We had made it through customs and were at the gate. It was half an hour before boarding so I moseyed over to the cafe for a final cup of good Euro coffee. I sat down at a long table where there was an open seat and started sipping my coffee.
The guy next to me had a scraggly beard and was wearing a dented porkpie hat made of green felt that looked like he’d been using the brim to clean his bicycle chain after a 100-mile ride through a swamp. He was three-quarters of the way through a giant mug of Guinness and it didn’t look like it was his first glass.
“You American?” he asked.
“Land of fucking opportunity, that’s why. Any dumbass with a crackpot idea can go to America and three months later he’s a fucking billionaire and owns an NBA basketball franchise.”
“Oh, yeah. I’m going there myself someday, not some tourist jagoff buying hot dogs in Times Square and getting ripped off by some cabbie jagoff, but to make some real money.”
“You know who you’re talking to?”
“Clancy. Clancy O’Flaherty. That’s who. Clancy Fuggin’ O’Flaherty. World’s best rock guitarist. You don’t look like you know shit about guitars.”
“I knew it. You have that boring ass tourist American look. What are you, a dentist?”
“Yeah, I knew it. Same thing. Anyway, Clancy O’Flaherty is the name. King of the Electric Guitar.”
The guy next to Clancy was shaking his head the whole time and finally had had enough. “You sound like Clancy O’Flaherty the Dumbass to me,” the guy said. I noted his glass was also mostly empty, and like Clancy’s, his nose was beet red.
Clancy glanced at the interlocutor. “Yeah? What the hell do you know?” Then he turned to me. “Hey, will you spring for a beer? I don’t have any more cash and they declined my fucking credit card. I have a $50,000 line of credit and they won’t let me buy a fucking beer.”
“Sure,” I said.
“Listen here,” the other guy said. “America is a fucking shit hole shark tank. You go over there with your phony electric guitar schtick and they’ll laugh you out of the crappiest bar in the crappiest town in the crappiest state of the whole crappy country. King of the Electric Guitar, my ass. Maybe King of the McDonald’s French Fry Machine.”
“Yeah? What the hell do you know? My cousin is in America and he’s a fucking millionaire. He’s a software guru. He made some computer program that finds the best price for car tires or some shit and he’s a fucking millionaire; owns half of Silicon Valley. So fuck you.”
“Your cousin drives a fucking taxi or probably not even that. He drives a Uber and shares some ratty apartment with five other broke blokes who design web sites. When his tourist visa runs out he’ll be right back here in Ireland broke as shit and living under a bridge. America will eat your fucking lunch.”
“It will eat yours, for sure.”
“Do you even know who I am?” the other drunk said.
“Yeah, you’re some bloke in an airport about to get his arse beat.”
“You’re looking at Sampson P. Mackelroy, that’s who. Sampson P. Mackelroy, probably the greatest living graphic artist in history. I did the artwork for some of the most successful products on the Internet.”
“Whatever, mate. Your t-shirt looks like it was designed by some blind kid with Adobe Illustrator version 1.0.”
“I designed every fucking graphic for twaffles.com, sonjasdiscounttravelsites.com, and jacketreplacementzippers.com. You don’t know a damn thing about America. I bet you couldn’t play Smoke on the Water if I spotted you the first two chords.”
Clancy turned to me. “Who is this asshole? And why’s he butting into our conversation? Thanks for the beer. Do you mind if I order a cheeseburger? I’m hungry as fuck.”
The guy across from us had been listening to the whole exchange, and appeared to be disgusted. “I wouldn’t hire either one of you stumblebums to wipe the rims on my Ferrari.”
Sampson laughed. “Yeah, that’s because your Ferrari came in a paper box and you put it together with modeling glue.”
Clancy chortled. “No, man, his Ferrari is the real deal. That’s why he’s flying coach on his annual luxury vacation to fucking Shropshire. In November.”
“Do either one of you jagoffs know who I am?”
I didn’t know, but I did know that my plane was taking off soon, and hopefully none of these three fine gentlemen were going to be on it.
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