on gold, rainbows and other heavy things


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I awoke on the morning of the second St. Patrick’s day I did’t care about feeling less than rested. I played video games for three hours after losing Trivia the night before. I stayed up until one in the morning. That’s late for me.

I stayed up until St. Patrick’s day.

As we were leaving, the quiz master told us that St. Patrick’s day started in two hours and that happy hour lasted until midnight. I looked around. The bar was quickly filling up with people I don’t want to be around. People who call it “going out” rather than “I want beer.” People who wear a lot of makeup or product in their hair. People who wear tight shirts to show off their muscles. The party crowd.

They were loud and obnoxious, sort of like howler monkeys that had been drinking.

Seth Green was there, too. He wore a millennium falcon T-shirt and played pool with some of his friends. The pool table is exactly in the middle of the seating area, so we all had to watch him while we played trivia. If he came to the valley seeking anonymity, he picked the wrong bar.

But that’s besides the point.

The party crowd was there and I drove myself and I was monstrously broke so I decided not to drink anymore.

So I left.

That night… I just had a hard time caring about St. Patrick’s day.

When I was a kid I would have to wear green or people would pinch me. It got to the point, probably in middle school or later, where no one even really enjoyed the pinching anymore. It was just a thing that you do, like eating a turkey or thanksgiving or stoning a woman to death when she doesn’t marry her rapist. We didn’t necessarily like pinching the same kids (for it was always the same forgetful fools who didn’t wear green) but it had to be done. If not us, then who?

In college, St. Patrick’s day was fun, because drinking was new and exciting and I had a favorite bar r. It was called the J. Clyde, and it had over 50 craft beer on tap. We brought my friend’s roommate there once. He was a hulking defensive lineman on the football team and when he ordered a bud light they laughed at him.

We got a beer for him before he began any manual tracheotomies with nothing but his bare hands and blinding, white rage.

St. Patrick’s Day in grad school was great because the first one was in London. We stood out in the rain in Trafalgar and bought Guinness for ten pounds an eight ounce cup. No one had any fun except me.

But here in LA…

I use Irish Spring soap because I like Irish things.

Wait, that’s not true. It’s not Irish.

I use Irish springs because I like things that make me think about Ireland, a place I’ve never been but know everything about.

Wait, that’s not true either.I know nothing about Ireland, really.

I use Irish Springs because it’s cheap. You can get twelve bars for like four dollars, even in LA.

Every now and then your skin needs something less abrasive, though. So a few weeks ago I went to Target to buy some nice soap.

They had a whole aisle for soap. A two whole rows for lotion. A fucking section for shampoo.

I just wanted less itchy soap. But here was shea butter. Over there was a soap that would apparently make me smell like a wolf. This one would make me smell like the islands of Fiji. Red, black ,blue, green and every color in between was here. Bottles and bars and everything.

It was too much and don’t even get me started on the fucking shampoo.

I just bought some more Irish Springs because it’s cheap and familiar.

The Los Angeles bar scene is like that. Every god damn street corner has the best St. Patrick’s day celebration you’ve ever heard of. They all have better deals than everyone else. They’re everywhere.

That’s not why I’m less enthusiastic than normal this year, though.

It’s mostly because I work until 11 tonight, and then do it again tomorrow.

No… not quite.

It’s because I’m working on three different writing projects at once right now, and they all actually seem to be going somewhere.

No? Maybe.

No. I think what killed it for me was the quiz master.

I told my friend later that night that the thing about famous people is that you’re used to staring at them. You stare at them on the internet, on movie and TV screens, on billboards and posters. All you do is stare at them. You’re conditioned to do it, not in an insidious way, but simply because it’s what you do.

So I was staring at Seth Green when the the quiz master said St. Patrick’s day started in two hours. He was sitting right behind Seth. I had a good view of him. He had a smile on his face and held his arms out wide for the inevitable cheer from the party crowd.

He had a smile on his face but his eyes…

His eyes were dead.

His eyes were dead and the way he said those words, that familiar phrase he must have said a dozen times before, the tone was so practiced and rehearsed, so buried in years of the same thing and same old whatever that it sounded like a cry for help.

He said some joke and everyone laughed, but I just stared at him. I know the quiz master. He’s from Michigan. He’s thirty and he works as a quiz master for his only job and there’s a sadness behind his eyes when he tells party goers that there will be an even bigger party tomorrow night because, frankly, I don’t think he cares, even though he’s Irish.

Hell, if the bar doesn’t care…

So I woke up on the second St. Patrick’s day in a row I didn’t care about and I went downstairs and I got the coffee going and I ate a cookie I made the night before and I thought about what I would make for breakfast. I decided on toast with avocado.

Then I thought about the coming night.

I decided that I’ll just listen to the Cranberries and have a little whiskey. It’s scotch, but I don’t think the spirits will care too much.

The spirits I’m referring to are leprechauns… or maybe the things in my liquor cabinet.

So let’s talk about rainbows.

They aren’t real, you know. Just light refracted through rain drops. There’s no reason to get excited about them, except…

Except there’s something magic about the mundane being made different for no reason. Where once was grey is now color.

There’s one now.

Watch it through the rain-streaked window in your mom’s suburban (it’s the early 2000’s so suburbans are still cool). See how it travels parallel to the car, only not quite as fast.

Touch the glass. You can almost feel it, can’t you?

“Rainbow!” You shout, and your Mom and Dad and Sister turn and look for it like it’s going to save the world.

You could have caused a wreck but fuck it, there’s a rainbow.

“I see it! There it is!” They shout, and you know their excitement is genuine.

Mom turns her eyes back to the road, but you just stare at it and wonder about the future.

Something itches at the back of your skull and you wonder if, not the first time, there’s a pot of gold at the end.

I mean, come on, you know it’s just light refraction in water drops, right? It’s just refracted light and the cranberries are on the radio and your driving home and the world has that clean scent after rain and there’s a rainbow and you know it’s just light but maybe…

Maybe the legends are true. Maybe it’s different this time.

And you know what?

It’s the maybe that’s the best part.

It’s better than going out and finding that gold.

It’s probably better than if there was even any gold there at all.

So let’s talk about St. Patrick’s day.

Do I like St. Patrick’s day?

Yeah, I like St. Patrick’s day.

I’m just not going out this year because I don’t need to because I know that’s not the best part of the rainbow.

Maybe it is for you, but it’s not for me.

So here’s what I’ll do:

I’ll put on the cranberries and sit back in my chair and sip on some Glenlivet and think about a cold London day when I stood in the rain, or about playing beer pong outside in Tallahassee right after a storm, or about pinching that one girl more than anyone else because you hope maybe this time she’ll turn around and kiss you.

It doesn’t work like that, by the way.

And that’ll be enough St. Patrick’s day for me.

Oh, and here’s an old post about leprechauns I wrote in London.

Cheers!

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The day when we all get to be Irish, and some leprechauns show up too.


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St Patrick’s day is a day when everyone can pretend that they’re Irish, and no one, except maybe real Irish people, will correct you.  Like me, for instance: I’m part Irish.  Barely, true, but barely still counts.  It’s St. Patrick’s day and I have the right to, when asked if I’m Irish, harken back to that distant and far removed ancestor and respond, “why yes of course… um… me lass… I be Irish!  Now who wants a pint of Guinness?”  And then we’d all cheer and sing whisky in the jar or something, and the party goes on.

But ever since last St. Patrick’s day, I’ve been a bit afraid of claiming to be Irish.  Afraid that I’ll be caught.  It’s the Leprechauns, you see.  They  monitor these things, making sure that no one other than true Irish people claim to be Irish on St. Patrick’s day.  Before I learned this, I had always wondered what use Leprechauns were, other than terrifying Jennifer Anniston, though not quite enough it seems, (to death being the implication here).

Warwick Davis is the man.

Clearly, it didn’t.

Leprechauns are wee folk with fairy magic, at least at the most basic description.  If one were to apply to fill a vacant leprechaun position, the conversation would proceed as follows:

“Are yeh wee?” The interviewer would ask.  He could have just looked to see.  One wonders why he need ask, but that’s the way these sorts of things go sometimes.  It’s all about the protocol.

“Oh, aye.” Responds the applicant, which is generally considered to be the most correct answer.

“And have yeh the fairy magics?”

“Oh aye.  That I do.”

“Loverly.  Yer hired.”

What leprechauns actually do has very little to do with being wee or being able to wield the fairy magics.  Leprechauns are tasked with keeping Ireland green,  like a glittering emerald, and magic, like a magical emerald.  There’s a special division for rainbow production and installation as well, but we won’t get into that right now.

You think Ireland looks like that on it's own?  No, what you see here my friend is centuries of hard leprechaun work.

You think Ireland looks like that on it’s own? No, what you see here my friend is centuries of hard leprechaun work.

The leprechauns have one other task, however, that dwarfs (forgive the pun) all their other duties: to ferret out the fakes, liars, and would be Irishmen on St. Patrick’s day, and humiliate them in front of their friends.

It was an encounter with one performing it’s primary task that, as I hinted before, was nearly my undoing last year.  I was at McCabes Irish pub, down on 5th avenue in Naples, Florida, enjoying a $6 glass of Yeungling with some a of newest and bestest friends I’d ever met (their names escape me now, but I’m relatively sure they all had one) when the question was raised as to whether or not I was Irish.

mccabe's

Now, I have a rather good Irish accent (or at least that’s what I’m told) which, like all Irish accents, is increased both in quality and volume with every alcoholic beverage imbibed.  The current tally was 5, so my confidence in my Irish speaking ability was great indeed.

I had been regailing my new comrades with tales of the homeland: of helping St. Patrick chase away all the bloody snakes, of finding so many pots of gold at the end of rainbows, for rainbows are plentiful on the emerald Isle, that I just started throwing them away,  of screeching contests with banshees and Father Ted TV marathons.  They were entranced, and I was having a blast, that is until I felt a gentle but firm tap on my buttocks.

I spun around, fists up and out in traditional Irish fighting form, ready to give the buttocks tapper the old one two, or, if she were a lady, the old wink and smile, but there was no one there.  I turned back to my friends, who must have assumed that spinning around to fight ghosts was just some Irish idiosyncrasy that they were hitherto unaware of (on nights of heavy drinking it often is), and thought nothing of it, other than to give me a rousing cheer.

I went for a bow, and was touched on the buttocks yet again.  I spun around in the same way.

“Alright, yeh livrey bastard, time for me to give yeh what for!”  I shrieked, but yet again, there was no one there.  I looked left.  I looked right.  I looked up.  I looked down.

There stood a leprechaun.  He was wearing a little green suit with a shamrock in his pocket and a green bowler hat, and looked very cross.  He smiled a wolfish grin.

“Hello sir, me names Bleary and I’m—“

“Christ, lads, it’s a real leprechaun!”  I shouted, pointing at it in awe.  I started jumping from foot to foot and giggling.  Everyone at the pub gathered ‘round to gaze at the spectacle.  The Leprechaun shifted his feet, uncomfortable.

“I’m—“

“What’re yeh here for, little fellah?” I asked, like a mom to a child of 6.  He bristled at this and looked me dead in the eye.  God, those eyes!  They looked like gold doubloons!

“I’m here to see if yer really irish.”  He said matter of factly.

“Me?  Irish?  ‘Course I’m Irirsh!  What’s me shirt say?”

“Kiss me, I’m irish, but—“

“’Course it does!” I interrupted.  He scowled.

“But shirts can say any number of things.  Look at that lads!”  The leprechaun pointed to a fat, white man who was wearing a shirt that read “I’m the President”.

“My god…”  I whispered to the leprechaun, “Is that Barack Obama over there, d’yah think?”

“I—what?  No!  ‘Course not!  Are ye daft?” his question went unanswered though, because I had gone over to the fat man and was taking a photo with him.  The leprechaun stared in gawping silence as I snapped the photo and came back over.

“The lads back in Dublin are never gonna believe I met the President of the US of A!”

“Stop it!”  He shouted, stamping his little foot, which jingled.  “You’re not from Dublin and you’re sure as hell not Irish!  You’re just a drunk idiot from Florida!”

“Bah, Florida?  Have you seen his shirt?  It says—“ one of my new friends began before the leprechaun pointed his finger at him and ZAP, turned him into a cask of guinness.

“Sweet St. Patrick!” I gasped, staring at the cask.  “Free beer!”  The Leprechaun face palmed as we swarmed the cask and I passed out drinks.  I felt a bit bad for drinking that guy, but judging from what I’d learned about him in the past two hours, it’s what he would have wanted.

Poor... um... you.

Pour guy…

“Three cheers for our emerald homeland, lads and lassies!  Hip Hip!”

“NO!”  Roared the leprechaun, and the shout filled up the whole pub, shaking the windows and worrying he owner.  Some glasses fell off the shelves.  “Yer not Irish!  None of yah!  Yer just a bunch of drunken fools playin’ at bein’ Irish!  You don’t know the first thing, the first damn thing about what it is to be from Ireland.”   He paused and pointed at a man wearing a Bruins shirt. “Except for you.  You’re actually Irirsh.”  The bruins guy gave a fist pump and cheer, finished his glass, and ordered another.  “Now,” he said, returning to the task at hand, “will yeh stop, or do I have to turn you all into guiness?

The party was dead silent.  Even the band had stopped playing.  The leprechaun glared at us.  No one said a word, except for me.  I think it was the Guinness, but I was feeling particularly brave, like Willow, or Frodo Baggins, or Peter Dinklage, even.

“Why does it matter?” I asked.

“What?”

“Why does it matter if we aren’t Irish?”

“Because you all just want to be Irish on St Patrick’s day, and then it’s back to normal tomorrow!  It’s disrespectful.”

“Not really.  You should feel honored.  I don’t know any other country that has a day when the whole world wants to be them.  It’s a compliment.”

“Yeah!”  Someone else said.  “Ireland’s cool!”

“Here here!”

“Hoorah!”  The bar shouted.  Everyone at the bar started throwing their two cents in, and I could see we were getting through to the Leprechaun.  He was visibly softening.

“So will you have a pint of…” I looked at the cask.

“Jerry!” someone shouted.

“Will yeh have a pint of Jerry with us, and forget yer sorrows till the morrow?  Me lad?”

The leprechaun looked at each of us, scowling, until his eyes finally came to rest me.  And then he smiled.

“Yeh had me at jerry.”  He said with a wink.  To this day I’m not quite sure what he meant by that, but whatever, I was 7 beers deep and thinking wasn’t high on my list of priorities at the time.  We all cheered and the music started back up (whisky in the jar again ,I think).  The Leprechaun grabbed a pint of Jerry, and smashed it against mine.  My mug broke, and cut my hand quite badly, but it was St. Patrick’s Day, and a bloody and ruined hand was a small price to pay for getting to be Irish, even if it was just for a night.

*****

Author’s note: Thanks for reading.  Hope you liked it and I hope you have a great St. Patrick’s day, wherever you are.  I wanted to take time at the end of this post to thank Melissa K. Martin for giving me the “very inspiring blogger award”.  I’ll get around to doing the required things at some point, but it was a lovely gesture.  Happy St. Patrick’s day!

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