The first leprechaun I remember was the pipe-smoking one on the Boston Celtics’ logo who could have been mistaken for Mr. Magoo had he not been smoking the aforementioned pipe and balancing a basketball on the tip of his finger. And shortly thereafter I was introduced to that loveable curmudgeon on the Lucky Charms box with the brilliant green hat and abnormally tiny hands. Of course neither one was guarding a pot of gold when I saw them, so I figured they had left their gold unprotected and I went on expeditions to find it. Um, yeah. The joys of being 14.
Leprechauns were fascinating to me because they had something I didn’t: magic. And I wanted to find their gold, but I wouldn’t have sniffed at catching one of them for my very own. Legend has it that a leprechaun who has gotten captured has to grant its captor any three wishes in exchange for letting him go. I knew just what I wanted to do with those three wishes too.
- Get the newest pair of Air Jordan’s
- Be the most popular kid in school
- Have unlimited free pizza
The last one was negotiable. Free macaroni and cheese would have been just as good, but the Air Jordan’s had to be the black ones, and if I wasn’t at least more popular than Stanley Knapp then #2 wouldn’t have been worth it either. But then again I knew that according to folklore the leprechaun would have to give me exactly what I wanted, so I wasn’t too worried about it turning out poorly. I just had to catch him first.
I read somewhere that leprechauns frequently came out after a strong rain so they could squirrel away their ill-gotten gold in their huge pots at the end of a rainbow. The easy part was waiting until after a storm and tracking down a rainbow. The hard part was finding that rainbow’s end. I would get on my bike and ride far and fast, trying to follow that rainbow to its inevitable conclusion, but the chase always ended with it disappearing and I was left in the middle of nowhere, soaked from the knees down, no closer to catching that leprechaun.
After numerous disappointments in this vein, I realized just how stupid I was being. Leprechauns loved gold, so all I needed to do was find some and he would come to ME! Of course this was easier said than done for a poor kid from Southwest Philly who could barely rub two nickels together. At first I thought about using regular money, but then some guy on my block told me none of it was made with gold. Then I figured the sewer grate was made of gold, but after being laughed at by my peers I gave up that idea. Then it hit me. If I knocked my tooth out, the dentist would have to give me a gold one as a replacement. I had seen it on TV. And a plan was born.