I’ve been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day since high school. It’s the day one of my closest and oldest friends freed herself from her mother’s oppressive body, and she now owns a multitude of useless gifts covered in shamrocks and leprechauns to mark the occasion. My mother-in-law also shares this birthday, so I have a multitude of reasons to celebrate. (P.S. Happy Birthday El and Maman!) But it wasn’t until I got to college that I realized the impact of this holiday.
The first time St. Pat’s snuck up on me was back in 2003. I was sleepily arriving at my day job, I was a web programmer back in those days, and expected another day of coding and testing, nothing more. The lampposts were still lit in the dim, early morning light and nary could a noise be heard. It was just your average, monotonous, achingly boring Monday. Or so I thought.
Then something caught my eye as I turned the key of the office door. I looked over my right shoulder just in time to watch a three-hundred-pound man across the street vomit (loudly) into a garbage can. Nothing like a good whiff of puke to get you off and running in the morning.
I scrambled inside, half horrified, half afraid, half grossed-out (yes, I know that makes three halves—I was very distraught, you see). I bolted the door and watched through the blinds as the mystery hurler spewed several more liters before being carried away by two other intoxicated buddies.
Little did I know, this was a common occurrence in my college town. Saint Patrick’s was not just a day to celebrate the British Priest who taught the Irish about the holy trinity, nor to recognize the injustices suffered by Irish immigrants in America during colonial times. (What? Even I read Wikipedia sometimes). In Wisconsin, Saint Patrick’s Day was to celebrate the holy addition of GREEN BEER, stupid little top hats and “Kiss me I’m Irish” t-shirts to our lives, and praise their jovial ways.
The inebriated rendezvous begin at dawn. College students take off from work, or skip class, to get as drunk as possible as soon as possible. Homework can wait; they’ve got a six-pack to pound.
‘Tis not so here. Everyone is sober. It feels wrong for a country full of French people to be missing a prime opportunity to uncork. I’m missing my birthday-girl in the states, and the drunken crowds in the streets this Wednesday. I took the simple charm of drunk college kids for granted when it was just a part of my day. Au revoir, green dyed beer. Adieu Patty-Parties and lime jello shots. You shall be missed.