Dara O’Kearney: Memories of Paris on the Road to the EPT

  • Paris has provided many memories over the years, including the last Unibet Open
  • David Lappin had a run in with a kidney stone that prompted a dash through the city
  • With Lappin high on morphine, we then experienced Paris’ rodent problem first hand
Paris skyline
Paris has provided many memories, including one particular incident involving David Lappin and a kidney stone. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A taste of Paris

I’m writing this on a plane to the European Poker Tour (EPT) Paris.

As a lifelong Francophone, I’m more than a little biased, but Paris is one of my favorite cities. I lived there for a couple of years in the 90s, and have a lot of happy memories from there, not least of which is my French wife, in typical French contrarian fashion, telling every French person she met how much she hated Paris and couldn’t wait to get “home” to Ireland.

My last trip there was shortly before the pandemic for a Unibet Open, and from it comes my favorite Parisian memory. The highlight of the Main Event was getting to sit next to the most famous man in the tournament.

So I had this spot in a satellite…

Just buy the book already you cheap b*stard.”

Patrik Antonius and I at the Unibet Open. [Image: Tambet Kask]

Lappin in trouble

On the last day there, which was also the morning after one of the most epic player parties ever, my VegasSlotsOnline News colleague David Lappin and I dragged ourselves out of bed with the tentative plan to go play the turbo side event. He was hoarse and very much the worse for wear after his early morning debating but, despite visibly struggling at the table, managed to ship the event, much to the delight of his colleagues.

Lappin with his turbo side event opponents. [Image: Tambet Kask]

We decided to celebrate with another scenic walk back to the hotel, before our hunger got the better of us and we ended up in Five Guys. Things took an unexpected turn when Lappin suddenly started to feel really bad, and announced he was pretty sure he had a kidney stone and needed to head to an ER. Google Maps decided the nearest one was in Neuilly sur Seine, Ian called us an Uber, and as the only French speaker in the group I decided the only decent thing to do was to accompany him.

As David convulsed in pain, the driver unexpectedly stopped in the middle of nowhere in Neuilly sur Seine and said we had reached our destination.

The following conversation (translated from French) then went down:

“Get out of the car.”

“There’s no hospital here. We need the hospital.”

“This is your destination according to Uber.”

My friend has a medical emergency. We need to be brought to the hospital.”

“I can’t do that unless you change the destination on Uber.”

“We didn’t book this. Our friend Ian did.”

“I can ring Ian.”

No answer

“Look, can we just give you cash to take us to the nearest hospital? It really is an emergency.”

He dropped us off at something called the American Hospital of Paris, which may or may not be an actual hospital (apparently it’s where rich Americans go to die), but certainly wasn’t open.

In the hospital

Google Maps told us we were only a kilometre from the actual hospital, so I guided the doubled-up Lappin, struggling gamely with his excruciation, through the empty suburban streets. Probably for the best they were empty as we looked quite the sight, one doubled in pain from his kidney stone, the other shivering from lack of a coat.

He was admitted while I hung on in the waiting room awaiting developments. This wasn’t Lappin’s first rodeo or kidney stone which is how he was able to recognize the signs, and he was clear that what he needed was the finest painkillers known to humanity.

“Morphine. Give me morphine. I need morphine. Morphine now.”

“On a scale of one to ten how bad is ze pain?”

It’s 100. Now let’s just get morphine into me.”

When it was clear he would have to stay the night, I walked back to the hotel, leaving him with the most basic necessities to survival in this day and age, a power bank and a cable. I came to temporarily question that decision when my phone died on the walk and I was forced to navigate from thirty-year-old memories of Paris.

We meet Remy

After checking out the following morning, I walked back to visit the now high Lappin (in case you’re curious, there is absolutely no difference between high Lappin and normal Lappin, except perhaps slightly more cheerful). We repaired to a restaurant for French onion soup, where Lappin started seeing a mouse.

At first I thought it might be the morphine, but then I saw it too. We called the waiter over and he also saw the mouse, but took it a lot more in his stride than you might expect.

The following conversation has also been translated from French:

“That’s a mouse.”

“Yes sir.”

He shrugged as we looked at him expectantly.

“Would you like to move to another table?”

It was an unexpected question. We looked at each other, both struggling to see how that was a solution to the mouse situation, so…


Another shrug from the waiter.

Heh, that’s Paris.”

After he left we started seeing more mice, at which point we decided to pay the bill and skip dessert, which we enjoyed instead in a nearby apparently mouse-free establishment.

If I live to 100 and visit Paris every year, it’s unlikely I’ll ever top the memory of a shivering cold sweating Lappin doing an excellent impression of a junkie, begging the French nurse to give him morphine.

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