I love St. Paddy’s Day. There are a hundred reasons why and not one of them has to do with the rich tradition of the day; too often we celebrate a holiday without the slightest clue as to what the deep, historical meaning might be.
All right, stop cringing—good lord, I thought you were actually going to cry! The last thing I feel like doing is spoiling an almost completely pagan day of green fun by boring you all to tears with all the intellectual reasons we’re lying in the gutter spewing green Budweiser out our nostrils.
Since I was a kid I remember the whole “wearing green” to school ordeal. Of course I was the dumb a$$ who always forgot (which was okay because the girls pinched you—which even at eight years old held some kind of mystic sway over my heart and yet-to-be-discovered nether regions). Problem is, we guys didn’t pinch you, we used the day as yet another excuse to whale on you with a shoe. Or punch you in the arm with a fist.
Man, if you forgot to wear green, forget the tantalizing pinches from the girls; you’d be lucky to make it home with a functioning arm.
I never cared much for the whole leprechaun legend. I think it was because my old man was one of those “there aren’t any free lunches, boy, and there certainly isn’t anything but a pot of shit at the far end of any rainbow I’ve ever seen.” (I always wondered why this didn’t excite him anyway since it always seems we were short at least ONE pot (to piss in).
Part of my apprehension with the leprechaun story can be blamed on Hollywood. I have these strange flashbacks from seeing the awful, C-rate movie of the same name when I was far too young to be seeing such dreck (particularly when said dreck included a lot of terrifying makeup, fake blood, and a leprechaun whose last thought was making anyone—even a young Jennifer Aniston—anything but dead).
It was the college years that solidified the wonder of old St. Paddy’s Day for me. The true beauty of the day is that it is a DATE not a DAY. So five years out of seven it falls on a SCHOOL NIGHT, and everyone knows you HAVE to go out to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day, no matter what day of the week it is (in Chicago I believe it’s an actual city ordinance). I always think of Chicago when I think of St. Paddy’s Day, by the way—mostly because of the big parade and their wonderful tradition of dyeing the river green. Best SP’sD line in a movie? Easy. It’s from The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford. U.S. Marshal Bobby Biggs (played by Joe Pantaliano) says:
Want to hear a strange factoid? They pour ORANGE food dye in the water to make it green. Yep. Water from Lake Michigan and orange dye make green. (Don’t get me started on what color that makes the water in Chicago.)
I know, I know, where’s the fooking limerick, ya Scottish bum. Don’t worry, we’re getting to it. I just have one more SP’sD story to tell. A few years ago a friend talked me into leaving work early on a Tuesday (March 17th, of course) and heading on down to one of the local dives here in Colorado (Sheabeen—a great little Irish pub). Thing is, we went over there at like one o’clock in the afternoon and started putting back countless pints of Guinness (what else, right?). I’ll spare ye the gory details but the craziest moment was when—around nine or ten o’clock, with me feeling like it was well past midnight, so drunk and sweaty was I—we turned around in this packed bar (couldn’t have been more than 500 square feet and 300-400 drunken celebrators) and up on this rickety little stage had appeared the Micheal Collins Pipes & Drums Band!
Now mind you, this is a distinguished group of traditionally dressed fellows (and ladies) with bagpipes and big bass drums that can belt out a tune that reaches the rafters in Mile High Stadium. Here they were crammed into this little closet of a bar and then, believe it or not, they started playing.
I saw God. I swear I did. The music didn’t just hit me; it didn’t just fill me—the music swallowed me whole.
I think they played two or three songs. By the time they were done I was stone sober, couldn’t hear my friend talking straight into my ear, and had decided I needed to get on a plane, cross the ocean, and become an Irish citizen.
Profound. Moving. Engrossing. I’ve never before or since experienced anything like it. I never want to…
Some things should only ever happen once.
And now to close, I made up an Irish limerick just for you (it came to me when I found the classic Ursus beer pic):
There once was a laddy from Dublin,
His Johnson he couldn’t stop rubbin,’
So he bought him some glue,
Thought he knew what to do,
Now ‘stead a rubbin’, he’s tuggin’.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to each and every one of you.
May your outlook be clear, your pitchers be green, and may the one that you’re with be the best that you’ve seen.