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Published March 11, 2010
Twas the Night 'fore St. Pat’s, when all thru the pub,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a grub.
The shamrocks were hung by the bar with care,
In hopes that the bartender soon would be there.

The drinkers were nestled all snug in their beds,
(on mattresses, not rivers)
While visions of Guinness danced in their livers.


Last year I was too busy to celebrate St. Patrick's Day,
so I stopped by my Irish pub
the nite 'fore and had a pint.
 
As I walked toward the door I thought it funny
if I mistakenly celebrated
Saint Patrick's Day
the nite before,
OR the nite after, as if the party never stopped,
and go barhopping in full obnoxious attire;
green derby,
flashing green shamrock glasses,
green spinning bowtie,
green-sparkled vest,
green speedo...
acting a fool wherever I go,
pretending it was the big nite. 

Maybe next year.


 

So the nite 'fore Saint Pat's Day at my favorite Irish Pub;
the place is EMPTY 'cept for three workers stockin' the place…
like elves on Christmas Eve,
only in this case…
LEPRECHAUNS?! 
Hmmmmmmmmm.

(It seems very odd to type "leprechauns" in upper case, IF you know what I mean.)



They were busy as could be,
stackin' green plastic cups,
shot glasses,
stockin' the bar with Guinness & Harp,
Jameson, Old Bushmill’s,
Bailey’s,
and whatever else might be consumed in large quantities.

 Green tequila, I don't know.

Lime wine.




I sat and stared in awe,
nursing---no, imbibing,
no quaffing a pint of Guinness. 
I felt like a peeping-Tom, like I warn’t supposed to be there,
but 'twas okay,
'cause the leprechauns said so! 


This place is everything Irish, or at least Irish-American for the purists. 
A lot of detail went to recreate a fine Irish pub, complete with imported woodwork, garnishments, details...
Only Irish music---recordings usually, but live on weekends,
and tomorrow nite for sure. 
In fact, tomorrow nite, Saint Patrick's Nite,  there would be
bagpipers,
dancers,
an Irish band,
singers,
the whole nine yards of shamrocks,
kit & kaboodle
Katie bar the door. 

Two TV’s only show
Irish rugby or American football,
or nothing at all. 
Two dart boards. 
Shepherd’s pie if you come early enough ‘fore the kitchen closes,
but if you ask you’ll get a hearty plate o' chips to get you by. 

But TONITE was different. 

Usual activities were halted,
the focus was clear---
prepare for Saint Patrick’s Day!








As the second pint is drawn o'er the spoon I wonder if my dad ever drank one. 
I was 29 when he died, and we imbibed but never drank a Guiness together. 
I started drinking them five years later, when my two teenage sons
discovered the fun of sneaking a beer from the ol' man,
only then the beer was MINE
, and the old man was ME. 
So I switched to Guiness
and they stopped taking my beer. 
Hah! 
Quaff! 
Belch!


I think of my dad a lot, especially on March 17th. 
He was the proudest Irishman in the whole world. 
On Saint Paddy's Day he wore the green alright:
green shirt,
tie,
suit,
pants,
socks,
shoes…
and had a naturally red beard
without the 'stache. 
The tallest leprechaun I ever met! 
And with a name like O’Brien,
he was sure as spit
ready to celebrate
with the best o' them. 

His grandfather came over after the potato famine;
Michael O’Brien,
a landscaper from County Clare. 
I have great-grandpa Mike's scythe handle in my home office
(I keep the blade in the garage, it's heavy and rusty and dangerous.) 

The scythe reminds me how good things are now.
He used it before life was easy---
BEFORE
cars,
the moon landing,
microwave ovens,
cell phones,
the internet,
8-trak tapes.

When I look at the scythe
,
my great-grandfather
silently challenges me to work harder.
And I love 'im for that.

 
 One of his sons, my grandpa
Thomas O’Brien, was a master painter,
a brush-and-roll man.
Before
sprayers,
latex paint,
and fancy names for fancy colors. 
I have his pocket watch,
which I take out time to time
(pun intended)
to wind.
To look at.
To listen.
To the seconds.
Tick.
Away.
In the otherwise quiet afternoon…
it's a peaceful sound
but it loudly reminds me
that someday
I will join him
in the ranks
of those
no longer here. 



“Got time for one on the house?” smiled the bartender.

“Aye! Black & tan, lad”.

Saying "aye" usually means you're in the Navy, or an Irishman, or a pirate. 
I was in the Navy. 
According to my dad I weighed-in at exactly 13/16 Irish. 
He was always very serious about this racial ratio,
(not that it meant true/false either way, he had a great dead-pan delivery so I was never quite sure...and the acorn falls close to the tree...)
I can't prove him wrong, and he did extensive genealogical research, so toora-loora.

It's a reminder
there's two types o' people in the world;

Irish,
and those that want to be Irish. 

So, KWITCHYERBELLYAKIN'.




The glasses were ready. 
The liquors
beers,
and tasteful, classy decorations,
the music,
the smiles
the Irish eyes…



My dad, Thomas O’Brien, was a psychologist
for over 35 some odd years
(mostly odd, he would say, even tho' half were even!). 
He excelled in trivia, math, chess, puns, ping-pong, jig-saw puzzles.  
He enjoyed basketball (my mom played on a team my dad coached!)
the Olympics,
Jimmy Cagney movies,
home improvement projects...
PAINTING (like his dad, like me, like me brother, like me son). 


I have some material things from my dad;
the Swiss Army knife I gave him for Christmas years before,
some tools, some books…
but more important, a great last name, complete with an APOSTROPHE! 


Many try to take it away, but they can’t have my apostrophe. 
I was born with it, it’s mine, it stays. 
Computers want desperately to avoid it,
most notably during my Navy career,
when it disappeared for twenty years. 
But I’m out of the Navy now,
I’m not behind the plow,
the 'postrophe stays.  


Here’s to you dad,
grandpa,
great-grandpa,
etcetera,
down the line. 
And the 'postrophe!
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day,
from O‘Briens ‘erywhere!




O'Brien family coat of arms





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