Travel Rule: Say "Yes" (To Everything But Shots)
"Me raro seewo inklo Guinness!" A 20-something guy shouts over the music at Quays in Galway, Ireland.
He leans toward me. I lean back, just avoiding a giant splosh of beer in my lap.
"What?" I yell.
Another young Irishman plunks down on the stool next to me and says, "Let me translate. He said, 'We rarely see women drinking Guinness.'"
"Well, it seems appropriate, don't you think?" I respond.
"You're from America!" His eyebrows shoot up. "What part?" "Los Angeles," I reply. "You're a long way from Los Angeles!" He smiles and shakes his head.
"Very true. So, what are you guys celebrating?" I wave my hand at the 10 young men holding pints of beer at the table next to me and L.
"It's his stag party! Do you want to join us?" he asks. I look at L. She leans across the table, earnestly listening to a guy who sounds exactly like the one who needed my translator.
"Yes," I answer for both of us. The crazy night before with the photographer, butcher, and the dude who owned a castle had birthed a new travel rule, "Say 'Yes' to Everything." A young man literally bounces up to our table. He's jumping up and down. "He just lost like four stones!" My translator says.
L and I stare at each other. "What's a stone?" L asks. "It's weight. Let me google it!" My translator pulls out his phone. The jumping guy yells, "What's the way to a man's heart?" "What?" L and I ask. "SPUDS!" He grins and bounces off toward the stage. L and I crack up. Just then, the musical duo on stage starts playing John Denver's "Country Roads." "West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home, country roads." The crowd sings along with almost the same vigor with which they just fist-pumped The Cranberries' "Zombie."
L and I stare each other. "Do you hear what I hear?" she asks. "I do," I say. "West Virginia sounds so weird in Galway," she says just as the young lad who'd been sharing his life story with her before the jumping guy bounced along puts shots on the table in front of us. "Ohhhh, no thank you," L says with the sweetest smile. "You don't like shots?" My translator asks. "The answer to shots is always 'no'," I say. (This is not a travel rule. It has long been a rule of mine.) L smiles and slides the glasses across the table to the mumbly young man who looks very disappointed. "Is there any possibility someone might put something in them?" I ask my translator. "What?!" He looks seriously offended. "No, never. That would never happen here in Ireland!" He pauses and then asks, "Do people actually do that in America?"
"Yep." His eyes bulge as he asks, "Has it ever happened to you?" "Yes, but I was young then. Now I know to always buy my own drinks." I sip my Guinness. "So, how old is the groom?" I point to the guy with half-open red eyes slumped in the corner of the booth who frankly, doesn't look like he's having the best time. The crowd gets crazy loud as the duo onstage plays "Sweet Caroline." It is the second time in three days that an Irish crowd has gone nuts for this song. Suddenly, the love of "Country Roads" almost makes sense. "He's 30. How old are you?" my translator shouts. "49." My translator tilts his head, confused, holds up three fingers and says, "39?" The thirty sounds like "turty." I decide right then that I love the Irish accent (as long as the person speaking hasn't been drinking since early morning, which it turns out half the stag party was). I hold up four fingers and say, "49." "You don't look 49!" he shouts. "Must be the Guinness!" I shout back.