The Irish person is always right: A cautionary tale
Once upon a time, there was a tavern. Where we used to raise a glass or two.
My tavern was called Owen O’Reilly’s Townhouse on 35th Street in Manhattan. Truth be told, my pals and I probably went a long way towards putting the barman’s kids through college at our tavern. My bff Bernadette Gallagher found it during her lunch hour. We were looking for a local place to have a ladylike cocktail after work, and she came back from her scouting expedition saying “There’s a place a block over with a green shamrock in the window.” Bingo!
The Townhouse became very special to me, like my personal Cheers. We go after work and sometimes shut the place down at 4 am. Then, we’d have to go back at lunch the next day for the magic hangover cure, a fountain Coke. I watched O.J. get away with murder one afternoon standing in the packed bar. I brought family and friends and spent New Year’s Eves and St. Patrick‘s Days there. We spent so much time there, in fact, that when Bernadette’s mother passed away, Laura and Owen, the owners, came to her wake. In turn, I was at Laura and Owen’s wedding in 2001. We are still dear friends, and through Laura I met Christine, who designed my grayhairedmom logo. There will never be another place like the Townhouse.
Owen closed the townhouse for a period of time to renovate, and during the grand reopening, he took me on a personal tour of the newly redesigned upper floor, a private party room. He told me, “Sally, you’ll have your wedding here.” At least, that’s what I thought he said. Owen had a beautiful Cavan County brogue, so half of what he said was usually lost of me. Plus, the idea was preposterous! I was in my 40s and very single. In fact, my last relationship had been a total disaster and had ended years earlier. I had given up on dating and men altogether and was perfectly happy with that decision. I told Owen not to hold his breath, that there was no need to get his tux out of mothballs on my account. I walked back downstairs laughing and never thought about it again.
And then sadly I remembered one night about 5 years later. Owen had passed away a year earlier, and Laura was selling the Townhouse. She was giving Owen’s memory a proper send-off and we were all invited to the last night at our favorite pub. I sat there with D, Christine, and Laura and suddenly I remembered what Owen had told me all those years before, and I had to laugh. He was wrong after all! I was not going to have my wedding at Owen O’Reilly’s Townhouse unless D proposed that night and we ran up the stairs, and that did not seem likely. I walked out the door that night and vowed never to go in again after it reopened with the new owners, and I haven’t except for that one time, and I hope you’ll forgive me Laura, but the curiosity got the best of me. It wasn’t the same at all and I’ve never gone back since.
Then in 2008 D did propose, and we got married 15 days later, just D and I, and Bernadette and Jerry as witnesses, and of course, Mary Ellen, who arranged the whole thing with the judge she worked for. We didn’t have time to throw a reception in 15 days, so we decided to have a party a few weeks later, in January 2009.
We picked Keen’s Steakhouse in Manhattan. I know, it sounds sketchy, but it is an old Manhattan landmark. Sarah Bernhardt used to drink there. If you are a Mad Men fan, listen carefully: you’ll hear the characters mention taking clients for a 3-martini lunch at Keen’s.
And then it dawned on me. My wedding was at Keen’s and not at O’Reilly’s townhouse as Owen had predicted. But, if you look out the window from the back of Keen’s, you are looking into the back of the Townhouse.
So, there you are. I should have known better than to have doubted Owen. I mean, he was wrong, but only by the width of a city block. I don’t believe in heaven, but I couldn’t help but wonder if Owen was somewhere smiling smugly that day! And then there’s that time he told me I’d someday win the Lotto…..
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