Sunday, October 23, 2005

In Ways of We

I love it when my father talks about Ireland. I love it when he tells his stories about growing up there. And I love it when he talks about going to the pubs. I love it because he always talks about going to the pubs in ways of 'we'. "We'd go there all the time" and "We'd always have a pint" he always says. I often wonder who the "we" are. Once my aunt Laraine told me that my father came home carrying a table on his back. He'd gotten drunk and carried it right out of the pub...all the way home. My grandmother made him take it back. I always imagine him bursting into those darkened pubs with a group of friends, screaming loudly and ordering up drinks by the fistfull. As he told his stories this morning over breakfast, my mind wandered into the bar downtown just as it did last night. And I replaced his "we" with mine. The truth is that lately I've missed my friends so much it aches. There are times whether by life's choice or our own, we're forced to live only at arms length from the rest of the world. So I can't explain what came over me when I walked through the back door of the bar and saw my friends in sombreros. Sipping syrupy drinks from straws and beers from cans and bottles. I wished Stacy and Jon a happy birthday and made my way over to Kim, Mike & Brandon. And I got to see Kim's dad, who I usually call dad. Because I don't want to call him anything else. And as the night went on I smoked too much. But I didn't much care. I saw everybody I wanted to see that night. We laughed at Brandon and Jeff and don't ask me where Jen went. Some things are better left to the night air... I even brought my little brother in for a few minutes. And just when I thought he might not be understanding the point of what is a night out at a small town bar where everybody knows your name - and to know it might get your ass kicked - a brawl broke out. What started it doesn't much matter. But quickly it went from a couple of loud-mouth women to a couple of angry men to a who's side are you on to a wait - who's fighting who? In short - we called the police. It took them what seemed like an eternity to drive a city block - the distance from the bar to the police station. Barney Fife could have gotten there quicker on a pogo stick. The men in blue...and brown took their sweet time calming everyone down. They missed a couple of troublemakers though - as most policemen do. When it was over they ordered us all out. Well before closing. We spilled out into the parking lot and as it does with most of us when we've had a little too much to drink - it took us a while to get our caravan on the road. But we did. And then we gathered around the table at Stacy's like we had so many nights before. And we talked a little more and pointed and laughed and laughed some more. And when my father tells his stories and says "we used to go out to the pubs all the's just what we did..." I know what he means.

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