddy snow stains from Mt. Kilmanjaro, etc. In the course of my travels, I’ve had more than a few misadventures of varying degrees of wackiness. Anyone who’s ever shared a beer with me knows I’m something of a storyteller, so I have decided to recount some of my exploits here for you. With any luck it will be a regular thing, but I haven’t had stellar luck with weekly posting yet. Anyway, the adventure begins:
After too many pints of stout there’s no telling what a man may do, and fifteen pints is too many, even for me. They didn’t know that at The Stag’s Head, though they would learn later. My thoughts were getting slow and my voice was getting loud. This is a sure sign that I’m losing the battle and the alcohol will soon have its way with me completely. I found myself swearing more, and particularly enjoying the slurred “F” at the beginning of the word “fuck” which I was liberally applying in and around my sentences. I especially like to use it as a noun without changing the case. I am apt to call anyone who earns my ire “a fuck”, or if I’m feeling particularly salty, a “fucking Fuck.” Never a “fucker,” although sometimes a “Motherfucker.”
The Temple Bar area is in the middle of Dublin, and while it can occasionally get a bit touristy there are enough students and locals in the many pubs to make it worthwhile. The atmosphere is festive, without falling into the sordid bacchanalia of places like Bourbon Street and the Tallahassee strip. I was staying at Trinity, a large University that’s proximity to Temple Bar ended up causing some very enjoyable problems for me that summer. It put me within stumbling distance of my bed, no matter which pub I decided to hit.
That night at the bar was nothing special. It was the same blur of darts, laughter, and general carousing that all good nights out descend into. In Gaelic it’s called “craic” (crack) which means hospitality, conviviality, and a generally festive atmosphere, and it was in good supply this night. I had been flirting with a certain young lady who was also staying at Trinity. She had left earlier, but invited me to her dorm. I probably should have gone with her initially, but I felt like there was more Guinness to drink before the night was over. There would be time enough for love after I was done shining the top of the bar with the sleeves of my coat. I planned to get to her as soon as the Last Chance Lights came on, though Fate had a number of obstacles for me.
After paying the tab I somehow managed to put one foot in front of the other in such a way as to get out the front door. But alas, the effort of doing so took its toll on me and I was able to go no further. I stood on the sidewalk outside the pub. Well, perhaps “stood” is a little generous. I swayed and stumbled back and forth on the sidewalk outside the pub. The gears were turning and I had just summoned the resolve to set out for home when a strange voice caught my attention and I looked down at the man who had apparently been yelling at me for my entire reverie. He was short, and old to the point of frailty, but apparently he didn’t let a little thing like being elderly and weak keep him from picking drunken fights with 270 pound strangers. He was an excitable little fellow, and to this day I’m not sure what I had done to irk him so. I don’t think I had actually done anything to him. He just didn’t like the cut of my jib. Or possibly I had bumped into him in my drunken stupor. In any case, he started yelling at me like he really meant it. He also had trouble standing, and his speech was at least as slurry as mine. This combined with his thick Dublin accent made his words unintelligible, but his hateful old eyes made his intent clear.
“BLBddbaba. Fookin’ Ell. Bollocks. Blahmurnmenr, and flrrtrty your Jib.”
“Pardon me sir. I apologize if I have offended you in any way. I am but stranger in your humble city and meant no offense.” I replied. Or something like that anyway. But my American accent just seemed to fan the fires of his rage, which didn’t make him any more comprehensible. He seemed to be telling me that I was unwelcome in his country. Nevertheless, I thought we were reaching new grounds of understanding when he reached his hand out to me, apparently for shaking. Eager to overcome our differences, I reached back. No sooner had his clammy celtic fingers wrapped around mine than he tried to head-butt me. He was off-balance and so it was easy to dodge his pathetic assault. I had no wish to beat up this old Irish man, raving lunatic though he was. And I had a love mission to attend to. I pulled him forward (we were still shaking hands) and when he was off-balance I did an awesome sweep kick I learned from the Karate Kid and the old bastard went tits up. I told some gawking bystanders to keep an eye on my fallen opponent, and I moved away from the scene as quickly as possible.
The stout was coursing through my veins at this point, spiked with a little extra adrenaline from my melee. I wasn’t sure what the police presence was like in Dublin. Thus far I had yet to see any but you never when John Law might run you down. I didn’t think they’d look too favorably upon a strapping young American like myself manhandling one of their citizens. I began to weave through the numerous alleys and short little cobblestone streets in an effort to elude any pursuers. I had convinced myself that either the police or the gang of elderly hooligans to which the man no doubt belonged would follow me and make my life difficult. Eventually I felt satisfied that I had given them the slip. I had done so by taking random turns and doubling back to take other random turns. I was safe, but I had no idea where I was.
Being a sophisticated world traveler, I have developed several skills and abilities that set me apart from the average tourist. One of the most important of these is my “Drunken GPS.” When you’re in an unfamiliar city (which I frequently was) and you drink too much at an unfamiliar bar (which I frequently did) its easy to get lost and disoriented on the way back. Every street looks strange and you can forget where you’re supposed to turn. Drunken GPS eliminates the uncertainty. Those who develop it learn the ability to retrace the steps between the bar and the hotel with pinpoint accuracy. But my circumnavigation had combined with the effects of that sweet black stout had crippled my GPS system. I was alone, lost, and more than a little confused. I wandered around for about an hour before I waved down a taxi and paid the man to take me home. Somehow I had gotten across the Liffey, which is dead wrong and to this day I cannot explain how.
Having gotten through these trials, I was ready for adventures of a more amorous nature so I went to the young lady’s dorm. I was worried that my fracas and aimless wandering had eaten too much time and the object of my inebriated (though no less sincere) affection would have long since passed out. She was awake, and she was passing the time with her friend. This friend would prove to be the most arduous obstacle I came across during my Joycean odyssey. There are certain women out there (you know who you are) who enjoy nothing so much as keeping two people apart. For whatever reason they make it their duty to prevent you from getting anywhere near their prettier friend. They are Cock Blockers, and they are a bane upon all men. Instead of hating the Game, they focus their interfering rage upon the Player. No matter what I tried to do, the Cock Blockin’ Friend (CBF) ran interference. If I asked to see pictures that were in the Object of My Affection’s room, the CBF would run in and get them. She refused to leave the OMA’s side, no matter how many times I suggested that it was getting late and she should go back to her own room or asked her to get us some ice. She was more relentless than a power center and there was nothing I could do to keep her from boxing me out. So bid her and the OMA goodnight and stumbled outside.
But I had accomplished too much this night to be defeated by a sad, sexless little cockblocker. Just because she couldn’t have a drunken hook-up was no reason for me not to. I had fought. I had run. I had wandered. I would not give up now. I hunkered down in the bushes and waited for the CBF to return to her own room. I was counting on her not staying the whole night. It was a gamble, but it paid off. After only two hours of crouching in the bushes, I saw her leave. When she had passed, I made my play and headed for the OMA’s door. I met her in the hallway. She apologized for her friend and said she just on her way to my room. I held up the bottle of whiskey I had recovered to help pass the time and told here there was no need. Things progressed from there, though I’m not entirely sure how I woke on a park bench a half a mile away the next morning.