Sunday, December 24, 2006

It's late winter in Dublin, Ireland and Wife & I have walked into the city center for some fun.

We stop at one of the many pubs for some lunch and a couple of pints. There is some sort of horserace on and the place is packed with people screaming and singing and generally having a good time. The pub grub was hearty and filling and off the charts in caloric content, just as it should be.

I was over at the other end of the bar paying our tab when a see a man stagger over to Wife and ask something. She smiles and responds and he looks a bit confused and takes the plate with what was left of her lunch and walks away.

I come back to my seat at the bar and ask her what it was all about. She responds, "He asked if he could have my french fries, I was done so I just gave them to him."

"What did his shirt say?"

"It said he was Steve from Steve's Stag Tour, whatever that means."

I proceed to explain to her that 'stag tour' is their term for bachelor party, and more importantly, when the bachelor asks for something from you, it's because he is on some sort of scavenger's hunt and you get to make him do silly crap such as stand on the chair and sing your favorite song or some junk.

Wife is irked. She approaches the bachelor party which is comprised of about 10 guys all wearing green shirts that say 'Steve Stag's Tour' on them with a little design that looks like a sheriff's badge. She taps Steve on the shoulder and stands there in what I like to call 'a huff.'

She says to him, "Hi, yeah, so, I didn't know the rules of this whole stag thing, so, um, I want to collect on the silly stuff I can make you do."

There is a moment of shocked silence, and then everyone breaks into laughter. I don't know exactly what happened because I get pulled to a table with five of the stag tourists who ask if I know how to play dice. I explain that I haven't but am willing to learn.

I haven't played the game since but it went something like this: The ante is one finger of beer (you have to drink from your beer until it is the width of a finger lower.) You roll two dice. You add the numbers together and that is your score. If you roll doubles, you are immune from drinking that round and the ante is doubled to two fingers. The person with the lowest score after everyone at the table has rolled drinks.

I am trying to wrap my head around it but the heady feeling of pub grub, Guinness and Irish comraderie whips me into the action. We all roll, they have obviously done this many many times and can easily keep track of what is going on. I, however, am lost.

They all look at each other and me, and I know what's coming.

"Ok, my first time and I lose. I get it, no worries, guys, so I saw people roll doubles, so how much do I have to drink again?"

The guy next to me looks sheepish and says "You pretty much have to drink that whole thing.", pointing to my 4/5ths full beer.

This is it. The moment of truth. The table is looking at me expectantly. Logically, I know that the place is noisy but everything goes quiet in my head. I faintly hear the theme to Rocky playing in the background.

I pick up my beer and drink. And drink. And drink. And slam my empty glass on the table.

The table goes wild. Nearby tables go wild. People just start cheering without knowing why, just that someone nearby is triumphant at something and the crowd approves. The table orders more pints, I look for Wife but she is evidently on a mission to help Steve with his scavenger hunt.

A bit later, we move to the next pub, which is literally next door. We order more pints and play more games and sing more songs. I take some big gulps off of my fresh Guiness and I feel something I haven't felt is years - nausea. I say the worst words you can say at that moment which are "Um, I don't feel so good.", which, as everyone knows, induces vomiting.

I run downstairs to the men's room and proceed to get sick very violently. I am embarrassed, confused, and a little shocked that I could make myself sick in this way when suddenly I hear a voice from the next stall over.

"Lad, either finish puking or get back out there! Put your finger in your throat and grab the bowl if you have to, but there's more drinking to do, so don't be a wussy!"

I'm speechless. I have never been heckled while vomiting before. I hear another voice from the urinal area, 'What! We got a puker in there?"

The stall neighbor rushes to my defense, "That's none of your business, urinal man! This is stall business, so let the lad finish his puking without you urinal people butting into it! Now lad...let's go upstairs and I'll buy you a shot of whiskey."

I walk to the sink and wash my face. The man comes out of the second stall pats me on the shoulder and walks directly upstairs. I walk out after him a bit woozy and see Wife standing at the entrance.

"Sorry, have you been waiting here the whole time?"

She says, "Yeah, but I knew you were ok. People would come out and ask if I was 'with the puker' and were saying you'd be out in a minute."

We go upstairs and Steve asks us to go to the next pub, but I decline. I am exhausted. He tells us where he is going to be that night and insists that I go take a nap and join them in the evening for a pint. I shake his hand and walk off.

When we get back to our temporary home, I fall instantly asleep despite the room starting to spin slowly. My body craved rest as if it knew that, just because I feel like I have been run over by a beer truck doesn't mean that's an excuse to not go to the pub and share pints with friends that evening.

After all, it's how people bond here. And I am pretty sure that's how it should be.

Friday, December 22, 2006

I've tried this before, but I am going to try again.

I want to record some of the unique things I have experienced before they fade from memory. According to a travel writing book I read recently there are two criteria to being a travel writer: 1) you have to want to be a writer and 2) you have to write.

I define travel for these purposes as 'not at home' and 'not at work' - everything else. Public transport, weekend getaways, visiting distant lands, etc. I am going to try to include my close tie with technology as a player in my descriptions.

So. In no particular order, here are some stories that I find amusing or touching and hopefully others may find entertaining or just plain interesting.