Jetlag, Beer and Boys
“Erin! Sarah! Are you guys alive in there?!”
As I rolled over in the darkness I heard the muffled, frantic yelling followed by the loudest bang, bang, bang. “Where am I?” I thought to myself for a brief moment trying to remember. I tried to rub my eyes, but all I saw was black. I was utterly confused, not to mention more tired than I had ever been in my entire life. My head felt like a vice was wrapped around my brain.
“Oh crap, we are missing dinner!” All of a sudden I heard Sarah’s voice and tried to locate her as she turned on the light. This didn’t help my headache or my confusion. I could still hear the banging. My eyes began to slowly adjust in the bright light. I looked around the stark hotel room we had been assigned to for two nights in Killarney, Ireland.
“We slept too late, the alarm never went off!” Sarah was still yelling. I turned toward her voice and saw her rummaging through her suitcase. She was literally freaking out, and I guess I still wasn’t sure why. I was so tired. As my memory came rushing back to me I could remember the tour guide’s strict guidelines when we arrived at the hotel. “If you are not going to go on the excursion planned for the afternoon, make sure you are at dinner at 7 p.m. And if you decide to take a nap, no matter how tired you are, it will be even worse if you sleep more than a half an hour.” Oh crap!! We slept for three hours! I jumped out of the bed, “How the heck did this happen, we set the alarm, it’s 7:30!”
“That is why Laura was banging on the door, we are late for dinner, we will be lucky if we even get to eat.” Sarah said in a more calm voice than before. “Erin, calm down, you are freaking out.”
So, our trip to Great Britain and Ireland started with a bang, literally. Little did we know, Killarney would be a town we would never forget.
Halfway asleep, the table tempting us to place our forty pound heads on it, we were somehow able to nourish ourselves. All of our other classmates were talking about going out on the town after dinner. Were these people crazy? Wasn’t anyone tired? I was thinking if I had ever read anything about someone dying from being too tired since I was more than halfway there. I looked across the table at Sarah and I knew she was wondering the same thing. Didn’t anyone realize we just flew halfway around the globe, and lost what seemed like a day of sleep? I couldn’t believe that no one else was tired! I sat pondering a wonderful 15-hour nap, but quickly snapped out of it; I wasn’t going to miss a thing though. I could sleep when I got home in two weeks. I couldn’t very well be the odd one out.
Opening the large, intricately-carved wooden door to Scruffy’s pub, a blast of stale cool air and the sound of Celtic rock music hit us like a tidal wave. Curious faces dispersed throughout the large room looked up at us from their lager shandies and pints of dark, syrupy Guinness. Without hesitation, they smiled in unison as if they had just seen old family friends they have known for ages. A few of the faces were vibrantly youthful with sun-kissed cheeks. Others looked worn and tattered, reflecting decades of sun-drenched hard labor. We were definitely the center of attention. Despite their smiles I still felt like we had a huge neon sign hanging over our heads flashing “Silly Americans” with no intent on burning out.
“So this is an Irish pub. It is kind of dreary and dark, don’t you think?” I whispered to Sarah. She waved me away with a look telling me to shut up. Sitting down in a large mahogany booth toward the back, we hoped everyone had already conveniently forgotten we were there. We heard giggles coming from the booth behind us. Each of us took turns getting drinks from the bar so as to avoid standing out.
“So, I think since we are in Ireland we should drink Guinness, right?” Sarah seemed to think it was a good idea. She brought two pints back to the booth. As soon as it touched my lips I knew I hated Guinness. It tasted horrible, I didn’t want to waste it, and so I drank it as fast as possible. I saw that Sarah felt the same way about the dark, heady beer and quickly downed it while making an awful face. We made an executive decision to stick with the lager shandies and hard cider the stoutly, red-bearded barkeep recommended.
I heard the giggling behind us again followed by whispering. I decided to peek over the top of the booth to investigate what was so funny. As my eyes reached the top far enough to look in the next booth, I realized someone on the other side had the same plan. I shot back down onto the hardwood slab. “What is your problem?” Sarah asked trying not to laugh at my wide-eyed expression.
“There was someone looking over at us, too.” I told Sarah. Everyone else we were with looked irritated, yet concerned, as they broke away from their individual conversations.
“Hey! Hey, you over there!” I heard a manly voice yell out. He had a thick Irish brogue, but we definitely knew he was talking to us. Sarah and I slowly peeked over the top of the booth. To our pleasant surprise we saw two young Irish boys, about our age, staring right back at us with large green eyes. Bob, with the freckles, and Ronan, with the red mop top. Sarah and I just stared at each other smiling as though we had just been given a million dollars. Not only were we in a pub for the first time, drinking beer like the Irish, we were with two great looking Irish boys. The tiredness that existed was now mysteriously absent from our minds.
“We knew you were American.” Bob said to us as our party joined their booth in the back corner. We were all captivated and mysteriously dumbfounded as to how he could possibly know. I wondered is there really was a neon sign as I casually looked above my head. Nope, nothing. “How would you know that? You probably just heard us talking when we came in.” Sarah said.
“No we saw you walking in and we could spot you as Americans from a kilometer away!” Ronan boasted trying to hold back his laughter.
“Yeah, only Americans wear shorts in Ireland!” Bob barely got the sentence out before bursting and pointing at our shorts.
“It’s summertime, and it’s hot.” Sarah tried to reason with them.
“Yeah, but this is Ireland. No one that lives here would ever wear shorts!” It was all in good fun, and after we understood that, we all had a good laugh at our own expense. Before every round, we toasted to silly Americans wearing shorts and shouted “Slainte!” as loud as we could, no longer caring if we were the center of attention.
We talked all night, and drank all night. They wanted to know what it was like in “the States”, we wanted to know if they had girlfriends. They wanted to know if we could teach them any cool American slang words, we wanted to know if they had girlfriends. They asked if we knew how to ski (we told them we were from Colorado), we wanted to know if they had girlfriends.
We said goodnight to our new Irish friends about five hours later and stumbled back to the hotel after two too many pints. Changing into our pajamas, we both crammed our shorts into the bottom of our suitcases, as though we were tricking ourselves into not wearing them again. Finding our way to our beds as the room was spinning was slightly difficult. We fell asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows, easily avoiding getting sick.
At 8 a.m. the alarm clock went off to alert us that we had to be at breakfast in 30 minutes and ready to get on a cramped bus in an hour. Was I going to have a headache every time I had to wake up on this trip? I rolled over remembering how much I drank, then Bob and Ronan’s sweet sun kissed faces flashed in my mind. I smiled with my eyes still closed. “Sarah?”
“Yeah?” I could tell she was in just as much pain as I was.
“We never found out if they have girlfriends.” We both forced our eyes open. Lying there smiling at each other we knew although we were worlds apart from our new friends, we would remember them and Scruffy’s Pub forever.