Being of Irish/American descent, St. Patrick’s Day should mean something more to me than it does. My paternal grandfather was from Galway, Ireland, and my maternal Irish grandfather was from the Southside of Chicago. The one from Chicago used to let his six children take St. Patrick’s Day off from school if they so chose. I often joke that he was even more Irish than the one from Ireland.
Other reasons I should embrace St. Patrick’s Day more is that my name is Patrick, I have an Irish Passport, I’m a social person, and I love bars. I don’t spend as much time in them anymore, but I still love them. Hopefully you believe that. I always adored the aesthetics of a bar. Whether it was the structure of the room, the layout of the shelved spirts, or the labels and fonts on the bottles, I was always intoxicated by them, even before my first sip. I think alcohol’s image was much better than marijuana’s over the years, and that’s what kept it tolerable despite it’s propensity for ruining people’s lives. Of course there are bigwigs behind the scenes keeping alcohol legal and marijuana not (rope makers [knot]), but in my naïve little play-land mind, it’s due to alcohol being more presentable. It’s always had a better publicist. Cocktails are sophisticated. They’re social. Marijuana was more of a darkened forbidden den for withdrawal and white people in dreadlocks. Also, marijuana was a more extreme form of smoking, which not everyone does. As popular as smoking was, not everyone did it. But everyone puts liquid in their mouth, so drinking was a familiar and easier way to socially lubricate than smoking marijuana was. Cocaine’s even more extreme since it’s pretty much the only time someone is putting a substance up their nose unless it’s a Vicks’ Nasal spray inhaler.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter, cause things are changing.
Plenty of people can smoke weed and be social. Plenty of clean-cut sophisticates can consume edibles and then go on to give effective presentations or whatever people with real jobs do.
Regardless, on March 17th of every year, I try to steer clear of the bar scene: it’s amateur night.
Those are the nights to stay away from. Like a pro basketball player staying away from pick-up games for concern of getting injured, I save my talents for another night.
Part of the reason I got into show business was when I was living in San Francisco working in shipping on the docks of Oakland. My friend Dave and I went to see our buddies’ band from high school was performing locally on a Monday night. Our friends Mike and Carlos put on an excellent show, and afterwards Dave and I were about to head out as our work week was under way, and we had daytime office jobs. The band and their surrounding circle was about to begin what was their Saturday night. Drinks were served, and the energy was rising. Dave and I couldn’t believe it. We were envious, and although we’d definitely done our share of school night drinking, that feeling always stuck with me. I wanted to feel carefree on those Sunday and Monday nights just like those musicians and their groupies did. These nights were referred to as “industry nights"—at least they were in the 90s. God are the 90s really that long ago?
I liked the idea of working when everyone was “partying," and partying when everyone was working (or while everyone was at home). Again, that always stuck with me.
To this day, big party nights, or days like St. Patty’s Day, or July 4th, or Halloween send me to wherever the action is not. It’s a day I’ll stay home, or maybe drive Uber. I’ll still get in costume. I’m not an animal. But I like to let everyone burn off their energy, and I’ll hit the bar the following night.
It’s this same rationale as a reason that I don’t care for three-day weekends. It clogs up the bars and restaurants on Sunday nights. Those were supposed to be for the riffraff of the world who chose, or were chosen, to be "undesirables." I need everyone on lockdown on Sunday nights so those avenues of Sunday night frolic can be available to us. Let’s get everyone back into lockdown mode on Sunday nights and back at their offices, cubicles, and factories on Monday morning so that we writers, artists, comics, performers, singers, musicians, etc, can have the world to ourselves. If only for a few hours.
There are a few exceptions ... Like New York City. If I’m in NYC on St. Patrick’s Day, I’m going out. Not because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, but because I’m in New York on St. Patrick’s Day. Another exception as a holiday with high party expectations is NYE, but on that I feel slightly different. New Year's Eve as a comedian is a nice pay day, but even if I’m not working, I like to indulge. Not necessarily for the sake of partying, but because it’s the most global of holidays that can involve as many people as possible. So I’m not “partying” on that day as much as I’m wanting to be part of a human global experience.
Every other holiday just excludes too many people, but NYE celebrations are as communal as any. Whether substances are involved or not. I spent two in Japan where it’s more of a retreat back to one’s hometown and a calm night of visiting a local temple in your community, which I got just as much love out of as watching Times Square countdown with friends doing shots and kissing a loved one.
St. Patty’s usually falls on a weekday and people head out of the office for an early one, and that’s great. I’m just saying, I’m not necessarily interested in partying with people who are only doing it out of obligation or cause “it’s the thing to do.” I want people who are committed. Don’t show up to the Super Bowl asking “Who’s playing?”, or “What’s this about again?”
I’m told St. Patty’s Day in Ireland is a drunk fest as well except without all the green. I can’t imagine it’s the mindlessness with which we do it, but so be it. I went to college in Helena, Montana, which is an hour north of one of the best St. Patty’s Day held in Butte. I missed it the first 3 years of college, but in my senior year, St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Monday, and at the last minute, I took my friend’s car down there and did some bar-hopping. I figured a Monday night was a good test to see how big a gathering assembles. If there were a crowd on that night, then you know we have something. And there was a crowd that night. A lot of Butte folk and a lot of fellow college students had made the drive. I wanted to park as close to the action as I could, but the only space I could find was a police station parking lot. I figured it was the biggest night of the year in Butte, so the last place the cops would be concerned with is their own parking lot. I parked there, and when I returned a few hours later, the car was there, intact, untouched. Where would they have towed it anyway? To the other side of the lot?
All this was done cause I was in my early 20s. I’m sitting here boasting that I don’t do St. Patty’s Day, but then singing the praises of St. Patty’s Day in Butte.
Being in NY or SF is an exception, cause I’d be popping in a bar where my friends are meeting up regardless of the day.
Maybe this story is about age more than anything. How when we get older, we get more selective about what we’re going to do because of a hangover. I had no problem drinking at several St. Patty’s Day parties as a youth. My parents used to have one every year when we lived in Michigan and even a few once we moved to Orange County. Their social circle looked forward to it every year.
Not sure what the affiliation of drinking is to St. Patrick, anyway. Patrick is a Roman name, and he himself was born in England. He was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken back to Ireland. He then helped extricate the snakes from the country. Not sure how bad the snake population was there, but apparently enough that getting rid of them was cause for debaucherous drinking for 1,700 years.
My view of St. Patty’s Day is similar to how Valentine’s Day for real couples must feel after a few years. They just have perspective and want to avoid any extra nuisance. They feel it wise to go the night after and avoid the crowd, maybe even save some money. Does it mean you love your lover less? Missing St. Patty’s day doesn’t make me less Irish, so no. I’m sure there are many long-term relationships who still celebrate Valentine’s Day in commercial fashion, but I’m sure it wains over the years.
It’s similar with the people who only go to mass on Easter and Christmas and clog up the parking lot (more than I can say for myself in recent years). Do the regulars get annoyed with those folk? They definitely don’t sit it out like I do St. Patrick’s Day. They put their foot on the accelerator. They go extra hard on those days.
Do Mexicans drink on Cinco de Mayo like white Americans do, or do we just piggyback on other people’s holidays? How do we not celebrate one Native American holiday? Maybe Thanksgiving or Columbus/Indigenous Day will be transformed into that. Holidays can certainly evolve. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was instrumental in launching Christmas into the stratosphere while Coca-Cola was pivotal in Santa adopting a red suit.
As a kid, I was made fun of wearing a Maui & Sons shirt cause I didn’t surf. Did I deserve it? I have no idea. I was new to SoCal and my mom bought be a Maui and Sons shirt cause it was in style. Some kids made fun of me on more than one occasion because they knew I didn’t surf. They would quiz me at my junior high on what speed the waves were. I had no idea of the beach names or whether the waves “moved fast or slow.” I’ve only attempted surfing once. It was with the Duncans down at Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego. I’ve boogie boarded and body surfed plenty though, so hopefully you think I’m cool.
Another area of “posing” is when men wear jerseys of other adult men. I don’t have a problem with it at all, though I’ve only done it once. It was at a freezing Packer game in Lambeau, and I wore Charles Woodson’s jersey cause he’d played at Michigan and I used that as justification. The Packers were also playing outside their division that day so I was fine with it.
Some guys did have issues with it way back, but it’s pretty accepted now.
I have a little bit of an issue with teams dabbling in colors that are not their traditionals. In particular, when teams throw black in their uniforms when it doesn’t belong. NFL teams like the Eagles, Cardinals, Niners, etc. who don’t traditionally have black in their uniforms throw it in there for a primetime game or two. Please. Stick to current or throwback uniforms. Don’t just change colors one us. The Chargers, by the way, look good in every single rendition of their uniform. How the hell did this turn into an article on football?
Beware those who are partying on St. Patty’s Day.
It’s an excuse to do some weekday drinking, and you mix that with March Madness and you have a bunch of amateurs on the road driving under the influence. Not that someone should ever become a professional at driving under the influence. Regardless of holiday or event, beware. Do I want people to stop celebrating on this day? Not at all. Because it increases the chances they'll be staying out of bars the ensuing weekend.
In the meantime, I’ll have a Shamrock shake from McDonald’s and call it a day. I’ll see you on March 18th. Aruba’s independence day. Now that’s a party!
*Feature photo by LordN (Adobe)