St. Patrick’s Day is here again. I am not overly excited. By way of background, understand that I’m not even a little bit Irish. So truthfully I have never felt much more than a twinge for St. Patrick’s Day, if you don’t count the one year in Junior High when I dressed entirely in green to try to impress a crush object of Irish descent. (Apparently this did not sufficiently compensate for my lack of breasts.) I’m sure I enjoyed the holiday in college, when I was probably happy to have another excuse to drink beer. Which brings me to my point.
St. Patrick’s Day is a joyous, celebratory holiday involving kid-friendly things like leprechauns and four leaf clovers. It also, for better or for worse, seems to involve a great deal of drinking. I live in New York City, where there is a large Irish population, and a lot of people who are happy to drink with the Irish population. St. Patrick’s Day in New York generally seems to involve either drinking or dodging drunk people. Which was all fine when I was just an independent adult choosing not to inebriate myself at this particular time.
But now, I’ve got kids. Kids who ask questions. Questions like, Mom, Why is that guy throwing up on the sidewalk?
Look, we’ve all been there. But maybe not with such intensely chartreuse vomit. And maybe not quite so close to school pick up time.
This is not the first time I’ve had to explain the dangers of over-drinking to my kids. (That honor goes to the story of what happened to Keith Moon and Jimi Hendrix). But it might be the first time they see a publicly blotto person in the flesh. When you’re a kid, seeing drunk grown ups is scary. Adults are supposed to be in control. If the people who are supposedly in charge are falling all over each other on the street, the very order of the universe can seem precarious. (Not that it isn’t, but it’s important to try to keep the myth alive…for the children).
Who knows. To a kids’ eyes, the city may just appear to be full of jolly green leprechauns (wow is that word hard to spell). Maybe a couple of them are a little clumsy. Maybe one’s got a stomach virus. Nobody ever said magical creatures were immune to germs.