Here's Johnny - It’s St. Paddy’s, not St. Patty’s!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Dear Readers. In this country, ’tis a day to drink green beer until you forget what color it will be when you’re done renting it. ’Tis a day to wear green or be pinched (some of us don’t wear green on purpose, hoping the pincher will be an attractive, two-legged carbon-based life form). ’Tis a day to eat corned beef and cabbage, not because it’s an Irish tradition (it’s more of a Jewish thing) but because my poor immigrant ancestors couldn’t afford bacon. We clutch at such traditions, of course, because most Americans are wanna-bes. Our ancestors were kicked out of every decent country in the world, so we grasp at our foreign roots. I, for instance, often describe myself as an Irish-American, faith and begorrah. Fact is, like most of us, I’ve got plenty of English, Scottish and Lord knows what other blood running through my veins. None of it is green, though that may change by nine or so this evening. When I was a kid, it was cool to describe yourself as, for instance “one-quarter Cherokee Indian.” The higher percentage of Native-American you were, the cooler (and perhaps more lethal in a schoolyard dust-up) you were thought to be. Several years ago, I was at a Lexington establishment one evening when I came across three Irish lasses visiting Kentucky for some reason I can’t recall. Seeking to ensure they knew they were among friends, I pointed out that I was a Mick, too. They just laughed and one of them said, “You Americans are always doing that.” I think she was referring to our habit of eagerly identifying with folks from other lands, but it’s possible she was referring to something else I was doing. In preparation for this column, I did a little research on ol’ St. Pat. In other words, I looked to Wikipedia, which, while compiled by ordinary folks and occasionally filled with mistakes, is only a click away. Also, St. Patrick is dead and can’t sue. To my astonishment, I learned that he almost certainly didn’t banish snakes from the Emerald Isle. Story was he chased them into the sea after they attacked him during a 40-day fast on the top of a hill. My take on this is that after several weeks of fasting, he may have been seeing all sorts of imaginary creatures. Besides, surely there were juicier targets than a man in the midst of fasting. But no! According to the Wikipedia entry on St. Patrick, “… all evidence suggests that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes. …” “At no time has there ever been any suggestion of snakes in Ireland, so (there was) nothing for St. Patrick to banish,” said Nigen Monaghan, the keeper of natural history at the National Museum of Ireland. Sounds a bit like my claim of banishing dragons from all areas east of the Mississippi. Invent a problem, solve it, then … well, enough about the presidential campaign. Back to St. Paddy’s Day, or as some heathens call it, “St. Patty’s Day.” There’s a website dedicated to correcting this mistake: www.paddynotpatty.com. I kid you not. The author rails against “An onslaught of superficial, dyed-green references to Saint Patrick’s Day as Patty’s Day. Like nails on a chalkboard. It gnaws at them. It riles them up. It makes them want to fight … you know, more than usual.” I wish I’d written that. You see, Paddy is derived from the Irish name, Pádraig, and while St. Patrick hailed from Wales, the Irish wrote and pronounced his name the Celtic way. “Patty is the diminutive of Patricia, or a burger, and just not something you call a fella,” the site points out. Not unless you want to add a little red to your green beer, anyway. Speaking of which: I’ve got beer to dye, and rent. Happy St. Paddy’s Day, y’all.