Ada and I and her sister and her cousin and a group of others were gathered in the apartment on Wojciecha Street . Everyone was having a great time talking excitedly about who knows what . I sure didn’t know what because the excited conversation was all in Polish . So I decided after a time to take a little break .
I told Ada I’m going down to the Dublin Pub for a beer .
” One beer and then come back ,” she said . ” I’m worried . Maybe you shouldn’t go . It’s dark and if something happens you don’t know the language . Maybe you shouldn’t go .”
” One beer ,” I said , and I took a set of keys . I locked the apartment door . I turned the key twice to lock the door .
I walked along past the park , past the prostitute who patrolled the stretch of Wojciecha next to the children’s hospital wall just across from where the anxious taxis rendezvous while they wait for radioed assignments . I turned the corner and walked past the little brick church with the stained-glass window dedicated the city’s residents who fell in World War I . Szczecin was a German city then . The names on the bronze plaque under the window are German : Auslender , Baumann , Englehardt , Frick ………
I turned the corner at the church and walked another block past wooden gates with carved lion heads or neglected angels with broken wings . I walked down the steps then into the Dublin Pub . It might have been in Ireland with the dark- stained wainscotting all around and the framed scenes of Blarney castle and the Liffey Bridge , and a posted poster of colorful Dublin City doors . Guinness and Paddy Whisky waited conspicuously at the bar .
But I ordered Zwiec which costs a fraction of the price of the imported Guinness . I ordered in Polish because there are no Irish in the Dublin Pub , not behind the bar, not back in the kitchen , not among the customers . No Irish at all in this Irish pub.
As I sipped my Zwiec I spotted behind me a table of people drinking tequila . I first noticed people pouring salt on their hands and squeezing lemon juice into it . They would suck the sour salt and then shoot the tequila . This was an unusual sight to see in an Irish pub in Poland .
So I went over . “Who’s the one who knows how to drink tequila ? ” I asked . This was a very un-Polish thing to do . I was taking a chance . Worst scenario : they go away thinking here’s another rude American . There was a slight hesitation , maybe five to seven seconds .
“I guess that would be me ,” one of them said . ” I am Haakon and these are some of my crew . Our vessel is in dry dock for several days .” His English was smooth with a Scandinavian twist . I introduced myself and Haakon introduced his crew . One guy was Polish , two were Russian , two were Norwegian . ” And that is Bo Ek , ” he said , pointing to the first mate . ” Bo is just a Swede .”
Just a Swede raised his glass . They all raised their glasses . ” Join us please , if you will , ” Haakon said . And so I did . They drank toasts to me and I to them and all of us to Szczecin and all of us to America and all of us to the other represented nations and my one beer had transformed itself miraculously into another animal altogether .
Eventually Haakon and his crew decided to move on . There were some night clubs on the main street and they were headed there for more booze and other entertainments . I was invited but I declined . It was time to waddle home and to explain why I was a few hours later than expected .
When I arrived back at the apartment house gate Ada’s son was arriving there , too. He had been to his pub and he too was a little worse for wear . So we decided to go over to the Oriental Restaurant which was open all night for a snack and a sobering cup of coffee . It seemed like a good idea at the time .
There was a problem , though . Polish dead bolts lock when you turn the key once . When you turn the key twice they lock so that the peolpe inside even with a key cannot get the door open . I had turned the lock twice and I had locked the group inside all night . Ada’s cousin had called a taxi to take him home and when the taxi arrived they all understood that they were locked up until I came home to release them .
I eventually did return , of course , and let them all out . Luckily , Ada’s son was there too , to help save my life .