What Are Those Snakes
Doing Under My Table?
“A good puzzle would be to cross Dublin without passing a pub.” James Joyce
- Ach, isn’t that obvious?
– What else are we supposed to do?
– It was the famine, man.
– I dislike milk.
– St. Paddy taught us to.
If you ask an Irishman why they’re known for being phenomenal drinkers, no matter if he’s sober, an old-fashioned abstemious or a recovering alcoholic, goddamn it if he won’t have his own theory about it.
“God invented whiskey so the Irish wouldn’t rule the world” may be all that he will muster in a throaty voice that never tasted a cigarette it didn’t like, pregnant with the self-deprecation and pride that would’ve pulverized the British. Except that it didn’t. They may’ve been all at the pub when ol’ Cromwell came on knocking but it was definitely worthwhile.
Other cultures also claim a preternatural taste for their libations. A Russian, for example, would argue till Siberia melts over, that theirs is the greatest ability to drink without getting drunk (they wish). Global warming or not, Siberia is already 10 degrees warmer than it used to be, like minus 50 average in the summer, so this contest is a non starter. Now, where’s that vodka?
Then there’re those below the equator, who also love to drink and like it even better when it’s hot outside. You may think of Brazilians as such, but music easily distracts them and dance and sex and so many other things to be considered fit for this contest. The cachaça may be pouring with abandon but all bets are off when the samba comes on calling. The heat may boost the alcoholic potency, but the focus is rarely there.
– Me mom used to share her morning sip with me.
– Me Da was never home to guard the cabinet.
– Me aunt would add sugar to it (aghh).
– I never skipped a drop of the stuff on my way to work. Now that I’m unemployed, I don’t need to quit the habit.
Then there’s the rich Irish lore and culture, known for having “saved” civilization according to researchers who, obviously, haven’t skipped the stuff either. But who wouldn’t go for it? It’s chilly, it’s raining, I’m on the dough, and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.
No drinking song is more enticing than Irish drinking songs. And no toast has more pathos than the one that starts, “Ye killed me mother; ye killed me father. Ah, sweet revenge…”
So Joyce was just being straight to the point, as only he could be, when he observed the availability of fine drinking establishments in the City of Dublin. He was certainly looking for the best to have his first of the day. Or perhaps he was stopping by at each one and rating their ethylic content with the precision required from those researchers mentioned above. What a noble pursuit.
So whether you’re tired or just got up; have been working all day or just now is about to begin. Had an early start with your Ma or is on your way to chat up your Da at the cemetery, it’s time to stop fussing about and have a stiff one for the road. And another for that heartbreak with your sweetie. And yet another, just for good measure. Whatever you’re doing or not doing, thinking or just keeping your mind from it, there’s just one word you’ll hear at the pub about your pressing business: