My friend George likes Irish pubs which is funny as he lives in the land of the world's best Pilsner beer, the home of the Original Budweiser, the Czech Republic.
Finnegan's Wake used to be the meeting place of choice, in the days when this place was Bogart's but McConnell's on Duval at Olivia does a fine job of filling in. With the added benefit of some people watching on the 900 block of Duval.
George ordered a burger, which is no mean meal of course but in a place like this I feel one has to step out a bit. One cannot keep lamenting the passing of Finnegan's especially when this lot offer Smithwick's on tap with a vast plate of bangers and mash.
George has lived most of his adult life in Europe and done well raising a family, keeping friends and enjoying a proper snowy Christmas from time to time in a fairy tale city like Prague. He makes me crazy with stories of quick excursions to Italy just a few hours from his home. The huge variety of European cultures in a relatively small area is a delight for the traveler.
Then there's Key West which exerts its own fascination. George keeps a house here with all the work that entails. I think his children will do better growing up in Prague speaking English, rather than growing up in the US speaking Czech but I appreciate the desire to keep a toe hold in the old country. When I was a child my time was split between Italy and England and I'm glad my parents didn't take away my choices. In the end of course I chose my own path elsewhere but that's been my way all my life.
We talked, I watched the leaves blowing through the door, winters autumnal leaves, victims of a sudden windy summer storm. The little dry crisps fluttering on the dark wooden floor gave the place a comforting non - urban air. We were far from Duval Street.
Another tradition: when we meet it rains. It did too on the ride home. But lunch was good. Very good. Till next time, George.