The Saint Paddy’s Day Fire
My wife hated being around drinkers, so when she took my grandmother barhopping she’d often leave her with her barstool friends, and go to the library and read for a few hours. One day, after returning from the library, my grandmother spotted her entering through the front door of the bar. “Oh, you’re home!” she exclaimed. Yep, that about summed up my grandmother’s attitude toward bars.
My wife had lost a lot of weight, after once being very heavy. She knew firsthand how hard it is to struggle with obesity, and had a lot of empathy for the overweight. But now and then the barroom banter would turn to fat people, and everyone would make judgmental remarks and wise cracks, including my grandma. So my wife would pipe up and observe, “Eating is an addiction. Just like drinking.” That would usually shut the crowd up.
Grandma was gregarious and loved being in the middle of barroom banter. But she especially loved talking with men. That’s because she loved men. Her favorite gender was male, and she was a natural flirt with this usually horny species. And she treated every bar as if it was a singles bar.
Although she’d flirt with the guys, the funny thing was, she never dated any of them. She was a widow, and apparently no man could ever match up to what she had with my grandpa. But she did seem to enjoy trying to get men excited over her.
When she was about 90, she bought a water bra to perk her tits up. Then she’d hug her male drinking buddies and announce, “I’m wearing a water bra!” Somehow she thought that made her more attractive.
One day she entered a drinking establishment that was mostly empty. Nobody occupied any tables, but two men were draped over at the bar, spaced apart by a vacant stool. Grandma could have planted her ass anywhere. But she loved men, so the elderly coquette ambled up to these two macho elbow-benders and claimed the vacant stool between them. This was my grandma’s version of a threesome.
My wife dreaded Saint Paddy’s Day. Or Saint Patrick’s Day, for the sober minded. But Grandma’s mind was always sharp enough to remember when March 17th had arrived, and my wife would end up spending the day, barhopping her all over town. Grandma’s favorite watering hole for slurping green beer was at a joint called Murphy’s Bar. But of course, with that name!
Murphy’s Bar was located in a strip mall, directly below a floor of apartments. Behind it was a donut shop, and next to the donut shop was a laundromat. One March 17th, my wife sat Grandma down at a table next to the front door at Murphy’s, then headed over to the donut shop where she could be away from the drinkers.
She was just lifting a cup of coffee to her lips when a lady ran into the donut shop and frantically announced that there was a big fire in the laundromat next door. The donut shop owner immediately dialed 9-1-1. The dispatcher ordered her to evacuate the donut shop, and go around to all the other businesses in the strip mall and warn them to evacuate also. So my wife piped up and deputized herself to perform this civic duty at Murphy’s Bar.
“Fire! Fire!” my wife bellowed, as she hustled through the front door of Murphy’s. Nothing. The bar was packed, but nobody so much as lifted a head or an eyebrow, to pay her any attention. “Hey, did you hear me!” my wife yelled again. “There’s a fire at the laundromat next door, and the fire department wants everyone to get out!”
An annoyed patron looked at her asquint and slurred, “Siddown an’ shuddup!”
“But you don’t understand!” my wife persisted. “The laundromat’s on fire! Everyone has to evacuate!” Now she had everyone’s attention. They all glared at her, including the bartender, and hollered back, “Lady, sit down and shut up! We’re not going anywhere! We don’t smell any smoke!”
They looked like they were ready to kill her. Suddenly my wife realized that all these drunks with their precious green beer were more dangerous than any fire. She feared one of them might get violent with her if she continued on, playing fire marshal.
Grandma joined the mob, and gestured at a chair by the table. “Yes, sit down and shut up!”
“But Grandma, aren’t you afraid of burning up?”
“No, we’re right by the door. So just sit down. If things start getting smoky, we can leave,” she nonchalantly remarked, while sipping her green beer.
The fire department rolled in with sirens blaring, and within minutes was able to suppress the conflagration. They had saved Saint Paddy’s Day for all the revelers at Murphy’s Bar, who really didn’t give a shit. They were much more concerned with their green beer than any fire at some laundromat somewhere.
And that’s how my wife survived the infamous and quickly forgotten, Saint Paddy’s Day Fire. And yet another day of barhopping with my grandma.
This is the latest installation of my eight-part series, The Queen of the Silver Dollar. Come on back in a few days for the next installation, entitled, Chapter 5: Fingerhut and High Finance. Click here to read the last installation. Click here to start at the beginning.