Dirty old town

I saw the perfect symbol of St. Patrick’s Day in Cleveland, as I hurried from my street-level parking lot the few blocks to the big tower in which I toil; a lone, happy guy with his acoustic guitar and a small amp, in 15-degree weather, singing Irish songs to nobody in particular. As I approached him, he was just finishing “Dirty Old Town,” and I noted about 20 feet behind him was a row of porta-potties, waiting in anticipation for the onslaught of drunkards who would surely occupy them in but a few, short hours, validating the lyrics. I thought he had to be nuts in about 10 different ways to be sitting there doing what he was doing, but the days when I’d be half in the bag and dancing in front of such a merry man with several strangers, none of us with a care in the world, are long behind me. I slogged on to the monolith, where mounds of paper await me and endless coffee flows instead of green beer. A friend gave me a light therapy box, which I’ve got running in an attempt to stave off the impatient gloom that comes from continued below-freezing temps and largely gray skies when I’m so desperately in need of light and warmth from the sun. It throws of a vague smell of something burning and the irony isn’t lost on me that if it malfunctions, I could burn down the tower in an attempt to experience some light.

There’s something very sad to me about a human sitting in front of an electric light box so that they won’t be so depressed since they never get any real light. It reminds me of the pathetic little lizard I had for awhile, a baby iguana I found on the fairgrounds when I was a haunted house manager, and we were walking the grounds to evaluate sets and setup. I guessed it had been left there at a recent fairgounds event, and it was clearly freezing so I took it to a pet shop, and they set me up with some basics for it, including a light to snap on in the morning and leave on all day so the creature could get some light. Am I a lizard now? Snap on my light, I will munch my lettuce and stare up at you balefully; do not try to pick me up or I will loose myself of my own tail in my desperate attempt to escape.

Many, many years ago, we had a freakishly warm St. Patrick’s Day here in Cleveland. As I read the upcoming forecast for the holiday, I talked with my Mom and we both decided to take off work and brave the crowds. We were both just young enough to still garner some enjoyment from a day like that, and, Mom being half-Irish, she really wanted to experience it once, having never been to anything like that before. We had an absolute blast, chatting with strangers, my knowledge of downtown enabling us to find the least populated bathrooms when we needed a pee break, drinking beer on the rooftop of the Velvet Dog, eating some terrible eggs and toast, watching the parade and wearing ridiculous trinkets. We bolted out of the city as the parade was coming to an end and drove out to an Irish pub where we had a big meal to sober us up, then we both went to our respective homes and napped, with the warm sun streaming in the window. It was an amazing day.


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