For some folks, St. Patrick’s Day is an excuse to get drunk on green beer and eat corned beef and cabbage without guilt.
Now, I like a hearty meal of corned beef and cabbage as much as anyone, but I don’t do beer — green or otherwise. Like Meg, the heroine in BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER, I prefer the taste of mixed drinks.
St. Patrick’s Day reminds me of my visit to Ireland. In 1992, my sophomore year of college, I spent spring semester studying at Harlaxton College. We had classes Monday-Thursday, with Fridays reserved for either class field trips or the start of long traveling weekends. Spring Break offered two trips: Paris for the first half and then Ireland.
Our Irish tour took us to many of the country’s popular tourist spots. In a movie theater in Dublin, a friend and I took in “The Commitments.” (The rest of the group opted to watch Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves in “Point Break,” but Amy and I decided it made more sense to watch a movie about an Irish band.)
Another of our stops was at Blarney Castle in County Cork.
Naturally, while I was there, I had to kiss the Blarney Stone. Who could pass up the opportunity to touch lips to the same stone kissed by heads of state, Hollywood hotties and millions of others?
Legend has it that kissing said stone imbues the kisser with the power of persuasion … the gift of gab, if you will.
Even then I knew I wanted to be a writer, and I’d been practicing so long I doubted I needed help in the persuasive writing department. Still, if kissing a stone would give me extra polish, I didn’t want to squander the chance.
When I saw what was involved in the kissing, I almost chickened out. It’s not as simple as leaning into a wall and puckering up. Oh no. The stone isn’t that easy to get to. You have lie on your back and grip iron handrails, levering yourself over the edge of the wall. A castle employee holds you by the waist to make sure you don’t fall.
I thought I had a picture of myself kissing the stone. I remember it well, down to the maroon paisley shirt and brown fanny pack I wore (1992, remember?). However, when I looked in my photo albums, I couldn’t find it. You can see pictures of others doing the deed at Wikipedia.
Photo or no, I’ll certainly never forget that kiss. It may well be the most frightening and exhilarating smack of my life.