Recently a friend asked if I was free to do something on the weekend of March 17-18, but I explained that asking a bartender to take those days off is like asking an accountant to blow off work on April 14. The first half of this month is the busy season for bartenders, when we get to see all those cheapskate rookies who haven't spent a dime in the bar since they threw up in the corner on New Year's Eve but now decide to poke their heads out of their holes and celebrate the Feast of St. Patrick.
While most people celebrate St. Patrick's Day on March 17, Hoboken, New Jersey, has its parade the first Saturday of March every year, so as not to compete with the mega-parade across the Hudson in Manhattan on the actual St. Patrick's Day. Other communities in New Jersey spread their celebrations out in the interim, creating one thick fog of overindulgence week after week until finally the corned beef and cabbage comes out and everybody is too sick to eat it.
Normally I'd be all for such a celebration, except for the fact that somebody has to work these things - and once again that somebody is me. While I'm sure to ruffle a few green feathers with this column, I'd like to share some misconceptions and social faux-pas regarding St. Patrick's Day that I've had the displeasure of observing over the years:
"Kiss Me, I'm Irish" buttons will get you nowhere with the ladies.
There is no "Official Beer" of St. Patrick's Day. Despite all its recent financial difficulties, the Catholic Church has yet to seek corporate sponsorship of its saints' feast days (though it may only be a matter of time...)
The same goes for "Official" St. Patrick's Day Headquarters - as if that stinky dive down the street with the broken urinal would actually be the epicenter of the world's St. Patrick's Day celebration.
Just because Mario's Bar and Grill has a shamrock in the window, it doesn't necessarily make it an Irish bar.
In most circles, House of Pain's "Jump Around" is not considered traditional Irish music.
Ask any brewer and they'll tell you - when a beer turns green it's a BAD thing.
Killian's Irish Red is made in Golden, Colorado, not Enniscorthy, Ireland.
Killarney's is from St. Louis, Missouri, not Killarney, Ireland.
The number-one selling lager in Ireland is Budweiser.
Guinness is most certainly not a microbrewery (I can't make this stuff up - I swear I actually heard someone say that once).
Asking a bartender to put a shamrock on the top of a well-poured Guinness is like asking Da Vinci to put a mustache on the Mona Lisa.
Not only is the "Irish Car Bomb" (a pint glass half full of Guinness with a shot glass of Bailey's and Jameson dropped in) an appalling name for a drink, the waste of Guinness and Jameson in some novelty shooter is nothing short of blasphemy. Save the "Boilermakers" for the Milwaukee's Best and enjoy a quality beverage the way it's meant to be enjoyed.
A pint of Guinness takes a while to be poured properly - if you're in a hurry, then order something else.
Guinness in a plastic cup is a travesty, no matter how busy the bar is.
The plural of Guinness is Guinness, not Guinnesses.
More often than not, Irish people (by that, I mean people born and raised in Ireland) couldn't give a rat's arse what town your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather left during the Potato Famine.
There is no room for a discussion of Irish politics in a crowded bar.
The stereotype of drunken Irish bar-fighters applies mostly to Irish-Americans.
The Irish pastime of hurling is not what most people in this country think it means.
No matter what you may have heard or read, a traditional Irish breakfast DOES NOT consist of a six-pack and a potato.
No, I'd rather not wear a silly plastic green hat while I'm working, but thanks for the offer.
There is no "siesta" napping on the bar for St. Patrick's Day - you have that confused with Cinco de Mayo, which is two months away.
Just because the bar is open all day and all night doesn't necessarily mean you have to be there drinking the whole time.
Just because you gave me a big tip doesn't give you carte blanche for being a jerkoff!!!
Despite all my bitches, gripes and complaints, I'm well aware that there's a lot of earning of the green that goes along with the wearing of the green. So it looks like I'll once again have to "Er-Grin 'n' Go Bear-it" as I look forward to the pot o' gold at the end o' me rainbow - the long, messy rainbow that it is. In the meantime, may the road rise to meet the rest o' ye, and Sláinte - from the bitter bollocks behind the bar.
Christopher M. Halleron, freelance writer/bitter bartender, writes a biweekly humor column for The Hudson Current and websites in the New York Metro area. He spends a lot of his time either in front of or behind the bar in Hoboken, New Jersey where his tolerance for liquor grows stronger as his tolerance for society is eroded on a daily basis. Feel free to drop him a line at email@example.com.