A little Irish pub music played by the talented group of Big Paddy at Jack Quinn’s on a Saturday night makes for an evening of laughter and people-watching – a combination that never fails to astonish, entertain, and humble. Sometimes all at once.
Big Paddy pauses during their set and we raise our glasses to the troops. A worthy toast if ever there was one. Glasses containing everything from Guinness to Crown Royal and everything in between are lifted in honor.
A young man, no older than 25, sits at the end of the bar. He too raises his glass. The bartender mentions he is Ex-Special Forces, and a frequent patron. He has clearly been disabled during his duties. I say a prayer for him.
One happy guy dances wildly amid his group of barely-twenty-ones, bravely, drunkenly attempting to entice a few of the ladies to dance. He succeeds, and soon many are skipping and tapping to the beat of an Irish bodhran and a raucous rendition of “If I Ever Leave This World Alive” by Flogging Molly.
Between songs, the band hails Patrick, a rather imposing gentleman standing at the bar, wearing a kilt, and enjoying a car bomb. He’s around 6’3, 265 lbs (give or take). Patrick is an Olympic power lifter, and apparently a rather jovial, laid-back and frequent patron of Jack Quinn’s.
The guy I'm sitting next to leans in. “This is his off season; he’s not even big yet.”
Goodnight! I can’t imagine what this guy is like when he’s in competition form.
The lively mood continues unhindered. The youngsters are still dancing away, spurred on by alcohol and the promise of a few more good stories to tell “on the morrow”.
I’m waylaid by a woman determined to educate me on the Colorado law allowing women the use of the men’s restroom whenever they want.
“I ain’t waiting for no damn women’s bathroom when I can use the men’s,” she says.
You go, sister.
She rants a bit more. It’s loud, she’s sauced. I nod and smile. She disappears into the men's room. Some women think they have an automatic connection with their fellows when they are waiting in line to tinkle.
The bouncer leads a blind patron wearing sunglasses and carrying a walking stick to the end of the bar. A few minutes later he is in front of the stage, grooving to the beat, walking stick in one hand and a drink in the other.
He sways and grins and drinks and laughs. Gazes are drawn to him, not in pity, not in embarrassment… but in envy.
If we could all dance like the stares and thoughts of others didn’t matter – what a place it would be!
All little of all three.
Big Paddy begins another lively tune and again the floor fills up with diminished inhibitions and honest laughter. We are all here at Quinn's tonight for our own reasons, whatever they may be. One thing is certain: the music will play.
And the blind man dances on.
Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt.
Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth.