It’s St. Paddy’s and that means one thing: everyone is going to be good and liquored-up. But not me. Every year I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by staying sober.
It’s fine to be drunk 364 days of the year but St. Paddy’s Day is a special time. It’s a time to honor a saint who did something or other. I don’t want to tarnish his memory and the value of whatever he might have accomplished by slurring, throwing up in a bush or crying about being dumped 22 years ago. I want to celebrate St. Patrick’s life, and whatever he did, by wearing green clothes, a green plastic hat and trying to pronounce Erin go bragh correctly. That’s what St. Paddy’s means to me. The Guinness, the whiskey – that can all wait until just after midnight as far as I‘m concerned.
I like to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day by getting up early, not getting drunk, and eating a big breakfast. I put on my finest green clothing, green plastic hat, and an umbrella – as I imagine St. Patrick himself might have done. Then I walk around the neighborhood telling people “Top o’ the mornin’” in an accent like St. Patrick might have had. At noon I stop saying “Top o’ the mornin’” and start saying “Top o’ the noon” until around 1:30. Then I just start telling people exactly what time it is.
As the day progresses it’s very much like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where slowly everyone around Donald Sutherland becomes an alien. Except instead of Donald Sutherland it’s me, and instead of becoming aliens everyone becomes drunk. I make it a point to show I can fight temptation by entering bars and not drinking. Then I pick out the drunkest person at the bar and ask them to tell me what the holiday is about. Usually they’ll try and buy me a drink, and I say “I don’t want to dishonor Mister Saint Paddy” and I thank them and move on. By nightfall most people are drunken wrecks. I enjoy quietly condemning them from my sober perspective and loudly praising myself for sobriety. If I were so inclined I could easily rob them or convince a woman to sleep over. But this holiday isn’t about me, it’s about St. Patrick and whatever he did that made him a saint. As then day draws to a close, I look at my watch.
“Top o’ the two minutes after midnight,” I’ll say, “Guinness please.”
[ Originally written for Fusion Magazine because they pay me more than I pay myself. ] ]