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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Before You Go: A Tale of Two Limos

CRL columnist John Gray shares a comical mishap from his sister's 40th birthday party.

In November of 1859, Charles Dickens published A Tale of Two Cities; roughly 150 years later, I offer the short story A Tale of Two Limos. What you’re about to read is 100 percent true. The names of the people involved have not been changed to protect the stupid, which is myself.

It was January of 1995 and a cold wind swept through the hills of Rensselaer County. I am the youngest of four, and my older sister was about to celebrate a big birthday. Since it is impolite to talk about a woman’s age, let’s just say it began with a 4 and ended in a 0.

I was by no means a wealthy man, but I thought an important milestone deserved a special party. Back in the ’90s there was an Irish pub called Eammon’s, nestled on Route 378 in Loudonville. It was tons of fun.

The owner, a kind soul named (yup) Eammon McGirr, was right off the boat from Ireland, so he came complete with the Aran sweater, red cheeks, a voice for song and that charming Irish brogue.

Eammon’s was a popular destination at which to raise a pint and enjoy authentic Irish music. Performers such as Hair of the Dog, Frank Jaklitsch and Steve Gray were often on the stage singing about Dublin’s fair city, where the girls were so pretty, and a fetching young woman named Molly Malone.

We decided to rent out the back room of Eammon’s to celebrate my sister’s birthday. Back in the day, she and my mom enjoyed bus trips down to the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, so I had a local bakery create a birthday cake with the hotel’s image across the top. She’d love it.

To make her night even more special, I hopped online and searched limousine companies, asking several for quotes.

In filling out the forms, I gave them my name, contact information and my sister’s address. One got right back to me and told me they’d do it for $130 bucks, so I quickly agreed. All of this, mind you, was still a full month before the party.

Jump ahead to the day of the big event, and we told my sister we were taking her for a nice dinner at Eammon’s. I don’t believe she knew the whole family planned to be there. She certainly didn’t know I’d gotten her a limo.

A few hours before we were scheduled to go, my phone rang and a man on the other line casually said, “Do you still need a limo tonight?”

I responded, “YES, of course. Do you have the address? Are we all set?”

He told me to calm down and assured me they’d be there on time.

At 6pm I drove over to my sister’s, only to find not one but two limos parked directly out front. I thought, “How strange, two people on the same street getting limos at exactly the same time.”

It turns out the phone call earlier was from the limo company I didn’t hire. They had misplaced my original email from a month earlier and decided to call the day of the event just in case I still needed them. Since I told them “Yes,” I now had two limos and one sister.

Long story short, I paid them both in full, the party was a smash and we sang sad Irish songs long into the night.

I miss moments like this and those from that time who are now gone.

Sometimes at night, when the wind calms, I swear I can hear their voices still singing Alive alive-oh, alive alive-oh, crying cockles and muscles, alive alive-oh.      

John Gray
John Gray
John Gray is an Emmy-winning journalist and writer. In addition to his 32 years of television experience, John is the author of three children's books and two novels. He is married with three children. He and his lovely wife Courtney have five dogs, three of them are rescues with special needs. They make their quiet home in Rensselaer County.

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