To the Point for 3/17/05

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I HATE THIS DAY. Now I’m one who normally doesn’t get too off course when one day or another rolls along, but today’s a different story.

Today (Thursday) is St. Patrick’s Day — and when your name really is Patrick, you quickly learn to hate March 17th.

Now you may not think it’s too normal to “hate” a day on the calendar. You may be right, but after 44 years of people looking at me on this one particular day of the year, I believe I’ve earned the right to at least not like it very much.

On this day everyone wears green and wanders around trying to act Irish. College students drink green beer; and others wear plastic green derbies on their heads — somehow believing that makes them look Irish.

I’ve met a lot of people from Ireland in my life, and I’ve yet to see one wearing a plastic green hat.

I have to agree that March 17th is a “happy” day for most people. It’s a day when people wear shirts that say “Kiss Me, I’m Irish!” and people actually do it. Of course everyone has to wear green on this particular day — and if you don’t people will walk up and pinch you. That’s a big part of the tradition — pinching people. The other 364 days of the year it’ll get you slugged, but on St. Patrick’s Day, people just laugh and smile and go on with their day.

If you happen to be named Patrick, as I am, you undoubtedly know that this is also a day when people get particularly frustrated when YOU aren’t wearing green. After all, since your name is Patrick, then you must be some sort of Leprechaun, all filled with the spirit of the little guy on the Lucky Charms box.

You must have special knowledge of where the pot of gold is being hidden; and you must be the biggest St. Patrick’s Day fan in the whole world.

Wrong.

I remember once when I was in elementary school my teacher thought it would be cute to make me wear this green top hat on March 17th. It came with a lovely big green construction paper shamrock safety pinned to my shirt. I was looking good.

What I remember most about that day is that when I finally got to take that hat off, I promised myself that I would become the biggest anti-St. Patrick’s Day person on the planet — and I believe that I have accomplished being just that.

I remember reading that opponents of St. Patrick used to wear orange on March 17th, so I quickly loaded my wardrobe down with orange shirts and hats, and I took great joy in explaining my own personal protest to others.

I usually got the chance to do that right after they pinched me.

For the record, St. Patrick didn’t banish all of the snakes out of Ireland. In fact, he was British. When he was 16 years old, he was taken prisoner by Irish raiders who attacked his parent’s estate. They took him back to Ireland, where he spent six years in captivity.

He turned to religion to help him cope, and in a dream one night he was told by God to get up and leave Ireland and go home. He did just that, walking nearly 200 miles to reach safety.

What happened when he got home? He said that God told him to go back to Ireland as a missionary — so he did.

There’s not much more known about him, except that he died on March 17th, 460 A.D. — and I’ve never seen a depiction of him wearing anything green.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade didn’t happen in Ireland, but rather right here in the USA. Now, the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration is held in Singapore. Japan and Russia are also among the countries that are celebrating.

Sure makes you proud.

But here I am, preparing myself for this one day of the year. It’s interesting that the most religious holiday in Ireland will be marked by free flowing liquor in this country.

I will again wear some orange today. I know that it all started as a high schooler, and now that I’m an adult I should be above such things, but I just can’t help it. In fact, when I moved here in 1984, one of the first things I noticed was that one of the high school colors was orange — so I was certainly dressed for this community.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful and safe St. Patrick’s Day today. Wear your green hats and shirts and shamrocks. Find Sean McGarvey at the middle school and kiss him (He really is Irish). Stop by Cuzz’s and say hello to Irishman John Kinman, who has ancestors over there.

As for me, hopefully the day will pass quietly. I trace my heritage back to Ohio, so when they have a “Buckeye Day” I’ll get all dressed up in scarlet and gray and do the Buckeye dance. You know what buckeyes are, don’t you?

They’re useless nuts with no commercial value. Sort of sums up my family tree right there.

But I am not Irish, so don’t expect me to wear a funny green hat or call you a “lad” or a “lassie” today. Yes, I have an Irish name, but that’s as far as it goes.

Just don’t pinch me.