BBC America reminded me this morning that today is St Patrick’s Day, just in time for me to root around in Grace’s drawers to find her green shamrock shirt from last year. Surprisingly enough, it does still fit, thanks to my practice of almost always buying a size larger than Grace needs at the time. That, and I’d rather her wear a shirt too long than one too short.
I had gotten a new polo shirt at Old Navy last night on deep clearance, so I had to wear it today. The stripes on it were a grey-green, so I was almost in the spirit. All my other green shirts, of which I have many, having red hair, were in the laundry.
But I wasn’t much in the mood to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. It’s not one of the holidays I really get into, even though you’re almost given carte blanche to get trashed. I don’t have many good memories of this holiday.
One that I do enjoy is my very first St Patrick’s Day after turning 21. Kurt and I had been dating for all of two months at that point, and I had always wanted to have some green beer. We made our way to an Irish pub Kurt had found in Portsmouth, Virginia, where he was living at the time. But it wasn’t just us; it was also an acquaintance of his that he’d been stationed with in Hawaii. Kurt kept my glass full of green beer that night, so much so that apparently I downed two pitchers on my own. Halfway through the night, Kurt’s “friend” removed his wedding ring, which completely offended my extremely drunk self, so of course I had to shout in poor Kurt’s ear what this slimeball had done. Later Kurt visited the little boys’ room, and the “friend” tried nuzzling on me. I was totally disgusted.
I was seriously drunk that night. If you think I talk too much when I’m sober, it’s about a hundred times worse when I’m drunk. Don’t expect to get a word in edgewise if I’ve been drinking.
Funnily enough, I find this to be amusing, looking back on it. What’s even funnier to me is that I had to work the next morning in the basement of my college library, in the Manuscripts and Rare Books Department. It was my job to correlate a database with the names and addresses of members written on index cards. Needless to say, I got very little work done that Saturday.
That’s pretty much my only party anecdote related to St Patrick’s Day.
The problem is, my real mother worked in an Irish-themed nightclub while we were growing up. Shamrocks were everywhere inside the bar, and acted as the nightclub’s symbol. There was even one done in lights above the entrance to the game room. Even the booths were covered in green fabric, and my real mother’s uniform consisted of a white tank top embellished with a shamrock, matched with nylon green shorts, much like today’s Hooters waitresses.
How do I know so much about the interior of the bar? We spent a lot of time in my real mother’s bar growing up, from the time I was three or four, not just during the time we lived with her, but also when we’d visit on school breaks after my parents got custody of us. I say, “my mother’s bar” like it belonged to her. In reality, she was just a bartender, sometimes a waitress, whatever the boss needed her to be. Sometimes my real mother couldn’t get a babysitter for us during school breaks — couldn’t find one, didn’t feel like paying for one, had them quit on her, couldn’t be bothered to look for a new one, whatever it was. So we went to work with her at 11am when she opened the bar and the real alcoholics came to drink. She was very careful to explain to us that the folks coming in to drink in the morning were probably night-shift workers, so they were simply having their after-work drink, like normal guys would do at 5pm after a long day. Thinking back on it, that may very well have been the case, but it was just as likely that these guys were barflies who spent all their time in the bar. I can remember one or two of these guys to this day, which makes me think they did nothing more than hang out at the bar.
Every week or so, the man who collects the quarters from the video game machines would come in. We’d call him Mr Quarters. Hey, we were kids; we weren’t very creative. He’d run a quarter through the slot multiple times to give us free credits. Usually I would play pinball (we had Pin*Bot) while my sister played the video games. I tried my hand at Karnov a few times, but I never was very good, not nearly as good as my sister was at Ms PacMan.
And every St Patrick’s Day, the nightclub served green beer, like every other bar in the country. Now the scent of beer, especially when mixed with the scent of the cork of the bar top cleaned with bleach water, reminds me of days, weeks, months spent in my real mother’s bar as a child — time I could have spent playing outside and soaking up the sun, instead of cooped up in a windowless bar surrounded by barflies, playing video games and pestering my real mother for sodas, just so I could see her work the soda gun.
St Patrick’s Day reminds me of all of this. And you know, it’s not exactly something I want to remember.