A couple of years ago, I found myself back on my island home for a few weeks during the summer. I go back to Newfoundland every year to see my family and friends, but this particular year, something extra-special was happening. A couple of my very good friends (both of whom I had met in Montreal) who had been dating for about a hundred years had finally decided to tie the knot. Like me, they are both from Newfoundland, which could only mean one thing. The clearest and easiest solution to having the best wedding possible was to get everyone together, back on the Rock.
I arrived a few days before the big event so I’d have some time to beat around with my friends who are still lucky enough to live in Newfoundland. A scoff and a scuff here and there, was exactly what I needed to prepare for what was coming. On the day the celebrated couple stepped off the plane and onto our sacred soil, everything else in my life came to a grinding halt. I went with one of our friends to pick up the instigator and her groom-to-be at the airport. They both were wearing giddy grins as they scuttled towards us, though the groom`s grin quickly turned into a sly, all too familiar, saucy smile and that’s when it became real. Most of our little gang of Montreal-met Newfoundlanders was back together and some good trouble wasn’t going to be far behind.
It didn’t take us long to exit the airport to keep the momentum moving. We all grabbed our share of their bags and hurried towards the car. The first order of business was to drop off the luggage and get settled away but as soon as the seatbelts were buckled and we were rolling into town, the last thing on our minds was settling. Instead, once we turned onto the street where we were all staying, we slowed the car down long enough to sling the bags into the house and head downtown for lunch. As there was a lot to be accomplished before that evening, the ladies took off get a bite on their own and to run a few errands while the ‘lucky’ locals reluctantly headed back to work. I was left with the groom and as history has a magical way of repeating itself, we were about to try and get ourselves into a scrape.
It was August and there was a slight summer chill in the mid-afternoon air. The smell of salt water filled our lungs as we walked along the St. John`s sidewalk. The fresh air was making us hungry, so we decided it was time to grab a bite. The first stop and most obvious choice, due to proximity, would be Erin’s pub on Water Street. We consumed a healthy three or four pints before heading back out into the gleaming sunlight. We were almost blinded after having been in the dark pub for 45 minutes, but that wasn’t going to stop us. We were now, more than ever, ready to keep going.
We may have stopped in somewhere else to have another quick pint, I don’t remember exactly, but we did come up with a great idea. It was time we finally get tattoos. Without a clue about how this would work, or what kind of tattoos we would get, we searched high and low for at least 10 minutes, trying desperately to find a tattoo parlor. We asked someone for directions, but they were slurring their speech so badly, we couldn’t make out a word they were saying. We tried to get into what I think was the post office, but that door was locked. Not wanting to mistake the courthouse for a tattoo parlor, we also kept moving. Thank God we got distracted by a bigger idea because that tattoo business would have ended in nothing but disaster, and I would have been shot, mere days before the wedding.
The bigger idea that distracted us from our first inkling was to go on a boat tour. We marched towards the waterfront and onto where the tour boats were moored. The wonderful lady in the orange hut was a riot and told us that we literally had just missed the boat on our wonderful idea. We weren’t too beaten up over it but she must have been shaking her head as we walked away. I bundled myself up a little and we headed back up towards Water Street where we planted ourselves on the deck of Kelley’s Pub. They were setting up for the annual George Street Festival so we struck up a chat with a few of the guys that were posted at the barricades. Suddenly it hit me that we had unknowingly snuck onto the George Street Festival grounds and were in the best possible place to meet up with our friends a little later.
As more time went by, and a few more pints went down with the sun, the party got underway. We had been texting our position to everyone, and a few people started to trickle down to the pub. When we were getting ready to leave Kelley`s and move to O’Reilly’s, the last few stragglers of the group showed up. It wasn’t as easy to get onto the street now because the night was in fully swing, so while they were huddled outside the grounds, I talked to one of the guys we had been chatting with earlier and he let them come in through the side.
We all moved to O’Reilly`s, which was packed to the rafters with people. Fergus O’Byrne was strumming out tunes and an older man, spryer than any of us, was tap dancing the veneer off the floorboards. At about 9:30 pm, we decided it was time to go somewhere else, but not before a quick photo op. One of the girls and I saw an empty DJ booth and decided that it would be a great idea to mark the occasion by stepping into the booth to get a quick snap. One of the power hungry bouncers glanced our way and his eyes almost came out on his face. He came bounding towards us so we bolted. He yelled to security to come get rid of us, so my barricade buddy from earlier came over. He shook his head, laughing at the enraged bouncer and suggested to us that it might be best to get going, we didn’t disagree. By 7pm we had managed to sneak everyone onto the street, and by 10pm we got ourselves kicked off.
The evening ended with pizza and a bit of a fake face-off with a crowd from Botwood. We all staggered towards the taxi stand, squeezed ourselves into a cab and headed back to headquarters. That night, we set the bar pretty high for more shenanigans and throughout the next two weeks, we managed on several occasions, to surpass that bar to the best of our abilities.
It was a wild couple of weeks, and some of the best stories are yet to be written, or remembered.