On March 17, millions of people take the piss out of Ireland by taking the piss and every other bodily fluid out of themselves, as publicly as possible. The Irish don't celebrate Independence Day by guzzling hamburgers until we throw up over crates of machine guns, and even if we did it would be more respectful. Because at least we imported those things from the U.S. For a country so worked up about immigrants a lot of Americans are absolutely desperate to claim any other nationality. Every St. Patrick's Day drunken North Americans stagger up to tell me their great-grandmother was Irish, and I say great, if she turns up I'll buy her a pint.
And she'll be as flattered by my next offer as you'll be upset.
No one wants to be Irish on Economy Day or Finding A Job Day. Not even the Irish, which is why mass emigration has been our default crisis response since boats were invented. But come Drinking Day suddenly everyone's begorring their leprechauns and generally proving they're as Irish as a really good point guard. So here's your guide to being a terrible fake-Irish person on St. Patrick's Day.
Due to a growth hormone deficiency leprechaun-droppings are small and shiny.
Feel free to punch anyone wearing one of these. I can guarantee they've already done something to deserve it. This T-shirt is the humor equivalent of an ankle tracking bracelet -- the wearer might not have done anything to you yet, but you probably shouldn't give them the chance. It's less a joke than an announcement of "If you initiate what's coming next it won't count as sexual assault."
My culture's special skill is subdividing pathetically tiny areas into even tinier ones and then getting stupid and violent about it. As a result, our island has more accents per square mile than the United Nations building. We have more blatantly ridiculous dialects than most science-fiction universes. Actual Irish people don't need to advertise their Irishness for the same reason Pavarotti didn't need to wear a name tag -- as soon as we open our mouths people can't understand a damn thing we're saying but love the sound anyway.
Every time someone calls it "Patty's" they prove they can't get through 24 hours without thinking of hamburgers. Paddy is short for Padraig (even though the d is silent in some dialects). Pat is short for Patrick, which is an English name. You might be aware of a slight history between the two countries. It still sort of works, but it would be like calling Independence Day "Super Happy Funtime Discount Fireworking Celebration!" You get the idea, but you're still naming one nation's celebration based on the language practices of a different nation with a history of causing your compatriots to be blown up by small, badly made explosives.
Every year thousands of Americans pretend to be Irish about as convincingly as Greeks pretending to be a horse: it's obvious, it's stupid and anyone falling for it will be very sorry in the morning. The most hilarious method is wearing an Irish flag as a cape. I see this every year and you could only advertise your Americanity harder by being sworn in as president. This might be a shock, United States, but most countries don't use their flag as a hybrid of wallpaper and glitter. We don't feel the need to plaster it over every available surface because patriotism isn't measured by the square meter. In fact, if anyone has a
This man has the most patriotic pit stains in history.
Unless you're strength incarnate and can list "punching Nazis" on your tax return, wearing your flag is hugely disrespectful. Respecting flags is important because it shows we're
"Without these little portable flags, we've found people forget and start being patriotic about TV channels and soft drinks."
One thing Irish and American people have in common is why we don't speak our native language: a load of foreigners turned up and it turns out English speakers are just the best at killing natives.
This'll teach those blighters not to be born on an island off the coast of France!
Trying to show off with a cupla focail (few words) works as well in Irish as it does in any language, in that it doesn't. People who don't know the language don't care, and people who just met you don't either. It's like the asshole who insists on loudly ordering sushi by treating Japanese with all the volume, subtlety and careful respect of a tectonic fault. While the waiter thinks "I grew up in Brooklyn, asshole, and even if I didn't maybe working in a Manhattan restaurant means I know English."
"So that's four orders of ball-touched sushi with spit on the side, got it."
Actually knowing other languages is good, but claiming credit for stumbling through a few words is the most patronizing thing you can do to another culture since the Queen stopped deciding she wanted to own them.
It doesn't help that Irish is deader than Romero villains. It's more useful to learn Latin because at least some important books were written in that. Gaeilge sounds like a drunken Klingon coughing up a hairball, and if you want to be Irish and unintelligible we sell far better products.
And this way you're helping our economy!
March 17 is the first example of national Stockholm Syndrome. The Irish celebrate an Englishman taking our entire culture hostage and shooting it full of Catholicism. Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders -- the first and only time Ireland has ever been on the traveling side of "Go to an island and fuck things up for people" equation -- and literally holy crap did that not work out for us. Patrick escaped, returned to England and spent years training for his revenge. Because he was born before automatic weapons or bat-costumes were invented, he returned armed with the power of religion, and did far more damage. For which I would personally like to thank him. A culture conditioned by over a millennium of Catholic guilt to think of sex and masturbation as sins is a great place to go through puberty, asshole.
We must hide our deviant shame from God!
A near-terminal case of not separating church from state is why trilobites still have more progressive sexual health laws than us. The government's attitude to reproductive rights is "The more the merrier, and instead of rights we mean unwanted pregnancies!" St. Patrick is also credited with driving the snakes out of Ireland, which is like driving the velociraptors out of a basketball court -- pretty easy since there weren't any, and if there had been you just made things way less kickass. Removing an entire ecological sub-order makes him the first Eco-terrorist. In fact, yanking out entire chunks of the ecosystem usually results in unexpected disasters. Let's see, removing snakes would make Ireland incredibly vulnerable to anything coming from small rodents, like rats. Oh, son of a
So do we file the Black Death under "mysterious ways" first or just die right now?
St. Patrick's Day turns whole cities into the Mexican border -- people pretending to be a different nationality because they think it'll improve their lives, and a big part of the problem comes from arbitrary borders. The dumbest way of claiming Emerald Islishness is singing rebel songs and hating the English. Which is not only stupid, but embarrassing, because we lost every conflict we ever had with those guys. They went on to conquer half the globe, and we started right next to them with a smaller population, fewer resources and inferior technology. We weren't even a victory in their game of global domination, we were the tutorial level.
Press WEST to practice the controls for subjugating a nation.
We didn't so much fight them off as cease being worth the trouble. Our most famous battle was when a pack of gobshites, mounting a guerrilla campaign against the mightiest naval power in the world, decided to gather in the one government building within range of battleships on the river and declare "Here we are!"
Resulting in explosively accelerated natural selection.
I grew up next to the border back during the Troubles, pretty much the exemplar of how a conflict doesn't necessarily have any good guys, and the only terrorist activity to sound like you ate a bad burrito the night before. I can confirm that the more someone thinks the conflict was righteous:
A) The further they lived from the actual conflict;
B) The further their brain is from being not retarded.
Sane people operate by the idea that "once everyone involved in the original conflict is dead maybe it's time to let it go." Most people in Northern Ireland were born there -- there are fewer English invaders in the six counties than in New York.
Every year the world celebrates the stereotype of drunken Irish by staggering and throwing up over everything from midday onwards, and that's the only thing we mind -- you're making us look like lightweights. Drinking is our greatest national stereotype, sport and about seven-eighths of my work ethic (I'm a workaholic -- I work to pay for drink. Though for writers that's not really a nationality issue). You can't mince around all year then suddenly decide you're Paddy Bushmill. The U.S. defines "binge drinking" as five drinks in two hours. I've had more alcoholic breakfasts.
People get all interventiony when I describe the Screwdriver as a "breakfast cocktail."
Drinking is a lot of fun, and getting good and pissed can be a brilliant journey of self-discovery. But if you have to drink far more than you actually can, and you never have to because that's stupid, don't choose the one day you'll be just another vomit-spewing idiot in the worst Irish flag in the world (green clothes around extremely white people spewing chunks of orange). An amateur drunk is like an astronaut: boldly exploring an amazing new world of possibility, but you need a support crew of experienced and relatively sober people to make sure you get back home again.
Green beer is how you color-code the real idiots in a room where everyone's too pissed to speak. We don't know who came up this abomination, but since it adds an extra step between "farming" and "beer" we're sure it wasn't us. Those are our specialist subjects. We have breweries older than the North American countries, and I assure you, if anything in beer was meant to be green we'd keep it in there all year round. Green beer is flypaper for tourists and wannabes -- horrible chemicals used to keep the pests busy. You're meant to order beer by name, or style. When you're ordering it by favorite color you've either had too much already or can't spare enough brain cells to start drinking in the first place.
The beer is still the stupidest looking part of this picture.
Then there's the basic capitalist factor. If you're running a pub, bracing for the roaring crowd of wannabes whose puke you'll be mopping tonight, knowing they'll drink 10 of anything green, do you add food dye to the good stuff? Or do you color the spoiled, expired or otherwise dodgy kegs? They're going to drink 15 pints and feel like crap anyway -- this is the one day they'll consider vomiting out their own colon to be normal. Whether you want to part of a group like that is up to you.
It's kryptonite: stupidly contrived and makes a wonderful thing suck.
St. Patrick's is about drinking with friends. If you need or even want more than that, I honestly can't help you.
For more from Luke, check out The 7 Worst Lessons 80s Cartoons Taught Us about Drugs and The 6 Most Badass Stunts Ever Pulled in the Name of Science.