Friday, June 13, 2008

It Ain't Easy Being Green

With all the hubbub surrounding St. Patrick's Day the luck of the Irish was most definitely NOT on my side in 2007.

I've never been one to go "all out" for St. Paddy's, but when the chance to celebrate has come my way I have at least done my part to have a good time. Last year my friends in the Youngstown area (Niles) recruited me to tag along on their tour of local establishments. I was excited to be able to do so. With it being on a weekend, for once, I didn't have work to interfere.

On this weekend the leprechauns were apparently aware of my lack of an immune system. If its floating in the air chances are it will be coming after me first. And yes, I had a severe head cold when the mid-March holiday rolled around. These illnesses are best cared for by getting lots of rest. On that Friday I left work early (I work the 3pm to midnight shift) in order to get enough sleep to be alert enough for that Saturday's activities. I was to be in Niles by 7 am and it was an hour or so drive from my Canton home.

Niles, Ohio:

I did myself a favor and went to bed early. It didn't last. My girlfriend at the time, who had been out with friends that Friday, didn't get home till late and wanted to chat. She calls me at 1:30 am to say hi. I oblige and answer. We chat.....for the next two hours! Christine...I loved the girl...but damn did that spell doom for me.

I get up two hours later with my head feeling like the size of a blimp and unable to breathe out of either nostril. I think I drank a gallon of water to rid myself of the cotton mouth I woke up with as it was the only way I could get oxygen into my body overnight. A good hot shower opened up the airwaves, if only for a short time.

The drive to Niles wasn't so bad and my Irish Catholic-ish friends, the Ellwoods and Means family, welcomed me with open arms. Our first stop on the St.Paddy's Day tour: Quaker Steak & Lube for none other than green eggs and ham, literally. The eggs, made green with the appropriate food coloring, and ham slices in the shape of shamrocks with the use of a cookie cutter. The food was actually a good thing....I was starving and I'm sure the virus that had invaded by head needed some fuel.

Quaker Steak & Lube:

To go along with breakfast I was in the process of ordering a typical breakfast beverage, but before I could utter orange juice or coffee my ego was challenged as Ken (the party scene leader) ordered a beer. And not just any beer....a 32 ounce mug of leprechaun lager. Once he orders the waitress turns to me and my brain is screaming, "Orange juice you damn fool! Say orange juice! coffee, tea, milk, motor oil...anything but beer!" But as I look at Ken my immune system wasn't the only thing to break down. My common sense was pummeled into submission by my sense of pride and the phrase, "I'll have what he's having", raddled off my tongue.

Somewhere St. Patrick smiled and waited for the inevitable.

Not only did I down the 32 ounces of evil at 7am, I tried to keep pace with Ken who is twice my size. My pride continued to have common sense in a choke hold and ordered a second 32 ounce brewski. I downed that that one too. I at least avoided ordering a third. That's what Ken did and he sucked it down before I finished my second. By 8:30 I had ingested green eggs, shamrock-shaped ham and 64 ounces of beer. All the while I could have been quarantined with the type of head cold that was partying inside that melon between my shoulders.

As we headed out for the second destination I reminded myself that I needed to slow down. I had all the best of intentions, but on this day those intentions were about as good as snow in August in the Buckeye State. I didn't come across any other 32 ounce mini-kegs though they might as well have been.

The rest of the five to six stops include outside gatherings, inside parties with Irish music, buffet tables, a never ending flow of beer and the occasional nip of liquor. Near the end my body flipped the self-destruct button. This, I recall, was just about the time Ohio State's Ron Lewis hit the game-tying three that sent the NCAA Tournament Second Round game with Xavier into overtime.

I was rundown, forcing water into my system and pretending to be coherent to my much smarter companions. The game was up. It was obvious I working my way toward dumbass-ville. And they did what any good friends would do...laughed at my expense. I deserved it.

Once the St. Paddy's Day tour came to an end I headed back with the Means' to their home. Watching basketball, through the one eye I could keep open, Heather and Marc started getting hungry and want to order food from their normal hangout Gasoline Alley. A great local place to grab a beer, bar food or dinner. I wasn't in the mood for any of it.

Gasoline Alley:

They returned with plenty of food. Wings, loaded fries, stuffed did it smell good. But I knew my stomach, who was on a tilt-a-whirl doing 80 mph, would have none it. I instead nibbled on a sleeve of saltines and sipped down a can or two of Sprite. Marc and Heather watched basketball....I held onto the sofa like it was a seat on an out of control Boeing 747 on its way to crashing into the ground and I could do nothing to stop it.

That night I think I went to sleep. It was either that or just a really long nightmare.

St. Patrick let me off the hook as daylight hit, he had to. It was March 18th and his time was up. I awoke with the sofa still in the same place, my stomach had been let off its wild ride and the evil liquor in my system was out of gas. Though my headcold was alive and well. It continued for the next week. And I'm sure it stayed as long as it did because of the fuel I threw on the fire that Saturday afternoon.

This year I had to work on that holiday as it landed on a Monday. It was disappointing not to join my friends for another round of Irish fun as I would have been much better prepared, but then again it was probably a good thing. I was relegated to attending Akron City Council that night. I think St. Patrick was doing me a favor...he knew better than to let Mr. Amateur try it again.

Remember those commercials of the egg frying in the skillet with the voice saying, "Your brain on drugs." Well...I have never dabbled in the illegal, or even legal, narcotics of any kind. But I now know exactly what they meant.

For me, pride and common sense don't - and didn't -mix....and the lack of sleep....and head colds...and alcohol... and an empty stomach.

My new slogan for St. Patrick's Day: The weak need not apply ;)

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