Okay, St. Patrick’s Day, I call a truce. I’ve spent way too much time being angry at you for reasons I don’t even fully understand. So I’m not going to write any more angry anti-St. Patty’s Day screeds. In return, if you could make sure that my stoop doesn’t have puke on it when I get home from work, then we’re cool.
I inherited my resentment against the holiday from my father, who had wildly schizophrenic views on his homeland. He lived the first 10 years of his life in an Ireland that was extremely poor, extremely repressive, and just overall depressing. I think he blamed Ireland for the misery of his early years, and the issues of his later ones.
Mind you, he had a healthy amount of pride about being Irish. But he also couldn’t stand a lot of phonus balonus that goes along with Oirish-American celebrations. He loved to cite historical instances of the Irish getting the shaft from world, but he also hated when Irish people would insist on the MOPE Syndrome (that they, and only they, were the Most Oppressed People Ever).
He loved to point out famous/accomplished Irishmen, and also loved to point out that a large number of them had leave Ireland to get any measure of success (or at least not be stoned to death). Conversely, he was a huge fan of English comedy in general, but when he was offered a job at Reuters, he scoffed, “I can’t work for them–they’re an English company.” This statement was notable for its lack of sarcasm, as my father rarely said anything not sarcastic.
I’ve spent much of my life mimicking his stances on Ireland, St. Patty’s Day, etc. But I now realize it’s more of a burden than anything else. I’ve been to Ireland a few times, and it’s nothing like what it was in his youth. In other words, I’ve been carrying around his resentments so they can live on somehow, even though they’re resentments for a place that doesn’t exist anymore.
So you wanna get shitfaced on St. Patrick’s Day even if your last name is Lewandowski? Knock yourself out. I shan’t take part, but who am I to keep you from destroying your liver?
I should be grateful that I’m part of an ethnic group that is so assimilated into American culture that it can totally revel in all of its unsavory stereotypes. When people joke about how the Irish are drunks and fight all the time, what do Irish people do? Laugh, usually. They know it’s true, and they don’t have to waste any time defending themselves, because they no longer have to fight true, institutionalized discrimination.
That’s my wish for every ethnic group: That one day you shall be able to freely give vent to the worst aspects of your character, and everyone will think it’s hilarious.
If you’re in the mood for some green-tinted Haterade, peep these two posts from years past:
Meanwhile, as part of my peace offering to St. Patrick’s Day, I offer some tunes from Hibernophile rocker Ted Leo.
“Biomusicology”, The Tyrrany of Distance
“Dirty Old Town”, Tell Balgeary Balgury Is Dead EP
“A Bottle of Buckie”, Living for the Living
“Fairytale of New York”, live on WFMU, 2007