Happy St Patrick’s Day, if that’s a thing that makes you happy. It’s been years since I went out to celebrate. I used to love it back in university, but most of my post uni celebrations have fizzled. I’ve got no connection to any Irish heritage. I like the colour green and enjoy celebrating things, but that’s about it. St Paddy’s in my head has kind of become synonymous with a certain brand of douchedom, long lines, aggressive loudness and bizarre acculturation. U2, The Cranberries and oddly enough in some cases, The Proclaimers, on repeat all day. Conversely, I enjoy an excuse for a few pints of Guinness and rarely make them outside of the holiday. I’m sure it’d be painful after having had legit delicious Guinness in Belfast (people telling you it’s better closer to the source are 100% correct), but sometimes it’s nice to have your beer more closely resemble a thickshake.
I’m going out with co-workers today. Our team at the moment is actually a pretty decent group. They’re outgoing and friendly and there’s some value in spending together outside work hours for a more cohesive work atmosphere. It happens that a day where drinking is celebrated is a good way to get them enthused with the idea. Given my team, douchedom should be thankfully absent and it could be a fun outing.
Back in my early 20s, I felt like drinking was a part of my identity. That’s a terrifying concept to me now, but I was a lot younger back then. If not only physically, then definitely emotionally. It’s a thing that I do, but by no means does that consumption define me now. Gross. At that age, it represented a kind of community. Fellow BCS students would come out together and get to know one another. The openness it encouraged helped solidify friendships. It was an essential part of my time as a student (no doubt buoyed by New Zealand’s rampant binge drinking culture. Definitely not something to celebrate).
I can remember the first time I went out for St Paddy’s being a nigh magical experience. A couple of us had finished lectures by 11am, so we went out for a jug. Everyone we met was uncommonly friendly, so we got another. Then strangers told us about a couple of other bars that were hosting festivities, so we went along. The Fiddler had Irish tunes going strong and a bunch of middle aged folks getting ripped. It was a blast. Then out of nowhere, a little person dressed as a leprechaun descended on a platform from the floor above. It was a major WTF moment for us that seemed to be taking advantage of this dude. We chatted with him afterwards, said he loved it. That the owner was a nice dude and he was getting paid pretty handsomely for the gig. He was training to be a vet, so any extra cash was well appreciated. He was working the whole night, so he couldn’t come out with us, but we picked up other strangers to join our motley crew.
It was crazy, processions of people roaming the streets dressed in green. It may have been the boozy haze glossing over things, but I remember everyone being in great spirits. Friendly randoms giving out free drinks (SO welcome to our poor student budgets) and smiling faces wherever we went. It felt like people made time and space to get to know us (for the night at least, I’m sure the next morning would’ve felt like Memento). Good natured partying all around.
I think every year since then has failed to live up to that first time, which is why I laid the idea to rest a couple of years back. It seemed unnecessary, gratuitous. Who knows though? Maybe it’s a matter of attitude, choosing the right things to celebrate. If we can sidestep the less desirable acculturation elements, could we have a good time just celebrating camaraderie?