Frightening Irish

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danny boy

St. Patrick’s Day is Sunday, March 17th, just two days away.  Top o’ the mornin’ to ya.  Kiss Me, I’m Irish.  Erin Go Bragh.  Yadda yadda yadda.

If I sound slightly sarcastic and less-than-enthusiastic for the annual holiday, it’s because I have mixed feelings about how the masses choose to celebrate it these days.  Don’t get me wrong… I love downing a hearty pint in an Irish pub any time of year.  I have lots of friends of Irish descent, I went to Notre Dame (home of the Fighting Irish) and I’ve been jonesin’ for a McDonald’s shamrock shake for weeks. Oh, and I’m a sucker for virtually anyone’s version of “Danny Boy.”

And while I’m at it, let the record show that I’ve enjoyed the St. Patrick’s Day Parade here in New York City several times, perched in front of Tiffany’s at 5th Avenue and 57th Street.  I love seeing  the Pipes & Drums of the NYPD Emerald Society, the red headed girls in plaid kilts dancing a traditional jig, the homemade signs that say things like “Greetings from Staten Ireland,” and the sea of onlookers wearing those headband thingies with bouncy antennae supporting glittery plastic shamrocks on the ends.  It’s fun and festive and celebratory when Irish eyes are smiling.

But then the parade ends and the drinking starts (continues?) and the drunkards take to the streets of Manhattan.  Again, I’m no stranger to the pint and I’ve certainly been over-served on more than one occasion, but I’m not a fan of mass obnoxious public drunken revelry.  I feel the same way about Halloween and New Year’s Eve as I do about St. Paddy’s Day… they’re all “amateur nights.”  So I will avoid my beloved haunts like The Dublin House and The Emerald Inn this weekend and return to them when the madness subsides.

When did celebrating St. Patrick’s Day become so over-the-top? The only thing I really remember about March 17th  when I was a kid is that you’d get pinched by your classmates if you didn’t wear something green to school that day.  It was all sweet and innocent, but I suppose the pinching is not allowed in school these days for any number of reasons.

When I lived in Chicago and hung out at bars like Durkin’s Tavern and The River Shannon and The Hidden Shamrock, we’d raise a green beer on St. Patrick’s Day (and they’d dye the Chicago River green, to boot), but it never got sloppy.  Well, now that I think about it,  maybe it got so sloppy that I can no longer remember the details of the debauchery.  Hmmmm.  I’ll have to ponder that.

One of my most memorable Chicago St. Patrick’s Days involved a last minute business trip to New York.  I called my friends Maria and Boomer to tell them I’d be in town and learned that Boomer was hosting a St. Patrick’s Day party at his place in Queens that night.  Boomer’s real name is Patrick, so it all made perfect sense.  Maria and I took the subway together to the party and happened upon a man dressed as a leprechaun holding a marionette of a leprechaun.  It was very meta.  The man leprechaun was not much bigger than the marionette leprechaun, and his face somehow appeared more plasticine than his puppet’s.  Never one to shy away from a surreal situation, Maria struck up a conversation with our new wee friend and invited him to join us for Boomer’s party.  He accepted.  The six pack of Guinness I brought paled in comparison to Maria’s leprechaun host gift.

I just claimed that this was one of my most memorable St. Paddy’s Days, yet I’m realizing now that I don’t remember much of the party, save for the moment when one of Boomer’s singer friends broke into a rather impressive a cappella version of “Somewhere That’s Green” from Little Shop of Horrors.  I wonder why I don’t remember any of the other details.   I suppose I have to admit that I just may have been one of those drunken revelers who I now find so unappealing.  Erin Go Bragh!

TODAY’S POLL:  St. Patrick’s Day is this weekend.  What’s your favorite Irish movie?

The Crying Game

Michael Collins


Waking Ned Devine

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