I’ve written about this before. I know I have, and yet I feel compelled to do it again. “This” being my feelings on St. Patrick’s Day, which have evolved over the years from seething hatred to an uneasy truce (think Korean DMZ).
My animus has faded due partly to the mellowing of age. The older I get, the less I am able to muster the energy to despise things when I can merely hate them. But the other main reason for my change in feeling is because at some point, I realized my dislike of St. Patty’s Day was just a parroted expression of my father’s dislike of the day, and Ireland, and Irishness in general, or at least the most pronounced expressions thereof.
My dad hated Ireland because he was born there, and his formative years in the Emerald Isle were not happy, to hear him tell it. He had plenty of stories of sadistic Christian Brothers at his school and crushing poverty, all of which were very funny, as Irish stories tend to be. But behind the yucks, you could feel the privation and shame and pain.
He couldn’t stand to go back there, and did everything in his power not to, especially after my grandparents died. His work, whatever the hell it was (psst: spook), took him on insane business trips to India, Africa, former Soviet republics (the Icky-stans, as he called them), former Yugoslav republics, Afghanistan, Jordan…and the only place he expressed any real hesitation to travel to was Ireland. It made him nervous, I think because it made him feel emotions, which most Irish folks can’t deal with. That’s why they invented whiskey and dances where your upper body remains rigid.