“Does this bus go to LondonDerry?”
I asked the bus driver in the middle of a typical Irish downpour.
“You mean FreeDerry Laddy?”
I stayed firm as I have ended up elsewhere before.
“You must mean FreeDerry Laddy,” The bus driver hollered through the door as I got on the bus, ” You’d better watch youself lad, you never know who your talking to.”
Pondering over my Guinness I finally realized that its either FreeDerry if your an Irish Catholic resistance sympathizer or LondonDerry if your an Irish Protestant United Kingdome sympathizer.
I had learned that the two groups do NOT mix. The U2 song Bloody Sunday based on a Catholic resistance attempt where the English police force opened fire on a peaceful demonstration and that was just an explosive example of the everyday violence.
A sure way to end up in a wheel chair is to be a Protestant and go into a Catholic pub or vice versa. You are either a friend or an enemy and religion is the judge.
“Was the bus driver an IRA member?” I wondered as I studied the Irish Resistance Orange regala crammed into every spare piece of wall and ceiling behind the tiny bar.
In my attempt Irish authenticity, I was slowly making headway into the conversation of the 3 drunken Irishmen at the end of the bar. They were not welcoming, but I managed to get my hook in and slid over my stool into their unknown conversation.
“So who do you think will be elected pope laddy?” asked one of the rosy faced Irishmen with his 2 Guiness settling in wait on the bar.
Pope? I thought, Oh my god, what did I get myself into? I fortunatley did not think aloud as I began to recognize the magnitude of my situation. Here I am, a non-catholic, sitting in a strongly IRA supporting pub in the most volatile city in Northern Ireland discussing the controversal topic of the new popes election with non-other but 3 completely hammered Irishmen.
I fielded the pope question diplomatically and began my manuevering through 20 minutes of heated religious debate, always maintaining the unquestioned assumption of devout Catholic heritage.
The rain was pouring on the stone roof and the cigarette smoke was settling about a foot above our heads. In a bold move I interjected my opinion “I can’t see them electing either the German or the American as pope.”
The largest, drunkest, most avid chain smoker (who apparently used to be a friar monk) immediately took offense “Your wrong lad, as long as they’re Catholic it doesn’t matter where they’re from.”
He turned his heavy jowls and deep set blood shot eyes towards me through the plumes of smoke,“You should know as a good Catholic man.”
With my heart racing and my mind screaming the alarm, something in my eyes must have given my impostering away.
The infamous Irish intuition must have sensed it. The ex-Catholic sat upright in his stool and the entire bar’s conversation came to a focused silence as everyones heads turned in a growing sense of anticipation.
He began to growl, “You are a good Catholic aren’t you?”
Frozen I frantically looked for the exit, but all my mind could settle on was “I am completely alone and in serious impending DANGER.”
Sputtering I managed to squeak out,
“Well … Sir…