An Open Letter in Re: Not Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day
Dear Citizens of the United States who use March 17th as an excuse to act like morons,
As a preface, dear citizens, we must remind you that we wrote on this very topic exactly one year ago. While we could rest on our laurels and hope you found the post before heading out of the house for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, we decided that it was better to update our letter by correcting the whiskey-induced typos of last year, brushing up some details and reposting it for your prompt review. Your cooperation is appreciated. Now, where’s the whiskey…?
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
On the eve of the Feast of St. Patrick, no doubt, many of you will be venturing out to the nearest watering hole (read: sleazy, hole-in-the-wall, hasn’t been painted in years, bar) where the proprietor has, no doubt, plastered the walls with cardboard shamrocks and a free, and oh-so-tacky poster from their beer and liquor distributor proudly proclaiming “Sant Pady’s Day Here!” Wearing anything and everything green in your wardrobe: green socks, those quasi-green Dockers, a green t-shirt, that hideous green paisley tie you keep hidden in the back of your closet, and a cheap, plastic, green bowler hat you bought at Target, you’ll leave home with an inflated sense of pride, confident that you’ll “out Irish” everyone at the bar. At said watering hole, you will raise a bottle of Old Milwaukee (because it’s the special for $1 a bottle and because the proprietor is too cheap to stock Guinness and has never heard of a “proper pint”) and you will drunkenly toast to St. Patrick. At some point during the day or night, you’ll saunter up to the blonde sitting across the bar wearing a “Kiss Me! I’m Irish!” button and will attempt to get lucky. Having failed, you will go back to your barstool and introduce yourself to the drunk Chinese man next to you (not before attempting to pinch the old codger at the far end of the bar for not wearing green). You will introduce yourself as Max “O’Austerlitz.” At closing time, you will stumble out of the bar (read: the bar manager will escort you from your stool by the scruff of your drunken neck), arm in arm with the even-drunker Han “McChen” singing “Oh Danny Boy” at the top of your lungs.
There’s just one problem: your father was German, your mother was Dutch and not only wouldn’t you be able to pick St. Patrick out of a line-up, you have no idea why there’s a day named after him in the first place.
No, Virginia, not everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.
For those of us lucky enough to have more than just a “bit o’ the Irish” in our family trees, St. Patrick’s Day has become somewhat of an enigma making us all want to hide in our homes – rosary beads in one hand, a drink in the other – when March 17th comes around.
“But I thought all the Irish were drunks who like to drink!”
It is true that you can’t swing a dead cat at an Irish family reunion and hit someone over the age of 10 who doesn’t have some form of libation in their hand (or in the case of our last reunion, you don’t even have to be 10!). The difference is, however, that after a bottle of Irish whiskey, we’ll still be standing upright boring each other with long tales and tall tales…and laughing all the way to the confessional at church the next morning. The average Joe “I’m Irish Cuz It’s St. Paddy’s Day” Smith would be laying on a bar floor in his own puddle of drool after two shots of Jameson.
It’s amateur hour out there on St. Patrick’s Day.
For the Irish in America, St. Patrick’s Day has always been a day when we remember the man who brought Christianity to the Emerald Isle. It’s about remembering our ancestors who braved wars and famine. It’s about remembering family and heritage. And, to be sure, a decent amount of drinking (though we don’t necessarily need a special day for that). Over the years, however, St. Patrick’s Day has become bastardized by those who do need an excuse to drink and attempt to find one wherever they can. St. Patrick’s Day has sadly given them the perfect cover because so many others are doing the exact same thing.
Like the Viking invasion of Ireland in the 7th century, these non-Irish amateurs, speaking in the thickest, most hideous brogues ever heard, invade our pubs, drink our liquor, and attempt to get lucky with our significant others all because of the popular misnomer that “everyone’s Irish on St. Paddy’s Day.”
Is everyone German during Oktoberfest? No. Is everyone black during Black History Month? No. So why, in the holy name of St. Brigid would everyone be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day?
But still they come in droves. Wearing green, singing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” and drinking until they fall flat on their asses. It’s enough to make a professional drunk hang his head in shame.
So instead of heading out to the pubs where the Guinness is free-flowing and there’s whiskey in the jar, I’ll quietly pull the bottle of Jameson out from underneath my desk and pour myself a drink. Wearing anything but green, I’ll quietly toast to the Cleary and Hanifin ancestors from County Tipperary and County Kerry while blaring “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” on my iPod. And I’ll thank God that I was born Irish.
And then I’ll pour myself another drink.
The Random O’Muse
P.S. And then another drink.
P.P.S. And when the Jameson is gone, I’ll move on to the Tullamore Dew.