At one time in my life this holiday had greater significance than almost any other. That's because I grew up in the Irish Catholic hamlet of Suffern, NY. And hung out with guys named Gallagher, Dawson and Bergquist, admittedly Bergquist is not an Irish name, but Gallagher's dad was a New York City cop and that was enough Irish for all of us.
Typically, we'd head down Route 17 in the very early hours. We'd always make it a point to be in Manhattan before the sun rose, so as to maximize our daylight drinking hours. That was about the only planning that went into the day. Once the car was parked in the $87 a day garage, we roamed the city, flashing our fake ID's and consuming ungodly amounts of Heineken and Bushmills.
My prostate is getting inflamed just writing about it.
Other than laughing a lot, not many memories come to mind. But one year we met a chatty guy, about our age, somewhere near the corner of 5th Ave and 59th street. He seemed pleasant enough and genuinely intrigued by these inebriated teens from the burbs. So, throwing caution to the wind, we took him up on his offer to drink more beer at his home on nearby 62nd street.
There were four of us, we reasoned, and we could certainly handle any trouble that might come our way. Besides, the beer was free and, at this late hour of the day, our funds were running low.
We walked past the thick mahogany door, up two flights of stairs, and entered what can only be described as a palace. This wasn't the gauche nouveau riche money we had seen and sometimes experienced in Northern New Jersey, a la The Sopranos, this was old style, Gatsby-type money. And frankly we had no business being in its vicinity.
The guy, it turned out, was next in line to inherit the wealth of the Glaxo SmithKline Pharmaceutical empire. I can't recall whether his last name was Smith or Kline, I only know he was rich in a way I never will be.
Perhaps as the ad industry continues its long, slow decline and I am reduced to writing ads for blood-thinning drugs, our paths will cross again. I wonder if he'll remember me.