Trading in Nine Lives for Irish Silver

It occurred to me that this St. Patrick’s Day will be the ninth installment of The Irish Post. Which seems more impossible than Kelly Ripa’s love life. And as remarkable a thing as it is, and will be, I ain’t gonna lie. I’m already looking forward to next year.

Irish Post X. 

That is carazy with a capital Kong. It’s a hot Prada enchilada served up on a regatta in Nevada. To the ‘fo of ‘sho. To the legit of no quit. To the verve of swerve and to all of the many and mighty tilted verbs that sobered up inside the written word of a Holy Day’s debauched solemnity.

From the get, The Irish Post has been a crime of passion, and guilt its best defense. The annual Drinks post has never been content with the opaque formalities of absolution, where sins are treated as commodities which can be traded for free passes to the next not so great idea. Instead it regales in the fallen angel who doesn’t give a great good shit to apologize for the sins of every day and everywhere, and everyone.

The installments of this particular series have run wild with comedy and deep with tragedy, as if the flag of Ireland was whispering its tab to the man settling its check. It has tipped the velvet, slow danced with the mysteries and kitsched up the woebegone of days well spent and nights deigned less so.

And what a glorious thing this will always be, to paint pictures of the heavens from the warm embrace of the fiery pits. To dream in colors possessed by sounds. To walk through the wildest fantasies of Joyce and Wilde and all those brilliant madmen whose pens sang acapella with the cosmos. Imagine all that, dressed up in roman numerals.

I’m guessing this year’s Irish Post will just have to make due.

Finding Zen from the voices in my head

I learned something about myself as far as storytelling is concerned. I’m really not the natural I thought I might be at this. Being an outgoing person is one thing. Getting up on stage in front of a crowd of complete strangers and producing a coherent story with a beginning, middle and end? It’s a completely ‘nother thing.

My experiences to this point are very much in keeping with my novice rank. I’ve forgotten my place in a story. I’ve left out really good lines. I’ve rambled at times. I cut a story short simply because my nerves got the best of me. Hell, I’m hesitant to take the mic out of its stand for fear I’ll drop it. The feedback I have received has been nothing short of amazing, and I love it when someone comes up to me and hits me with a line I used, it’s great stuff. Still, I grade myself much more critically than these peeps, probably because I know my reach better than they do.

The transition from writing something down to talking something out has necessarily taken on a greater degree of emphasis for me, and in the process has given me a window into my writing. It’s an interesting, and wholly unique, vantage point.

Who knew? I discovered what makes me tick as a writer by involving myself in a creative outlet where I don’t write down a blessed thing. I haven’t written down a blessed thing in what has to be a month’s time now, and yet I’ve been writing every single day. As a person who doesn’t abide by convention, this turns me on.

Storytelling requires a great deal of practice. It also means that I spend a ton of time explaining to people why it is that I’m talking to myself more often than usual.

The idiom that “practice makes perfect” can easily be misunderstood as being emblematic of a pristine finished product when really, there’s no such thing. Practice is growth, and well, growth is scraped knees. It ascribes to the tenets of Zen: The action is your landscape, the steps taken your true goal. Basically, if you’re looking for the way? You’re there.

I had kinda taken it for granted that my ability to write was borne out of some mystical design to which I had no control. And while I do believe there is validity to the “God given” ability to plant words that grow into stories, this mindset left me wanting. A gift is a living, breathing thing. Which means to say, it requires maintenance. And so it was that I learned this rather obvious fact whilst talking out stories.

Storytelling is the ability to borrow the listener’s mind and furnish it with plush scenarios that sate their hunger. You don’t have to be crystalline in your descriptions, but you do have to be bold and decisive. It’s all right there, in that moment. Whereas writing requires an ambitious decree whose evidence takes on a patina-like quality, story telling is akin to prospecting for quicksilver.

My favorite storytellers live and die in the telling of their tale. The connection is so visceral because the potion they’re serving up is a fiery passion whose immediacy hits you upside the head and takes you to wherever it is they’re going. My favorite writers possess an innate ability to connect divinity to that which is tangible. They weave the temporal into a devoutly stitched piece of work whose union is majestic.

I love both sides of this equation.

I’m not there, on either count; not even close. I’m still stepping and plying and learning my way along. Brokering a peace with the ebbs of my writing chops and forging an alliance with the flow of my story telling. I’m in love with how perfectly imperfect the whole process truly is. Honestly, it makes me feel like a kid on the first day of school.

I can deal with that.

A Million Miles From Camelot

I figured out what it was. This inability to build a lucid narrative on Trump; an affliction I’ve been toting around since November of last year when reality TV met up with the real thing. It’s because to talk about the man would simply lead me down a rabbit hole whose confined space would force me to rant instead of reason. I would equivocate rather than elucidate. In other words, I would be screaming textually rather than arguing sensibly.

And then this past weekend happened. I was busy as all get out, but who can run away from that kind of news? I mean, really. There’s no place to run and hide when something like Charlottesville happens.  And when it happens inside of an already turbulent time, it kind of feels like Mephistopheles scored the deed to our backyard.

Horrible events such as this leave you with a dull ache- full of hopelessness and dread, for what might come next. Because the worst days always seem to have a sequel just waiting to be unleashed, especially nowadays. To be a true believer in this day and age is akin to being accused of witchcraft in Salem back in the day. You’re a freakish misfit to the villagers. And I guess that’s where I came to understand why it is that I have been silent for so long on Trump.

Out of disbelief? Partly. Out of dread for what comes next? Mostly. Out of fear that I wouldn’t be able to stitch the right nouns to the proper verbs and make it cohesive enough sounding without coming off as a fraternal member of the Young Turks? Definitely.

Until now. Until Charlottesville. And I really hate the fucking timing of this post, because it means that Saturday happened. It’s like a meteor crashed down on my clueless skull and opened me up to the truth of the matter, and how to express it.

I don’t believe in blaming others unless they are directly responsible, which is another reason why I couldn’t bring myself to write on Trump for the last ten months. Because I most certainly wasn’t blaming him for all those votes he got. And I wasn’t even blaming all the people who thought he was the best idea this country had left, even if they were woefully wrong on that point.

No, I blamed the people such as myself. The ones who voted for Hilary and thought that was all it was going to take, and all the others who didn’t think she needed their vote to win by a slam dunk. I was one of those people who made fun of a Trump presidency, over and over and over again. Until November happened, and all the humor of such a thing became an Orwellian story line come to life.

And now, none of it is funny or irreverent. Now, it’s just a series of piss poor comedic skits with no punch lines. Now it’s just a sad and lonely and interminably long truth.

I wish I had some pretty words to dole out, on how we all have to come together and how peace and unity is the only way. But right now, it feels as if that “I Have A Dream” speech by Martin Luther King happened inside another world. Right now, it feels as if there is more of Charlotteville where Saturday came from. Because we have a President who never met a middle ground he didn’t blow to smithereens. And now, he has the guns to do just that, in more ways than the horrible one.

I can’t blame Trump for what James Alex Fields did in Charlottesville. Because to do so would be to buy in to the trade off of accountability that has allowed us to arrive at this mess in time. Fields made the decision to kill and injure when he plowed his car into a group of people. Just as those Nazi’s of another mother country and the white nationalists with their Tiki torches made the decision to be moral degenerates long before Trump came into office.

My problem with Trump has nothing to do with the actions of these disenfranchised losers. I don’t blame Trump for their seething hatred and bitter ignorance. Trump didn’t make these people who they are.

My problem with Trump is that he accepted it.

Slugfests, Southpaws and a Summer Wind

The historian Bruce Catton once referred to baseball as the greatest conversation piece America ever invented. While it was a critique of the game’s leisurely pace, he unwittingly pointed out one of its best qualities. Because the game is meant to be talked over, in stops and starts for its better and worse.

I recently took in an Atlantic League baseball game with my pal Gus. It was the hometown Lancaster Barnstormers against the Sugar Land Skeeters. The league is independent, which means none of its teams is affiliated with a big league squad. As far as household names go, the ‘Stormers have Lastings Milledge, an outfielder who played parts of seven seasons with the Mets, Nationals, Pirates and White Sox before opting for free agency after the 2011 season. He hasn’t seen a big league clubhouse since that day, which makes him the baseball equivalent of Tom Hanks in Castaway; holding onto a slim and distant hope. And aside from owning one of my favorite baseball names, he owns a dream that won’t let him quit the diamond just yet.

The dreams these men carry aren’t big ones. Most of them would be ecstatic to score a thirty day contract with some minor league club. Because a thirty day contract somewhere else, is somewhere closer than the last exit outposts they’re toiling away in.

I told Gus that I had a good feeling about things, because our starting pitcher was a lefty. In my humble baseball opinion, left-handed pitchers are a magical thing. Never mind that I didn’t know his name and had no blessed clue whether he could pitch worth a damn. By the time the top of the first inning had concluded, I had received my answer to the tune of a 5-o lead by the visitors.

We made our way to the concession stands and dug into some barbecue while the home team began chipping away at the lead. The game settled for a bit and we watched as our lefty pitcher battled despite the fact his curve ball wasn’t curving and his fast ball was playing around with other men. And then the Skeeters were jumping him again and so me and Gus, we changed the subject for a while.

When it comes to the company you want to keep at a baseball game, you’re not going to get much better than Gus. His conversation chases the ebb whilst paying all due respect to the flow. Sitting in the stands on a summer evening is like listening to a thousand radio songs- filled with white knuckle debate and the laughter of reminisce.

Gus is from Lafayette, Louisiana- born and raised. His vowels are clipped and his drawl goes long when he’s slow dancing with a story. I asked him about Vietnam and he talked about his brother Roger who served in the Army, Special Forces. He made it back, but a part of him never returned; like a jigsaw puzzle with a few really important pieces missing. There was Anthony, his other big brother who served in the Marines before being sent home after stepping on a land mine. While the rehab on his mangled leg was tedious and painful, Anthony was one of the lucky ones.

My pal tells stories in thickly painted vignettes whose mystic is dressed in the scenes of a long ago time. In this instance, he had delivered up suede and bell-bottoms, long hair and peace signs with a fresh vinyl feeling to that Buffalo Springfield war song.

And so a baseball evening’s worth of conversation began in Vietnam as the home team tried digging out of a 5-0 deficit. The talk moved into family as they tied it at 7 and it nestled into thoughts on religion as the teams made the scoreboard operator earn his paycheck on this night.

It was at the end of the sixth inning when Gus took his leave. He had a lovely bride of forty eight years to get home to and so I walked with him to the outfield exit before I asked him for one more baseball night before the leaves turned.

I walked down to the benches behind the outfield wall and took a seat for one more inning. Baseball might lend itself to conversation, but there is plenty of come on to be had in the silence as well. The Skeeters were clinging to a 11-9 lead in the bottom of the seventh when Beau Amaral delivered up the kind of magic our starting pitcher wasn’t able to find. He smacked a 2-2 pitch into a gaping stretch of real estate in left field that Steve Bartman would’ve appreciated. He rounded second before the left fielder could turn to pivot and he was racing home as the throw hit the third baseman’s glove on the relay, and he was sliding across home plate with an inside the park home run as the ball went sailing over the catcher’s head.

Beau Amaral has a great baseball name, and he has something many of his teammates have run out of. Time. Twenty six and fresh off a stint with the Reds Triple A club, he’s tearing up the ball to the tune of a .359 batting average with the ‘Stormers. He’s killing it for another shot at the big time, in the hopes he can catch a scout’s eye and start that most time honored of baseball things.

A conversation.

Simple Thing

There is something mystical about a simple gesture. I was driving to work yesterday afternoon when I witnessed just such a thing whilst stopped at a red light. It involved a young homeless man, a veteran I think; he takes up residence at a busy intersection near the local mall. I’ve seen him several times over the last week, dressed in his ratty jeans and a cardboard sign asking for help. His belongings fit inside a beat up old backpack, and I am ashamed to admit that yesterday was the first time I took notice of these things. Thanks to an older gentleman who performed a simple and totally random act of kindness on a Thursday afternoon.

It was getting hot and I had the AC pumping and Live humming its way through my sound system, caught inside my titanium sheathed bubble in which the whole wide world was my sovereign child. All that mattered to me was recording a story idea I’d come up with for the local Story Slam, and then reality was smacking me upside the head as I watched this older gentleman doing this kid a favor. Doing the whole world a favor, really.

The kindly old fellow got out of his car and opened his trunk, where he fetched a baseball cap for the kid dressed in struggle who calls the intersection home. That was it, the whole thing, that. The gift of a baseball cap that was making me feel as if a million dollars had just changed hands. And I wondered if the other witnesses to this beautiful moment were paying the same kind of attention as me. I wondered if they saw the purpose of such a thing, and the lessons it was dealing up.

And I stopped recording while Ed Kowalcyk railed on about misery and hope being maternal twins of an earth whose best days are hard to come by. And I cried, a glorious feeling kind of cry that wasn’t ashamed or self conscious. It just was. And I prayed for that kid some, and I gave thanks for that old dude. And the world seemed to make sense, if only for the moment, at that busy intersection . . on a Thursday afternoon in the middle of another working day.

You really shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. You should embrace it.

 

 

Why rent out my mind when it’s a seller’s market?

It occurs to me that my brain gets more interesting every day. Too bad my long term memory has gone all short term on me. Or is that a good thing? Anyways, here are a few of my favorite thoughts since sitting down to dinner. As Keanu Reeves would say, Vaya Con Dee Ohs.

-Watched the Halloween as per of a Rob Zombie reboot this evening. Fucking A, the man has a genius to him that I crush on madly. His rendition is actually . . . oh  . . how did I refer to it today? Oh yeah. My ‘happy place’. Yep, I’m gonna be residing in the fiery pits on the other side of all this hilarity. Fun people? Hit me up!

-I got one of my best pals (And a huge Tebow hater) to say the following . . . verbatim. “Tim Tebow is God’s homie.” And it only cost me a couple of Heineken big ones to coax it out of him. Okay, maybe you had to be there to get the satisfaction.

-Wait a minute! Ice Cube created a 3 on 3 league? And it starts tonight? In Brooklyn? And . . I’m curently watching it as I write this post . . .

-Deep dish pizza is the best pizza. Yes, this Bronx born son just said that. But hey, I have made both of these pie plates by hand with genuine pizza dough (not the store bought crap), and well . . . deep dish is still winning. I went all Luca Brasi with my sweet Italian sausage version last night. Which is the mafioso way of saying . . . Killed It! 

-The Cubs? Not so much winning going on there. And I think I love that fact more than deep dish.

-And not for nothing, but if the Red Sox win it all this season? Welp, they bought a title. Hey, as a Yankees fan who has been hearing that shit forever . . . it’s all about the fair play of a turnabout.

-Oh shit, I almost forgot. As far as the Rob Zombie masterpiece of a Halloween reboot goes, I can’t stop falling in love again with his music placement. Going with one of my all time favorite Rush songs . . Tom Sawyer? In the truck stop scene? Only a writer on the level of Isaac Newton (Or Quentin Tarantino . . . same diff) would be able to grasp that kind of gravitas. Wow? Meet za.

(Since I have a sweet spot finish for this post, Imma throw one of my favorite Rush spills in right here.)

-Ann Curry, you are my Joe DiMaggio in curls. And please, please, please! Come back!

-Katie Couric? Stay wherever you are.

-That Friday the 13th game I have actually been playing on PS4 . . . kicks. Ass.

-I can’t believe I just said that. Much less . . . meant it.

-And might there be a future post on this Friday the 13th game? Call Vegas right now, and win big with the yes.

-Speaking of . . . What if you would have gone to Vegas, like thirty years ago, and tried to lay money on this here bet? That America’s Father (at the time) Bill Cosby would be known as a sexual predator . . that the saintly Joe Paterno was covering up child rape (he was), and that Donald Trump would be elected President in 2016? Vegas books would’ve been like, “Yeah, and the Raiders are moving to Vegas.” And well, there’s that.

-Just finished watching Season 3 of Fargo, and while I didn’t find it to be the strongest of the entries thus far,  it was still plenty satisfying. Which is why this show is still my favorite. Because its not lazy in the buildup, and it’s not predictable in the end. And if you’re a fan of writing for writing’s sake, you understand.

-The Yankees woeful present tense is still better than what I had imagined for this season. So, nope . . I’m not fluxed. Even the slightest bit.

-And as far as the Red Sox are concerned (because I can’t bring myself to stop brawling with Yawkey Way) . . . I have been in touch with Neil Diamond’s agent, and he is open to a Buffalo Wild Wings dinner. Soooooo . . . that fucker is gonna be mine. Figure out your late innings anthem from here, Beanies!

-I promised myself I wouldn’t fall for a Starbucks drink this summer, so . . . umm. Well, damn you Midnight Mint Mocha and S’Mores fraps!

-I miss smoking every single day. So thank you running, thank you for keeping me from going back.

-Hey, I damn fraps and I give thanks to running. It keeps me even. Because the meds . . . are way more expensive.

-The idea of D Wade joining up with the Cavs next season? I am totally fluxed. Because guess what King James! You only started winning anything after you rented a room in D Wade’s house on South Beach! And yes, that’s how I feel about it.

-Still, if Carmelo joins up with the James Gang, Imma be excited for the Land. Much.

-But D Wade? Please go anywhere else, with the anywhere else meaning the Lakers. Or Heat. Or hells, just hit up Ice Cube.

-When did commercials become philosophy class? Have we become that shallow? Ugh, people!

-I haven’t watched CNN, FOX or MSNBC in over a month now. And to think, once upon a time, politics was my favorite swing. Damn. How times have changed.

-Is Trump still President? Wait . . don’t answer that. I’ve tricked myself into believing Harrison Ford is running things.

-Harrison beat out Michael Douglas in my imaginary (enough) America.  The runoff was decided in a Chopped showdown. Which is no more ridiculous than what actually happened. In fact, it’s much less so.

–If Ice Cube is reading this . . . I can still hit a spot up 3. With much certainty. Just. Saying.

-I bought myself a Harambe stuffed animal yesterday. Because as far as my stuffed animals go, I Never, Ever, Forget.

-Shared a cool story with my son’s girlfriend tonight about how me and some of my peeps once sat outside the Trust Building in Lancaster City, Pa and listened to Ed Kowalczyk of Live do his thing. It was one of my all time favorite free concerts. Right up there with the late great Robert Palmer’s Jones Beach gig, which I took in from the parking lot whilst waiting on my girlfriend back in high school.

-So lemme get this straight. Peter Jennings is dead and Bill O’ Reilly . . oh, never mind. Life ain’t fair.

-Was that too soon? For O’ Reilly?

-Well, it was too soon for Jennings. So let’s call it a tie.

-3 Headed Monsters WIN! Bill Clinton would be proud.

It’s Not Over Until James Brown Says So

What a difference a year makes.

This time last June, I was rooting my ass off for the Cavaliers to bring a long deserved title back to the city of Cleveland. I blame it on the Believeland phenomenon because I really didn’t give a piping hot pizza bagel about the Cavaliers but for the snake-bitten history of the franchise and its town. Granted, the great Lenny Wilkens not only played for the team, he later coached them. And yes, Lebron’s history with his home town team is now the stuff of legend. But for reals, this organization has given the NBA more cool names than titles. A top five cool names list? On it!

The Cool 5 of Cavaliers Lore 

World B. Free

John “Hot Rod” Williams

Campy Russell

Bingo Smith

Zydrunas Ilgauskas

This time around, I’m more chill. And while I can’t bring myself to pull for the Warriors (It would be like rooting for Brad Pitt to get laid, really), I most certainly can be alright with them winning it all. Because it means Kevin Durant will find himself at the top of the basketball world, and . . depending on how this series goes down, perhaps the new King of his sport. Because if he plays the rest of this series the way he played tonight, who could argue he hasn’t supplanted Lebron as the game’s top player? I wouldn’t.

My allegiance to the Heat and Lakers prevents me from rooting for other teams unless they are prohibitive underdogs, which kinda cancels me out of this series altogether seeing as how these clubs were chalk from the get. I’m not hating on the “threematch” because I happen to dig the drama of a rock opera rivalry with the sexy contrasts. It’s hot and it’s cool. Both! And it’s why I love this game.

Hey, I’ve been in love with the Association ever since I went to see a hot shot young gun by the name of Larry Bird play the Knicks like a rec team at Madison Square Garden. I got to see Bird, McHale and Dennis Johnson, Bernard King and Sugar Ray Richardson that night. And then things got real. Over the years I took in Kareem and Magic and my all time biggest man crush . . Pat Riley, coaching them up. I saw Artis Gilmore, Sydney Moncrief, George Gervin, Adrian Dantley, Dominique Wilkins, Julius Erving and Moses Malone and Elvin Hayes. Once I got wheels, I trekked down I-95 to Brendan Byrne Arena off Exit 16W where the joint was much less romantic but the patrons were every bit as involved. I took road trips to Philly where my friend George would take me to dinner and a Sixers game at the old Spectrum. A few years later, I was involved with a young lady who was dating a member of the Sixers (The dude was married, but I never could get a name out of her). Lemme tell you, those tickets were like Studio 54 to a young man who loved the game the way I did.

Admittedly, I’m a lapsed fan as far as live proceedings are concerned. I went to one lousy game this year, and watched my Heat get their 13 game winning streak snapped by the Sixers. I’m guessing that was the Karma Police paying me a visit. It’s okay, I deserved it (Even if Pat Riley didn’t.)

As for the Dubs and Cavs, I’m picking Kevin Durant and leaving it right there. He played like the best player in the universe tonight, and I’m loving the idea that the Cavaliers have no blessed idea how to stop him unless they plan on dropping a MOAB on Oracle Arena. Durant was every bit of his bad self, with a karate kick finish. And now he’s played in six Finals games (five with OKC in 2011) and is averaging just a split of a tic under his jersey number 35. He’s that good, and better. And . . and . . and . . if that wasn’t plenty ’nuff, he stared down Rihanna after she yelled ‘Brick!” while he was shooting a free throw. My. Man.

I would love to see KD in a closeout game. And I would love to see who guards him in the most pivotal moments of that game. And I would love it (very much) if Lebron was the guy, because hey, to be the King . . you gots to beat him. And I would really, really love it if last year’s 73 wins needed 35 in order to find redemption. And if that happens, I just might hoop and holler the way I did for Cleveland last June.

I’m very okay with that.

My First Girl

This post is ten years old today. It’s meaning is a forever kind of deal though. To Mom, and to all Moms. May your blessings be abundant. May your peace possess solvency, and may love cradle you inside its sweetest dreams. On this day, and all the ones to come. 

I remember walking you home from school. We’d stop by the park and I’d push you on the swings. We’d fill our faces with chocolate bars so perilously close to supper, because we could. And then we’d laugh at having broken with such frivolous convention. We’d hike to the supermarket and trade knowing winks, as if we had committed high treason on the butcher with our chocolatey smiles.

I’d haul the heavy bags home as we talked about the Beatles and the travails of kindergarten. You were my first girl. Hey, I was rather mature for my age, and you needed a five year old best friend. You needed to know what it was to feel young. God knows you had so much of it stolen from you.

I’d tell you how beautiful you looked and how great you smelled. Compliment your shoes. Hold the door. We’d make dinner. Dad, absent; the hours with him were dissolving as work took him away from us more and more. So it was you and me. You taught me to cook. Give foot rubs. Dance. All the essentials for a boy who was just beginning to marvel at the wonders of a girl.

I was the man of the house whenever he was away, and you made me earn it. Cause a Catholic girl always does. I loved the time we spent alone, because it gave me the chance to steal that amazing laugh you possessed. I wish dad would’ve warned me about that laugh. To this day, a woman’s laugh holds a most deliciously intoxicating mystery for me. Yours was childhood, the one you never got to unwrap because you were too busy growing up, too soon. I knew enough to know too much. It’s why I beckoned that laugh whenever I could. To summon the little girl away from the primitive conclusions of this world for a little while.

Thank you for teaching me how to throw a baseball . . . how to set a table . . . how to love a woman . . . thank you for that silent conversation we shared when you came to visit me in the hospital, a conversation I might never match with spoken word if I live to 100. Thank you for the advice you would impart whenever I went searching for the answers to a woman’s heart, like the time you told me “If it was that easy to figure out a woman, there’d be no need for alcohol.”

My little girl has a middle name that comes from you, but that’s not all she carries of you. She carries your sense of humor, your honesty, your grace. And my son has your persistence and that wholesome sense of purpose that makes him my twelve year old role model.

Because of you, I spend a small fortune on Mothers Day cards. I have my own personal “Mothers Club”, and you are the reason why I lean on them so hard and love them so completely. Because of you.

You taught me that life isn’t about having all the answers. Not when comfortable shoes are so much more important.

There is a thank you in every conversation we share. But here’s one for the hell of it.

The Irish Post- Last Call

Seneca once opined that every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. It was a thought so laden with festive sounding implications that the twin city rock band Semisonic repackaged the quote a few years later and fetched some pop culture notoriety in the doing.

What does a Roman philosopher and a bunch of white kids from Minnesota have to do with the Irish post? Well, they provide cover for my last call. As in, this is the last regular post on Drinks. But I’ll get to that in a moment. And for this particular jaunt, James Joyce has been replaced as the key holder by Rob Zombie. Sooo . . . there’s that.

Lemme start by saying how funny a thing love truly is. And by funny, I mean . . . funny. Let’s face it. Love makes you feel good, do good and want good. For you and for the universe at large. When you got love, you imagine every single love song was pencil scratched into vinyl just for you. When you got love, you think Foreigner is a cosmic ally that was bottle tossed from light years worth of understanding away. When you got love, you possess the 20/20 vision of Stevie Wonder.

Love happens to be a cosmic provision with little to no concern for those mortal souls who find it to be cruel and unfair. Hey, it’s human to take things personally, rather than to seek a broader understanding of the stuff. Most people need love to be what they want it to be. They believe the end of such a significant event signals failure, without ever scrunching their toes up into a ball and stopping on that there mistake before they take a high noon step further. Instead, they keep on stepping until they reach a point of no return from which they find themselves at an impasse with the way things work.

It’s okay. These peeps usually catch up with themselves after bucco fat days where Haagen Daas and Cheetos become staple foods and plots to assassinate Richard Curtis become retirement plans.

To others, love is an acquisition. It’s something they believe will round out their perfectly orchestrated march to stardust. It’s a highfalutin bit of self centered me-speak that is indicative of a time and place where movies and romance novels are taken as blueprints for the real thing. And it is, to be perfectly frank, complete nonsense. Perhaps necessary, as pain pills and vodka are necessary . . but nonsense just the same.

The Holy Day went unanswered for me this year. There was little to no advancement of song or well spoken thoughts. Without benefit of some ninety proof inspiration, there were no clever haikus or misbegotten memes to be had on the 17th. And yanno what? It was plenty fine with me.

Instead, there were several woebegone texts from various members of my hard scrabble posse enlisting their condolences at the cancellation of festivities and asking me to coordinate a New York trip for next year. Which sounds a bit extreme on the face of it, but will happen nonetheless on a majority vote. Hey, if it’s good enough for the Supreme Court, Imma go with it.

So it was that I made my way out on the 18th instead. This wasn’t a makeup consideration, since that would’ve been akin to celebrating the 4th of July in October. I called up Big Papi because I haven’t seen him since our Super Bowl get together and then I texted my friend Brian to see what he was up to since I hadn’t seen him since our last ski outing.

Once upon a time, Brian had a life he believed would never go away. It began as a young man of party going age, when he took his impressive skill set on the slopes and began the wickedly obscene lifestyle of a circuit brat. When the money ran out, he went to work as an architect and he lived the life of Gatsby until his marriage went bad and the white picket fence became a studio apartment.

Turning off married life and moving into the next chapter wasn’t all that difficult for me, seeing as how I’m not entertained by conventions or traditions as much as I’m interested in keeping things quiet in my head and mellow in my soul. For Brian, not so much. He misses his old life every day. He wants for the things he once possessed, and I haven’t the heart to let him in on the fact that he never really had them to begin with.

Brian made the life changing decision a few years back to flip the script on his little black book when it became painfully apparent the life he once knew wasn’t coming back. I have to admit, when he first told me I thought he was joking and I made a rather crude joke that probably would’ve pissed him off if it wasn’t so fucking hilarious.

“How’s the new guy?” I ask as we toast to the St. Patrick’s Day that wasn’t.

“He’s a drama queen.” Brian replies.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” I say.

Big Papi tells Brian he never would’ve guessed and then he proceeds to ask a couple of alcoholically induced questions without being crude or prejudicial in the least, simply because it’s his way. I cut things off by screaming at the big screens that are busy delivering up the wrong final score in the Villanova game.

Big Papi is a frail facsimile of his former self, and the change has come rapidly. It’s increasingly difficult for him to get around and it is fast approaching that time when his strut is gonna be a motorized thing. He’s fifty five going on maybe another ten years if everything goes really well.

Still, he has pipes when it comes to anything sports related. And he’s using them on a group of young fellas who are high fiving each other. I can’t help myself, so I follow this up with the suggestion that they take their celebration to Madison, Wisconsin. I’m not really a Wildcats fan, but for the octane that a little smack talk may provide. The high fiving dissipates, but I’m pretty sure this has more to do with the fact that Brian is six foot too much with a mug that should’ve been cast in Goodfellas.

So there we were, the three of us, bitching about being men of a certain age whilst laughing about it inside the same vast breaths. Big Papi misses the good old days, and so does Brian. I happen to think it’s a waste of time, to miss them. Life is one big series of wins and losses, to which you can answer the uncertainty with swings. In the end, it’s all you got.

Donna and Allie arrive as we’re busy flagging down the waitress for a final round and they hop on the fledgling party bus. Donna is a forty something divorcee and Allie her younger concubine turned full time thing. The first time I met them, I was busy praying to Jesus that I might arrive at the bottom of a black diamond hill with all my necessaries still operational. They behave as if they’ve been married forever, and they’re much more interesting than that.

This is what love looks like in the new age. Everything is on the table, every happily ever after is subject to change. Nothing is as it seems, and to those things that are? Well . . don’t go putting money down on it. And so it was on the St Patrick’s Day celebration that turned into a simple trip to Buffalo Wild Wings the day after. Some decent eats, solid conversation, a few laughs and no bail was required.

As for Drinks? It is officially retired now. Which means not dead, but no longer around on any kind of regular basis. I’ll never delete it because why should I? And I plan on saying how do to my blog peeps from time to time.

This place was where the Irish post came to be. Out of the nowhere of misogynistic pleasures gone haywire. With dreams of hush and simple and a gallivant of primary colors gone sesame street. I turned albatrosses into a Paul Simon version of better. I measured my lack of discipline as per the ten commandments here. And not a soul knew how badly I was failing at them.

I bid you adieu with an adaptation, delivered up Cayman Thorn style.

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. And may God have a wicked sense of humor who just so happens to be golfing buddies with Richard Nixon.

It wouldn’t hurt, is all I’m saying.

Where peace gets its chance

When the end comes, I would like to think there will be a welcoming committee. The people I’ve lost will be there waiting for me with smiles and hugs and lots of really bad jokes. They won’t behave like angels because I wouldn’t recognize them if they did. In lieu of the harps and melancholic rituals I was always told to look for on the other side, they’ll have the snarky adjectives going strong; behaving as if it was just another rainy Monday morning in the middle of all that living. They’ll bitch about having all the time in the world and we will laugh our asses off, because that kind of thing will be a punchline from the ever after. The stuff that mattered before will keep on mattering, but it won’t come with a baggage check.

I hope there’s a makeshift ballgame going on in the backyard, with seat cushions for bases, a picnic table serving as the pitcher’s mound and a semi-circle of trimmed hedges playing the role of an outfield wall. I will move through the kitchen and stand at the back door watching; my finger nails scratching a clumsy guitar song along the screen. I’ll breathe in the freshly cut grass and shuffle my feet to the piping hot music coming through the transistor radio on top of the refrigerator. Outside, the laughs will paint colors into the air and the smiles will go frozen inside the life of a snow globe.

The clock that hangs on the kitchen wall might be a Van Gogh masterpiece, with the hours hand a sunflower and the minutes hand the petals and the tick will speak to me in French and the tock in Italian and the roam of five minutes time will feel like the most romantic thing. Dragonflies will write sonnets in the blue sky and the breeze will sound like Carole King. And deep inside the learning of all these many things, I’ll see the truth.

You have faith in the people you surround yourself with, but you don’t really know faith until it’s time to say goodbye.