Niagara Gazette

Columns

March 1, 2014

LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: A look at letting go for Lent

Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Meditators — The story goes this way. A little old fella’ came from the Emerald Isle to our isle one autumn. Each night at precisely 7 p.m. he would sidle up to the tiny bar of Mike Carr’s Village Inn, order two large beers and silently sip them down.

While respecting bartender-client privilege (Ben Franklin’s amendment to the Bill of Rights), Mike finally succumbed to curiosity and inquired about this ritual. Why two, never more, never less.

“ ‘tis for me pal Paddy back in Ballybunion,” the visitor said. “When we parted we vowed we would host a toast to each other at this hour so long as we both drew breath of life.”

And so it went, through the winter, into the New Year.

Then one Wednesday in March the visitor came in and held up one finger. Mike set the solitary draft before him and with the wisdom which is part of the mixologist’s job description, deduced that Paddy had given up the ghost in Ballybunion.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” Mike said.

“Loss?” the old fellow responded after a hearty quaff.

“Well,” said Mike, “you always had a drink with Paddy. I figured he’d met his Maker.”

“No, no,” said the Irishman. “Paddy is fine, but as for me, well, I’ve given it up for Lent!”

This is our favorite joke about beliefs, buddies, beverages and mischief, with its faint whiff of hypocrisy. It’s portable, too; first time we heard it, it was set in Maine.

And it came to mind as Lent approaches, heralded by the Mardi Gras menu at our Creole Dick & Jenny’s, where our visitor might order two Hurricanes and answer to the name of Pierre.

And we ponder what WE will curtail for Lent …

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