To which frat did St. Patrick belong?
That question popped into my head a few weekends ago as I was working as a doorman at some friends’ pub, checking IDs and watching the drunks amble by as the festivities began in earnest almost a full week before the actual holiday.
Nothing says Ireland like a big, tall redheaded dude standing outside, wobbling like there’s an earthquake taking place, stumbling to the ground, only to have his pants fall down, exposing his full, pasty bottom. He wore no underwear, because, hey, who needs that when you’re drinking green beer or some other swill?
I kept an eye on this portly mess through the windows from my post near the front door, worried that Moon Boy would get behind the wheel. Instead, he wound up playing jump rope near the street with three sorority types for bit. They wound up getting an Uber.
That wasn’t as exciting as Best Fest Buddy Tom’s assignment working the backdoor (make your own joke). He wound up having to head upstairs around 8 p.m. as backup when one of those involved with the bar operation had to sort out a fight.
If only dipsticks could get tickets for perpetuating stereotypes, I thought.
Past that, a couple jovial Mexican guys helped me card people for a bit. They told me a few folks they had been hanging with started the micro brawl, because those guys just like to start fights.
It was that kind of a night. At least there was barbecue to be had, and what barbecue has to do with St. Patrick’s Day, who knows? You could say the same of corned beef, really.
And who knows why a drunk woman decided to take off my hat and rub my bald head? It was the nicest thing that happened to me that night.
The nicest part of that Saturday was opting out of the local parade – where I had served as emcee for the last few years – to head instead to the Irish American Heritage Center.
I had creative differences with the person who plans the parade, which has grown to run from from before 10 a.m. until about 1 p.m., with all its attendant bells and whistles.
The differences were that with this thing getting so damn long, I asked if I could have two friends help, one who does microphone duties at the Highland Games and who studied at Second City, the other a mom who teaches yoga. Since the parade was known to have gaps, I thought she could teach a class to kill time – and way less than limber me would be a perfect foil.
Anyway, the parade planner said she was afraid my improv-trained pal would do material that wouldn’t be suitable for children. This miffed me, since I’ve pretty much have had to improv the parade myself for several years as the script with the floats has usually been out of order and promised help didn’t materialize. And since the parade planner hadn’t even offered to talk with my friend, I felt insulted.
So instead of dealing with drama, a couple weeks before I bowed out. Come March 11, I headed late that frozen morning to the northwest side and the Heritage Center.
It was just what I wanted, a relaxing couple hours and a corned beef sandwich. In the classroom converted into a makeshift deli, a kid accidentally poured the hot water intended to keep the curry for curry and chips into the curry in in the pot. That was about the only tumult I saw.
I wandered into the library. Looked at the stained glass St. Patricks. Heard a choir singing U2 (make your own Bono joke), and a band in the pub play Fields of Athenry. Then headed home. Without having a beer, even.
The actual St. Patrick’s Day (March 17 for those confused by light beer manufacturers), for the most part, was just as relaxing.
It started with attending an 8 a.m. mass at McNally’s in St. Charles, where a tenor offered tunes in Gaelic and a piper paraded in with the the priest to the altar set up in the front of the pub.
Mass led to Irish breakfast. Next was a screening of The Quiet Man at Tom’s, followed by running some errands that afternoon.
We headed back to the bar where we bounced the prior weekend for that Friday evening, in part to catch the fireworks display along the Fox River between East and West Dundee.
Yes, there are fireworks between the Dundees this time of year. Again, not sure the tie to the Irish holiday, but the pyrotechnics were impressive, particularly the ones that bounced off the water, frightening or frying ducks and geese in the process, no doubt.
I half expected there would be another weekend of allegedly Irish nonsense March 24 – 26, but instead it was mostly just damp Irish weather. Oddly, there seemed to be little if any Irish stuff on PBS this Pledge Drive March, either, but for something I caught about geese heading either to or from Greenland to Ireland.
So in my mind – and on my iPhone – I went back to actual Ireland over the dreary weekend. The bad weather inspired me to look at the photos from my stay at Fitzpatrick’s Castle Hotel on an unseasonably hot, sunny September day last year.
The hotel is near Killiney Park, which offers spectacular views of Dublin Bay below – and people rappelling up cliffs for entertainment above.
This was on the last day of a great vacation, and I just wanted to stare out at the water for as long as I could. It would have been the best spot to scatter some ashes of my parents – had I been the one in charge of that.
But that’s another story. Let’s just say that I did leave some Danahey DNA in the park. Hey, it was a long walk back to the hotel, and sometimes you have to improvise.
Anyway, those 1,000 or so photos and the memories that go with them are my St. Patrick’s Day, whenever and wherever I want to celebrate it.
No inappropriately names shots to gulp. No silly t-shirts to wear. Just images of Bunratty Castle, Durty Nellie’s. Dingle, Doolin, Galway, Dublin, Carrickfergus, Ballintoy, Bushmills, Giant’s Causeway, family and friends to enjoy.
And that’s enough of a holiday for me.