Póg Mo Thóin

To the left of the Winmau dart board hung a stenciled wooden sign that read, “Póg mo thóin.”

“I wonder what that means,” I said with a tilt of my head and my hitch-hiking thumb pointing toward the sign.

sign

“Right?” Kody said as he aimed his dart. “It sounds nasty.”

We had dropped into a new Irish bar, new for us, where the green twinkle lights on the covered patio drew us in, green velvet bar stools invited us to sit, and a darling bartender with long red hair poured us drinks—a Wild Basin Black Raspberry seltzer in a chilled glass and a Jameson Caskmates IPA neat for me. To our delight, there were nice dart boards in a room on the other side of a partitioned half wall and darts with pointed tips. I emphasize nice and pointed because we have a tendency to play in a place with a terrible board and darts with blunt tips that don’t stick. Like the twinkle lights and green velvet, these were wonderful surprises.

I had been practicing my aim, and our game was tied. It was a matter of shooting two more bullseyes. I already had one, and so did Kody. With my eyes on the board, my ears  overheard a conversation between two guys at the bar, “What’s the longest road trip you’ve ever taken? I mean, not with your parents as a kid, but that you drove yourself.”

I couldn’t hear what the other guy said, but the bartender said, “Probably Austin. I never drive anywhere.” She seemed very young, but now that I’m fifty, so many people do.

I wanted to pipe into this conversation, but I was busy concentrating on my target. Ready. Aim. 5. Ready. Aim. 16. Ready. Aim. 2. Kody said, “I’m telling you, you’re on the spot.” My darts were close, but not close enough.

Kody couldn’t hit his either. His darts fell on the 9, the 14, and the 8. He breathed out with a huff.

“Thanks for giving me another chance,” I said with a smile. My wins against Kody are few and far between.

The first road trip that came to mind was the one I took with my friend Misti back in 2009. She had moved to Sitka, Alaska for a couple of years, and she was moving back to Texas and driving her car, the first stretch for her via ferry. And so I flew to Sacramento and met her to keep her company for the rest of the way home. We stayed in Sonoma Valley that first night, toured Napa, and dined at Bottega, Chef Michael Chiarello’s restaurant, where I had my favorite meal of the trip—Tortino Rustico Southern Italian ratatouille in a mascarpone pastry shell, fresh goats’ cheese, heirloom tomato sauce and arugula salad. I hate to be one of those people snapping photos in fancy restaurants, but I don’t regret keeping the memory.

My Bottega Dinner

I threw my darts again—6, triple 12, 10. By the way, if you don’t play darts, I hit the twelve on the small red strip on the inner circle, which means absolutely nothing. Triples on 15-20 is exactly what you want, but I had closed those numbers.

From wine country we spent a couple of days in San Francisco, drove down Lombard Street, toured in a double decker bus, walked on the Golden Gate Bridge, ate at Fisherman’s Wharf, caught a performance of Wicked, and ate pizza in a parlor alongside the famous San Francisco twins. From San Francisco, Misti and I traded off driving first down Pacific Coast Highway One and then east toward Las Vegas. And you know what they say about Vegas—what happens there, stays there.

Pacific Coast Highway One

Kody had another opportunity to beat me, and as he threw 20, 17, and 16, I heard the guy who proposed the road trip question mention his travels between Houston and Odessa. “It’s a good ten hour drive, but I just take my pee bottle.”

“Did he just say pee bottle?” I said to Kody in a voice quiet enough that no one else could hear. “Who needs a pee bottle? Just stop the damn car.”

Kody said, “I don’t need that much time. I’m already driving 110.” 

There was a note of truth behind his joke, and suddenly his driving seemed better than traveling with a bottle of pee. No offense if you happen to use a pee bottle, just not my style, and I laughed and shook my head.

From Vegas, Misti and I drove southeast a bit before hitting the Historic Route 66, stopping for restrooms and gas along the way, and after an overnight respite somewhere in Arizona, we sped on toward Santa Fe where we spent another night at a nice resort and celebrated with massages in teepees. Misti planned every last detail, and I’m the friend who says, “Okay!” I’m not sure who was Thelma and who was Louise. Brad Pitt may or may not have shown up along the way. But instead of running away and driving off a cliff, we drove right into Dallas back to our jobs and the reality of our lives. No one was hurt in the making of our escapade. Well, Misti might have been, but that’s her story to tell. Anyway, that is how you road trip with one of your besties.

I held the dart with three fingers, my index and my thumb with my middle finger to steady it. I stared straight in the center of the bull. I threw. I missed. I refocused. I threw my second dart. “Kody?” I said, pointing.

“Is that it?” he said, and he walked forward for a closer look at my dart in the red center of the board, worth a double bullseye.

“Didn’t you have an opportunity to take some points on me?” I said, rubbing it in just a little bit.

“You really gonna say that? I’ll be taking my points next time. Another game? I’m bringing the pain.” He was totally jesting.

“Well, game on.” I said with feigned bravado. “Game. On.”

“My Name Is Human” played in the background. This was Kody’s playlist. To think that jukeboxes can be controlled through the touch of a phone. Anyway, I had a friend tell me that he always liked my playlists. So Tim, this is for you—a random sampling of our Wednesday evening songs, old and new, from the jukebox to the car radio to videos on our TV in the living room.  And for those of you who don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day—try, “Póg mo thóin.”  St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner.

 

21 thoughts on “Póg Mo Thóin

  1. Having an Irish Father-in-law, I well know what the title means, as the saying was sometimes directed my way, when he did not agree with me. Years later, I laughed when I saw an Irish bar in Queensland New Zealand called Pog Mahone’s, as that is how this Gaelic saying is pronounced. Have a great weekend Crystal. Allan

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    1. I’m just a wee bit Irish, obviously not enough to know the saying (until now) and waiting on my Ancestry DNA results to confirm. Thanks for the added trivia and, as always, for the visit! Enjoy your weekend, too!

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  2. Great post. I loved how you weaved between the now and the past with your storytelling. That road trip through California sounded awesome. Would love to do that someday!

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    1. 😂 Thanks for playing along! That sounds like a gorgeous drive. I know this breaks the rules of the bar game, but my dad was a huge fan of the road trip. We once drove from the Oklahoma panhandle to Toronto and back.

      And the Becca Krueger! Yes! A great road trip tune. I believe she was 15 when that video was released.

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  3. Such an interesting post to read. The road trip weaved around just your storytelling did. I hope you have more road trips planned. BTW – darts are an unknown to me, but I know curling is an unknown to many Americans so we are even. 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Dave! I appreciate that feedback. I was playing with style.

      The trip to see my parents in the OK panhandle is close to twelve hours by car from Houston, and I plan to make that trip soon—if I could only plan a trip like Misti.

      I have seen curling on tv, but I didn’t realize where it was popular, so yes, we are even!

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      1. 3 million Canadians curl. It’s very popular and right now the women’s provincial champions are playing all week to pick team canada. Really exciting 16 team round robin. In a few weeks the men’s briar to pick team canada for men.

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  4. Great story, Crystal, especially your adventures down the coast and across to Texas! Fortunate for us, a random overheard conversation inspired you to record your memories.

    Of course, I immediately focused on the food photo. What made you overcome your usual reluctance to snap a restaurant pic? Anticipation it somehow would illustrate a epic tale? The jewel to complete the crown? In any case, a splendid choice. Thanks for the exception!

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    1. I’m sure I took more photos of everything ten years ago. At the time I put more on Facebook, which helped me out in writing this post. There are phases for everything. Thanks for stopping by and supporting the blog! ❤️

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  5. When you mentioned driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, my memory retreated back to the summer 1979 when I traveled from Seattle to LA with two friends. We reached Monterey and needed to gas. No gas! The entire community was dry (this was due Arab nation’s cutting back on their supply to bolster prices). Luckily, we found fuel in Big Sur.

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