"When I said all Irishmen were homosexuals," I clarify, "I should admit my research to date has been inconclusive." A large Irishman who looks to be made entirely of marbled forearm considers this. "Okay," he decides.
"Excellent! Could I trouble you to remove your thumb from my eye socket?" I ask pleasantly.
"Not yet." He leads me by the thumb over to the bar for another pint, and I crabwalk alongside him, commenting on the handsomeness, virility and forgiving natures of the Irish people.
A week earlier I had decided to land an assignment that would give me an excuse to drink on an expense account. St. Patrick's Day was conveniently near enough that I was able to pitch a story-this story-to the most highly respected and popular magazine on the stands. Unfortunately, right before my pitch meeting I inadvertently exposed myself to a secretary, later being informed that it didn't look very inadvertent to witnesses, and that in fact she was the magazine's publisher. Several phone calls attempting to re-spark interest in the story were met with attorney, forcing me to sell it to the makers of the functionally illiterate online offal you're now reading.
Luckily said offal's Editor-in-Chief, Monty Sarhan, was a close personal friend. "Smooth M," I told him, as this was my endearing nickname for him, "This St. Patrick's Day story will be so hard-hitting you'll shit boxing gloves."
"Mr. Sarhan," Smooth M said. "I've forgotten your name. Did we have an appointment, or ... " he added, looking worriedly at his calendar.
"I'll leave that to the philosophers," I laughed knowingly, helping myself to a handful of popcorn from a bowl on his desk and launching into my pitch. "St. Patrick's Day. What makes it tick? I'll slip unnoticed into Irish bars. I'll examine it up close and with an unforgiving eye, as if it was totally nude. I'll drink many fully-expensed drinks." I slipped this last one through in the hope it would go unnoticed.
"It will be the most spectacular journalism you've ever read, Smooth," I finished, picking popcorn kernels out of my teeth with my hand. "Make room on your motherfucking shelves for a Pulitzer." I pointed to the shelving on his walls to help make my point, trying not to be discouraged when there weren't any. "A man of your stature should really be able to afford more flat surfaces," I scolded, fishing another kernel out from my gumline.
"I honestly can't hear a word you're saying. You keep putting your hand in your mouth."
"Your complimentary popcorn," I explained. "A good choice, by the way. I try to eat popcorn at every meal."
"It wasn't complimentary,"
"Let's agree to disagree. This article-"
"You eat popcorn every meal?" he asked, like it was some kind of big deal.
"Popcorn," I explained, "is one of the most highly nutritious foods available in modern supermarkets." I'd adopted a tone that let him know I was talking to someone with the intellect of a child. "Its pH content is through the roof. I wouldn't expect you to understand this, but the alkaline levels are also excellent."
"I know what alkaline and pH mean. You're just making things up. Anyway, you can't just eat popcorn. How do you go to the bathroom? You must crap solid popcorn logs."
I nodded silently. That part was actually true. I tried to stay focused. "Smooth, this article-"
"Take your hand out of your mouth!"
On the other 364 days the year, O'Malley's Pub is like any other bar in Brooklyn; a place to sit quietly in the dark, drink watery beer and possibly score some cocaine. But for pubs like O'Malley's, St. Patrick's Day is something akin to a Super Bowl. No expense has been spared tonight-whichever lights are still working have been turned on, every greasy surface has been festooned with cardboard shamrocks and the beer has been dyed a sickly neon green. Even the neighborhood cocaine salesman has caught the spirit, and sports a playful green felt top hat. It is perfect. For six hours now I have sat quietly in the dim light, drank green beer and observed St. Patrick's Day in action. I have also politely and repeatedly declined to buy drugs, on the grounds that I remembered to bring enough with me.
Like every pub on St. Patrick's Day, O'Malley's has elected to blast high-decibel Irish folk music instead of actual music that isn't painful to listen to. "Irish folk songs" is a bit of a misnomer anyway, since they evidently only invented one. I've been listening to "Whiskey in the Jar" in what seems like an endless, torturous loop. It's not unlike having your eardrums repeatedly penetrated by a fiddling leprechaun rapist.
After spending an entire night in a crowded Irish pub sipping green lager, I have come to two conclusions about St. Patrick's Day: firstly, drunk people are morons. Secondly, this first conclusion is hardly late-breaking news. I'm beginning to realize there isn't actually a story here. Once a year, everybody in America collectively forgets that Ireland's a sour little mud puddle full of wife-punching redheads that isn't worth giving the correct time to, let alone celebrating. Everyone drinks until their brains implode, does something chronically stupid and wakes up pantsless and filthy behind an Olive Garden. Ditch the green food coloring and you'd just call it Friday.
This troubles me, since if I don't get an article out of this, I won't get to expense what's quickly becoming the most legendary bar bill of all time. I've bought rounds for the capacity crowd in the pub five times now, on the grounds that it makes me look gracious and, more importantly, rich, hopefully allowing me to peg some college ass.
I manage to corner a perky blonde journalism major and pronounce her ass pegworthy. Loudly, as it turns out, though luckily the music is at full volume. Attempting to charm the pants off of her, I yell my resume and credentials out over the din. When this fails to impress her I resort to push-ups, which ends up making me vomit a little but still looks hell of impressive. For whatever reason, she's gone when I stand back up.
Almost closing time. "Whiskey in the Jar" comes to the end of its seventeenth and final verse and segues into the opening stanza of "Whiskey in the Jar", and I still have nothing meaningful to write about St. Patrick's Day. Luckily I still have my journalist's instincts to fall back on, and decide that in the absence of news I will simply make some. I grab a pool cue and swing cheerfully into the hamstrings of a nearby Irishman.
"Oi! Brother, what the fuck?" he screams. As he turns around, I notice with growing alarm that he continues to turn around for quite some time, there's so much of him. Undaunted, I heft up both dukes (Lefty and Squanto) to chest height, planning to bring vast amounts of noise. "Are you homosexual enough to fight me?" I yell at him over the music that, I realize moments later, was turned off a half-hour ago.
The Irishman stares at me in confusion. I replay this last bit of dialogue in my head, locate the error and correct myself. "Are you going to fight me, or are you a homosexual?" (Despite the absence of music I have elected to keep screaming, presuming it makes me look dangerous.)
My second try gets the desired reaction, and with a blur of speed the Irishman wedges his thumb securely into my eye socket with a wet SHLNK noise. I try to take a step back, but this only causes a bright explosion of pain. Man, I think, that thumb's really in there. I pause to consider my options.
" I would like to give you coffee-cup sized rolls of hundreds ," I state magnanimously.
"Did you buy the bar?" Smooth M asks incredulously, leafing through the phone book-sized manuscript that is my expense report back at CRACKED's head offices.
"Ha ha, no," I laugh dismissively. "Four Irishmen walked me to an ATM and helped me empty my checking account."
"You paid off sources?"
"Of course not. An enraged regional boxing champion and three of his friends." I attempt to make a nonchalant grab for some popcorn, but the eye patch I'm wearing makes a mockery of my depth perception and I end up grabbing a stapler instead. Not one to ignore an opportunity, I open up my briefcase and deliberately place it inside.
"This had better be one hell of an article," Smooth says nervously, flipping through my expense report like it was an animated flipbook-which, thanks to my foresight and some doodling on the cab ride over, it in fact is.
"It will be the single greatest thing you've ever put online," I assure him, "its prose muscular but nimble."
"Where's my stapler?"
"I leave that to the philosophers," I say, making a hasty exit for the door.