Tuesday, March 2, 2010

When Irish Eyes are Smiling

Sully loved to sit in O’Leary’s listening to Celtic drinking songs by Dexy’s Midnight Runners and discussing all aspects of the potato famine. When he wasn’t at O’Leary’s, you could always find him somewhere in the neighborhood trying to keep kids from stealing his Lucky Charms.

There were three things Sully really enjoyed: Irish music, drinking, and keeping homosexuals from marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. As much as he enjoyed the latter two, especially combining them violently, he most enjoyed Irish music. Every night ended with Sully doing an Irish jig on a table to a Celtic song in his Larry Bird jersey until he disrobed to reveal his giant shamrock tattoo.

“Look at me,” he’d say. “I’m fresh and clean as a whistle. Too-Rye-Ay, you filthy bastards!” Then he’d fall off the table and have to be carried home.

The last time I saw Sully, he was in the park with Father O’Reilly reading The Last Hurrah and eating corned beef on a stick. I waited for Father to leave and approached Sully.

“Hey, Sully,” I said.

“Oh, hi,” he replied. “I’m sorry. What’s your name again?”


“Hmm. Is that Irish?”

“Yes,” I said. “Sully, what keeps you here?”

“What keeps me where?”

“This neighborhood. Is it the people? The bars? What is it?”

“Well, I’ll tell you.”

“Oh, boy,” I said. “You know what? I’m sorry I asked. See ya.” I started to leave, but he grabbed my jacket and forced me back down on the park bench.

“It’s the music,” he said.

“What music?”

“Menudo. What kind do you think? Celtic music.”

“But you haven’t been to Ireland since you were a boy.”

“Ireland?” he said. “Who needs that? Look, a dog.”

Sully stood up and went to pet the dog. The next day he was playing his bagpipes by the ocean like he always did. An octopus came to the shore and apparently tried to mate with the bagpipes and ate Sully whole. Everyone had something wonderful to say about Sully at the funeral. It was a beautiful ceremony other than the bagpipes, which made me decide that, at my funeral, I want my friends banging pots and garbage can lids together and torturing cats. It would create sort of the same sound.

No one in the neighborhood ever forgot Sully, which was no small task. There were twelve Sullys on our street alone. When St. Patty’s Day came around again, we all got real loaded and threw up on the sidewalk for our homey.