Boston in the mid 90's. St Patrick's Day is on a Friday and believe me that's a good thing, no hang over at work, no hours of story telling by the coffee pot the next day. The only productivity lost is because everyone leaves the office early.
The New England Broadcasters Association throws a big party every St. Patrick's Day, at one time it was probably the best in the country, today it's still fun but its slid downhill, way downhill.
I met my date at 3:30 at Ciao Bella on Newbury Street, we had a quick drink and head to the NEBA party, as I mentioned it's not what it used to be and this year it's being held at Dick's Last Resort in the basement of the Prudential Tower*. Not a place anyone associates with the Irish. My date isn't in broadcasting or media, she's a corporate attorney, successful, beautiful and she's a lesbian. I've known her since we lived in the same building in the Back Bay, H is my pal, my friend and an all around good person and she's fun to hang out with. Her partner is at a conference in Chicago.
H and I walk into Dick's, it's packed. I see Tommy, Billy, Kevvy holding down a table in the middle of the room, I get in front of H and push my way to the table. It's just after 4 and they are all pretty much fucked up. I make introductions and order drinks. I ask Tommy how long he's been here, he says, "Since I got off the air. Jesus he gets off at 9am. He's shitfaced. Kevvy's drinking vodka, not a good sign and Billy is drinking vodka martinis. H has a scotch and water, hmm, she's a wine drinker. I order a Guinness. The 5 of us drink and chat for an hour or so, friends drop by the table. We order some food, shrimp, oysters, clams and pulled pork sliders.
Billy, now better than three martinis into the evening gets philosophical, he holds up his glass and says,
“A well made Martini, correctly chilled and nicely served, has been more often my true friend than any two-legged creature"
Tommy, whose eyes are looking more and more like Marty Feldman's, says nothing in response, Kevvy says "No shit man, I agree and women are the worst!" At that, H rolls her eyes, I tap Billy's glass as H finishes her 2nd scotch. H whispers in my ear, "Your pal Kevin obviously doesn't have much luck with women, does he?" I answer, "Zero, unless he can find a woman who can out drink him he's destined to be alone." Kevin looks at us and says, "How come you always have a nice date, Bob and I'm always alone?" H looks at him with a dazzling smile, "Probably because you say stupid shit like that among a host of other things, Kevin." Fortified with vodka Kevin starts to say something and then thinks better of it. H reaches across the table, pats Kevin's hand and tells him, "Good boy, just be quiet for awhile." In the meantime Billy has wandered off, Tom is having a drunken conversation with a saleswoman from the competition and H and I switch into observation mode.
Billy comes back with a couple of women, the three of them squeeze in around the table, sitting in chairs Billy snatched from other tables. One of them is a woman I dated for awhile last year, she is staring daggers at me. H sensing the hostility decides to throw a grenade the woman's way, she wraps her arm in mine, kisses me on the cheek and whispers, "Watch this." Still holding on to my arm, she leans her head on my shoulder and says, "Bob and I had such a wonderful time in Key West, didn't we, honey?" My old girlfriend glared at her, then said to me with a forced smile, "How long have you two been together?" H smiles and says, "Off and on for what Baby? Two or three years?" The woman looks at me and says, "I knew it, you lying prick." She and her friend picked up their drinks and left the table. Billy looks around wondering what the fuck just happened, Kevin wisely keeps his mouth shut and Tom is now necking with the saleswoman. H orders a round and smiles a self satisfied smile.
The band is playing rock and blues for St. Patrick's Day, when they play "Have You Ever Loved a Woman?" H insists we get up and dance. On the way to the dance floor, I laugh at the implication of the song's title. H says, "Let's make a spectacle of ourselves." and that we do. By now the entire staff is wondering who H is and they are dropping by in twos and threes to check out my date..H is playing the part of devoted, madly in love girlfriend. One woman I know says, "You guys are just perfect together." H looks at her and says "I know." When she leaves H says, "I'm setting you up with an incredible story of heartbreak and loss." She smiles her brilliant smile.
I leave for the men's room, while I'm taking a leak, a guy I barely know says, "Where the hell did you find her, she is just a killer, you're a lucky bastard." When I get back to the table, H is in a deep conversation with Kevin, as I sit down I hear her say, "Kevin, don't you think its time to stop being a fucking Irish Catholic Mama's boy? If you promise to act like a man tonight I'll find you a nice woman to talk to and if you behave yourself maybe she won't run off the minute you open your mouth, got it?" Kevin just nodded. I asked H what was going on. She smiled and said, "I'm just getting little Kevin straightened out." She kissed my cheek then patted it and she was off to find Kevin a woman. She was back in no time.
"Look what I found, two lost, little girls at the bar." H makes introductions, seats them on each side of Kevin, sits back down next to me and explains the girls are sisters, the older one works at channel 7 and the younger just graduated from Syracuse and moved to Boston. They are in their 20's, a little mousy and wide-eyed. Kevin starts to say something and H interrupts him and gives them a glowing report on Kevin's engineering prowess. Kevin is hammered, the two girls are buzzed enough so maybe they won't notice. One of the girls asks H, how long we've been married? Holy shit, now we're married, I thought we just started dating. H tells them 20 years, it works I guess because we are old enough to be their parents. The next question is do we have any kids, H says two, twins, "Sheila and Sean, juniors at Boston Latin, brilliant kids and great hockey players." The sisters nod with great admiration at H and I. Kevin is sitting there with a shit eaten grin on his face and since he promised H to keep his mouth shut, he isn't saying a word. The band is playing another set and H suggests we get up and dance, the girls look at each other and H says, Kevin can dance with both of you, it'll be fun. Kevin dances like a piece of shit, so this should be interesting. It turns out the sisters dance as bad as Kevin does, they have a great time. I tell H during a slow song that's this is the longest I've ever heard Kev go with out saying something stupid since I met him. She says look at them, I do and the three of them are stumbling around the dance floor locked in each others arms, Kevin is in heaven and the sisters seem to be as well.
When the set ends, we all head back to the table, more drinks are ordered, I order soda water, I've had enough Guinness to float one of the those leather Irish boats. H is hitting the scotch, she's hammered but you can't tell unless you know her, Kev is drinking but is quiet, the sisters are slammed. I figure someone in our crew should be able to handle the navigation. Tom stops kissing his account executive long enough to say, let's get the hell out of here and go to an Irish bar. Everyone agrees and now I have to arrange transportation. There's 7 of us and if Bill comes back that's 8, 2 cabs minimum.
Tommy wants to go to the Kells in Brighton and we do.
The Kells is hot, noisy and everyone in the bar has a sheen of sweat...the music is a cross of Irish, punk and rock and roll. Billy is back with us and he's grinning like an idiot, by far the oldest guy in the room, he's got a "Kiss me I'm Irish" button on his jacket, nobody has taken him up on the offer. My "wife" and I are dancing and singing along with the band. Kevin and the sisters are so drunk by this point, none of the three can communicate. The girls kiss Kevin on each cheek and laugh like they are crazy and they are. We stay at the Kells for an hour and cab it back to the Back Bay. We decide to have a nightcap at the Capital Grill, when the valet opens the cab door, Kevin gets out, falls on his ass taking out one of the sisters, the other thinks its so funny she jumps on top of them. Billy, H and I pretend we don't know them.
When we get inside and order a round, I asked H if she was planning on driving home to Weston, her response, "Hell no I'm staying with my husband, tonight." Whatever that means. She starts talking to people sitting at the bar, I help Bill to a stool, he's close to paralysis. I yell in his ear, 'You can't drive home to Andover, you dumbshit, you need to get a room." Billy Boy just nods in the affirmative. The bartender's brother works at the Eliot and he secures Bill a room. I tell Bill and he says "Cool." I told him to call his wife, he takes out his cell, drops it and it slides under the bar rail. He spends the next 5 minutes hoping nobody steps on it before he can find it.
I catch up with H, I ask her if she knows what happened to Tom and the AE. She cocks an eyebrow and says, "I'd bet they are fucking on a dumpster behind the Kells." I agree. She introduces me to the her new friends at the bar as her husband and the father of the wonderful twins, Sean and Sheila. The woman beams at me and the guy checks out H's ass. The couple are visiting Boston from Minneapolis and are truly Minnesota nice. I decide to start drinking again since I'm only three blocks from home. I switch to the same scotch as H is drinking, as I finish the first one I notice that Kevin and the sisters are sitting at the end of the bar, I should say Kevin is sitting, the girls are standing with their arms draped around Kevvy. The asshole is in heaven. H has her arm around my waist and continues to chat with the nice couple, their last name is Brunsberg. Their kids play hockey, too, just like Sheila and Sean. Another drink and I'll start worrying about the kid's grades and wondering where the hell they are tonight.
The bar closes at 1, the lights go up and we stumble into the street, we all hug goodbye, Bill trucks off to the Eliot which is just around the corner. Kevin is trying to hail a cab, apparently he's going to Jamaica Plain with the sisters. As Kevin stumbles around in the street attempting to get a cab to stop. the sister are having a conversation. I tell H we should leave and she says, "No let's see how this turns out." The girls are getting heated with each other, we can't hear what they're saying but fingers are being pointed, the younger one screams, "Marianne you are such a c*nt! Marianne screams back at her sister, I'm a c*nt? No way, you're the c*nt in the family, Margaret, not me!"
H smiles takes my arm and says, "Let's go home, Honey, my work is done."
*Now located at Quncy Market, if you really want to go!