In 2000 I spent a few months travelling through Great Britain and Ireland with my girlfriend at the time. I remember the year and season pretty accurately because I was keeping my eye on the Irish newspapers for reports on the intense election showdown between Bush and Gore.
My girlfriend was especially stoked to be in Ireland as her father was Irish and came from an infamous clan, apparently–the Dineens– as we found out when we visited some of her extended family in Galway. One of her relatives was a fatherly man with bushy red but greying eyebrows and beard and a cable-knit sweater. He took us, his wife and his daughter out to a pub and told us stories of the Dineens. After running through accounts of a few of the notorious characters he came to the biggest (literally) hellraiser of the family, “Dangerous D” Dineen. “Dangerous D” had a reputation for getting extremely intoxicated and then ripping apart bars, throwing around tables and chairs and squashing anyone trying to intervene with his fists. This was all the more problematic because he was a giant of a man. So his fists, you see, were “the size of hams” and he would rampage “like a bull gone mad.”
The Goon, by Eric Powell. This is what I’m imagining “Dangerous D” Dineen looks like.
“As a matter of fact, he was a mite bit bigger than you, Tay,” he told me, sipping from a pint of Guinness. “Why, if he tried to walk in this pub, he’d have to tarn sideways and doock down just to get through the dar.” Irish storytellers really can’t be beat.
Despite the fact that there were giant Dineens lumbering across the landscape and terrorizing the pubs, my height–close to 6 foot 6– was still somewhat of a novelty in Ireland. I received several double takes and occasionally comments. Always friendly comments, I should add. I can’t remember a single rude word spoken to me in Ireland, which I think describes a lot about my experience there.
The next night I joined my girlfriend and some of the members of her family close to our age for a night out at the dance club. Dance clubs aren’t quite my scene, but I was glad to be anywhere. At the end of the night, I stood outside and waited for my crew to catch up. They exited the club at the same time as two young Irish ladies and we all started walking in the same direction.
These Galway girls were very cute. They were both about 5 foot, freckly, big ears, cute noses, curvy. They had on nice dresses and high heels but looked pretty sloppy from drinking. They were laughing and balancing on each other, trying to walk straight in the high heels- clip clop, clip clop.
One of the girls turned and saw me and exclaimed:
“My God! Have you ever seen someone so tall in your entire life?!” The other girl looked me over and nodded, drunkenly.
“Certainly t’ tallest man in all of Ireland,” she slurred.
“He is a GIANT, that’s for sure,” the other girl agreed, continuing to look at me. “Must be several meters tall.”
“Hey!” I said, pretending to be angry. “I do speak English and I’m standing right next to you, you know!”
The girls looked at each other and burst into laughter. Then one of them screamed and they ran forward in quick, tiny paces down the street- clipclopclipclopclipclop. A half a block away they looked back and burst into laughter again, and it echoed through the crisp October night. I smiled at them and waved.