Thursday, April 22, 2010

I REMEMBER...the Irish Pub Crawl

…traveling to Europe in the early 70’s (a lot of my life stories strangely happened in the 70’s) and spending time in Ireland. The pubs were a particularly intriguing phenomenon I had an interest in. Warm, friendly, a local tavern for food, drink and fun.

I was somewhat lucky at darts and Irish pubs harbored dart boards much like American bars have pool tables. I won my fair share of pints, dazzling the locals (who admittedly drank faster and in larger quantities than me…perhaps that was my asset in the competition).

So having met some new found darts & drinking friends at a pub one evening (they were off-duty ambulance drivers- I hope they were off-duty…) we forged a deal. The public taverns closed rather early during the week (so the workers would actually show up to work the next day) – the only bars that stayed open late were the ones inside the nicer hotels for the hotel patrons. They offered to treat me to a “Pub Crawl” (which is a much more apt description than the Americanized “bar hopping”. I observed that there were definite tricks for a successful pub crawl that seemed to incorporate rugby/roller derby moves and teamwork. A good pub crawl needs at least two big, strong, rugby/roller-derby guys that are socially ambivalent to under-breath comments and glares, the money man and the rest of the drinking team. Note: all the best pubs in Dublin were packed and everyone seemed to be speed-drinking, so there is no “getting a drink and going back to your table” – that action is too lightweight to survive. Each bar was packed and several people deep. Alone, I never would have even made it to the bar and if I had and then left – I doubt if I could have made it back for a second beer (pint).

So, the game plan was to have all of us (about six) line up behind the two bruiser “breakers (literally). They would elbow and push their way through the throng until, at last, the biggest and strongest found the bar (zygote!!). He would plant himself there and the second team member would be right behind him fending off all other drinkers to maintain a strong line. We would string out behind the first two, foot to foot, with the money man at the end. This was our fire line- like a bucket brigade with volunteer firefighters (except these guys were medics/ambulance drivers). Money man passes money forward through the line to get to the main bar position holder, who secures the pints and passes them back down the line until we are all properly lubed. This pattern is repeated, to insure an uninterrupted and even flow of suds until a. the money runs out or b. the pub closes ( or in my case, after b. comes c. – the acquisition to your “line” of a tourist with a pass to the after-hours bar in an upscale hotel- good for a couple more hours of drinking).

Note: I have no idea what these guys were talking about that evening (probably beer, women, and tourists) as their brogue got thicker and my hearing got fuzzier as the evening wore on. I remember we laughed a lot, so it must have been humorous.

I pick up accents fairly quickly and when motivated by inhibition, fairly well also. My biggest compliment of the evening was being mistaken for a drunk from Scotland. Hoot, laddy, not so bloody bad, eh?

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