In my prime, St. Patrick’s Day was a Top 5 Day of the Year. If I had a calendar, it would’ve been circled.
We’d hit it hard….Me, Benny, the Dogg, My Buddy Matty, Sleepy One, Josef…the whole crew would be out in full force every year. We’d take off work, and pound Guinnesseses’ all day in our C’s gear; we were typical Boston knuckleheads.
One year in particular– likely somewhere between 2002-2006– was pretty memorable (from what I can remember).
It started off like basically every other March 17th did, with me picking up Benny and heading to The Burren for an Irish breakfast. When we got there, it was impossible to get a table. The Hill Man decided to do his show from the back room and a few hundred ‘AAF fans decked out in their free t-shirts forced us to call an audible and go straight to the Beer and Whiskey for breakfast.
I had to wait forever at the bar, thanks to these goddamn Godsmack fans, and just as the nice Irish Lass behind the bar acknowledged me, I get what felt like a Bear Paw on my shoulder, and a douchey voice booming over me “I’ll take 3 shots of Patron and 3 Buddy Lights”. It could only be one person…Lyndon Freakin’ Byers. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with this moose-jockey’s shit. I had waited 15 mins in a crowd of soul-patched tool-bags, I was getting my order in. I gave him my best “Wanna F’in Go?” glance and then repeated my order. The following exchange occurred:
Bartender: nods to me, acknowledging my order.
LB: “Hey, c’mon sweetie. I got to get back, you know I’m doing a show over here”
Bartender: (Staring at LB, rather unimpressed) “Yeah, I know who you are.” (looks to me, smiling) “Two Guinnesses and two Jameson up, right?”.
Me: Give LB the most condescending smirk, and the bartender a million percent tip.
LB: Not impressed. Looks kinda pissed.
Benny convinced me that it was not a good idea to risk getting sucker punched by a notorious drunken goon, so we made quick work of our drinks. Besides, we had to head into town and meet up with My Buddy Matty, at the Purple Shamrock.
Quick side note: I know the Purple Shamrock sucked. We knew it then too. But it’s St Patrick’s Day in Boston, so doing cliché, stupid shit is in order.
When we got there, My Buddy Matty was already polishing off a Captain and coke, his drink of choice. (A late 2000’s effort to rename the drink Matty and Coke briefly caught some momentum, but eventually fizzled). We set up shop at a Hi-Top Table, and a steady stream of Guinness, Jameson, and I’m guessing Soco-Limes (because, of course) followed for the next several hours. Other future Hi-Toppers came throughout the day, though at this point it’s hard to say who was and wasn’t there.
As was our custom, we were holding court amongst ourselves, and because we were so interesting (loud) and funny (laughing at our own recycled jokes), the surrounding groups gravitated toward us (essentially forced to talk to us as we encroached on their territory). We, however, rarely disappointed in these opportunities.
Benny took the lead. In a spontaneous, never rehearsed moment of genius(?) he announced he was a stage actor, who had just scored his big break- playing the “lead” in Fiddler on the Roof. The folks, shockingly believed and seemed interested in this. For reasons unknown, I began grilling him on the details. I should say, I know nothing about the FotR, but I knew he didn’t either. Gracefully, Benny- The Rembrandt of Bullshit artists- danced through my questioning “Well, it’s more of a Modern Day interpretation of Fiddler. It’s really well done”. A truly fine moment in the history of Benny.
As groups came and left and the hours went by, we started taking note and evaluating the very inebriated crowd. There were mostly Drunk Irish Guys, a bunch wearing Southie Tuxedoes, some Tony Pepperoni’s, an astounding number of DAIG’s, a few “Boston 8’s”, and one new arrival who had walked in the door. Not able to find a pre-determined superficial classification for her, I blurted out:
“My Buddy Matty, check out this Jane Swift over here”.
Now, I can’t adequately put into words what it meant. My Buddy Matty and I actually had this discussion last week. I’ll argue to this day it wasn’t meant as a rip job, but I mean, I could see why My Buddy Matty and Benny thought it was.
Feeling guilty that I may have insulted a woman who I would never meet and who also didn’t hear it, I spent the next 30 minutes drunkenly over-explaining (a Le Cap Trademark) that it could be a positive thing- “she really does have a pleasant face”, “she’s the first female governor”, “I just meant she looks like she could be an executive”. It was, in retrospect, Constanza-level paranoia about the concept that someone, in theory, didn’t like me….even though, again, we would never meet. What can I say….we had a LOT of whiskey.
To this day, “Jane Swift” has stuck. Both Benny and My Buddy Matty are good for a “Wow, this party is packed with a bunch of Jane Swift’s” a good 15-ish years after The St. Patrick’s Day incident.
March 17th ain’t what it used to be, that’s for sure. This year, I’ll be at a 4 year old’s B-day party, then going out to a nice dinner with two other couples…and I’ll be honest with you, that sounds perfect. Even just remembering the old St Paddy’s days is exhausting.
But I’ll be on the lookout for any Jane Swift’s!