According to DNA and family tree, I’ve got a significant amount of actual Irish heritage. My maternal grandmother was Irish-American (O’Neal). St. Patrick’s Day is a Catholic holiday, though, which doesn’t match up since I’m Jewish. Considering St. Patrick’s Day always occurs during Lent, when a lot of people I know do things like give up alcohol, I wonder if the habit of drinking to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day was a way to have a tipple when you “normally” shouldn’t.
Below is a snippet from a WIP story that features St. Patrick’s Day.
Premise: The main character, Kira, is a office worker living in Boston. Plot starter: Drawn by the festive atmosphere, she steps into The Green Rose, an Irish pub. She’s not a regular at the bar, nor a regular beer drinker. She just doesn’t feel like going directly home to an empty studio apartment.
The story starts on Mardi Gras and continues through St. Patrick’s Day. Here’s the opening when Kira gets her first look at the bar:
Trying to look more confident than she currently felt, Kira Fennelly constantly scanned the faces and places she passed along State Street after rising from the T station below. She huddled against the March winds, hands stuffed into the pockets of her gray felt overcoat. The day of work just past dragged down her shoulders and only leftovers called from her refrigerator.
The lively sounds of plucky strings and a bouncing woodwind — probably a flute, she thought — reached Kira over the clicking and clacking of heels boots and shoes on the pavement. She slowed, wondering why hurry other than to perhaps get out of the wind? No one was waiting for her. Her gaze followed her ears to the sound and she found herself looking up at a wood carved sign painted in green with gold lettering proclaiming the location to be The Green Rose. Shamrocks had been shaved into the beveled and smoked glass on both sides of the heavy-looking wooden green door.
Her surprise at finding an unfamiliar Irish bar along her home-to-work route told her two things. She was going through life oblivious and, second, she didn’t really want to. She pulled open the heavy door, stepping back as a man on the other side pushed outward. Then she crossed the threshold into the mayhem before she could let social reticence override her curiosity.
“Good evening. Do you have a reservation?”
Kira blinked as she unwrapped her scarf and opened her coat. “Um, no, do I need one?”
“Not really most days, but today’s… kind of busy.”
Kira followed the nodding head of a young woman to take in the bar. Every chair, every surface, it seemed, was covered with drinking people. The musicians on a small riser in the front corner by the windows had only a few feet between themselves and the nearest patrons. They were quite literally playing to a “packed house.” “I see what you mean,” Kira replied.
“Are you going to be meeting people?”
“It’s just me.” Kira took a closer look at the young woman while responding.
“There’s probably a couple seats at the bar still.”
“I don’t really drink.”
“Did you just come in to get out of the wind then?”
“Maybe. No. I don’t know.”
“Well, that’s settling a mind.” The young woman waved her forward. “I think we’ve got a space for you.”
Because of the music and chatter, at least that’s what Kira told herself, she hurried closely after the young woman who led her around tables and patrons, once or twice holding an arm to shepherd her around a particularly wide-spanning group. “Thank you.”
When they stopped, Kira stood beside a small square table positioned only a few feet away from a door marked with the universal symbols for the restrooms. One single chair had been pushed up to it. Otherwise it was bare. “Have a seat. I’ll get your utensils, water glass, and a menu.”
Draping her coat over the back of what would become her chair, Kira sat down. The young woman walking away looked dapper, wearing a vest over a white shirt. The two points on the back of the vest dipped down over gray wool slacks drawing attention to the woman’s rear. She closed her eyes rather than visually grope the waitress and let the music do its job to loosen the day’s tensions.
(Only one more day until I fly west!)