Monday, March 16, 2009
Happy St. Pats
Our small city pretty much closes down for St. Patrick's Day (food and beverage sellers are the exception). Growing up in Chicago, I was used to a big "to do" being made of St. Paddy's. But aside from being a good show, it had no emotional draw for me. That all changed when I did some of my undergraduate work at University College, Dublin. It was then that I developed an enduring love of Ireland, its culture, its people, and its traditions. I can't really recall being in class very much - although I would show up every now and then to make sure I wasn't stricken from the student roster. Few of my friends were students; my best buddy was Mary, the girl who cooked and cleaned for the B&B where I lived. The price I paid for my room included only breakfast, and I would probably have starved if it had not been for Mary bringing me leftovers "on the sneak." (She later married an American and moved to Pennsylvania.) So, now I live in a city that goes to the extreme for St. Patrick's Day. When my children were small, I brought them downtown to see the parade. Later, as high school students, they actually marched in it representing their respective schools. Our firm had its offices along the parade route, and although we didn't work that day, we used it as command central for friends and family revelers. You can't fully appreciate a private bathroom until you need one on a big drinking day. Our office moved to suburbia last summer, and we can no longer watch the festivities from our little, sheltered perch. A shame it is, too, since it was the only way I could be dragged into any kind of participation. For the first time in 20 years, I actually know and love the Grand Marshal. He has been our parish priest for all the years I've lived here, and there isn't a more deserving fellow around. Although recently retired, he made a promise to my daughter that, when the time comes for her to get married, he would take himself out of mothballs and perform the ceremony. I would love to be in the (large and always boisterous) crowd waiving to him; but, I think I'll be watching it on television from home. He will, I am sure, forgive me (after all, he's in the forgiveness business). With all of tomorrow at my leisure, I will be certain to finish Half A Life by V.S. Naipaul. What a spectacular talent he is; the book is fabulous. I have one of his other novels, A House For Mr. Biswas, on my 2009 to be read list, and am very anxious to get to it. Well, off I go to pick up my yearly bottle of Tullamore Dew - I hear it's going to be a little nippy tomorrow - best be prepared with a little Irish Coffee.