It seems that even here, in picturesque, colloquial Ireland, the crazies still find me.
If you read my other blog, I mentioned that Frank’s Grandmother’s funeral procession was crashed by a local Elvis impersonater named Paddy McCabe. Well, I had the very good fortune of being accosted by this man just a few days ago.
I was working in the wine shop and it was about 5 p.m. It was pouring down rain, as it had all day, and I was watching rivers of water flow down the hilly street in front of the shop. Customers had long since ceased and my tidying up was done, so I cracked open a book. A few minutes more and I looked up, quite surprised to see a man standing at my counter and I hadn’t even heard him come in.
Paddy is someone I’ve seen from afar many times and he’s sort of terrifying and intruiging all at once. Stories abound about him – some say he is a direct result of inbreeding, others say his mother had many kids by different daddies (of which he’s just one), still others claim he was abused from an early age and even locked under the stairs. Whether some, all or none of these things are true, it is fair to say at least that he’s often been arrested, and usually for being drunk and disorderly, and/or harrassing or assaulting women. And on top of that, he truly believes he is Elvis. With very little coaxing, he will sing like The King on any street corner. And while he looks young and dresses in flashy style, in reality, he’s at least 40 years old and has led a rough existence. Luckily, he had never noticed me… up until now.
So I look up and he’s there, maybe 3 feet away, dripping rain from his hair, smelling of old cigarettes, and smiling at me toothlessly.
“Can I help you?” I ask, nervously. No answer, just swaying. “Is there anything I can help you find?” I query again.
“I like you, Honey. You’re beautiful. Will you marry me?!”
“Um, sorry, but no…”
“I got everything I need, I got maids, butlers, bodyguards, I just don’t have no wife, so will you marry me?”
“I’m already married, I can’t,” I replied, starting to sweat and hastily texting HELP to Frank on my phone.
“I don’t care! I’ll wait. You can have 4000 a week, bodyguards, and your own horse, once I get the stables built. I’m building a house up in Dundalk right now and I’m gonna call it Graceland.”
“Oh, really?” I ask, weakly, wondering when and if someone will come by the shop and set me free.
“You know what, Darlin, I’m gonna sing you a song. Here you go, this song is for you.”
And then he proceeded to sing a long, slow, soft ballad as it rained even harder outside. I felt like I’d be all right, but I was still nervous and tried to act kind and calm, so as not to elicit any violent reactions from the poor man.
“There, there you go. That for you,” he said again.
“Thanks, that was very nice. But I have to close up my shop now, so…” I started.
“That’s OK, I’ll wait.” he said. “You know who I am? My name Elvis, you heard of Elvis? Elvis McCabe. Here, you got a piece of paper?”
He started fishing around for paper on the counter, so I handed him a blank sheet, to which he carefully, in his best cursive writing, inscribed his name, Elvis McCabe.
Where was Frank???
My phone rang and I heard Frank’s voice saying, “Are you OK? Is someone there with you?”
“Yes,” I said cheerfully.
“Is it someone you don’t want there?” he asked.
I replied in the affirmative again and he said he was on his way.
After hanging up, my little conversation with Paddy continued he did not show any signs of leaving, even after I said my “husband” was on his way. Then he broke into a more rockin song, gyrating his hips in the middle of the shop floor and singing for all he was worth. After a few minutes, he caught his breath and came back to the desk, where he sheepishly asked me if I had a Euro to spare. I said I did not, and that he should ask somewhere else.
And just when it seemed like I’d never get rid of him and Frank would never come, he went to the door, did a little bow and a salute to me, then left the shop as quickly as he came in. About 30 seconds later, Frank came bursting in, wet and worried. I just sat there, shaken and amused and thoroughly dumbstruck.
So you see? I don’t even have to pick up hitchhikers or live in downtown Indianapolis to find the colourful characters of life. They just come to me. All that said, I really sort of feel bad for the guy… everyone says he should be put away someplace safer for himself and others… but for the time being, he’s out and about on the streets of Drogheda.
If you don’t believe me, you can find evidence on You Tube: