Denied his nectar in Beantown...
As another Head of the Charles came to a close, the customary libations were being poured at a typical Irish pub, hosted by a certain Boston club known for its vibrant blue-and-white colour scheme. A steady stream of taxis had delivered boisterous rowers to the bar for a few hours, and the party was in full swing.
The mood was giddy, save for one porcine bouncer, Boston Irish, size XXL and twice as grumpy. Too many years of sobriety amidst drunken revelry had clearly taken their toll. Head of the Charles or no, this man was prepared to enforce the rules as he saw fit. To this end, he had been denying entry to a number of oarsmen on the grounds that their out-of-state drivers' licenses provided insufficiently compelling proof of their age. A growing group of disgruntled would-be patrons (including a half-dozen *Irish*-Irish) milled about on the sidewalk contemplating their options as the grouchy bouncer patrolled his territory with the calm certainty of a large man in command of a platoon of beefy assistants.
The goon squad was put on alert by the arrival of the dashing Rob Waddell, Olympic gold medallist and Head of the Charles victor, accompanied by the gracious and charming Sonia Waddell (no slouch herself in the rowing department), and a few other members of the Waddell party - the coaches and proud progenitors of these rowers. Sonia was permitted entry to the bar on the strength of her New Zealand passport, but Rob's foreign drivers' license didn't satisfy the gruff gatekeeper, and Rob was stopped at the door.
The winsome Sonia got nowhere when she pointed out who this distinguished visitor was by pulling a much-coveted Charles medal from around her husband's neck. "I'm not a big fan of rowing," growled the gatekeeper. The chorus chimed in angrily; inquiring whether the Cerberus at the door had seen the Olympics? "I didn't watch the Olympics," he answered, to the shock of the assembled horde. Waddell's mother exclaimed, "So they expect us to get a Massachusetts license just because we are in for the weekend?"
Every eye turned to Waddell for guidance. Would this matchless warrior engage the single-minded barroom heavy in a verbal battle? The teeming throng of rebuffed party guests, fortified by Scorpion Bowls, appeared eager to answer this outrage by any means necessary. This reporter's mind was filled with images of smashed windows, tear gas, overturned police cars, and the next day's Globe headlines. With just a few angry words, Rob could have let slip the dogs of war.
"No worries," said the Olympic champion. "I'll just take a taxi back to the hotel." And he did.
In the words of the Boston cabbie who ferried this reporter back to her hotel for backup I.D. of her own, "That's unbelievable. If you win the Olympics, you ought to drink free for a year."