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Luck of the Irish

Updated: 04/01/2013 @ 3:17pm

You’ve heard the phrase, “the luck of the Irish.”

I’m not Irish.

I was on my way to St. Paul for a meeting, but first I had to drop off 50 pounds of Irish stew at our church.  Just ahead of me, a car skidded on the ice, and even though there was no real danger, my highly tuned instincts forced me to hit the brakes.

About a quart of stew splashed out – more than enough to make a big mess on the floor of my pickup.  Luckily, most of it landed on my pants and briefcase.

Maybe 2 quarts.

I carefully drove the last mile to church and then considered my options.  We had made plenty of stew, so even with a quart less there’d be enough.  There seemed to be a lot of carrots on the floorboards, and I thought about scooping them up off the floor, but I know people who would have thought that was wrong, so I didn’t.

I carried the stew into the church, went back to my pickup armed with a roll of paper towels, and headed east to St. Paul for my meeting.  It’s about a four-hour drive, which is plenty of time to get tired of the smell of cold Irish stew.  I scraped as much debris off my clothes as possible and spread a mat of paper towels across my briefcase to soak up the broth of beef stock and beer.  I don’t know how long I’ve had that briefcase - 20 or 30 years would be my guess - and this is the worst thing I’ve ever done to it.  I sure don’t know how to clean beef broth and squished potatoes off of old leather.

I was scheduled to be part of a panel presentation for about 100 people, most of whom would be wearing suits.  I’d decided to go with sport coat, no tie, and clean jeans…just on the far southern end of acceptable. But in terms of fashion, that’s where I’m most comfortable.  Of course, I imagine the wafting odor of celery cooked in Guinness moved me a little further down on the fashion scale.

At one point during the drive, I looked around my pickup and had to laugh out loud. My pants were getting dry, which left them very stiff and . . . brown. My briefcase had lumps of vegetables stuck to it, the entire floor of the pickup was covered with soggy paper towels, and it smelled like a herd of leprechauns had used it for an all-night poker game. All I could think of was what a glamorous life I lead. Seriously - I was one dapper son of a gun. If George Clooney had seen me at that moment, he would have died of jealousy.

I had sort of hoped to sneak into the fancy hotel unseen. I scraped some more carrots off my briefcase, buttoned my sport coat, and walked quickly. As I turned sideways to pass someone in a doorway, I hooked my coat and ripped the top button off.

I sighed, deeply, and found my meeting room.

The moderator of the panel discussion started to fill me in on the procedure. I stopped her and said, “Just a head’s up. If you should suddenly find yourself very hungry, it’s probably because you’re standing downwind of my briefcase.”

She smiled, a little, and I decided not to talk anymore. I was already pressing my luck . . . I should have just been grateful she didn’t have me arrested for vagrancy.

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