Quick, without Googling it, what does “slainte” mean?
If you don’t know, stay home on St. Patrick’s Day next month.
Well, I guess you can go to church if you’re celebrating it as a Catholic holiday.
But if you’re planning to hop on the “Irish Pride” bandwagon, please stop cluttering Spring Garden Street with empty beer cans and discarded shamrock novelty hats.
It’s tiring, is what I’m saying.
Every year I’m forced to stay home on March 17 because I don’t feel like getting drooled on by some lightweight Coors Lite drinker who won’t stop talking about what a “proud Irish-American” he is.
Like I’m supposed to be giving high-fives to strangers because they’re three-quarters Irish.
Except, I like high-fiving strangers. I do it all the time.
I just don’t need them to be Irish as a prerequisite.
Every Wednesday night at JR’s Saloon (at the corner of Aramingo and Norris in Fishtown), I get to meet interesting people who I can relate to on a human level, without spouting nonsense ethnic trivia.
I have absolutely no clue about the backwater Irish boondocks my humble immigrant great-grandparents came from, and even if I did, I wouldn’t care if your ancestors hailed from the same town because you’re boring me, you can’t hold your liquor, and you keep spilling your beer on me.
If you stop doing that, maybe we can hang out.
This may be a bold statement, but I think that ethnic and racial pride is a conversational tool for people who have nothing to say.
You’re afraid to just be yourself, so you’re going to drone on and on about why you’re so proud to be Irish (or Italian or African-American or whatever) and lump yourself into that group.
Me, I prefer cool and interesting individuals over groups of “proud” people.
Individuals are easier to get along with.
They also don’t paint their faces green and force me to drink at home every March 17.
Mind you, I’m not knocking people who are happy to be Irish. To paraphrase George Carlin: Being happy about your ethnicity is one thing, but pride is annoying. Pride should be reserved for things you accomplish.
You didn’t accomplish anything by being Irish.
C’mon man, you’re more interesting than that. Tell me about how you played in a band when you were in high school, or the time you talked that really hot girl into giving you her number.
Or tell me how you studied the history of Irish-Americans, specifically how the Ancient Order of Hibernians protected Irish immigrants from an xenophobic American government back in the 19th century.
Now those are accomplishments, and they make for far more interesting conversation than how proud we should be that our ancestors suffered potato famines together.
I’m fully aware that lots of St. Patty’s Day drinkers are just out there for a good time.
It’s like a socially sanctioned day to party.
I get that.
But what kind of weak-spirited person needs permission to go out and have a good time? If you love St. Patty’s Day because you get to drink in the morning and traipse through the Northeast on a Shamrock Shuttle, why not just rent a bus with your buddies and head up to Cottman Avenue on your day off?
The coolest individuals I know don’t need permission to have fun. They’re at JR’s (at 2663 E. Norris St.), Bonk’s (at 3467 Richmond St.), and Green Rock Tavern (at 2546 E. Lehigh Ave.) any given night of the week, having exponentially more fun than the Patty’s Day crowd — and none of them are wearing leprechaun costumes.
Following the crowd and slapping a label on yourself isn’t a virtue. Mostly it’s just boring, and that’s my point.
If you’re honestly really that happy to be Irish, then good for you. Hang shamrocks in your windows all year and create a Web site so you can write about your admiration for the Molly Maguires.
Just as long as you’re being yourself.
Because that’s being who you are.
Oh … and “slainte” literally translates to “health.” ••
“Riverward Rants” reflects the opinions of Joe Quigley, a Fishtown resident, area native and writer of the Web site PhillyNeighbor.com, where he makes cynical (and uncensored) comments about life in the riverwards. He can be reached at JQuig1984@gmail.com