In the year of our lord, twenty hundred and twelve, on March the 17th eve…
I was, as usual, at my hometown pub in downtown Goldsboro. My cousin was heading back to California the next day and we hadn’t had any time out together, so I was showing her what I do most nights.
We had a few beers and there was live music, but it didn’t truly become Saint Patrick’s Day until one of my friends came by and wanted to play pool. For more on that, read this.
To make that long story short, they took my ID in exchange for the cue ball and I proceeded to leave it behind the bar. My ID, that is. The cue ball I left on the table.
Fast forward to 11 a.m. on Saint Patrick’s Day. I pick up Allison and head to Raleigh where we grab Jessica.
The first step, we decided, was to stop by the liquor store to get airplane bottles of Jameson to supplement our bar drinks. It took just seconds to grab the 12 pack and set it on the counter, but then the process halted when the clerk asked for ID.
I sifted through my wallet and then remembered where I had last seen it – being placed into a drawer behind the bar in Goldsboro.
When you lose things, there are times when you just wish you knew where they were, even if you can’t exactly get to them when you need them. This was one of the times where knowing where my ID was felt worse. Gone was the chance it could be in my car. It was definitely an hour away and my entire Saint Patrick’s Day was hanging in the balance.
Jessica and Allison showed their IDs and I admitted defeat to the clerk. He looked at me and said “Listen, I’m on camera so just show me your UFO card.”
The card, to him, was evidence enough I was 21, so I showed it to him and he guessed my birthyear. “Ah, 1986.” He was a year off, but all I could do was thank him.
“You just saved Saint Patrick’s Day, man.” I took our Jameson outside and we headed downtown.
We arrived downtown after navigating the insane traffic and wondering if we would ever find somewhere to park. I found my regular spot in my regular free lot near my regular bar no problem, though.
We walked toward the noise and where the parade was originally scheduled to begin and we happened to catch the tail end of it. There were lots of people in green and dozens of golden retrievers, but trailing behind the parade was a secondary parade, led by a single man with a bagpipe in a kilt and no fewer than 10 scantily clad girls. As two of them stepped, their three-inch skirts revealed just a glimpse of their backsides as they walked down Fayetteville Street and turned onto Morgan.
We dined at Flying Saucer, where we lucked up and found couches while every other table was taken. We were nice to the waitress and she returned the favor. Not quite a miracle, but karma counts for something, I think. I’m never carded at the Saucer, so that was no surprise.
By now we have downed more than half of our Jamesons, so it’s clear we need to get some more. We also have to go retrieve our final friend, so we all pile into Cadence, put the top down and go by the liquor store and Fresh Market across the street for more miniatures and beer. There were also free coffee samples. I wasn’t carded on my beer purchase.
Praise Saint Patrick that I didn’t shave my beard.
We went to get out friend and essentially tailgated with our beer while we waited. When she came, we went back downtown and found, essentially, the same parking space as earlier.
Our bar-hopping was to begin wherever, but when we noticed the definitive Irish pub of downtown Raleigh wasn’t too packed. The bouncer explained that I wouldn’t be able to order beers since I didn’t have an ID on our way in, but I stepped up to the bar and ordered four beers with no problem.
What happened next depended on your point of view:
I drank my beer and posted up against the bar where I had ordered it. I picked up a beer I thought was mine from the bar and realized too late that it had been another’s when I overheard a man accosting the bartender for taking his beer before he was done. I tried it again, this time on purpose, but felt sorry for the man when I heard him ask around. I hadn’t yet sipped it, so I passed it back along with a thousand fake apologies.
I had a few more beers as friends I knew and friends I had just met paraded past, stopping to speak for a moment before being lost in the dark haze that forms around bars when you’ve been there for a few hours. I recognized a waitress, a coworker from another life and witnessed the most magnificent cockblock firsthand when Jessica ran up to speak to me and caused three girls who were talking to me to vanish into thin air. They may not have been as interested as I thought, but I still had never seen girls turn together and leave silently the way they did when she ran up to ask if I had seen her dancing…
Jessica had taken her beer, which she didn’t remember receiving, and learned from me how to get more without paying. She told us later of how she danced near the live band in the front of the pub. At one point, we were out front where beer was being sold on the street to those lucky bastards with green bracelets. I approached bracelet man, who asked for ID, launching me into a fine acting performance if I do say so myself. I flipped through the cards in my wallet just as I had hours before and gave Jessica a look of horror. “Remember when we were at the Saucer?” I asked. “I left my ID behind the bar when we played darts.”
Lies. But close enough to the truth, I figured. The man gave me an Irish blessing in the form of a green paper wristband and just like that, I was as legitimate as any other card-carrying legal drinker in the Triangle.
At another point, Jessica and I found ourselves out back with a bouncer who wouldn’t let us step on the sidewalk with our beverages. She somehow ended up at the table in the back where we all gathered before the shit truly hit the fan.
Aliisa, who wouldn’t ordinarily be billed in this story, was and always is a mystery. What she did during the time we spent at the pub, I’ll never know. She’s Finnish, and rarely shares her views of stories for some reason. Hers is always the perspective you want most, but the one you never come close to learning.
Allison, however, was quite a different story. After meeting a boy who was good friends with my disappearing trio, she ducked in and out of the pub over the evening before I found her at the back table.
She was talking to an older woman about photography and whatever else. I sat with her as I sensed it was time to gather the troops to decide where our crawl would go next.
Allison left with the woman to step outside just as Jessica and Aliisa sat down with me. We sat for what seemed like an hour before it occurred to me that Allison hadn’t turned up again.
I took a quick lap around the pub, but she was nowhere to be found. As I regrouped and prepared to go outside, I waded my way through the bar crowd once more, where I ran into a sobbing Allison.
“They wouldn’t let me back in,” she said through streaming tears. She had also apparently lost one of her shoes.
Oh shit, I thought, putting my arm around her and leading her back to our table.
She was just about to explain what had happened when an angry woman flanked by a bouncer walked up.
“She has to go,” she said with some authority she pulled from deep within her 250-pound frame.
I inferred she was the manager of the pub and asked why Allison had to leave.
“Because she’s drunk and was falling off the barstool,” she said, including at least one “fuck” in her opening statements.
Having looked for Allison all over that pub for the past half hour and knowing there were no barstools outside where she had been, I called bullshit, but Mrs. Pub was insistent that she leave. I explained that she needed to find her shoe.
This I remember exactly: “Get her shoe and get her the fuck out of here!” she exclaimed.
Rather uncouth for the manager of an Irish pub on the de facto Irish drinking holiday of the year, I thought, but I can spin curses with anyone if I’m pressed.
“You find her fucking shoe then,” I said.
She bent down and pointed it out immediately under the table. I couldn’t, then, marvel at how incredible a job of finding her shoe she had done, but that hardly erased her treatment of us and Allison. This woman was an asshole.
I looked to the bouncer, whose only claim toward being a bouncer lied in the fact that he hadn’t yet lost his baby fat. Seeing his 5-foot-8 frame so soft in the middle made me realize that I could probably find a future in security if/when my other careers fail.
I pleaded audibly for some sensible notion from him, but he noted that he had to do what the raving woman said.
“Oh, I see. It’s because you’re just her bitch,” I said, knowing full well the fastest way out of the bar was through a personal escort.
He seized the nape of my neck with two fingers the way I imagine a dog mother would pick up her puppy if she had opposable thumbs. He grabbed my left arm just below my elbow.
I mumbled that I would walk out, so we went…winding through the same bar traffic I had just navigated to find Allison. I sensed everyone else was following me, so I celebrated deep down. We were going to a new bar!
As we approached the threshold, he decided he was going to have his “And stay out!” moment at my expense. When I sensed the impending push out the door, I tensed up in a final testament to how awful of a bouncer he truly was. Well, almost the final testament.
After I tensed into an unmovable object, I turned and said something about how pathetic of a security officer he truly was before turning and leaving on my own.
Now I had a sobbing Allison a confused Jessica and an always stoic Aliisa.
Jessica recounted the incident several times later, always reminding us of her dancing and explaining that she had no idea what was going on in the back of the pub. To her, everything was perfect except Allison being upset, which was going to be explained when the mean lady came up and started yelling at everyone.
We left and I found a way to get everyone into a cab and home, despite Allison continuing to attract guys like flies. We got home and the next morning, Jessica and I felt right as rain.
It was then, however, that I realized that when I was escorted from the premises, I was never given the opportunity to pay off my tab. I had my card, but wanted to investigate as to how much I was going to be charged from the previous night. Especially since I had no idea how many beers I had purchased.
I called the pub – which Allison has forbidden us from ever setting foot inside again – but, mistake! the girl on the line said she couldn’t tell me how much was on my tab because the pub’s computer system had gone down. She said to call back after 6 p.m.
As of later that week, there still wasn’t a charge from that rotten pub.
The miracles of Saint Patrick would carry on to Canada. Look for more of those dispatches soon!