The do’s, don’ts and whatevers of St. Patrick’s Day

I’ve had some memorable St. Patrick’s Days. The earliest I can remember is from when I was in kindergarten at Emerson Elementary in Warren, and the teachers did the old leprechaun-in-the-classroom trick. We came back from gym to find our backpacks ransacked, our coats strewn asunder. Our teacher, in what we later deduced was mock surprise, exclaimed that the culprit was escaping out of the window, and ran across the room to catch him. A (fake) struggle ensued, and she returned with A TINY BLACK BUCKLED SHOE. Irrefutable evidence of leprechauns. They just can’t resist messing with kids’ backpacks. Or being badly portrayed in movies.

I totally believed there was a real leprechaun in our classroom for, like, years. I mean, she HAD the shoe. I guess there could be some sort of prop leprechaun shoes you can get at the fabric store or something, even though there was no Internet back then. But my evolving cynicism and penchant for not believing in cereal mascots left me a little wiser, if not jaded.

Another much later year, I made the mistake of trying to revel on Carson Street in Pittsburgh with a friend who had just moved there. Yeah, right. You couldn’t even get into any of the buildings, let alone enjoy any of their green-dyed goods. So, we just stood out on the cold street and pretended to steal each other’s wallets to see if anyone noticed. No one did.

Having dated a fraternity brother, I also have had a couple wild (and early) St. Paddy’s. Kegs and eggs at 6 a.m. is just … no. I’ll sleep in and miss the green eggs and / or ham. I don’t know how they do it; near 18 hours of straight food-coloring-soaked chaos. If only those guys put the same energy into ever getting out of college.

So, having borne witness to the good, the bad and the crowded of the holiday, I offer some St. Patrick’s dos and don’ts:

  • DO dress accordingly. I know last year was warm, but it’s Ohio, and it’s still March. Everyone can wait until you’re inside to read your Irish Me I’m Kiss T-shirt. Kilts? If you don’t mind the draft, then I don’t mind seeing you wearing one.
  • DON’T annoy people who aren’t wearing green. Maybe they don’t have any green stuff. Maybe green makes them look dumb. Maybe they bought this green T-shirt with a duck on it and when they went to put it on it turned out to be too small and they had to wear a black shirt instead. Don’t judge.
  • DO wear beads. Beads are fun. They are a trophy of your travels. But DON’T confuse St. Paddy’s with Mardi Gras. It’s too cold for that stuff.
  • DO enjoy some non-Irish venues. Instead of waiting two hours for your order at the Irish pubs, find out if a tiny corner establishment has a good St. Paddy’s party. Sometimes the best time can be found at the least crowded place.
  • DON’T be a n00b. If you only get to go out and revel but once a year, don’t act like it makes you Andrew WK or something. Good job and all, but save the reverence for the year-rounders.
  • DO feel free to enjoy non-Irish stuff. Or non-green stuff. The green stuff is fun, but it can really wear on your insides. Switching from the green juice on tap will lessen your trips to the crowded bathrooms. Same with food. The eggs and corned beef run low fast. Like any Valley celebrations, the halushki and Italian sausage are never far away.
  • DON’T just play Dropkick Murphys on the jukebox all day. You’re driving the bartenders insane. Mix it up with some Pogues or something.
  • DO stick with your game plan. If you set out to do a downtown crawl, finish it. That sweet T-shirt lies at the end of your journey. Keep track of your stamp card or whatever they give you. Such a quest cannot be taken lightly. If you set out to go the whole day, don’t flake out and say you’re just going to take a nap. Find a second wind! Any sports movie will inspire you.
  • DON’T be a dum-dum. Get a designated driver, a cab, a horse, a Segway, a Hoverboard. Be safe.

So, this weekend, enjoy some good music, watch dancers kick up their heels, chow down on some corned beef and cabbage, and be a little more Irish with all of your fellow revelers. Just hold onto your backpacks. That leprechaun is sneaky.

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