Volume 21, Number 1

Going All-In

Sometimes, drinking beers, I remember Angus McClellan from Australia. We met on the ferry to Dublin. He had some time before starting this bartending gig a friend had set him up with . . . enough, he figured, to hitchhike to Sligo and tell one of his own poems to Yeats. Not the man himself, of course, but sitting with his back against the gravestone. I went along as far as Galway, splitting all these cans of Murphy’s, but I’ve wished I would’ve gone the rest of the way ever since. . . . I ran into him again, though, later on, on a ferry going overnight to Greece. He was headed there to swim, find a job in some vineyard, and fool around with every bird he met—this with only three hundred bucks, and he was blowing it all on Heinekens. After that, maybe to the States: buy himself a used Cadillac, drive around and see what’s there for a year, then sell it in San Francisco and use the cash to buy a plane ticket home. No kidding. The most fearless guy I ever met. . . . In the morning, he and some others were still at it. They’d made a pyramid out of the empties the size of a pyramid. And I asked him how he did it—just take off like that for a couple years. “Well,” he said, “when you live on an island, you gotta go so far to get anywhere, you better stay gone a long time and see as much as you can. That, and do some drinkin’,” which made sense to me. Of course, the Earth is sort of an island too, about a million miles from anywhere, so what the rest of us are waiting for, I don’t know.

—Rob Carney