Monday, February 27, 2012

Being Irish/Catholic

Dang, it’s St Patrick’s Day already. Hell, I just sobered up from Mardi gras. Being Irish/Catholic is gonna’ kill me.

Family History

My mother’s maiden name is McCleland. She was Mary Katherine McCleland, a family name spelled with one “l”. Her mother, who was a Cochran, another very Irish name, would let you have it with a shillelagh if you spelled McCleland with a double “l.” She lived to be 95, whittled to nub but her dying words were, “One L! One L! One L! Get it right!” She loved my Grandpa something fierce.
My grandmother, like my mother, had red hair to boot. Everyone in my family had red hair, I, being the only one who kept it, thus the jokes about being crimson.
“Hey, Rusty! Ya’ momma left you out in the rain?” or “I’d rather be dead than red on the head like the…” And the one that hit home, “At least a blond can get laid.” A girl’s favorite was not red headed.

It Does Set You Apart

Being a red head is rather special. Ask any of the “true”, or any woman who has ever changed their hair color three times. There is blond, brunette and redhead. Oh, it’s usually the last color they choose but eventually they’ll get there and some even stay. Introduce me to a bona fide red head and you can have first born. I’m pretty sure I can sell them.

The Big Parade

My mother’s brother, a McCleland, who has pilgrimages to Ireland to find our roots, lives on the route of a St. Patrick’s Day Parade and every year throws a one hell of a party. (I wanted him to rent a midget dressed as a leprechaun and have the little guy stand still on the lawn as a live lawn ornament. In mixed company, he did not think that was a good idea.)
This spectacular parade, made up of floats and marching groups throw green beads and trinkets, leprechaun dolls, and plenty of vegetables. Yes, at our St Patrick’s Day Parades we throw cabbage, potatoes, and carrots, everything you need for an Irish stew. People even hold out pots and anticipate the dinner that will bring them all the luck of the Irish. (In today’s economy I guess we’ll catch a lot of Brussels sprouts.)
It wouldn't matter because on this day everywhere you look you’ll see shades of green, shamrocks, men in marching groups saying, “Kiss me I’m Irish,” and hand women on the parade route a green paper carnation, or rose, or perhaps a beautiful long bead for the traditional kiss. Some are quite competitive. The women, that is.
St Patrick’s Day is always the 17th of March and always on the heels of Mardi gras. Damn, it’ fun being Irish/Catholic on a day I really enjoy having red hair.

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