Shaking hands with a lucky leprechaun

By Jackie Nickel (3/13/2005)

“Mo-oo-om!” my son sighed rolling his eyes at me Saturday evening at
Pizza John’s. I’d embarrassed one of my kids again.

“What?” I asked giving him a sharp stare.

“You might have insulted that man!”

“Insulted him?” I retorted. “He probably felt complimented!”

“But you don’t kno-o-ow…”

“I don’t know?” asked I, sarcasm dripping from my tongue. “If I don’t
know the people in this community and how they’ll react then nobody

“OK,” my son admitted. “Maybe we’ll find the pot o’ gold.”

I had been enjoying pizza and root beer with my son, daughter-in-law,
21-month-old grandbaby Thomas and one of his aunts. We were
challenging Thomas’s St. Patrick’s Day vocabulary with words like
“leprechaun, rainbow and pot o’ gold” and our little genius in a
highchair was promptly repeating. “Happy Day!” he says for
Valentine’s, birthdays and St. Pat’s ‹ one phrase fits all.

When Tom got bored he started shaking his head in a vigorous “NO”
until he made himself dizzy, which he sometimes likes to do. He
finally hit his chin on the table and let out a wail. Mommy picked Tom
up to soothe him as Daddy got the portable DVD player out and popped
in “Nemo,” Tom’s favorite.

Finally we resumed eating, discussing the prospects of finding good
corned beef for St. Paddy’s Day. I was facing the restrooms when
glancing up from my pizza I saw a splash of Kelly green. “Look, it’s a
big leprechaun!” I announced, nodding to the rear of the dining room.
“OK, Mom,” my son dismissed as the girls glanced back. Tom was still
immersed in Nemo.

The leprechaun was a middle-aged man in a bright green Natty Boh
shirt, lots of shiny green beads around his neck and a tiny green
derby hat perched atop his balding head. As he walked toward the exit
he had to pass by our table and I was not about to let a leprechaun
pass by without at least shaking his hand for good luck. And to show
appreciation to him for walking through Pizza John’s in that outfit as

I reached out and touched the man’s arm and told him I loved his
outfit, adding, “Look, Tom, it’s a big leprechaun!” Tom was mesmerized
by Nemo so I pushed the DVD player aside and forced him to meet the
leprechaun who by then had removed his jacket so we could get a better
look at his shirt. I told Tom to “Shake hands with the big leprechaun”
and he put his little hand out on cue. The man happily shook Tom’s
hand as well as mine, and revealed “Now you’ll find the pot o’ gold”
as he left smiling.

Then came the “Mo-oo-om!”

So what was embarrassing about the incident?

“He could’ve been offended that you called him a BIG leprechaun,”
offered my son.

“Well, he WAS big!” I stated emphatically.

There’s a certain confidence that comes with age and that includes
being comfortable with stopping a leprechaun, big or little, and
asking him to shake your hand. I just wish I’d had my camera. Happy

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