To toast one of my favorite days of the year, an excerpt from a column I wrote for the Sanibel-Captiva Islander on March 17, 1987:
“”There is something about the Irish – they always seem to cut through directly to life,” writes Anne Morrow Lindbergh. “There is an unguarded spot somewhere, where one can touch them. They are closer to their hearts.”
I have a wee bit of Irish in me, I am told. I believe the actual proportion is 2/365. For only one day a year do I really feel it. And then I feel it bad the next day.
During my college days in St. Paul – an Irish island in a Scandinavian sea -St. Patrick’s Day meant drinking green beer at 7 o’clock in the morning. You could tell the true Irishmen not necessarily by who was closer to their hearts, but by who was closer to the keg. “Tap o’ the morning,” they would greet you.
This early morning greening was a priming ritual for the great, second-to-none (no, not even New York’s) St. Patrick’s Day parade downtown St. Paul. Aye, it was a lovely sight, all that green blossoming amidst snow in various shades of decay. Every Irish bar from the Ford Bridge to the High Bridge, from Gannon’s to Gallivan’s overflowed with bobbing green derbies perched upon red mugs sucking upon green mugs. It makes Wil’s [an erstwhile Sanibel bar] at Spring Break look like a meeting of the board of directors.
There is something about the Irish…. They’d still be hoisting Harps long after I had taken a view-of-the-floor seat at Duffy’s around about sunset.
The whole objective behind St. Patrick’s Day, as far as I’ve been able to discern, is to make a fool of oneself. To the Irish, making a fool of oneself is no cause for shame. It is sport, high art, duty, blarney – the knife with which they “cut through directly to life,” as Lindbergh put it. It is, perhaps, that “unguarded spot” bared and broadcast. It becomes a contest to see who can prove the best at tomfoolery.
Who, this year, can top Pat Ryan jumping on the royal parade float to kiss the current St. Patrick’s Day queen? Or Molly O’Connor’s “My Name is McNamara” concert on the steps of the cathedral as evening Mass let out?
And so, on that one day a year when the Irish in me pops out like the cork from a leprechaun’s Jameson bottle, I feel compelled to prove the green in me. Wearing ‘Kiss Me I’m Irish’ buttons and jigging down Periwinkle [Way, Sanibel’s main road] isn’t quite enough…..”
I won’t be jigging down Periwinkle today, but will be partying at Doc Ford’s Sanibel Rum Bar & Grille
. And hopefully won’t win any fool contests. Get your green on and celebrate!