Northeast Times

I’m staying home on St. Patty’s Day (You should too)

River­ward Rant - Colum­nist Joe Quigley ex­plains why St. Patrick's Day - a com­mon hol­i­day for cel­eb­rat­ing with al­co­hol - is a day he'd rather spend at home.

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

comments powered by Disqus