Monday, March 17, 2008

Miscellaneous: A St. Patrick’s Day Memory

St. Patrick’s Day has never been a big deal in the Keenan household. “You don’t have to wear green,” my father says every year. “People can tell you’re Irish just by looking at your face.”

This, by the way, is now more true than ever. At a wedding we attended over the weekend a Polaroid was taken of every couple. When ours developed I said, “Jesus, I look like I went to Fordham and work for the Queens DA.” Rosemarie shook her head. “Your tie’s too flashy. You look like you handle public relations for the Mets.”

I grew up in a neighborhood that to this day has a reputation as an Irish enclave. When I was in third grade my teacher Sister Patricia, knowing that both of my parents were Irish immigrants, asked if I had any records at home that would be appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day.

Come March 17, I arrived at school with a copy of a Dermot O’Brien album featuring “The Merry Ploughboy,” “Johnson’s Motor Car” and other rebel songs that recounted the exploits of the IRA and Sinn Fein.

I presented the record to Sister Patricia. She scanned the song list, turned beet red, thanked me for bringing it in, and handed it back. The cultural portion of the afternoon consisted of her leading the class in a sing-along of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” That’s what I get for trying to help.

Enjoy the day, wherever you are, and raise a jar for me. Another thing I learned growing up is that Jameson’s is typically viewed as a Catholic whiskey while Bushmills is Protestant. Personally, I prefer a drop of Powers meself.