I found myself in Ireland a number of years ago, headed for the single pub on the outskirts of a small town. Most people think of rural Ireland as a land of compact, peat-smoked, white-washed stone buildings with thatched roofs. And in truth, you can find more than a few of these around; yet their price — in excess of $750,000.00 (USD) — leaves the inquiring tourist with sticker shock. This pub was a modest wooden beam and stone building, the foundations of which probably predated the first trans-Atlantic cruise of Christopher Columbus. It was on the edge of a field, where the meadow (filled with cows) was bordered by something of a tree-line (also a rarity in Ireland).
I remember thinking the building had a distinct “New England-ish” look about it, for the exception of the sign, which hung above the door, and which may have swung in the early autumn breeze, had there been one. The sign had a distinctly Irish look about about it, suggestive of hospitality, benign neglect, and good stuff to drink. But what really caught my eye was a line of late model Triumph motorcycles parked outside, with a couple of vintage beauties dating back to the ‘70s. “Aaaahhh,” I thought to myself, “The local boys are riding the British stuff.” As a 1995 BMW K75 rider, which has virtually nothing in common with any British bike, I thought I’d join the two-wheeled brotherhood at the bar...
While there is nothing as cozy as an Irish pub, these neighborhood gin mills are like saloons the world over. They’ll welcome you at the bar, but hesitate to roll out the red carpet until they determine whether you’re a sport or a douche. And believe me, it can be a fine distinction in some of these places. I decided to delay the verdict by keeping my mouth shut as long as possible.
The barmaid was about 30-years-old and one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. She had shoulder-length red hair, a peaches and cream complexion, full lips, and a svelte body cleverly detailed by a charcoal gray sweater that disappeared into jeans just made for her perfect ass. Though she had no rings on her hand, I found it hard to believe this incredible beauty wasn’t the wearing the favor of some local stud.
The bar was “L” shaped and I was on the short edge of the mahogany counter, closest to smoldering peat in a smokey fireplace. Seven guys, all wearing leather or ballistic riding pants, coagulated on the long arm, and politely halted their conversation to look at me like I was about to steal something. I looked back with a slight smile that any other K75 rider would have instantly interpreted as “Kiss my ass.”
“What can I get for you?” asked the barmaid, through the tops of Emerald green eyes that could have acquired my soul for half price.
“A double shot of Jameson’s,” I said, with a Jersey City accent that has caused hundreds of beautiful women to wince, the moment I speak.
“You’re not from around here,” she said, pouring the amber fluid into a rocks glass, sans the ice.
“I was born and raised in the next village,” I said, looking her right in the eye, fighting to keep a straight face.
“The very same.”
“You were born and raised in Drom, County Tipperary?
“There aren’t 99 people in Drom and I think I know all of them.”
“Well, there’s a hundred,” I said, extending my hand. “My name is Jack.”
“And how is it I’ve never seen you before, Jack?” asked the prettiest barmaid I have ever seen in my life, whose name was Chavonne.
“My mother raised me in a barrel in the attic.”
“And why would she do that?”
“To keep the women off me,” I replied.
“Well I bet she was successful,” chimed in one of the riders, to laughter of his friends.
I simply looked at him, raised my glass, and smiled the genuine Riepe article.
“My mother taught many useful things,” I said, sipping my whiskey.
“And what would they be,” said the rider in the black leather pants.
“Well for one thing, she taught me how to thoroughly intrigue a pretty red-headed woman to the exclusion of everyone else in a bar.”
Now it was the barmaid who laughed, as she topped off my glass.
It was no secret I was an American... And Chavonne plied me with a hundred questions. Where did I live? What was I doing in Ireland? Where was I staying? Who did I know locally? What was I writing? Plus dozens more.
I didn’t care. I love talking with pretty women. But then it was my turn... And I said:
“Chavonne, you now know everything there is to know about me. And I know nothing about you. May I ask you four questions?”
“Four questions?” she asked back.
“Ask away,” she said.
“What’s your favorite color?”
The simplicity of this question threw her for a bit, and she hesitated in telling me, “Blue.” (I think she suspected some sort of trick.)
“What’s your favorite book?’
She blinked on this one... But said, “Ulysses, by James Joyce.”
“What’s your favorite perfume?”
“L’Aire du Temps...”
“By Nina Ricci,” I added.
“No Irish man has ever asked me questions like this,” said Chavonne.
“There’s only one more,” I said. “But... It’s personel.”
“Personel, as in ‘sexual’,” she asked.
“Go ahead,” she dared.
I took a long sip of my drink, nearly draining the glass. Then I said:
“If you were out with a biker for the first time, and you really liked him, and he asked you to do something peculiar, would you do it?”
It got so quiet in that damn bar, you could hear the grass growing outside. Half of the other riders were staring at me in amazement; the other half were staring at her, mute with anticipation.
I watched as a hint of color tinted her cheeks, and our eyes locked on each other.
“If he asked me to do something peculiar,” she repeated. “How peculiar?”
I took another sip of the whiskey, and did drain the glass, before asking:
“Well, if you were out with a biker for the first time, and you really liked him, and he asked you to tune-up his 1995, BMW K75, would you do it?”
The silence lasted another 5 seconds before the riders at the bar exploded in laughter from their souls.
“I can’t tune up a motorcycle,” said Chavonne, with the most incredible smile I have seen on two continents.
“Ooooooooooh,” I exclaimed, clutching my heart. Then I held up my thumb and forefinger about an inch apart and said, “I was this close to meeting the perfect woman." Then to the bar:"What did you people think I was talking about?”
Seven guys bought me drinks that afternoon. And Chavonne bought me two. I have had very good times in France... I have riotous good times in Germany... I have had extraordinary times in Great Britain... But I do recommend Ireland for beautiful women and legendary good times. It is the nation that invented laughter.
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2011