Citizens Report American Irish Culture

Danahey on the Loose Way Past St. Patrick’s Day

Lil Leprechaun L L
It was that time of year.

The fireworks show out where I live that had been planned for the Saturday after St. Patrick’s Day never happened.

Why they have fireworks then is a mystery to me. Perhaps St. Patrick shot them off to drive the snakes out of Ireland. Perhaps not.

I do know that a well-off bar owner has been paying for the display in question every year for more than a decade. Maybe it’s a way for him to show off by almost literally lighting his money on fire. The burning’ o’ the green.

This March 18, the weather was arctic-like and abysmal, so they moved the show to a week later – when it snowed. So no go.

I suggested they light them off for Easter. Scent them with chocolate. Use pastel colors. Make egg and cross shapes. They opted for Memorial Day weekend.

Nobody listens to me.

Aside from that drama, I had a relatively quiet St. Patrick’s season myself as I slowly come out of hibernation for spring.

We all know corned beef isn’t really Irish, anyway.  SPOILER ALERT: Neither is the abomination that is green beer!

I limited my corned beef intake surrounding the doings to a corned beef hash breakfast burrito prior to the March 11 parade out this way. I wore blue that day – to match my skin tone and because that’s the color people should wear for St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick garb
Blue, not green!

My corned beef calorie count included a reuben during the week, then a meal with it at best fest buddy Tom’s house on the actual holiday.

Garb-wise, I didn’t even don a kilt for anything all season.

Instead, on March 17 I hit an 11 a.m. screening of the Academy Award-nominated movie, The Quiet Girl (Irish title An Cailín Ciúin). As I went by myself, wearing a kilt didn’t seem a prudent thing to do.

Plus it was cold and windy. I didn’t need a Marilyn Monroe moment.

This cineplex stands in a ghost town of a mall. Not knowing any better, I went to the wrong entrance. The right one is down an outdoor corridor.

Inside, it’s a nice, big place with 18 screens. Of course, the one where The Quiet Girl was showing was a long haul down a long hall.

Thank God for previews, eh?

There were only two other people there, which is how I like to see a movie. It makes me feel like one of those aforementioned rich guys. And I don’t have to deal with jackasses being on their phones the whole time.

With the movie being called The Quiet Girl, one might think it would be a sequel to The Quiet Man.

It’s more in line with Angela’s Ashes and a miserable Irish childhood. This one happens in the early 1980s in rural Ireland. Most of the sparse dialogue is spoken in the Irish language.

The story focuses on a nine-year-old girl who is sent to live with her mom’s 50-something cousin and her cousin’s husband for a summer. See, the girl’s dad is pretty much a drunk and a jerk. Mom is pregnant again. And young Cáit (wonderfully underplayed by Catherine Clinch) is seen as a burden, another mouth to feed.

Just 90 minutes or so, the movie moves slowly, for a point. It’s about the girl, neglected by most, finding people who genuinely grow to care a great deal about her.

In short, it’s about the power of human kindness, and the sadness otherwise.

Given my movie-made-mood and it being St. Patrick’s Day, I stopped at the nearby Jewel-Osco to see what they had on sale for the holiday. Alas, the way their promotion worked you had to buy six bottles of anything to get the really good discount.

Playing against the stereotype for the green day, I left the store empty handed.

Tom Kilt
From the runways of Dublin

I wound up at Best Fest Buddy Tom’s. Tom dressed in his black kilt and winter coat. Oh, he wore a small cartoon character Dollar Tree mustache with his ensemble, too. Dashing. A perfect look to have when arguing with three grandkids about cleaning the mess they made of the house and, more importantly, the SUV.

My Irish gear for the day consisted of track pants, like Euro-gangsters wear in TV shows.

We hit a winery where they had surprisingly good shepherd’s pie on the menu. Actual shepherd’s pie, with lamb – not the ground beef some places pass off as shepherd’s pie. That’s COTTAGE PIE, dammit!!

And that was about it, unless you count watching stuff on Netflix and celebratory.

See, winter puts me in my Emily Dickinson phase, where I don’t leave home much unless it’s to get food or take kids to libraries. My drawers are filled with poetry nobody will see until I’m gone. Make your own joke. The Taco Bell of Amherst?

This year, I’m just grateful I am not living near Lake Tahoe, Mammoth or Utah where some places have had more than 60 feet of snow since November. I would have become a Thanksgiving meal for a Donner Party. And my poetry would be about igloos and lady fingers.

Anyway, back here in cloud-covered Illinois, my happy place has been an Olive Garden on the outskirts of yet another mostly empty mall.

Fresh out of college, I used to work at that mall. Who didn’t?

When I was younger, in shape and working at a park district, sometimes on Fridays we would play basketball at lunchtime, then head to this very same Olive Garden for all-you-can eat soup, salad and bread sticks lunch special.

These days they still offer to put cheese on your salad for you, but don’t grind pepper anymore. You do that yourself.

But the sound system still plays Sinatra and others crooning tunes from the Great American Songbook, with an occasional oldie from the rock era thrown in for good measure.

I always sit at the bar to eat by myself. No “one for my baby and more one for the road,” here. Just ice tea with your Michael Buble.

Per the OG soundtrack, I pretend I am downtown at Petterino’s having a drink and a bite to eat before taking in a show at the Goodman or some other Loop theater. The joint is jumping. Or at least it’s bustling. People with lives and tickets. Some in suits, even!

Or I am with my parents, as we used to meet up at the Olive Garden or similar places for lunch when they were retired and looking for things to do.

Look around an Olive Garden on any given afternoon. It’s filled with old people. Not as many as  you might find at Red Lobster, mind you, but still.

I know this because:

  1. I eat out way too much.
  2. I need to go on a diet.
  3. I am getting old myself.
  4. One day this weekend I ate a pizza all by myself then watched college basketball the rest of the day.
  5. Hey, even Snoop Dogg is old now. He’s hawking shoes you slip on, FFC!

So around and beyond St. Patrick’s Day that’s been my life lately. I left out all the HIPAA stuff, of course. (I threw in that extra St. Patrick’s Day reference, because this is being written for the internet and I needed another St. Patrick’s Day mention for SEO points.)

Spring is here, I guess. I hope Olive Garden plays the Ella Fitzgerald version.

Play ball! And have some minestrone!! Wear some Larry Bird-style green terrycloth shorts from Walmart to mark the occasion!!!

 

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