Our friends Pat and Claudia throw a hell of a St. Patrick’s Day party every year. It’s a true herald of spring and I always look forward to it. While usually the festivities are held at their house, this year St. Patrick’s was combined with St. Pat’s 50th birthday, which is a much grander affair and so the party was moved to their community clubhouse. As all-out as they normally go, it was even more all-out, and the Irish passion is so contagious.
First of all: the food. They do the traditional menu of corned beef and the cabbage and the boiled potatoes and the soda bread. Big chafing dishes set out in a long buffet; I hit the line at least 3 times and if you are not paying attention I will cut in front of you and take the last potato. Nary a vegetable in sight but who cares. The corned beef falls apart as you try to serve yourself, pink and perfect. Most people make sandwiches but I prefer to just dip forkful after forkful in mustard. Fantastic. And cabbage…who eats boiled cabbage at any other time but St. Pat’s and does it ever taste as good? Every year I tell myself, “I should make this at home,” but I never do and then it’s a year later and I’m at the McGuinnesses eating cabbage and telling myself, “I should make this at home.”
Next: the entertainment. This is a multi-media theatrical experience. Pat has Irish music cued up and printed-up sheet lyrics so everyone can sing along. And you will sing. You can’t help but sing. There are the die-hards who need no stinkin’ lyrics, and they stand arm-in-arm, swaying and gesturing and stomping.
“There was a wild colonial boy, Jack Dugan was his name
He was born and raised in Ireland, in a place called Castlemaine
He was his father’s only son, his mother’s pride and joy
And dearly did his parents love the wild colonial boy”
And then the rest of us, following along and barely able to sing because we’re laughing so hard. And it’s not like these are cheerful songs!
“Look at the coffin with golden handles
Isn’t it grand boys to be bloody well dead?
Let’s not have a sniffle,
Let’s have a bloody good cry
And always remember the longer you live,
The sooner you’ll bloody well die!”
It’s so bad it’s wonderful.
In between songs, we cut to the TV where Pat has compiled all the good dance segments from “Riverdance”. Yes, make fun of Michael Flatley’s mullet and do your own version of the stepping, but God Forbid you stand in front of the screen. HEY! DOWN IN FRONT!!! I gotta tell you, I am a sucker for Irish dancing and that opening sequence of Riverdance gets me every time. The dancers in black and green, slowly turning to face the audience with their stony stares. And that first riff – Chagga-da-CHA! Step, drag toe. Chagga-da-CHA! Step, drag toe. Chagga-da-CHA! Chagga-da-CHA! Chagga-da-CHA! I get chills, I admit it, no shame here.
And the kids are running amok and the beer is flowing and Pat has the little shrine set up with shot glasses of Jameson’s and every half-hour or so comes the call “GOD BLESS ALL IN THE HOUSE!” and you step up and take a shot.
It’s such a great party. I wish I could bring my parents to it one year, they would get such a kick. I know my Mom would be singing away!
“O-ro the rattlin’ bog, the bog down in the valley-o
O-ro the rattlin’ bog, the bog down in the valley-o”