ME AND SIX friends are sitting at a well known Columbus LGBTQ establishment waiting on our appetizers, chit-chatting. The conversation turns to plans for St. Patty’s Day. I have been asked if I am performing because one of the folks at the table had been to a couple of my St. Pat’s shows back in the day. I explained why I wasn’t doing those anymore: Mainly because I love to be out and about that day.
Next to us sat the quintessential gay dude, straight out of The Advocate; You know: Young-looking for his age, white, newest short cropped haircut, expensive cologne, tanned. When he hears my comment, he slaps his buddy on the arm and says to me, “What! Seriously? You celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day? Why would someone Black do that? That’s hilarious. Good one. Crazy. Really?”
I wasn’t in the mood. I stared at him, sighed, waited for my friends to check him (all white, except one American adopted Asian). They didn’t. I didn’t. And it has been floating in and out of my consciousness, trying to find itself a shelf to light on amongst the daily barrage of completely ignorant comments that are made to me in “jest” with regard to what my skin informs folks that I am.
So never mind that I have always been fascinated with Celtic, specifically Irish and Welsh, culture; the same as I am of North African, Taiwanese and Indigenous cultures. It’s for the suspected reasons: The timbre and musicality of the “native tongue,” the absolute beauty of the land, the melancholy of its storytelling, the tenacity of its people and the perceived wildness of its spirit.
I wasn’t surprised when the love of my dreams turned out to be a third generation “Black Irish gal.” Green eyes, dark curly hair, a fiery temperament, and sturdy. Meeting her felt like Lucky the Leprechaun personally handed me the rainbow AND the bucket of gold.
She does think it’s odd, me taking a personal day to don the emerald green, even intentionally hurrying downtown early to stakeout the best (meaning sunniest area near a public restroom) St. Patrick/Patty’s Day parade watching spot. Not because she is wondering why a person as pretty chocolate as myself would go to a Saint Paddy’s event, but really because she despises parades (I know...Who hates parades?) and has never met a marching band she didn’t want to “strike with a bowling ball.” Yep, she’s a “party pooper,” but I abhor ranch dressing so it makes us even.
I tell you this so you realize that March 17th isn’t just green eggs and beer for me. I love the clogging, the invasion of gingers everywhere, and I swear the wheezing melodies of the bagpipes and accordions transport me to a happy place. It could be those sounds remind me of the river and of me and Bub (my brother) fishin’ and just maybe that “country bumpkin” in me finds room to yearn for the simple pleasures of mud squishin’ through yer toes while nibbling on a PB&J waiting for the rock bass to bite. Whatever it is, its Irish-ness is like kin to me.
Somebody throw me a penny whistle, some clogs and a wooly flat cap! Maybe then I’ll be seen as a real “Irish Jigger!”