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Jeff Whitten: Erin go bragh
editor's notes

“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

– An old Irish blessing

It’s hard to tell by looking at me now, but there was a time when I was a bit of a party animal. A sort of one-man frat party, if you will, if one-man frat parties can be 5-foot-6 and pigeon toed and have enormous heads.

I wear a size 7-5/8 hat, you see. It gives my brain room to sort of spread out in, when it’s in the mood to kick it’s feet up and watch TV, or do the Sunday Times crossword puzzle.

Anyhow, in the spirit that is St. Patrick’s Day week, raise your hand if you’ve ever made a fool of yourself on River Street or anywhere else in Savannah during the annual celebration. Or right there at home.

I’ll go first. Feel free to chime right in.

For starters, there was a time me and a handful of Army buddies from Fort Stewart low-crawled our way through a window into some basement bar on River Street and belly- danced for beads or beers on River Street back when St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah was a smaller but no less insane experience.

At least, that’s how I remember it, and that tends to change over time and take on a sort of weird cosmic glow that might be cataracts.

Plus, to be honest, I was not at my most lucid. The bottom line however is given enough lubrication, I apparently was once not at all reluctant to belly dance with the best of them. And, maybe, even do a war dance.

On the bright side, it was well before I had much of a belly. I was actually in decent shape, thanks to Uncle Sam.

Should I try anything remotely resembling a good old midriff mambo now – or merely remove my shirt in public – I might hurt somebody, or wind up in traction, or be mistaken for some sort of arthritic orangutan.

And, by the way, the patience of Savannah police – all cops, really – amazes me still, given all the drunks and lunatics and fools they put up with. I used to think owning a bar would be a great way to make a living. Then I spent a night as a designated driver and learned drunk people are not always but mostly pains in the butt. Especially the ones who think they are not.

But I digress. There was a time I went downtown with a girlfriend from Richmond Hill – this back in the mid 1980s when I blew part of my lip off with a bottle rocket in her backyard, but that’s another story. In this one, she was wearing one of those dumb beer hats with a beer on each side and one in each hand. That, and the fact she wandered about the street wearing the remnants of a Styrofoam cooler strung about her neck while trying to walk like an Egyptian, is about all I can remember.

And should you wonder what became of us, all I know is I wound up helping kill what’s left of newspapers and cussing at people who speed in my neighborhood. They know who they are. Slow down before you run over somebody, you reprobates.

There was a St. Patrick’s Day when I somehow wound up getting separated from friends and wandered aboard a moonlight cruise on a Savannah Riverboat. While I was watching the moon ripple off the water and thinking how poetic it looked, up popped a woman who sort of reminded me of Edie McClurg (she played the principal’s secretary in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) but after further reflection was probably built more along the lines of Clinton era District Attorney Janet Reno.

I’m talking glasses and matron-do and all, and right there on that paddleboat steamer or whatever it was in the inky party light blackness of a St. Patrick’s Day night she asked me to play tonsil hockey with her, although not in those exact words I hope.

I refused, not so much because she looked like a cross between Edie McClurg and Janet Reno but mostly because a man was attached to her side, slobbering. Literally. And he looked like the famous writer Stephen King, glasses and all. There she was, there I was and there he was, on his knees drooling while he held onto Edie McClurg/Janet Reno’s belt while she tried to get me to kiss her.

I am not proud to say I did not kiss her. In retrospect, I might should have done so. She might’ve been a special Irish sort of leprechaun genie, and given me three wishes.

Erin go bragh.

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