I’m not Irish, but that doesn’t stop me from having a beer on St. Patrick’s Day—or any other day for that matter. On this St. Patrick’s Day, I found myself in front of A Touch of Dee on Lenox Avenue in Harlem.
Making my way past a group of vociferous young men hanging out in front of Dee’s, I tried the front door, but it didn’t budge. Could it be closed? And on St. Patrick’s Day? As if that meant something where I was. But a moment later I heard a buzz and the door opened for me.
Inside there were two women behind the bar and two customers at the bar nursing drinks. “Happy St. Patrick’s Day,” one of the women, a bartender whose named I later learned was Corinne, said to me.
I replied in kind and inquired about a Guinness.
She shook her head.
“Any draft beer?”
“No, just bottles,” she said indicating the bottles in the refrigerator behind the bar.
I peered through the glass and saw Coronas, Coors, Beck’s, Miller Lite, Miller High Life, and Budweiser along with small, individual-sized bottles of red, white and rose wine.
“I’ll take a Miller High Life,” I said and Corinne brought and opened the cold long neck clear bottle for me.
Was it ordained that I had to have a Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day? A Miller High Life would certainly suffice.
There was 1970’s funk coming from the jukebox and as I sipped the beer, I surveyed the clutter around the room and behind the bar. I noticed signed softballs; remnants from the numerous softball games at the dilapidated Colonel Young ball fields across the street, a coffee mug with the inscription “It’s Better to Give a Shit Than to Receive One,” a Hello Kitty figurine, a statue of a southern gentleman in a green jacket on top of the bar’s jukebox, assorted photos of the Obama family, Christmas ornaments, and, as a nod to St. Patrick’s Day, a few green Irish top hats. There was also a Happy Birthday garland strung across the back of the bar.
“Whose birthday?” I asked Corinne.
She looked surprised at the question and I pointed to the garland.
“Oh that’s an old sign,” she said with a shrug. “But it’s always someone’s birthday around here so we keep it up.”
I nodded that I understood. By the time I was almost done with my beer, Corinne had placed plastic martini glasses filled with green and yellow candies around the bar instead of pretzels or salted peanuts.
“We don’t have green beer,” she said. “So this will have to do.”
“It works for me,” I said, but didn’t dare sample one.
A few more gulps and my bottle was empty.
Back out on the street I could hear the helicopters in the distance hovering over Fifth Avenue and the Upper East Side. The parade was wrapping up. If I rushed I could get there before it ended. Or to a pub with Irish music that served green beer and Guinness.
But why would I want to do that?
A Touch of Dee’s
659 Malcolm X Blvd (Lenox Ave)