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Posted at 5:25 PM ET, 03/17/2009

Waiting for the Band

By Fritz Hahn

Bill Cutler (center) and Mary Ellen Holcomb (right) pulled a random (and unidentified) reveler into this photo. (Fritz Hahn/

2:30 p.m.: At Daniel O'Connell's in Alexandria, Mary Ellen Holcomb is sitting in a banquette next to the fireplace, waiting for the music to start. "Every year, we do different things for St. Patrick's Day," she says of her group of friends. "Last year, we went to Ireland's Four Provinces in Falls Church, but that was more of a restaurant."

This year, Holcomb and her friend Bill Cutler, a consultant, decided to listen to live music at this restaurant and pub, a place that manages to be both sprawling and cozy because it has lots of little nooks and private booths.

Holcomb looks at the clock. "We came because the band was supposed to start at 1, but they haven't started yet." (On my way out, the manager tells me the music will begin at 3:30.) Cutler's looking a little cross because "we came for the music, and -- okay, we came for the music and the beer."

Looking around the narrow bar space, in which gray hair outnumbers Guinness hats and sparkling green headbands, Cutler expresses surprise that there aren't more young people in yet. Holcomb tells him to wait. "The later it gets, the younger it gets," she says, laughing. "We old folks tend to start earlier."

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | March 17, 2009; 5:25 PM ET
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