Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Almost every year since my freshmen year in college, I have adopted an “Irish for One Day” existence. I have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with gusto—from “Kegs and Eggs” parties with the boys from Tau Kappa Epsilon in college, to post-college and way post-college afternoons spent drinking pints of Guinness and doing shots of Jamesons Whiskey in pubs in New York City, Hoboken, Pearl River and Belmar. I’ve hit the parade circuit with my Irish friends, waited in very long lines at early morning hours to get into crowded bars, kissed my share of strangers (yeah, it happens) and I even got a ticket for open container drinking in the street. On March 17th, and often the weekends before and after, I’m the most Irish Jew you’ll ever meet.
As I get older, I must confess that it’s getting harder to keep up. My colleagues poke fun that I still take the day off from work every year and it’s getting more and more annoying to have to explain to the drunk and flirtatious young men that I’m almost old enough to be their mother. I considered skipping it this year until one of my favorite Irish friends (one of my favorite friends period, actually) twisted my arm. She didn’t have to twist that hard, especially since several of my other girlfriends were game as well. So, I am about to enter dangerous territory and I’m certain that I will smell like a distillery when I get home, but this might just be my St. Patty’s swan song. Possibly I will share the events on my next blog but then again, what happens on St. Patrick’s Day stays on St. Patrick’s Day.
In this excerpt from my novel, A State of Jane, Jane finds herself in Hoboken, New Jersey in line to get into a bar on St. Patrick’s Day. Jane gets into a bit of a jam that was inspired by true events. Enjoy 🙂
Shivering, I hugged myself to keep warm. “My God! How early do you have to get here to beat the line?”
Anne pulled her green ski hat over her ears and said, “Bars open at eleven, but the locals know to get in line early.”
I looked at my watch in disbelief. “It’s only eleven-thirty! What time do people get in line?”
Applying lip balm, Bethany said, “Nine, maybe?”
“Nine last night?” I was only half joking.
“Ha ha.” Bethany handing me her lip balm. “Want some?”
As I reached for it, I heard a guy say, “Good. Keep those red lips soft and moist for kissing me later.”
I turned around and rolled my eyes at Beauty Mark Guy. He gave me a devilish grin and walked over to us. He was carrying a brown paper bag.
Trying to peek inside, Bethany said, “Whatcha got in there?”
Winking, he said, “Milk. I’m a growing boy.”
“Yeah right,” Anne said. “Got some for us?”
He looked at all three of us. “‘Cuz I’m such a nice guy…” Gesturing toward me, he said, “and you girls are so friendly, OK. But be slick.”
After Bethany and Anne each took a can of beer, he said, “If you see any sign of a cop, put the beer down on the ground and play dumb.” He looked at me and said, “You can have one too.”
Shivering, I spotted the Dunkin Donuts across the street and wished Beauty Mark Guy was offering me a thermos of white hot chocolate instead. “No thanks. I don’t drink beer.”
He shook his head and chuckled. “Why am I not surprised? Loosen up, Rainbow Brite.”
In quick defense, I said, “I am loose!” When he sneered at me, I looked down and corrected myself, muttering, “I mean, I don’t need beer to loosen up.”
Jumping to my rescue, Bethany put her arm around me and said, “Hey, be nice to my friend Jane here!” But then she gave me a serious look. “Jane, maybe you should have a beer. I’m not even sure they’ll have a full bar today. Might as well get used to beer.”
Piping in, Anne said, “After the first few, you won’t taste it anyway.”
I reluctantly reached into the bag and grabbed a cold can, but only to prove I wasn’t uptight. Not that I care what Beauty Mark Guy thinks.
He grinned and tousled my hair. “There you go, Strawberry Shortcake!” He moved closer to me and said, “We should all huddle close to hide our beers.”
“Nice try!” I said.
Moving in to make our little circle even smaller, Bethany said, “He’s right, actually.”
I pulled the tab off of my beer, praying it wouldn’t spray all over my jacket and took my first small sip. I held my hand over my mouth so no one would see me snarl involuntarily from the sour taste.
“See?” Anne said. “It’s not so bad.”
I held my breath and took another sip, this one bigger. “Not bad at all.” How many do I have to drink before I won’t taste it anymore?
About a half hour later, the line had moved about ten feet and Beauty Mark Guy, whose name was actually William, was telling us how he ran into Paula Abdul in McDonald’s the previous weekend.
“She was drunk off her ass! But I guess she was craving Mickey Dees,” he said as his friends, who had finally joined us, nodded in agreement.
“She was high on more than booze,” one of them said.
I brought my almost empty can of beer to my mouth and looked up at William.
He whispered, “Put your beer down.”
I decided he was not so bad after all. “Huh?” I glanced over at Bethany as she slipped her can of beer into the arm of her bulky wool sweater. Then, I felt a tap on my shoulder. In a slight daze, I turned around to face a blonde haired, blue-eyed guy, probably in his early thirties, in a police officer’s uniform. “Can you come over here a second?”
I looked over at the others who were watching me with concerned interest. I shrugged my shoulders, “Uh, OK.”
He stepped aside and I followed him, nervously biting my lip.
Ignoring the kids in line who had halted their own conversations to eavesdrop, he looked at the can of beer still in my hands and said, “You know an open container is prohibited outside, right?” His eyes bored into mine.
I looked down at the ground and watched my knees wobble. “Yes, officer. I’m… I’m sorry. I’ve never done this before, I promise.” I looked up into his eyes again, afraid he was going to arrest me.