Sunday, March 19, 2006

Irish Eyes

I had a great Saint Patrick's Day out here. But, it only left me thinking about home.

I really don't think that conception will ever fully disappear either. This part of the country will always feel like the outer rim.

But, before heading up to San Francisco for green lager and "the dark stuff," Justice Kennedy and (former) Justice O'Connor spoke at the law school about the legacy of the Rehnquist Court. I thought it appropriate that the country's two most famous Irish lawyers were speaking that day, though apparently it was too coincidental a circumstance for Guinness and Jameson to be on hand.

Even though I'm not sure I would have recognized them if we were on line together at Safeway, it was pretty amazing to be in a room with those two minds. They beam a hard sciences intelligence in the most articulate and profound sort of way. It's as if they speak in paragraph form only. If you were to listen to Kennedy or O'Connor speak off the cuff with your eyes closed, I'd be surprised if you didn't assume that they were reading from written remarks.

Afterwards, three of us (law students, not the Justices) sprinted into Palo Alto's only semblance of a sports bar to catch Penn tip in the NCAA tournament. Running out of Irish luck at the very end, Penn lost by 8 to a Texas team, in Dallas, that is expected by some to win the whole thing. It would have been the shocker of the tournament. Hands down. With Penn actually up at the half, it certainly drew all the attention in the bar away from the North Carolina and Kansas games. But, when a team is as undersized as Penn, the "live by the three, die by the three" adage becomes gospel. Going 10 for 27 from behind the arc was just not hot enough, I guess.

Finally by 10 p.m., I was able to get into San Francisco. The revelry up there made it seem like New Year's. Entire streets were blocked off all day as people wandered around from pub to pub. The Irish certainly don't do anything to play down the drinking stereotype. It's pretty much just accepted and embraced everywhere. After visiting Ireland two summers ago, it's not hard to imagine why. The bar is the social center of a town already full of people that love to talk and laugh - and there was plenty of that to be had in the company of Brown Sailor, Tight Jeans Tiger, and Oklahoma Bud.

Even with all that going on, I still couldn't shake what always seems to be lingering for me. There is never a second out here when things lose their tourist tint. Aside from objective differences, of which there are many, I'm always wondering what Shuli is doing, how Mom is feeling, how Dad and Brother are coping, and, even on a 17th to remember, what the scene was like at McSorley's over in the East Village.


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