Friday, March 15, 2013

A Wee Bit Irish

I used to walk with my baby nephew, Patrick, in my arms and sing:

Oh, Patrick B
You should be a little Irish lad
You should dance with pretty Irish lassies
Oh, Patrick B!
He always smiled for me, the sweet boy. He must have been dreaming about the pretty Irish lassies. At any rate the day I took him for a school picture with his preschooler brother, he wouldn't smile at all despite our energetic efforts. I thought about singing the song but chickened out in front of the teachers and photographers. Later my big sis, I remember, was irritated with me for not doing it, because her baby Patrick looked grumpy or bored in all the sibling photos.
My nephew's first name pays homage to his bit of Irish heritage, and his middle name is the decidedly Irish surname of my great-grandfather on my dad's side, my grandmother's maiden name. I hope Patrick dances with Irish lassies on this St. Patrick's day, if his parents allow, because in theory the boy's more Irish than any of the rest of us.
Now, my nephew will thank me to stop embarrassing him, so I'll tell you my plans for the weekend: throw a St Patrick's Day party...on Saturday, the 16th of March. Sunday is my lazy day; I'll toast St. Patrick in my pajamas and reminisce about how all my friends got tipsy at my party the day before (just kidding, you guys.....Not! Hahahaahahahahaha! No, seriously - I'm kidding) Of course, my friends might need that Guinness to drown the taste of the Corned Beef and Cabbage and the Creamy Potatoes and the Irish Soda Bread I'm serving, none of which I have ever made before. Should be an interesting gathering. I have a CD of bagpipe music to inspire them all to get up and do a jig, bellies stuffed with corned beef and Guinness, or else to drive them absolutely batty.
And now my friends will thank me to stop embarrassing them. There's only one more person left: me. And that reminds me of the best St. Patrick's Day party I have ever been to.
It was thrown by a few Catholic parishes in San Antonio. They pitched in to rent a large space for a bring your own beer and food affair. I was not at that time a lover of beer, but my husband had brought along some Woodchuck Apple Cider, a sweeter "feminine" beer for me. That was a mistake. We had only been married several months; he didn't yet know what a light weight I was with alcohol.
We sat at long rectangular tables and watched the band tune up, and then our very own priest, Father O'Gorman, got up and greeted everyone and began to sing some traditional Irish songs. He had a fine voice. Of course, we were none of us surprised. Every year on Mother's Day, he asked all the mothers to stand up during Mass, handed out carnations, and in a strong baritone he sang them a beautiful Irish song about somebody's old Irish mother that made them cry.
The dancing started, and several nuns got up to join in the crazy spins and kicks and wild linking of the arms. Never the great dancer but not afraid to be thought a fool, I did my best with unknown material while some middle-aged women stole my husband and spun him around so fast that he looked a little sea-sick when he returned to me.
During the breaks I was sipping on that spiked apple cider and not eating enough to make a difference. Halfway through the cider I, a lightweight, was feeling pretty good and making eyes at my husband. By the end of the first bottle, I was periodically draping myself across his shoulders and nuzzling his cheek while whispering sweet nothings. My man, not a lover of PDAs, patiently removed my arm again and again, glancing at all our fellow parishioners. Part way through the second bottle, I was smacking my lips by his face and attempting to nibble his ear - at which point he removed the beer from my reach. But then the middle-aged ladies were back for an encore dance, and I got myself a new Woodchuck Apple Cider when he wasn't looking. When he reappeared I was just as lovey-dovey as ever. Fortunately, another group dance was beginning; he pulled me to my feet, and I had to sober up and de-romance in order to keep time with the steps.
Oh, it was a grand time! And it taught my husband something he won't ever forget: never give his wife beer at the multi-parish St. Patrick's Day celebration. When tipsy, I'm not one of the fighting Irish. I'm the amorous kind.
In conclusion of this post, I wish to say that whether your name is Patrick or Hillary or Jose or O'Connor or Smith or Green or anything in between, I hope you too will celebrate all things Irish this weekend with good friends, good beer, and good designated drivers. We're all a wee bit Irish at heart, so from my family to yours:
Happy St Patrick's Day, ye lads and lasses!

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