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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

How Not To Get In A Fight in Ireland

High time for an Irish story. Of at least one good anecdote from that lush isle.
Perchance it was that we were strolling through the streets of Sligo. We, as in Caleb McKinney and I. Katie had stayed in the hostel reading.
I, getting a good whiff of the town previously entreated Caleb to join me, "This town's truly Irish, I tell you. No catering to tourists. Real Irishmen being really Irish." I'd like to think that I said those words. If I didn't speak them, I truly felt them and communicated the thought to Caleb effectively. So went a-sauntering into the wet streets ( Irish streets are always wet) of Sligo. Previously we had been in Dublin, then the Galway for an arts festival, in between these times we stayed out in the middle of nowhere in Western Ireland.

Sligo is in Western Ireland, its a city by Irish standards, though only a bustling town by American standards. It's mostly known for it being the place that the poet W.B. Yeats is from or at least they claim him. (People always claim poets after they're dead.) For me, Sligo was a refreshing look at an Irish town without them trying to sell you something. The people were just themselves. And we were among the few tourists around.

So Caleb and I go meandering down the slick streets of Sligo. And one thing should be said about Caleb. He had just purchased this hat in Galway, that in my fine opinion, did a nice job of complimenting him. I thought it befit him well. It was sort of like a dull-green fedora. Stylish and classy. The kind of hat you'd got to a horse race wearing, and bet a hundred just like that. As for myself, I was sporting this red sweatshirt. (a sweatshirt to keep warm because at no time, not even in the middle of July, is there ever a real summer in that flippin country.) This sweatshirt had a large bull on it and said, "Pamplona-Iruna, San Fermin." I had bought it in Spain a week before to commemorate my run with the bulls(And of course to show my feat off during the wintertime back in the states.)

Caleb had already been accosted in the street by this tipsy Irishman, who wanted to buy the hat right then and there on the spot. The clever Irishman went to the degree of debasing and avowing just how hideous the hat looked on Caleb. Resorting to giving his proper and unquestionable authority on the matter that, for one, Caleb's face just did not go with along with the hat. "Now, how much do you want for the hat?" he slurred on. But after he tried it on, not at all to Caleb's consent. We pretty much told him that while his advise was valuable in Ireland. It was mainly Katie's authority (Caleb's girlfriend) who was the true authority on such matters, and she had thought it looked good on Caleb. Enough said. We left him envious in the doorway of the pub. His last stab was to make the comment that Caleb's face was too American/Canadian for the Irish hat. The man went so far as to provoke squabbling between Caleb and I by saying that I had the more Irish face which I don't really agree with, not that Irish faces are ugly or anything.) and that the hat most necessarily befit me better. Well, his poisonous insurrections didn't work. I still thought that the hat looked dapper on Caleb. As for myself hats and long hair, I've never really seen their accompanying merits.

But this was not the first episode on account of his hat. For shortly after we were getting some euros out of an ATM machine on a bustling street. (Trust me you fly through euros in Ireland.) These two guys approached us. They bother were entirely sloshed. Young, about the same height and build. They could have been twins.
There was ridicule lined in their faces and they broke out in this derailing tirade about Caleb and his hat. One of them held ou his hand, offering a 2 euro coin to Caleb. All the while chiding in a sloppy brogue, that I could only understand maybe a 1/3rd of what he was saying. (Wha-a-a-a-t, is tha-a-t? Here, take this (untranslatable gibberish; Irish slang probably) in ye grimey (more indecipherable bantering) hands.

In most situations, especially in my travels in Eastern Europe, if anyone approaches you after you've been at an ATM machine, that are after what you just retrieved. It is best to avoid any contact. In Ireland, we didn't know what to make of this. Here these two drunk Irishmen were berating the both of us. One of them took Caleb's hat and placed it on his head. (As this seemed to reoccur over and over again with complete strangers I figured that it had some sort of magical charm to it.) These two guys were only hostile in an intoxicated playful way. After their spill of fun at Caleb, they turned upon me, and noticed my bright red sweatshirt with the large silhouette of a bull on it. "Whaaaat the bluddy is thaat?" That is awful. Ah, god-awful! That has to bee the ugliest shirt I've ever seen!" They stood there contemplating the magnificent awfulness of my sweatshirt.They got a real kick out of pointing at the balls of the bull on my shirt. And the drunken stupor was only increased by the astonishment on what to make of these two foreigners with their ugly, ugly sense of fashion. They couldn't gt their sentences out from the sheer ridicule of my red sweatshirt and Caleb's green hat. (I'm sure the pints of Guiness they had before contributed to that as well.)

Caleb and I really didn't know what to make of this fun-loving belittling. We just simply smiled. Laughing at how ridiculous they seemed in their drunken trance. But, we also, felt the aggression in their laughing slurs. Were they trying to start a fight with us? A sizing up naturally takes place. I was taller than both of them. Caleb was shorter than both, though probably stronger than both. We were both entirely sober. I think that we could take them on, if they tried anything. But they were Irish, those myths about the fighting Irish don't exist for no reason. Maybe they were fierce bare-knuckle boxers. They both kind of resembled the guys off of Boondock Saints. No, but I think I could quickly take care of one of them, if Caleb jumped on the other. Such thoughts swirl in the minds of guys. We hunched up. Bracing ourselves for the advent of what may break out to be a fight. One of them still had Caleb's hat on his head. And I thought for sure they were going to run off with it. I told Caleb under my breath for him to try to get his hat back while we were still talking with them.
But something altogether unforeseen occurred. They slipped from ridiculing us, to asking us to participate in a prank of theirs. Back several store fronts down, was a pub with people outside of it, they wanted to seperate from us and in a few minutes, they wanted us to walk up to this pub and in the midst of this group of guys, these two guys would act as though they hadn't talked to us, and ask us what are names were and where we were from. They gave us the answers to say beforehand. My name was to be Brian (befitting) Moore. And Caleb was to be Padraig McCoin(pronounced "Parg") and we both were with Nissan-Cooley Motors.
The whole joke was the fact that this group of men out in front of the pub was having some sort of business party. The company being Nissan-Cooley Motors, and that Padraig McCoin was sitting right there, who was one of the employees. Brian Moore was off somewhere, but still a well-known employee.

Beforehand, Caleb and I rehearsed our lines until we got the accent just right. Into a rolling Irish lilt. As we walked towards the pub, I thought, "So now we are going to tick off the real Brian Moore and Padraig McCoin and get into a bar brawl." We approached the pub and everything ran its course. The people who got the biggest kick out of it were the two guys who initiated it. They laughed and laughed and laughed. They kept asking over and over again and we would blurt out our scripts in the accent. I felt like a parrot. But all these hoops we jumped through were not without pay, for the two guys were quick to invite us into the pub and buy us a round of drinks. We had Guiness. And then the other employees of Nissan-Cooley Motors came up to us, talking with us and laughing about everything. This Padraig was a clown as well. He placed Caleb's hat on his head saying that the hat belonged to Padriag McCoin. We had just found ourselves some friends. We sat outside talking with them all. They even bought us another round of Guiness. I was talking to probably the most sober of this men, about traveling in America, when a fight broke out. It was between the real Padraig and another hot-headed company member. The other guy got pretty upset with Padraig's clowning and jumped on him. Knocking his Guiness out of his head with a shatter. He didn't take this type of mirthful ridiculing very well. We took this as a cue to go back to the hostel, seeing how the company was disbursing for some other joint and the fun-loving atmosphere had ended. The hot-headed man strut off for another pub. And the boss, who broke up the debacle, got really heated at this young guy who attacked Padraig (Padraig,who was just having fun.) The last thing I remember was the boss, now he sorely cross, marching to the other pub to confront this aggressive employee of his. I don't know if this included him being fired, or him just getting his Guiness knocked out of his hand. Caleb and I left. Caleb with his green hat and I in my red sweat-shirt.

The moral of the story. How not to get in a fight in Ireland? Easy, just play along with their ridicule. As soon as they see you take their belittlement in jest, they turn around and buy you drinks.


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