According to tradition — mine — I do believe I’ll tip a glass of Ireland’s finest on Thursday to honor a man I’ve never met, and, for that matter, neither have you. But it’s okay. St. Patrick will be pleased, even though he died more than 1500 years ago. I don’t understand why he is so celebrated, but there you have it, and if it functions as an excuse to get into the 80-proof stuff, well, then it works for me.

Plus, as support for my occasional fall from grace, I can always harken back to the St. Paddy’s Day parades in New York that I viewed on Fifth Avenue from my dad’s shoulder. Well, that’s not quite true; my younger brother always won that perch as I fought for fleeting looks between people who were always three feet higher than me. The sounds of the bands came through, loud and clear.

We went to the parade from a small town in New Jersey, I’m assuming, because, apart from the gas, the event was free. We did a lot of those kinds of things, and even now, hitting the streets of New York is still a big deal.

Man. Green everywhere: hats, costumes, and big-ass shamrocks that guys carried down the street. It was something. But then New York has always been great for parades. Quite by chance — honestly, it was not planned — I’ve been in town for two gay-pride parades. Talk about costumes. And the Italian parades are choice, too, with band-floats that cue up from the streets intersecting with Fifth Avenue, and strutting Brooklyn cops in brass-buttoned great coats making sure that nobody gets run over.

But alas, none of that happens on, say, Figueroa street, at least nothing that measures up to what goes on in Gotham. And I say shoot: I’m sorta Irish, so why can’t we prance around in dumb green clothes? I have an old friend whose name just happens to be Murphy and who serves up green beer on the big day, but including this year I haven’t gotten an invite. So individual initiative, as I have suggested, is obviously called for.

You know the options, of course. There’s blatant wearing-‘o-the green, featuring that one shirt in the back of the closet that any other day you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing in front of your friends, so sitting in front of the TV will have to suffice. Or if you choose a more subtle approach you can pull on green socks. Those, too, would not be at the forefront of your wardrobe. Then, for the ladies, there’s painting little shamrocks on your upper cheeks that people will declare “cute.” Not hardly.

None of that, I’m happy to say, works for me. No, it’s off to the local pub — if one happens to exist here in Orange County —  for a couple of rounds of Bushmills, definitely one of Ireland’s finer exports. And yes, I will be in the company of a designated driver — a job I’m simply not cut out for.  

This in deference to exotic gift-giving, which people are thankfully relieved of on March 17th. The only thing you have to buy is for your own consumption. Which, bottom line, is why St. Paddy’s Day is such a great holiday. Take in a parade — if your city is imaginative to have one (My god, even San Francisco is up with the program!) — and share a round with friends, which, it turns out, will be helpful with your cholesterol.

The old boy would have been 1,624 years young on Thursday, and he’d be proud.

Advertisements