Several people from this august publication marched in our town’s St. Patrick’s Day parade last Saturday. I was invited, which was gracious of them, if disproportionate in the way that giving a World Series ring to the guy who tears tickets at Gate 14 seems disproportionate. I don’t do much, y’know? Let the folks in here every week throw candy at the children who’re still 10 or 15 years away from sneaking into Madison bars the evening after the parade. (And at the parents five or 10 years past it.)
Besides, I don’t like St. Patrick’s Day. There, I said it.
I’m supposed to, I am told, as I have some Irish background. But I also have Portuguese and Spanish and French-Canadian, and yet I am not plied with malasadas and linguiça and poutine once a year, despite the fact that all of those are so vastly superior to corned beef as to defy comparison.
Corned beef, for one, is unflavored pastrami. The highlight of a corned beef and cabbage dinner is that once you’re done, you don’t have to do it again for a year. Irish food as practiced in my family comprises two things: boiling and starch. Cabbage, and potatoes, lukewarm. Soda bread. (Shudder). The Irish are basically against flavor, as I understand it. I get gastronomic hardship that represents something symbolic, as at a Seder, but cast as a voluntary day-to-day virtue? There’s a reason you can’t get Irish Takeout from Grubhub.
St. Patrick’s Day is to bars the bonanza that Valentine’s Day is to florists. If there’s a florist reading this, I wish to know if you hate February 14 with the same passion that my bartender friends hate March 17. I’m not sure what kind of ethnic pride shines brightest through the lens of screaming arguments between sobbing girls and shoving matches between guys wearing green Sox hats and hockey jerseys, but perhaps I don’t understand ethnic pride. I don’t understand workplace pride, school spirit, or patriotism, either. I’m with Groucho Marx: I don’t want to belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member. If I were to throw up on a public street to promote a cause, it would not be based on the birth location of a relative 100 years in the grave.
I also don’t get why those so allegedly proud of their Irish heritage aren’t madder about the whole Amos-and-Aidan vibe surrounding St. Patrick’s Day, but not even I will be offering comparable ethic stereotypes in print. The Internet does not consider context when there are pitchforks and torches to be brandished.
Furthermore, I don’t look good in green. Black I look good in. Lavender I look good in. White. Pink is a great color for me, too. When I wear pink, people ask me if I just got back from vacation. Green, not so much. In green I look seasick.
I basically just don’t get why the Irish have the big day. Can we promote some more fun ethnicities for a couple years? Dial back St. Paddy’s to St. Swithin’s Day levels for a bit and give somebody else a turn. Drive the fun toward Cinco de Mayo or Ferragosto or Juneteenth. The food’s better, the music is better, the drinks are better, even the doggone weather is better. I’ll cheerfully march in a Juneteenth Parade and stay for the picnic afterward.
You can’t tell me “Chi-talian” isn’t a vast improvement on the etymological butchery that is “Chi-rish.”
Mardi Gras is an outstanding parade. So is Pride. Do we have those in Forest Park? I’m down to throw some beads.