Friday, March 15, 2013

The Luckiest Irishman


Growing up as a kid, I'd heard all the myths about Leprechauns from my family, though I'd never heard of a beautiful female one. But on this St. Patrick's Day—the morning bright and crisp— she swaggered back and forth in front of O'Malley's Pub waving a placard proclaiming: O'MALLEY'S CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE—THE BEST THIS SIDE OF IRELAND.
People zipped by on the sidewalk, all headed for the St. Patrick Day's parade, but I stopped. It was the placard's bold announcement that first caught my eye and then the Leprechaun. I always thought a Leprechaun to be a stout, white-bearded little fellow, all dressed in green—green hat, green leotards, and green pointed shoes.
This Leprechaun was dressed appropriately in green, but she was shapely and beautiful with a heart-shaped face, wide-set blue eyes, and full red lips. Her red hair fell beautifully to her shoulders.
"Are you sure O'Malley's corned beef and cabbage is the best this side of Ireland?" I asked.
Her smile beamed bright in the sunshine, copper freckles glistening across her nose. "I'm positive."
"How can I be sure? I love corned beef and cabbage, if it's made right."
"I've eaten here a million times."
"Leprechauns are known to be mischievous and often misleading."
"Trust me," she said, unleashing another smile. "Come back after the parade. Dine at O'Malley's. But hurry. The place will be crowded."
The parade was spectacular. Balloons. Floats. Marching bands. I returned to O'Malley's, but the lady Leprechaun was gone. Like she said, the place was crowded, but I managed to find a stool at the end of the bar.
"Green beer?" the barmaid asked. Her voice, smile, and blue eyes were unmistakable. She'd ditched her Leprechaun outfit for jeans and a bight green O'Malley's T-shirt. Her red hair curled to her shoulders.
"Are you the Leprechaun who promised me the best corned beef and cabbage this side of Ireland?" I asked.
"I am," she said. "Kathleen O'Malley. Daughter of Sean and Theresa O'Malley, owners of this pub. I help out on St. Patrick's Day. We're so busy I had to come inside. Friends call me Katie. And who might you be?"
"Patrick O'Sullivan. Firefighter. Station Four. New in town. Friends call me Sullie." I unzipped and removed my jacket so she could view my T-shirt, which implored: KISS ME! I'M IRISH!
We laughed.
But she showed no interest in kissing me.
Indeed, O'Malley's corned beef and cabbage was delicious. While Katie scurried about behind the bar waiting on customers, I ate slowly, grabbing every opportunity to smile at her. Finally when things slowed down, she stopped in front of me. "Good food?" she asked. She'd already cleared away my empty plate.
"Excellent."
"We're sort of in the same business," she said. "I'm a paramedic. And my cousin Tommy is a fireman. Station Four. You know him?"
I think she was testing me, trying to make sure I was who I said I was. "Tommy O'Brien," I said. "Tall and redheaded. Red mustache and goatee. Wife and two kids."
She smiled her blue-eyed smile. Apparently I'd passed the test.
I pointed at my T-shirt. "Did you know," I said, that if a lady Leprechaun kisses a human, she acquires the magical power to grant him a wish."
Katie shook her head, her black hair swishing across her shoulders. "I think you've got that all wrong. It's if ever captured by a human, a Leprechaun has the magical power to grant three wishes in exchange for his release."
"I was close, right?" Then, "Are you married? Dating?"
Ignoring that, she left and scurried around behind the bar again, clearing off plates and washing glasses, not even looking at me. Obviously, I'd come on way too strong. Then she talked on her cell phone. Maybe she was checking me out with her cousin Tommy? Maybe she was calling her boyfriend or husband.
I finished my beer. She was beautiful, I'd tried, but it was time to go. Before I eased off my stool, though, she stopped in front of me again. "Called Tommy, didn't you?" I asked. "What'd he say?"
She tilted her head and smiled. "You're a fine fellow. Not married. Are you dating? Tommy didn't know."
"Uh-uh."
With that, to my utter surprise, she leaned across the bar, took my face in her hands, and kissed me on the forehead. I gasped and nearly fell backward off my stool onto the floor.
"What's your wish?" she asked.
My heart thumped. I could hardly find my voice. "Um...that after you finish here, we...go out. If that's all right.... I mean, if..."
"Granted!" she said.
Talk about the luck of the Irish.
The best corned beef and cabbage this side of Ireland, a kiss, and a date with a beautiful lady Leprechaun—am I not the luckiest Irishman of all?

The End
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