Dolly and her Doggy


Smack dab in the middle of Verona there's a colosseum almost as big and almost as famous as the one in Rome, and right next to it there's a monster terrace that runs right the way down the road.

We were working the terrace playing those old Irish tunes, with Weasel singing and playing his banjo, Mac on the fiddle, me on flute or guitar, Barry the Belfast Butcher on Bodhron and his girlfriend Angel bottling the tables.

There was a trade fair in town at the moment, and sitting at one of tables there were all the bigwigs from the Guinness booth. They invited us over for a wee drink after we'd finished and then suggested we come and play at their "real" Irish pub in the Expo.

As part of the deal we'd get all the free Guinness we could drink. Barry lit up like it was Christmas, his birthday and an Irishman's wet dream all rolled up into one.

There were zero dissenting votes, and before we knew it we were downing pint after pint of the loveliest drink on Earth.

Our schedule was: Play for 10 or 15 minutes, drink for 10 or 20 minutes, play some more and drink some more and drink some more.

The TV people came down and filmed us for about a quarter of an hour, and I made sure to say "Hi Mom!" because that's what you're supposed to do the first time you get on TV, right?

A while later the radio people came down and they were doing an interview with Weasel and me. We were in a little back room built into the pub which looked as if it was designed to sign papers in and make deals. Posh but business-like.

Mac was just on the other side of the door making sure the bar didn't fall over, and Barry and Angel decided to go have a look around.

Three quarters of the way through the radio interview, Mac and a couple of Italians burst into the room babbling about some accident and hospitals and such. I went out to see what was up while Weasel finished off the interview.

The convention center's bogs are underground, so you have to walk down a flight of stairs to take a leak. There at the bottom of the stairs were Barry and Angel only semiconscious (not an uncommon state for Barry anyway).

Apparently they'd been horsing around on the stairs and while running up they both lost their balance and went tumbling all the way back down to the bottom. In fact you can get hurt pretty bad rolling down a flight of concrete steps. They both had to be helped to the top.

After he polished off the radio interview, Weasel came out to see what had been going on. He was really pissed off that the two of them were acting so stupid and making us all look bad.We packed them into the bus and drove them to the local hospital.

Once there we all sat around cursing them, because if it wasn't for their stupidity we'd still be drinking free Guinness and having fun.

Those two were both crazy anyway, and were always doing wierd things - like the time I went outside this bar and found them taking turns slugging each others' left arms.

Wham! Angel would lay one into Barry, the Wham! he would lay one into her.

I tried to stop them, but they wouldn't have it. Barry drunk smiling with his red beard and cap and leprechaun eyes saying "It's OK, you see, we got a bet on."

At that point Angel told me to either join in their game or butt out. I chose the latter. I started making my way to the interior of the bar where it was safe, and those two continued taking swings at each other!

I couldn't believe it, they were really hitting each other as hard as they could!

Angel was not your typical frail little French girl, she was sturdy built stock and sure giving your man a run for his money (or whatever the bet was about).

The next day I saw the damage, and it was incredible! They literally beat each others' upper arms into a pulp. They were both black and blue and red and purple from the shoulder to the elbow. It was months before the bruises went away.

They ended up getting married, moving to Ireland and having a kid.

Somewhere in the midst of the drinking and music at the Verona expo, I'd noticed this sweet little Italian girl who couldn't take her eyes off me. She was working at one of the other booths, and she sure looked cute so I went over to have a chat with her. She couldn't speak any English, so I said something in Italian about Guinness being the only beer in the world that is masculine (the word for beer in feminine in Italian). Even though I spoke Italian very badly, I managed to make a date with her for that evening.

When we met up later, I found out that we couldn't go back to her place, but she had a car and we were going for a little drive. Along for the ride was her darling yappy doggy. Dolly, me and Fido went trundling down the mad cobblestone streets of Verona, finally arriving at the local version of lover's leap.

One thing led to another and soon the windows were steaming up. Unfortunately so was the dog. When Rover started wet-humping my leg, I decided it was time for him to have a little walk.

So I threw the son of a bitch out the door. Dolly and I got down to business while the dog ran around and around the car yelping. My sexual career began in the drive-in movies of Southern California. I know how to the stick shift into gear. Even in the front seat of a tiny Fiat.

The next stop on the band's itinerary was Venice, and it just so happened that Dolly had some time free and decided to come with us. So the next day she came with car and her dog and we took off to the world's most romantic city.

The last time me and Weasel had been in Venice, we'd made a bundle busking under the arches by the Bridge of Sighs, and ended up crashing at some freaks' place a couple of streets down from San Marcos square.

Well, our freaky friends had left town, and the cops weren't nearly so tolerant as we had remembered them. So we all had to get hotels for the night. My beautiful Italian girl Dolores was the first and only woman I ever made love with in the enchanted city of canals and gondolas (in spite of the fact that I spent my honeymoon there with my first wife, AND even though I took Linda the ex-Playboy bunny there one sultry summer).

We left the poor little dog in the car overnight, and had our magical venetian evening together - the two of us communicating as if language had never been invented moving to our primal rhythms with the candlelight flickering on our sweat soaked bodies. Is that romance? Neither one of us cared, because "romance" you can define with words, and what we had completely transcended the tyranny of syntax and lexis.

Things looked different in the morning though. Weasel was getting into another one of his shitties, brought on by the fact that we'd been blown off by the pigs the night before, and he'd had to shell out all that money to get a hotel, and the rest of the band had spent their last pennies on cheap red wine (besides Weasel hadn't been laid in a week).

Weasel always told people that he was from Edinburgh (he's not from anywhere even near the borders). The only thing remotely Scottish about him was that he hated spending money. In fact his whole life revolved around how to find the cheapest everything.

Imagine spending hours and hours walking around trying to locate which restaurant was the scuzziest shithole in town, then after we all got settled in he would announce that he wasn't hungry. But when the food finally came he would say to us "Oh, that looks good! Could I try just a bite?" and proceed to gobble up half your plate!

I managed to convince everybody that we could make some cash in Austria. I'd done really well there with just the flute, and I figured we could make a bomb there with the whole band. I climbed in Dolly's car (her puppy sure was happy to see us!) and we started driving north through the fantastic beauty of the Alps.

We decided to take this famous tunnel which connects Italy and Austria. Whoa Man! talk about EXPENSIOSO! And to add insult to injury, you have to pay at both ends!!! I was lucky I wasn't riding with those guys in the bus, otherwise that old skinflint Weasel would've strangled me on the spot!

Dolly and her doggy stayed with us for a few more days while we made the rounds in Austria, but as we were getting closer to the Swiss border it started getting clearer and clearer that this couldn't last forever. I really couldn't speak Italian very well and there had been some major communication breakdowns. The gas and hotels were starting to add up for both of us since nobody in the group wanted her to bottle (Angel already had that job sewn up), and so I told her that somebody was waiting for me in Switzerland.

At the time that was a lie, but as it turned out someone was waiting for me there, I just hadn't met her before. So I went west and Dolly drove south. She wrote me a postcard later telling me that she had got her own apartment, I probably wrote her back, but I never did see her again. Wonder if she ever learned English...
copyright 2003 Jeff Brent

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