Here is the story of the St. Patrick's Day that changed my life. It involved the drinking of alcohol and how my surrender to peer pressure and stress nearly destroyed my reputation forever.
The calamity happened a few years ago, while I was working for the Cleveland Free Times, the local alternative newspaper. On St. Patrick's Day that year, my co-workers were talking excitedly of their plans to "party hearty" after work in celebration. I knew what that celebration entailed: the consumption of alcoholic beverages. So you better believe I planned to "steer clear"!
Up to that day, a drop of alcohol had never passed between my lips. I mean, why would I let a thief into my mouth to steal my brain? And everyone knows the myriad health issues associated with alcohol, which include liver disease and gastrointestinal problems, not to mention the troublesome maladies known as "brewer's droop" and "whisky d---."
My co-workers invited me to accompany them to the "bar" to celebrate the famed Irish holiday:
"No thank you," I declined politely. "There may be drinking."
"Come on, you ----ing tight---," said Niesel, the music editor. "It's St. Patty's Day, have some god--- beer."
"No thanks. Not interested. You may drink if you choose to. I choose not to. I'll go to the bar, but I'll enjoy myself without resorting to the crutch of alcohol."
"F--- you," said another editor.
"Be that as it may," I replied.
We walked down the street to the Winking Lizard bar. The St. Patrick's partying was already in full force. The screaming, laughter and clatter were deafening. A reveler smashed into me, shouting obscenities. I complained about this to the sales guy Casey. "Why don't we call you a waahmbulance," he sneered at me. It was clear that he himself had been drinking!
But that was nothing. A visibly inebriated young woman came up to me and brazenly placed her hand down the front of my pleated khakis. You read that right. She placed her hand inside my trousers. This woman, excuse me, this prostitute, nearly set off the elaborate alarm system in my underwear that protects The Magnificence. As it was, her hand did brush against the arrangement of belts and pulleys in there. Which was almost as upsetting as if her filthy whore fingers had grazed The Magnificence itself! "Erin go bragh," she slurred, then stumbled away. I was beside myself over this invasion of my personal pants. "I need a drink," I said, and took a sip of the nearest green beer I could find. Then another. Then another.
What happened then was sketchy. I can barely bring myself to recount it without becoming sick to my stomach. I had become intoxicated. I remember pulling people over to me and regaling them with Irish stories and sayings. "D'ye know it's St. Patty's Day, begob," I drooled in a horrible Irish brogue to anyone who would listen. "It's good to have a wee pint, is it not? Faith and begorrah and all the rest of it, doncha know...There once was a vicar in Galway, caught floggin his dolphin in a hallway...begob I don't recall the rest of it. Bono!"
I got up on the bar and loudly proposed a toast:
"May the wind blow you down the road until you reach a fork, and may the fork take you down that road, and may it meet you down the next road until you reach a fork, and may the fork take you down the road and meet -"
"Shut the f--- up!"
"Get off the bar, ---hole!"
At that point, I took off my sports shirt and threw it into the crowd. I was disgracefully nude from the trousers up. I began to dance, then draw leprechaun figures around my bare nipples with a green Sharpie.
"Somebody get that douche--- down!"
The bartender pulled at my ankles and I fell down on the top of the bar, hitting my head on a Guinness draft handle. I don't remember anything after that. Several hours later, I woke up outside the bar in a pool of urine and vomit, which I fervently hope was my own.
The next day I checked myself into a rehab clinic for alcoholics and stayed a month. I've been clean ever since. It's your choice if you wish to drink this St. Patrick's Day, even after reading my story. Personally, I don't approve.