humour Everyone is NOT Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.
Monica Heisey explains why St. Paddy’s Day “gets her Irish up.”
hoo boy, March 17: For some it’s a playground of green pints, casually racist wigs and drunken attempts at step-dancing, but for me it’s a night of long hours, bad tips and a LOT of jokes about being “like, actually 1/16th Irish on my mom’s side” or lucky because, you know, leprechauns, four-leaf clover, pot of gold, insert stereotype here.
It’s me: your red-headed bartender on St. Patrick’s Day. And, look, I get it. You’re excited to party. And why not? You work hard, you deserve a night out, and if it’s socially acceptable to get rip-roaring drunk mid-week a few select nights of the year, who am I to take that from you? I’m just a woman making minimum wage and hoping you’ll get too drunk to figure out a reasonable tip and leave a very large one instead.
HOWEVER, I am also, technically, a woman of Irish descent—a lineage that has left its mark on me in the form of very red hair and about 345 cousins across the Maritime provinces. This red hair has its perks: It provides interested gentlemen with an opening to talk about how much they like redheads, an implied kinship with Our Holy Mother of Agelessness Julianne Moore and how I look extremely good in emerald green. But every year on St. Patrick’s Day, my favourite characteristic is turned against me, as drunken frat boys and girls in sexy novelty tank tops shriek at the top of their lungs “Oy, LASSIE” and other “Irish” sayings that mostly make them sound like drunken pirates.
It’s not just the screaming, or the singing, or the insistence on drinking (see: spilling) beer spiked with the subtle flavour and chemical-y aftertaste of food colouring. Really, mostly, it’s the kissing thing. It starts immediately after opening. “Hey, Red! Kiss me, I’m Irish!” screams a man named Sergio as he lunges for my face. The fact that he’s probably not Irish is secondary to the in-your-face weirdness of it all. Last year, on St. Patrick’s Day Eve, I considered making a shirt that reads “Don’t Talk to Me or Look at Me—I’m Irish.” My boss wasn’t into it.
So, how can you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without horrifying your bartender? Aside from the obvious—tip well, be patient, say please and thank you—why not consider these festive phrases: “This beer is rich and complicated, like the history of Ireland”; “The craic in here is almost as good as the cook, and I know what ‘craic’ means because I looked it up while reading about Ireland’s current political climate”; “This potato stew has answered my prayers—well, one of my prayers; the other is for the women of Ireland to one day have safe, legal access to abortion.” When all else fails, a classic “Christ on a bike!” lends a jaunty tone to proceedings without anyone having to put his mouth on your mouth.
Try not to stress too much. If you’re not assaulting anyone, claiming you’re drinking for the love of a country that is not yours or calling the bartender “Colleen” and then laughing like you invented that joke, you’re probably fine. Enjoy a jig, make some snake puns and let your friend Colin McCormick tell a few stories about his nan. And you know what, Girl in the Sexy Novelty Tank Top? You deserve it. n