An easy list for everyone

Yes it’s that time of year again. St. Patrick’s Day is upon us and here on the U.S. side of the puddle, it can quickly become a trash fire of epic proportions. This year I’ve decided to improve the easy list I started a few years ago so that we can hand it out to our shamrocked, leprechaun hat wearing, fake Irish-dancing friends in order to keep them (and us) from acting the fool. Here’s five simple DON’Ts and one DO that will make the Wearing of the Green safer and more palatable for everyone, no matter where you live or where you’re from.

1. Don’t pinch people. It’s rather hard to believe in the age of the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns that anyone still has to be told that aggressively grabbing, touching, or pinching strangers is wrong. However, just in case you thought that rule didn’t apply on St. Patrick’s Day let me remind you that it is still wrong to pinch (or touch) any part of anyone for any reason without their permission. It will always be wrong to to touch or pinch people in any way without their consent and many people will be too intoxicated to give consent anyway, so keep your little pinchy urges and tiny crab claw fingers to yourself and just say no. Everyone, male or female, with thank you for it.

2.  DO. NOT. ORDER. AN. IRISH. CAR. BOMB. Seriously folks, I don’t know how many times I have to say this to people. Nothing personifies ignorance, caricature, and casual cruelty better than walking into an Irish pub and ordering up an Irish Car Bomb. You wouldn’t walk into a NYC bar and order a 9/11 would you?! Then don’t order a fuc%ing carbomb, for the same reason.

This horrifically named cocktail is American-made and designed to get you very drunk very quickly. It is highly effective but it’s also named after a weapon that has been used to kill and maim literally THOUSANDS of people in the country it’s named after. No one who grew up in Ireland (or knows its history and/or has a deep love for it) can tolerate the obnoxious name for this drink and for many Irish people, it brings up trauma and terrible memories. It is not funny, not appropriate, and not cool for you or your friends to sell or order any drink by that name. It may get you kicked out of your favorite Irish pub and it could (and should) get you kicked in the face.

That being said, Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream, and Guinness are all very tasty treats. You can order and pay for a glass of each, mix the ingredients yourself, and try a delightful, super-intoxicating elixir. If you work at a bar, you could make up a new drink special just by calling it something else (it’s also been referred to as the ‘Holy Trinity’ and ‘the Ulster Flip’) or you can just refuse to serve it at all and many Irish people and Irish history fans would thank you for it.

3. Don’t misspell the name of the day. If you’re hunting for Irish-themed decor or clothing, choosing a hashtag, or you have some other reason to shorten the name of this holiday, please remember that the correct shortened spelling is P-A-D-D-Y. It’s not St. Patty’s. There are no Ts in the Irish spelling of Padraig, nor any Ts in the abbreviated and shortened version of it. Just remember what a very good friend of mine once said, (very loudly and proudly I might add) – “I always remember to stick with the Double Ds”.  We were actually talking about his taste in women at the time, but the same rule applies here just as well. Which brings us to another important thing to consider.

4. Don’t buy into stereotyping or bigotry.  If you want to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day good on you but you don’t have to propagate the stereotypes to do it. Pass on anything that conveys the message that Irish people are drunks, fighters, leprechauns, or idiots. Find something that celebrates Ireland’s rich culture instead of something that mocks it. The Irish have fought against these stereotypes for years and buying a T-Shirt that propagates them may seem harmless but it isn’t. The only way companies will ever offer a wider, more celebratory variety of St. Paddy’s Day swag is if their customers quit buying awful, bigoted costumes. Pass on the ‘Kiss me I’m Irish’ stuff too unless you are actively consenting to anyone doing just that. (See #1)

Don’t insult Ireland’s culture while you claim to be celebrating it.

One more thing along this line – when you’re using your outside voice, please realize that no one says “Top o’ the morning” or “Give me my lucky charms” ever and that fake accents of any kind are obnoxious whether you’re drinking or not. Just keep that lilt in check.

5. Know your history. In IrelandSaint Patrick (Padraig) is celebrated for “driving the snakes out of Ireland” which is a metaphor for bringing Christianity to the island and systematically erasing its pagan roots. Thankfully that is not what most people are celebrating these days and many of the bigger parades and parties are more secular in nature. The Catholic influence is also why the color code of the day is green, which is traditionally associated with that faith in Ireland. You shouldn’t have to wear it on St. Patrick’s Day if you’re not a Catholic but you try to explain that to a million and one drunken Grabby McPinchersons! It’s exhausting and just easier to wear green. (See #1.)

I’m all for transforming the holiday from a religious one to a party and cultural celebration but I’m also a firm believer in the whole live and let live thing. Feel free to preach about the wonders of St. Patrick, go to mass, and have a quiet night in if that’s what you wish – or party until dawn howling at the moon if that’s your thing. However, NEVER insist on telling others (ESPECIALLY if they’re Irish) how to celebrate their own holiday. That makes you the asshole, not them.

And there you have it. Five things you shouldn’t do this year or any other for that matter. As for the one DO – DO WASH YOUR HANDS A LOT AND STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK. If you’re  happy and healthy have fun, get wasted, dye your hair green, take the green Mardi Gras beads out of the closet, go to mass, wear a shamrock or a lily, sing some rebel songs or do whatever else you were planning to do – just try not to be a complete asshole when you’re doing it. Be sure to think ahead and plan a way home so you don’t hurt yourself or anyone else. Have a blast and remember one simple thing – treating other people and other cultures better every single day makes the world a better place. Start today.

See you out there in the trenches.

Sláinte.

Read This

I’m just popping on for a minute to link to an amazing article that was written a year ago, but I found only recently.  I’ve been struggling with a post that is similar for a few years, but this one says it more succinctly (and with less of a frustrated and horrified tone) than I have been able to. It’s worth a read no matter what side of the puddle you’re on regardless of when it was written, given that right-wing bigotry is still spreading throughout the world. Well done Ms. Markey.

WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO IRISH AMERICA?!?

No Stone Unturned

Living in California has its pros and cons. The weather is great but the strong Irish communities here don’t get as much love as they do in New York or Boston. It’s rare that the West Coast gets concerts, political visits, or films out of Ireland but that’s not to say that we don’t seek them out. We do have fairs, film festivals, and other events throughout the year but to see current news and films, we often have to trick the location sensors in our internet browsers so we can scour the internet for hours on end until we find an article, a link, or a video. That determination is how I’ve been lucky enough to see many fine Irish films, despite their lack of distribution in the states. This list now includes “No Stone Unturned,” a riveting and super important documentary by Alex Gibney about the brutal, “unsolved” murders of six people in a Loughinisland, County Down pub during the 1994 World Cup.

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Civil Rights

In the civil rights arena, America gets a lot of the press and always has. Many of the worst atrocities and biggest conflicts in the movement happened in the United States, and they continue to happen to this day. Hollywood has made plenty of movies chronicling the American fight for civil rights, including one about the fateful march from Selma in 1965 that raised awareness and inspired equality all over the world, especially in the north of Ireland where another civil rights movement was being born.

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The twelfth

Well, I almost made it. I almost made it through the season without posting another one of the pieces I write every single year about the sectarianism and the hatred that fuels the flames of bonfires throughout the north of Ireland annually. I guess I was hoping that it was all going to be fine this year, despite knowing it wouldn’t be. I suppose I thought if I didn’t talk about it, then it wouldn’t make me so angry. It doesn’t work like that though. In fact it might be more infuriating to watch it go all down without commenting  – especially when it looks like this marching season buildup has been increasingly worse than those in recent memory.

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Goodbye chef

He was brash and tenacious. He was often obnoxious and nearly always a drunk. He was a brilliant writer, but in his words he was “more importantly, a reader.” He was a cocky, yet humble adventurer who was opinionated but always seemed ready to be wrong or surprised. Anthony Bourdain was not Irish but he had a gift of gab and a way with words that put him on par with many of the great Irish writers that he was inspired by. He was touched by Ireland on his first trip there and on his last he wrote “Heaven looks like this” in the guestbook at the Gravedigger pub.

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Fantasy Island

Everyone has that place in their head. One place that they’ve fallen in love with whether or not they’ve ever been there. One place that serves as a goal or a dream and becomes a fantasy location where everything would suddenly be perfect. Many never reach that imagined place or if they do, they quickly find that the perceived nirvana in their head doesn’t match the reality in any way. We often romanticize or fantasize about other places because after all, the grass is always greener on the other side.

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