It was the first St. Patrick's Day that I wasn't either in work or at home watching dogeared episodes of The West Wing or Six Feet Under.
I hold no truck with this day, Temple Bar opening its gob to cover the entire city in a technicolour yawn. Young ones passing out at DART stations, lads getting all nice and fighty with each other, fairground attractions and people forgetting that this is Dublin and it's not going to run out.
I don't like to drink when I'm told to, you see, and I certainly had no intention of 'painting the town red' or 'larging it up' with the suits from the office and their briefcases full of cliché.
Still, the ghosts of previous Beer Days don't stand a chance when it comes to her and our six months of firsts.
= = =
After a glorious banquet consisting of twice made coffee, Special K and a great big dirty gap where the rashers should have been, we headed for the outside. Pearse Street looked like a normal Thursday until we got to the Tavern past the Holiday Inn, apocalyptic scenes and torn up Cheltenham slips.
We first met the leprechaun hats on Westland Row and followed them up to Merrion Square where the very thoughts of a magic carpet ride made me grip her hand that little bit tighter. Remembrances of Funderlands past. I could be the very first man to look right, into Government Buildings, on quest of calm as the buggies and the American accents made it a bad day for agoraphobes everywhere.
The crowd bested, she took me on a tour, an odd thing for a Thursday in my home city.
We're devils for the details, the tiny moments of our lives, spelled out in day long email threads. Devils for the details so she put recognition on her lunch spots, the places she strolls to get out of the office, the Tesco where she buys her fruit and the shop where she has, so far, failed to win the Lotto.
The smell out of O'Donoghues put the want of a pint on me but that was resisted. We walked down Stephen's Green, meeting flurries of kids with hidden cans and scumbags climbing the gates of the park.
We looked like saps, looking to the left and the right at each other and then at the top of Grafton Street, a maelstrom, a mess. I lamented my Neary's taken over by the part-time drunks and gave a nod, just a nod, to Kehoes as we turned left and towards Harcourt Street.
That was deserted, by comparison, save for the shiny trains and their limey innards. We thought of paying a fare but kept walking instead, to Ranelagh, briefly thinking of a pint on the wall by The Barge, but no.
Starving, we found a café. We ate club sandwiches and drank coffee while the child at the next table dipped his elbow in ketchup and the waitress said he was lovely and cute.
Enough of that, the bill was paid and we found a seat, an actual seat, in Birchall's pub and sat there drinking until the second pint had run out. The second pint had gone dry and we had to make like a taxi and scram for the perfect finish of a roasted dinner, the craic, and some quiet, sober reading on her couch.