Drinking, Fighting, Fucking and Crying Title

Drinking, Fighting, F*&king, and Crying

Drumcondra Pub Example“After the shower I got dressed up nice to go out; Nichola and I were supposed to go to The Kitchen (U2’s club), to meet up with Joe and Tony. Nichola was still doing her make-up when I heard a knock at the door.

This is where shit got interesting.

Something about the knock put me on high alert. There was something malevolent about it. Maybe I’m imaging that now, I don’t know, but there was a feeling that came with that knock. And when Mrs. Ryan answered the door and I heard a voice say, ‘I’m looking for my sister, she’s staying here with two Americans,.’ I froze.”

This is an except of a journal I wrote several days after the dust had settled from my first night in Ireland. The entry is dated Saturday, January 26th, 2002. By this time Joe, Tony and I were in Edinburgh, Scotland. I had left Nichola behind and a portion of my heart with her. Not because I was in love with her, but because I was in lust with her. But that’s obvious, and not the topic of discussion here, so let’s move onto the drinking. Because god help me, there was A LOT of it.

Four weeks ago, in the previous “Drinking” iteration of this column, I outlined how I had drunk myself sick at Whelan’s in Dublin while watching Daemien Frost and NPB absolutely kill it on stage. I relayed the experience of imbibing not only upwards of twelve pints of Guinness, but also more southern *gag* comfort than I can scarcely believe, looking back on it now. And I finished the tale the way that night finished – me hammered on the floor in the hostel bathroom. So, to move on to the next day…

Whatever time I woke up, I did so in serious pain. The idea of a hangover doesn’t even do this justice, and I hadn’t even been in-country for twenty-four hours yet! We had to get up and take a bus to the airport to meet Joe’s cousin Tony, which we did, during which I barely held it together. From there we headed out to our next residence, a Bed & Breakfast in Drumcondra, a suburb of Dublin. The establishment we were to stay in was run by a Mrs. Molly Ryan, and I’m not even trying to be funny when I say that years later, when I first saw Little Britain, I thought Mrs. Ryan would have fit in perfectly as one of the show’s oddball characters. We had two rooms – Joe and Tony and Nichola and I. Joe and Tony planned a trip to the Heineken Brewery – a trip I wanted absolutely NO part in. Believe me when I tell you that I had no intentions of drinking for at least the remainder of the day; consuming more alcohol was something I simply could not physically handle at that point. So Nichola and I took a nap and planned to meet the guys at a club called The Kitchen later that night. After the perfunctory introductions, paperwork and rule overview with Mrs. Ryan – chief among those rules “Don’t luse me keys, boys,” (remember that for later) – I laid my head on the pillow in our room and barely registered Nichola asking me if we could make plans to meet up with her brother later that night, somewhere in the Temple Bar area. I said something like ‘of course’ and then went out like a light.

Several hours later I wake up feeling better . Not 100%, but human at least. I’d have been fine spending the night in the room with my companion, but Nichola was set to go out. We took a shower and I felt better still. That’s about the time I heard the aforementioned knock on the door.

I should mention now that Nichola had been receiving texts and calls on a fairly constant basis since she met Joe and I at the airport the day before. The callers were a steady rotation of her Mum, Dad, and brother. I didn’t know it then, but Nichola had pulled  a disappearing act on her family when she came to meet us, and I guess in their worry – because Nichola apparently had a fairly dodgy psychological history (see this related previous post) that dictated her loved ones worry about her when she went missing. I wasn’t thinking about any of this because I didn’t know any of it, but when that knock came something told me this was a black omen. And as you can see by my transcription of the journal entry above, it was.

Nichola ran to the door to greet her brother and I stayed where I was up in our room, quickly trying to assess the situation. I could hear malicious intent in his voice, and I was seriously concerned about the fact that he had come to us – this almost certainly meant bad things for me.

“My brother Sean will give us a ride to the bar,” Nichola said, as if nothing was wrong. And maybe nothing was. I expressed my concerns, not about my safety at her brother’s hands, but at meeting Joe and Tony, but she assured me we were going to the same place. Reluctantly, I finished getting dressed and descended the stairs to meet the brother.

“Hello. How’re ye doin’ then?” he asked as we shook hands, his grip and knowing smile letting me know he had full control of the situation.

We piled into a small car – I think it was a Nissan – with Sean driving and her sitting shotgun, leaving me with two of Sean’s friends crammed into the back (I was sitting bitch of course, with the friends on either side of me).

I felt like we drove at a dangerous speed, once I swear even up onto a sidewalk. This may have been an illusion, as one thing I can tell you about Drumcondra is the streets are small and the curbs seem close when you’re taking them at any speed over forty. My stomach, still not 100%, was doing a loop-de-loop as we raced the streets. I tried to inquire or at least drop a hint about The Kitchen but no one seemed to hear me. Next thing I know we arrived  at a pub that had the exterior of an elaborate home. I asked where we were, and again, no answer. We exited the car and went inside, but not into the main room that lay twenty or so feet beyond the door. No, instead we trudged straight up a staircase just inside the door and into a private room.

Let me back up a moment and tell you how this particular part of the night played for me, because I still remember it clear as fucking day. To my eyes, this scene played out like I was suddenly watching Goodfellas, or some mobster movie. Third person like. You know, the scene where the wise guys bring their rat fuck friend up into a private room where everyone in attendance is connected. This is the scene that ends with the wise guys whacking the poor schmuck they’d lead in under friendly pretenses. And yes, as we crested the top stair, Sean in the lead, everyone seated around the gorgeous oak bar welcomed him with a roaring exclamation. He and Nichola it seemed, were among the very best of friends.

I was not.

I’ve always been one to grasp the bull by the horns, so to speak. I learned early in life that it is always better to be on the offensive than the defensive, so I began to look for a chance to pull Sean aside and talk to him. It still hadn’t dawned on me that he thought I was the abusive husband from the States, so I figured he was royally pissed that his sister had just ditched the family to shack up with some American that had just flown into town. Maybe I could work around this, get to know him and make Sean see that I was actually pretty enamored with his sister and concerned at her more risky behavior? The last thing I wanted was alcohol, but as we sauntered up to the bar and the barkeep took orders I asked for a Guinness, planning to simply sip it until I could get a hold of Joe or Tony – this was before I had acquired my first cell phone, or at least one that would work overseas, so that line of communication was cut off to me.

Just like in a good horror movie, eh?

Sean put in the orders in an overly hospitable way and then tacked on five shots of Black Bush Whiskey. You best believe my stomach curled in upon itself as I hoped one of those shots was not for me.

Turns out two of them were for me.

“Ah, no Sean. I mean, thanks, but, well, I drank a bit too much last night and…”

“Ah. You’ll not be denying my hospitality now, would ye?” he said, offering me the glass in no uncertain terms, “Besides, we’re here to welcome you to the family, proper.”

Cringing inside, I accepted the shot, told myself to buck the fuck up, and downed it, chasing it immediately with a fresh mouthful of Guinness to try and curb the effect. The burning brown liquor went down smooth, my gag reflex kicking in only at about half strength. I grimaced, took another mouthful of the black stuff and settled. Okay, not so bad…

Sean handed me the second shot.

It was after this one that two things happened. First, the ol’ ‘hair of the dog that bit me’ syndrome kicked in; my hangover was gone and I wanted nothing more than to finish my pint and have another. I drank it, thinking I was maybe impressing upon Sean that I wouldn’t be that easy to topple with mere booze. I signaled the bartender for another pint and asked what Sean wanted. He told me the drinks were on him and ordered another pint himself. And two more shots.

Fuck.

The second thing that happened was I realized they were going to get me good and drunk and then kill me. Or at least beat me within an inch of my life. No one would bat an eye at some stupid American who’d wandered into the wrong pub and pissed off a local ending up bleeding in the street. And with a room full of friends and family, there would be no witnesses. I had nothing left except to continue on with my plan to play offensively.

“Sean, can I talk to you about your sister? I think she might need some help.”

This is all that I remember saying, the opening line in a conversation that must have somehow convinced Sean that I was not a bad guy, or at least not the guy he had thought I was. Maybe Nichola talked to him, realized what was happening – or at least what was at stake – and convinced him to go easy on me. All I know is several pints and six or so shots later, Sean, Nichola and pretty much everyone else present up and left. It happened so fast and I was once again so hammered that I didn’t even have a chance to ask where I was or how I could get back to Mrs. Ryan’s. I had no idea what the address was of the B&B was and like I said, this was before wide-spread cell phone proliferation, so it was way before the advent of the smart phone . I’d picked the place from the 2001 Let’s Go! guide for Christ’s sake, and even that was back at the B&B. So I was screwed.

Luckily, of the two guys that stayed behind when the room cleared happened to be the chap from the backseat of Sean’s car on the way there. I found out his name was Dave, and it turned out he wasn’t a bad guy at all. Dave was from Drumcondra, and after another pint, the three of us piled into a cab and somehow they got me back to my base of operations.

Now, I’d made it back, but I was hammered. And I had no idea what time it was, or where Joe and Tony were, and it had started to rain. I staggered up to Mrs. Ryan’s door and went into my pocket for the key, only to find it wasn’t there. I frantically searched all my pockets, the ghostly refrain of Mrs. Ryan’s admonishment from earlier weighing on me like a boulder, “Don’t luse me keys, boys.” And of course, to top it all off, I had lost her keys. I literally laid down on the ground next to the door, curled up into the fetal position, and went to sleep in the cold, Irish rain.

Sometime later Joe told me he, Tony, and a girl Joe’d met the night before named Isabella exited a taxi and saw a bum curled up in front of Mrs. Ryan’s door. About to step over him, Isabella pointed out the bum had on really nice shoes. That’s when they realized it was me, woke me up and let me in. Unable to adequately explain anything, I woozily took my exit, climbing the stairs to the room I had hoped to once again share with the hot blonde Irish chick, and instead plopped into bed and knocked unconscious for a few hours, the burning pipes I often associate with too much whiskey waking me shortly thereafter. From there, all I could do was lay awake listening to Barry Adamson’s Soul Murder and attempt to write down what had happened in the journal.

I never spoke to Nichola again.

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

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