When I was nearly four years old, my parents and I visited England and Ireland (my dad had a medical conference in one of the two countries). It was very eventful and I have many memories: watching the rabbits on the front lawn of our hotel, riding through the Gap of Dunloe in a horse-drawn carriage, etc.
One incident that I *don’t* remember is still one of my favorite tales to tell from that trip. It’s the time I saved my dad from an Irish almost pub fight.
As those who may have traveled to Europe know, many roads were not paved with large or even small vehicles (or even bicycles) in mind. They are beyond narrow. It was down such a road in a town in the Ring of Kerry that my father was navigating our rental car when he accidentally sideswiped another vehicle. That other vehicle was parked outside of a pub.
Being the upstanding citizen that my dad was, he went inside the pub to try and find the car’s owner. Either the proprietor of the establishment or another pub patron told him, “Well, that car belongs to Johnny and he’s in the loo [do the Irish say “loo?”]. We’ll send him out to talk with you when he comes back.”
So my dad returned to our car and waited. I probably didn’t really understand what was happening, but I could feel the tension crackling in the air as my parents waited for the car’s owner to emerge. Influenced by said tension and my small stature, one can hardly blame me for my reaction when the door to the pub opened.
Now, you must understand, my dad was 6’1″ tall. Not a small man. But the man who emerged from the pub was taller, with flaming red beard and hair.
So I did what any other self-respecting almost-four-year-old would do.
I started bawling. And screaming, “A giant! A giant’s going to kill my daddy!”
And then I started crawling over my mom to try and get as far away from the giant as possible.
Well, Johnny the Giant, obviously wasn’t expecting me. He immediately apologized to my dad for scaring me and waved away the damage to the car. “Go on and enjoy the rest of your vacation,” he said.
And so we did. And I eventually forgot about Johnny the Giant until about 10 years later when my mom told me the story. She said Johnny probably wasn’t even the owner of the car that my dad hit — the bar patrons probably wanted to play a joke on the American tourists by sending out the biggest, scariest man in the bar. Well, what’s the biggest, baddest Irishman against four-year-old me? A big ol’ softie, that’s what.