Erin Go Drinking
Drinking on St. Patrick's Day is a little like having sex on Valentine's Day; it's cliché and it seldom lives up to your expectations. Much like sex, the best drinking experiences are never organized efforts; they usually happen on a Tuesday when you're just stopping at the bar to pay your friend that $20 you owe him. Then one thing leads to another and there you are eating White Castle at 2am and leaving a voicemail for your boss explaining that you've got a "family emergency" and won't be making it in tomorrow.
You can't plan great moments; they just appear like a roller coaster rising out of the ground every once in a while. However, there are worse things than having a mere "adequate" night of boozing, so come March 17th, I'll be drinking somewhere. After all, I'm Irish…or at least, I think I'm Irish.
My ancestors allegedly sailed to these golden shores from County Cork, Ireland around 1798. I know this because my Great Aunt Ada spent a couple of years in the early 70s tracking the pioneering Scotts from one settlement to another. But, Aunt Ada didn't stop there, no she was an enterprising sort that also had these lineage details bound into a nice little hand-published book called "The Scott Brothers". It looks good, there are a lot of facts, dates, births and deaths listed that make it seem likely enough, but I kind of doubt its accuracy. Not that I'm inferring that my Aunt Ada was a big fat liar, I just find it hard to believe that a frail, elderly woman living in rural Indiana before the advent of the internet could really say with any authority how the hell this brood of unlikely book topics came to exist. Yes, Alex Healy completed the research for his ground-breaking book "Roots" around the same time that Aunt Ada was tying up loose Scott family ends, but Alex was writing mostly about slaves, and slaves were probably noted somewhere as property on business documents. Plus, slaves weren't exactly moving around a lot before 1865, unless Harriett Tubman pulled some strings. Considering this, it seems next to impossible that the whereabouts of a nomadic group of copulating farmers like the Scotts could be tracked with any real precision. And if these early wanderers were anything like the surviving members of the clan, it's highly unlikely that they utilized any record keeping systems that weren't prone to slip shot methods of notation and a general lack of upkeep.
Even assuming that Aunt Ada's rendering of history is accurate, just how Irish can one be after 200 years of intermarrying. Given the looks and charm of the average Scott male, it's unlikely that my ancestors were particular when it came to finding a potential life partner. I'm fairly certain they took what they could get with little to no regard toward insuring a steady line of pale-skinned, freckled-faced off-spring. Plus, I believe my mother's side of the tree is mostly French, Mexican and Native American, that alone should squelch any instincts on my part for quaffing stout with a Jameson chaser. But quaff I will come Monday, because that's basically what St. Patrick's Day is all about.
Sure, there's some cockamamie story about St. Patrick leading the snakes out of Ireland or something along those lines, but no one seems to pay any attention to that. I've been drinking on St. Patrick's Day for the past 27 years and I've never even bothered to research the topic. Hell, I'm writing an article about it right now and I still don't care. First of all, no one can guide a snake anywhere. Secondly, it's just too damn derivative of the Pied Piper story. And lastly, it's an Irish tale, which means it probably started out as some guy named Patrick clubbing a snake to death in a potato field, and then grew to legendary proportions from drunken retelling in pubs. Maybe that's why the holiday has evolved from celebration of saintly goodness to Jagermeister drinking exhibition in recent times; you just can't swallow a story like that without washing it down with a lethal combination of liquor and beer.
In my opinion, if you're going to pick a religious holiday to use as an excuse to get polluted, you'd be way better off with Good Friday. That way you could justify staying in bed all day Saturday, as an homage to Christ's time in the tomb. Then on Easter Sunday you could metaphorically roll away the stone of drunkenness and rejoin the world of the living. Think of all the great lines you could use; "My head is really pounding, it feels like I've been wearing a crown of thorns!", "It's a miracle I'm still alive!" and the ever popular, "Watch yourself on Good Friday; the cops are out just looking to nail someone!" Oh, the list could go on and on.
In any case, for better or worse, it was destiny that St. Patrick became synonymous with drinking till you regurgitate corned beef, so there's no sense in fighting it now. There are worse things, I guess, at least people remember him. Most of the other saints are given little recognition in secular circles; here in the US our entire March economy revolves around Patrick's co-called legacy. So I lift a glass to him and to you on this St.Patty's day, "Slainte!" Although truth be told, I had no idea the word existed until I saw it on a Bennigan's commercial…like I said, I think I'm Irish.