Sunday, March 11, 2012
The Best, and Worst, St. Patrick's Day(s)
As St. Patrick Day approaches I think back over Paddy's Days gone-by, all the way back to marching around the school gymnasium, dressed all in green, in our mini St. Patrick's Day parade, at North Marysburgh elementary school. No beer at that one, not for the students anyway.
Then there was St. Pat's in college. In first year radio we were broke, so, we bought large, cheap, bottles of cider and filled the water cooler. Some people ate dog food and liked it, until they found out it was dog food then the person who tricked them into eating it had to run and hide. Again, I'm sorry.
Two St. Patrick's were spent at McVeigh's, Toronto's oldest Irish pub. Possibly three, were spent there, but I think the third was just a really good night in an Irish pub; I may never know for sure. One of the St. Patrick's Days, that I know was a St. Patricks Day, I got into an Irish Dance competition with a professional Irish dancer. I didn't mean to, and I didn't know she was a professional, but by the time I realised what was going on the whole bar was watching so I couldn't stop. My legs were burning so badly afterwards I couldn't climb the stairs to the upstairs bar. Two bars, two bands, one building, good times.
The first St. Paddy's I spent with my now ex, we meet three Swedish nannies in an Irish pub, on the Danforth, in Toronto. The nannies insisted on talking about how, in Sweden, they'd go to public saunas and outdoor hottubes in the winter and that naked was normal. I don't know why they kept talking about it, or why I kept asking questions, come to that.
On another St. Patrick's I was with a friend, in Picton, and we saw two bagpipers, kilt and all, walking down the street. We followed them, as you do when you see bagpipers walking down the street on St. Pat's; they went into a pub, as you do if you're a bagpiper walking down the street on St. Pat's. They walked to the centre of the pub and played the pipes. When they were finished the bartender gave them free Guinness; as you do when bagpipers wander into your pub and play, on St. Pat's.
Then there was the St.Patrick's I spent in Galway, Ireland. That would have to be the best just because it was in Galway. It was a day long affair, and in Ireland it's a holiday, so I got paid to celebrate. I remember a bunch of us were singing in the pub and we couldn't remember all the lyrics; then one of the women, at our table, pulled the sheet music out of her bag and handed it around. Only in Ireland, and only on the west coast, could that happen.
My worst St. Patrick's, would have been when I came home early, from being away, to surprise my now ex- wife. She didn't get home until 4 a.m.; when she arrived she was with another man. She was definitely surprised, as was I, which is part of the reason she's now my ex-wife. The Irish Claddagh ring that she wore, that I gave her, symbolizes love, loyalty and friendship. She could've at least had the decency to take it, her wedding band and engagement ring, off; or not tried to divert blame and argue her way out of it later. And on St.Pat's, of all days; really, is nothing sacred? I know it's the friendliest day of the year, but there is a line.
Those just scratch the surface of the memorable St. Patrick's Days I've had. There were others, of course, when my mum came to Toronto to see the parade; when my cousins were up from Milwaukee the year my dad was ill—my sister, brother, sister-in-law, nephews and neice were all there—we did up some Irish stew and soda bread, and we drank, ate, listened to music and told stories in the kitchen.
St.Patrick's Day is filled with memories of family and friends, new and old, laughter and song, joy and yes, some sorrow, pain and sorrow. But it wouldn't be very Irish if there wasn't a little pain and sorrow mixed in with the blessings.
And, as St. Paddy's Day approaches I can't help but think of of all the good times I've forgotten. Here's to having a few more.
And if you want to know more about who Saint Patrick was, follow the link; now that I've finally figured out how to insert one.