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A Blast Of Optimism

You know how sometimes your kids don’t want advice but you give it to them anyway. You know how somebody talking about silver linings can have really bad timing. Sometimes you just want to wallow in the dark and don’t want to hear about looking at the bright side. Yes, I know things could always be worse but you’re making it worse by telling me that.

So, to be clear, I’m not saying things could be worse. I’m fully onboard with those who don’t even see the glass, never mind if it’s half empty. So, don’t worry, I’m not here to cheer you up. Like the good pessimist said, it’s never too late to go back to bed.

But if a gun was pointed at my head, I would say there are brighter days ahead… I would hope to travel. See the world, unmasked. The possibilities are endless. Well, almost endless. It’d take more than a gun to my head to stay at The Europa Hotel in Belfast.

Because I’d seen everything else on Netflix, I wound up watching Aerial Ireland. The “Aerial” shows cover a country or region by drone. Spectacular scenery is delivered with a chock-full of trivia nuggets. It’s kind of like Wild Kingdom without the animals.

As we were pleasantly flying over Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, we come upon The Europa, a five-star hotel. The narrator says flatly, with zero astonishment, that during “the troubles” (the 30 year low level war) the place was bombed 28 times. Twenty eight.

So, uhm, my first thought: people kept staying there? I think, say, after the 27th time I might’ve looked for options. I mean, how bad were the park benches? 

What were people thinking? Oh, after that last bomb, number 14, the place has to be safe now? They’re not going to bomb it again.

Here’s your key, Mr. Boyle, and here’s your bomb squad suit. Take the elevator made with nuclear blast safe walls to the third floor.

The hotel must’ve had some marketing geniuses. Second night free (if you make it).

Get bombed at happy hour. Only kidding. Molotov cocktails, with a celery stick, two for one.

Check out our newly renovated rooms. Again. Just don’t stay in Room C-4.

Of course, I didn’t believe what I heard so I researched it. 28 was wrong. It’s actually been bombed 33 times. Somehow, nobody ever died but I’m not sure that would’ve made a difference to me if I were looking for a holiday stay.

I mean who were the guests? Other bombers? Like it was a convention.

And the poor staff. Talk about combat pay. You’d be the bellhop putting your ear to suitcases waiting to hear something ticking. Or maybe you’d bring your own bomb sniffing German Shepherd to work.

In news reports, the staff was always called “resilient.” I would’ve gone with “nuts,” myself.

Anyway, the place is still there. Taking reservations. So, uh, that kind of makes me optimistic.

 By Kevin Boyle 

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