Being in the mood for some good Valpolicella, I walked over to the "Bottiglia di Vino" bar and was surprised to see the owner, Ernesto, taking down the pictures of Enrico Caruso and replacing them with advertisements for Guinness.
"Welcome to the Shamrock Inn," Ernesto greeted me. "How do you like our new look?"
"What's happened here?" I asked. "The Bottiglia di Vino was always my favorite watering spot!"
"You can't expect an Irishman to own an Italian bar," Ernesto told me.
"You mean you've sold it?"
"No" said Ernesto. "I've converted. I've become Irish."
"I don't think you can do that," I told him. "Besides, it would make you the only Irishman ever born in Napoli."
"I don't care," Ernesto said. "The Irish have been very good to me and I want to join them. I figured this is a very good time as Saturday is St. Patrick's Day and The Shamrock Inn will make a fortune."
I asked Ernesto for a red wine and completely ignoring my request he poured me a green ale while explaining what made him decide to make the switch.
"To start off," he said, "my son, Quasimodo, has been accepted to Notre Dame on a full football scholarship. Pretty soon he will be one of the starting line of the Fighting Irish."
"That's wonderful," I said. "What position is he going to play?"
"Hunchback," Ernesto replied.
"Are you sure you don't mean fullback or halfback?" I smiled.
"No," Ernesto said. "Hunchback. The Disney Corporation paid for his scholarship and donated a new science building to the university on condition that they change his position's name from 'tailback' to 'hunchback'. The way they see it, every time the sportscaster says 'Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame,' they'll be getting major publicity for their movie."
"And that's the reason that you want to become Irish?" I asked.
"Only part of it," said Ernesto. "The Irish have been truly wonderful to me. So much so that I'm planning on flying to Dublin next month for a visit -- I am going to go to the Alitalia office tomorrow to buy my ticket."
"I don't think that Alitalia flies to Ireland from the States," I said. "They only go to Italy."
"Why not try Air Lingus?" said a woman sitting near me.
"I'll not have any of that kind of talk in here!" Ernesto said in shock.
"What are you talking about?" the woman asked. "Air Lingus is the Irish airline."
"I'm sorry," Ernesto said a bit abashed. "I'm new at being Irish and I don't know these things yet. I thought you were suggesting something new in inflight entertainment -- a way to keep the stewardesses happy."
The woman stormed out of the bar and Ernesto continued his explanation of how why he decided to convert.
To celebrate Quasimodo's scholarship, I took a trip to Las Vegas," he said. "I was losing a bit of money, but not too much, when I walked into Fitzgerald's Casino. By the time I left I was $5000 richer."
"Did you hit a jackpot at the slots?" I asked.
"No," he said, "but I heard on the news that my Microsoft stock had gone up."
Father O'Malley, the parish priest, walked into the Shamrock Inn and joined us at the bar.
"Father, please explain to Ernesto that it is impossible to become Irish by converting," I said.
"It is?" the father asked in surprise. "Then I had better cancel the ceremony."
"I saved the best part for last," Ernesto told me. "I won the Irish Sweepstakes!"
"You won $50 million!" I exclaimed.
"No, I didn't win first prize," Ernesto continued. "I won $240,000 though -- and that certainly is enough for a simple Irish boyo like myself."
"Naturally, you'll be donating half to the Church," Father O'Malley said.
"Father, I've decided to become Irish -- not to become a saint!"
"Ernesto," I said. "You've convinced me. With your luck, you SHOULD be Irish! Come on, I'll take you to dinner to celebrate."
"Wonderful!", said Ernesto. "I could use some good linguini and cotoletta ala Milanese. Perhaps we can start with some antipasto."
"I don't think so," said Father O'Malley. "Remember, you're Irish now. Corned beef and boiled cabbage is more in order."
"Corned beef and BOILED CABBAGE?" Ernesto choked.
"And remember," said the father, "the Irish don't drink wine with dinner -- but you can down some warm beer."
"Warm beer!," yelled Ernesto. "Mama mia! No e possible! Dio, questi irlandese! You're all invited back here in this winter -- we're going to have the best San Gennero Festival ever -- right here in the Bottiglia di Vino!"