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Entries in Shannon Genovese (6)

Friday
Nov212008

One Last Night In Dublin

Guiness Storehouse SignAfter our afternoon stroll along the pier at Dun Laughaire, we journeyed back to the Temple Bar district for dinner and drinks followed by a pub crawl back to the hotel.  And since our last night in Dublin just wouldn't be complete without the city's trademark beverage, I had a shitload of Guinness. In keeping with tradition, we didn't leave the last pub until it shut down.  

The next morning we all went out to breakfast, including my grandmother's sister, Bernadette, and her husband, Jim, who were also staying at our hotel.  Ever since we arrived in country, Gary was itching for a traditional Irish breakfast, and Bernadette and Jim found a place that would deliver, Gallagher's Boxty House, a short walk from our hotel.  After breakfast, the plan was to head back to the hotel, pack up, load the two cars (Bernadette and Jim would be riding with Gary and Josh) and caravan to Cork, where Harry's brother and sister in law, John and Phil were anxiously awaiting our arrival.  
Dublin had not panned out the way I expected at all. Although I could have thrown a stone and hit Trinity College from our hotel, we never actually set foot on campus or even took any pictures from the outside.  We didn't see St. Stephen's Green or visit the President's house, as my brother did on his previous visit.  We took in the city with a local, as locals (drunks) might, which is the way I prefer to travel, as you know.  But as a tourist, I felt a little, well, like a failure.   I travelled all this way, there was one thing I was not going to miss for all the beer in Ireland: a visit to the Guinness Storehouse.  I could ramble on all about the tour, the factory, the brewing process, etc., but I have a feeling you'd much rather hear about a valuable lesson I learned and how I nearly shit my pants.
The Storehouse is about a mile away from Gallagher's.  It was just me, my brother, and Harry the Guard for the tour, so we decided to walk.  It was a brisk Monday morning, August 4th. The date is significant because August 4th, 2008 was a bank holiday in Ireland. This fact became a sobering reality about halfway into our walk, which seemed for me to last an eternity. About halfway through breakfast, I started feeling rumblings in my tummy. I figured it was too much strong coffee and not enough food so early in the morning (even though it was almost 10AM).  I finished my breakfast and gulped down some water, hoping to dilute what seemed like a chemistry experiment taking place in my gut.  Sometimes these sorts of experiments can be controlled. About a quarter mile into our hike, two things were clear to me: the experiment raged on and it was out of control.  I needed a bathroom, fast.  
There's an interesting relationship between discretion and desperation.  Let's say you suffer from claustrophobia.  You're at work and you get into an empty elevator.  At the next floor up the conveyance stops to pick up a few more passengers.  You were the first passenger on, so now you're in the back. It's starting to get a little crowded, you still have a long way to go, and you're beginning to feel the onset of a claustrophobic panic attack.  You stay cool, but you develop an exit strategy.  You discreetly work your way to the front of the box so you can pretend like the next floor is your stop and then you can walk the rest of the way up the spacious wide open staircase. 

At the next floor, a throng of people is waiting, and they squash you back.  Now you're at the rear of the coffin.  The doors close, you can barely breath. The smell of women's perfume is making you nauseous and the heat from all the bodies pressing against you is making you light-headed. Sweat beads up on your forehead.  The doors open at the next floor and desperation kicks in. "For the love of God let me out of this free falling orgy of death!" you shout as you nearly climb over people to get to the door.  
That's the relationship I explored on our trek to the 
Guinness Storehouse.
I discreetly asked my brother how much farther. "We're almost there," he replied.  We were walking along at a pretty good clip, but the volcano of roasted hops in my colon was starting to affect my ability to keep up.  On the edge of discretion, I threw this out: 
"I could use a bathroom if you see one".  
But that's right, this is a bank holiday.  We passed business after business with locked doors and dark windows.  Unbelievable.   I started fantasizing about every dingy port-a-potty I have ever cursed having to use.  How I longed for them now.  Despite the chilly morning air, sweat was building up on my forehead.  
The last time I can remember a gastro-intestinal emergency of these proportions I was in elementary school and ate some bad cheese pizza from the cafeteria at lunch.  I rode my bike home but didn't have my key, so I knocked on the neighbor's door, tried desperately to maintain discretion while practically running through her house and vaulting the fence separating our yards.  I broke into my house, ran to the bathroom, vomited along the way and then slipped on it trying to get to the toilet.  I ended up on my ass in pool of my own puke.  This was heading in that direction, only from the other end.  
Finally, a sign for the Storehouse.  I felt a little relieved then quickly realized this was NO TIME FOR RELIEF!  We crossed the street only to be met with another sign.  We still had a football field to go. "For the love of God!" I heard myself exclaim.  I expected to walk up to the gates of Guinness and see rivers of flowing beer that I could just dip my mug into and take a drink.  All I could see was a sign that said "toilets". Discretion was in the shitter.  
I broke into a walking sprint, leaving my brother and Harry at the entrance. I ran into the men's room, found a stall and fumbled to hastily lock the door.  Then I realized I was wearing three layers of clothing.  
"SWEET JESUS!"  
As I removed my overcoat and jacket in the 3' x 2' stall with the chemistry experiment raging on, the rest of my copilot's phrases started popping into my head. Before I left the men's room, I think I even added a few more. 
With the crisis averted, we took the self-guided tour, culminating in the lounge at the top of the building with free pints of Guinness.  I decided to pass, and instead just enjoyed the 360 degree view of Dublin.  It's like a sin I know, at the fountain of youth and passing on immortality.  They say when you drink Guinness in Ireland it's different because it's local. I don't know if my experience is what people mean when they say that, but one thing is for sure: I had a shitload of Guinness on my one last night in Dublin.  Trust me on this one.