I know it’s a bit early here in GMT-5 for wishing that but it’s one of my favorite
holidays of sorts.
Aside from being fired from my first professional-radio job on St. Paddy’s Day, way back in ancient history when DJs spun vinyl primarily, March 17th has always been a joyous occasion for this blogster: is there such a word other than in today’s vernacular? I looked it up at Merriam-Webster and was told it doesn’t exist.
Wait, then there was that St. Patrick’s Day when I was installing a large piece of
equipment, moving it with a forklift, and dropping the machine from five feet in the air
onto a concrete floor in a massive warehouse. The resulting crash resonated like a
small bomb had detonated, raising the eyebrows of everyone around. That didn’t go
Fortunately minor damage occurred, for which I went back the next day to repair.
My father owned a couple of bars in North Jersey. One was in Paterson, the other in
Passaic. I would tend bar to help him out when he was stuck for a bartender, like if one called in sick.
As luck would have it, St. Patrick’s Day had arrived and the scheduled barkeep for the Lincoln Lounge in Passaic called in to say he was taking the night off. His wife was in labor.
Pop called me up in a tizzy and offered me an extra fifty bucks on top of a decent wage with tips to work that night. Back at the time, anything over forty dollars was a lot of cash for a day’s pay.
The Lincoln Lounge sat in the midst of an Irish neighborhood in Passaic, NJ, not far from the illustrious Capitol Theater of long ago. The bar was a convenient stopover before and after a concert, for which tales about the venue could fill many blog entries.
At opening time on that particular St. Paddy’s Day evening, a man who was obviously full of cheer approached the only other patron in the place and asked if he could buy him a drink.
“Why of course,” the seated man said. “Where are you from?”
“Ireland,” the other replied.
“You don’t say? I’m from Ireland too. Let’s have another round to the motherland.”
“Of course,” the second one said enthusiastically. They both poured back their drinks.
“Where in Ireland are you from?” the first guy said.
“I can’t believe it. I’m from Dublin too. Let’s have another drink to that fair city.” The men continued drinking, ordering another go-around. They were decent tippers as well, and both kept me from being bored.
Curiosity struck again evidently and the first man asked, “What school did you go to?”
“St. Mary’s; I graduated in ’62.”
“This is unbelievable. I went to St. Mary’s and I graduated in ’62, too!”
Pete, one of the regulars, walked in and sat down at the bar. “I see the O’Hara twins are getting drunk again.”
“Lucky for them they live on this same block,” I said. ” They don’t have far to stagger on foot.”
The place started to fill up. I glanced over at the end of the bar and a guy was making like he was pushing buttons in the palm of his hand. He would then talk into his left one while holding the right over his ear.
Letting it go for a while, I walked over and suggested he had enough to drink and better be on his way.
“Why is that?”
“Talking into the palm of your hand isn’t exactly sober behavior, and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for your driving drunk.”
“I just so happen to have a phone installed in my hand and am taking care of business.”
“Right, give me a break.”
“No, really, here…, listen.” He put his hand over my ear and sure enough, a stock broker was quoting the daily report on how this character’s portfolio was doing.
“I’ll be damned,” I said. “It’s amazing how far along technology has brought us.” Little did I know what was in store for us in years to come, let alone the next millennium. This had to have been the first smartphone by far!
The strange fellow went to the head for quite a spell without returning. I asked Pete to take a peek into the men’s room to check on Phone Man for me.
“I saw him in one of the stalls. The door was wide-open,” Pete said upon his instant return. A look of astonishment remained in his eyes, as if he had seen the world was coming to an end. “There he sat with his pants down, legs spread and a roll of toilet paper appeared to be stuffed up his butt.”
“Lord have mercy,” I said. “Did one of the hoodlums in here do this to him? Is he all right?”
“That’s what I asked him,” Pete said. “Phone Man then shouted back, ‘Just a minute, I’ll be right with you. Can’t you see I’m waiting for a fax?'”
Sorry about the old jokes, but the rest of the essay was true, apropos for St. Patrick’s Day; for which I hope you celebrate responsibly. Thanks for reading and your continued support.