Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

That Night Before St. Patrick’s Day in Downtown Petaluma

by | Mar 15, 2022 | Society | 0 comments

A few months before my wedding, my wife’s cousins arranged for a limo bus to pick 25 of us up on St. Patrick’s day and drive us around three wineries in Sonoma County for our joint bachelor-bachelorette party.

My friends Ray and Masih only got on board with a joint party because they also had plans to have a guys-only bash the night before in downtown Petaluma.

Once we settled in our rooms, the three of us took a short cab ride from the Sheraton on the marina to downtown. The idea was to do a pub crawl, and we were in luck because it was, after all, the Friday before Saint Patrick’s day and Petaluma’s bar scene is still very Irish.

Petaluma, I’m sure, stands for ‘where all the Irish hippies from San Francisco went to retire.’

On the menu for the night were either Jameson, Guinness, or Lagunitas — Lagunitas is not Irish, but it is very Petaluma.

We started at McNear’s, where we dropped a whiskey shot inside a Guinness and threw back fast in honor of the Patron saint of corned beef, soda bread, and Michael Collins.

We moved to Andreesen, then to Maguire’s, and finally to Jamison’s Roaring Donkey. By the time we got to ‘the donkey,’ we were very banged up.

My friend Masih had a clever plan to pick up girls.

Masih — a 6’3″ Persian man with untamable curly black hair wearing a black old-school trench coat — would approach girls dancing in the middle of the dance floor, clasp their shoulders tight, and whisper in their ears with his Middle-Eastern accent: “stop dancing and come with me.”

I’m not sure what he was going for or if this move worked in Tehran. In the rolling hills of Petaluma, this move did not work. Ray and I sat back and cringe-watched Masih bomb over and over while we kept on drinking.

A few Lagunitas later, I opened my counseling practice in one corner of the bar. I advised girls to stop dating bad boys and find a lovely young man like me, who would treat them the way I treated my future wife.

After counseling my last patient, Masih, Ray, and I went outside to catch a cab when we saw a man on the sidewalk playing guitar in the nook right next to the donkey. We got close to him and let the music flow through us.

The most beautiful song came up, and I listened to it intently. Letting the words sink in. It moved me close to tears in the way that music on the streets can touch you.

Once he finished, I clasped the musician’s shoulder and told him, ‘you’ve touched my soul. This was the best song I’ve ever heard. I don’t have money with me, but if you email me, I’ll send you $50.”

I gave the musician my email address, and he looked at me like, ‘yeah, right, drunk guy number 1,000 who promised me money later.’

I don’t know how the best-musician-ever, my friends and I parted ways. It was one of those nights where the memories were peppered with black screens. Cut. We stopped a cab. Cut. I dove headfirst into said cab. Cut. Back at our hotel room. Cut. I’m making out with the toilet.

The next morning I woke up, and I thanked my shamrock I didn’t have a hungover. I took two steps, and the worst hangover took over my entire life.

I had to hurry since my wife was waiting for us with the rest of our wedding party. She had promised me pain if what she warned me about happened — and it did.

I soldiered on and whispered ‘An Drochshaol’ under my breath — Gaelic for hard times — which is how the Irish talked about the potato famine.

I didn’t think much of the night before; I barely made it through the day.

At the insistence of my friends and family, I used the famous hair-of-the-dog remedy. It worked, but nobody tells you that you can’t ever stop drinking because, at some point, it will catch up with you if you do, and when it does, it would be much worse than if you would have confronted the one single hungover. Humans have a hard time understanding the concept of compounding interest.

Our tour was a success, and I had a fantastic time. I even tried marijuana for the first time. People kept telling me to inhale, and I thought they were pulling my chain. So I smoked the doobie as if I was smoking a Cuban — a cigar, not a person.

So I’m not sure if it counts, but then I understood why people laughed when Clinton said he didn’t inhale. I didn’t inhale either, Bill. But how can we trust you after you also said you didn’t have sex with Monica?

Days later, I received an email along the lines of ‘Hi Carlos, I’m the musician who fondled your soul, and you promised me $50. Here is my PayPal account.’

I could’ve emailed him back and told him that California’s contract law requires competent parties for a contract to be valid. Or ignore the email. When was the next time I was going to see him? I was getting married, no more bars for me.

But then I remember something Hemingway said, ‘Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.’

Hemingway is such a model for me because of his manliness around drinking, hunting, and fishing. I have never held a fishing pole. The closest I’ve come to fishing is going to the fish counter at Whole Foods and asking the guy, ‘hey, that salmon! Is it farmed or wild-caught? Yeah, that’s what I thought!’

So I wired the musician the money I promised him, and in exchange, I asked him to send me a recording of the greatest song I’ve ever heard.

He obliged.

The song was genuinely average at best. Go figure, your taste changes when you’re not black-out drunk.

I wish I could tell you that was the last time I got drunk. Or the last time I talked smack while drunk.

But one thing I did learn: if I’m drunk, and I’m talking smack, and I promise someone to wire them money, I’m never ever giving out my email address again.

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