People in my acquaintance know I appreciate my Irish heritage.
When my brother Tim and I were in elementary school, Mom always sent us off to good old Sacred Heart with green clip-on bow ties and white shirts on St. Patrick’s Day. My sister, Joanne, received green ribbons for her hair or dress.
I’ve kept up the tradition, and always wear green on March 17 and on the Saturday before the holiday, for Albany’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. For the last bunch of years, I’ve worn white shirts and long green or shamrock-spangled ties. Bow ties just aren’t my look — too Jimmy Olsen for me.
And I don’t mind a couple of beers — maybe even a couple more — after the big show in downtown Albany. This year’s big show steps off Saturday at 2 p.m., and I expect to make an appearance.
There were days in my 20s when our drinking crew was out late. But we never caused any major harm.
I’m not sure some people will be able to say the same this weekend. St. Patrick’s Day as Mardi Gras in the United States continues, and has become one of my major annoyances — along with people who yack and text on cell phones behind the wheel.
I ran across this ad, for an event that will take place tonight at a downtown Albany bar. I’ll leave out the name of the joint, to spare them the publicity and spare us a possible lawsuit. It’s for a spree called “Green Kegs & HAMmered,” billed as an official St. Patrick’s Day kick-off party. It’s a bar crawl, and it’s supposedly designed to “sham-rock your world!”
“Whether you’re a true Irishman or just drink like one, we got you covered,” reads the copy, which I found kind of insulting. Makes it sound like a “true Irishman” needs a morning glass of Harp or Smithwick’s like other people need a morning cup of Maxwell House or Chock Full o’ Nuts.
It all sounds to me like they’re promoting antics like we saw at the Albany St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2011, when college kids who had drowned themselves in early morning beers sloshed, slurred and shuffled their ways around Albany. It was beers ahoy and idiots ashore, they were all lit up like Christmas trees. And with St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday this year, the celebration will run for the entire weekend.
I know genuine Irish from the old country dislike the Americanized version of St. Pat’s, the green beads and green plastic beer glass sunglasses and fake green beards and goofy hats. In Ireland, there are times for pints, but it’s also a time for church and family. Around here, you’ll have to watch your step during the weekend, and make sure you don’t cross someone on a lost weekend green bender. That’s one floor show I’ll avoid.
I guess it’s easy to preach restraint when you’re 57. But if I can find a place to watch people, listen to some Irish music, maybe grab a corned beef sandwich and have a bunch of beers, I’ll be happy to quietly observe March 16 and 17. I’ll take a bus down to the parade and a bus back home, and have a good time.
It will be a nice, quiet way to “sham-rock” my world.