Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
St Patrick’s day is a day when everyone can pretend that they’re Irish, and no one, except maybe real Irish people, will correct you. Like me, for instance: I’m part Irish. Barely, true, but barely still counts. It’s St. Patrick’s day and I have the right to, when asked if I’m Irish, harken back to that distant and far removed ancestor and respond, “why yes of course… um… me lass… I be Irish! Now who wants a pint of Guinness?” And then we’d all cheer and sing whisky in the jar or something, and the party goes on.
But ever since last St. Patrick’s day, I’ve been a bit afraid of claiming to be Irish. Afraid that I’ll be caught. It’s the Leprechauns, you see. They monitor these things, making sure that no one other than true Irish people claim to be Irish on St. Patrick’s day. Before I learned this, I had always wondered what use Leprechauns were, other than terrifying Jennifer Anniston, though not quite enough it seems, (to death being the implication here).
Clearly, it didn’t.
Leprechauns are wee folk with fairy magic, at least at the most basic description. If one were to apply to fill a vacant leprechaun position, the conversation would proceed as follows:
“Are yeh wee?” The interviewer would ask. He could have just looked to see. One wonders why he need ask, but that’s the way these sorts of things go sometimes. It’s all about the protocol.
“Oh, aye.” Responds the applicant, which is generally considered to be the most correct answer.
“And have yeh the fairy magics?”
“Oh aye. That I do.”
“Loverly. Yer hired.”
What leprechauns actually do has very little to do with being wee or being able to wield the fairy magics. Leprechauns are tasked with keeping Ireland green, like a glittering emerald, and magic, like a magical emerald. There’s a special division for rainbow production and installation as well, but we won’t get into that right now.
You think Ireland looks like that on it’s own? No, what you see here my friend is centuries of hard leprechaun work.
The leprechauns have one other task, however, that dwarfs (forgive the pun) all their other duties: to ferret out the fakes, liars, and would be Irishmen on St. Patrick’s day, and humiliate them in front of their friends.
It was an encounter with one performing it’s primary task that, as I hinted before, was nearly my undoing last year. I was at McCabes Irish pub, down on 5th avenue in Naples, Florida, enjoying a $6 glass of Yeungling with some a of newest and bestest friends I’d ever met (their names escape me now, but I’m relatively sure they all had one) when the question was raised as to whether or not I was Irish.
Now, I have a rather good Irish accent (or at least that’s what I’m told) which, like all Irish accents, is increased both in quality and volume with every alcoholic beverage imbibed. The current tally was 5, so my confidence in my Irish speaking ability was great indeed.
I had been regailing my new comrades with tales of the homeland: of helping St. Patrick chase away all the bloody snakes, of finding so many pots of gold at the end of rainbows, for rainbows are plentiful on the emerald Isle, that I just started throwing them away, of screeching contests with banshees and Father Ted TV marathons. They were entranced, and I was having a blast, that is until I felt a gentle but firm tap on my buttocks.
I spun around, fists up and out in traditional Irish fighting form, ready to give the buttocks tapper the old one two, or, if she were a lady, the old wink and smile, but there was no one there. I turned back to my friends, who must have assumed that spinning around to fight ghosts was just some Irish idiosyncrasy that they were hitherto unaware of (on nights of heavy drinking it often is), and thought nothing of it, other than to give me a rousing cheer.
I went for a bow, and was touched on the buttocks yet again. I spun around in the same way.
“Alright, yeh livrey bastard, time for me to give yeh what for!” I shrieked, but yet again, there was no one there. I looked left. I looked right. I looked up. I looked down.
There stood a leprechaun. He was wearing a little green suit with a shamrock in his pocket and a green bowler hat, and looked very cross. He smiled a wolfish grin.
“Hello sir, me names Bleary and I’m—“
“Christ, lads, it’s a real leprechaun!” I shouted, pointing at it in awe. I started jumping from foot to foot and giggling. Everyone at the pub gathered ‘round to gaze at the spectacle. The Leprechaun shifted his feet, uncomfortable.
“What’re yeh here for, little fellah?” I asked, like a mom to a child of 6. He bristled at this and looked me dead in the eye. God, those eyes! They looked like gold doubloons!
“I’m here to see if yer really irish.” He said matter of factly.
“Me? Irish? ‘Course I’m Irirsh! What’s me shirt say?”
“Kiss me, I’m irish, but—“
“’Course it does!” I interrupted. He scowled.
“But shirts can say any number of things. Look at that lads!” The leprechaun pointed to a fat, white man who was wearing a shirt that read “I’m the President”.
“My god…” I whispered to the leprechaun, “Is that Barack Obama over there, d’yah think?”
“I—what? No! ‘Course not! Are ye daft?” his question went unanswered though, because I had gone over to the fat man and was taking a photo with him. The leprechaun stared in gawping silence as I snapped the photo and came back over.
“The lads back in Dublin are never gonna believe I met the President of the US of A!”
“Stop it!” He shouted, stamping his little foot, which jingled. “You’re not from Dublin and you’re sure as hell not Irish! You’re just a drunk idiot from Florida!”
“Bah, Florida? Have you seen his shirt? It says—“ one of my new friends began before the leprechaun pointed his finger at him and ZAP, turned him into a cask of guinness.
“Sweet St. Patrick!” I gasped, staring at the cask. “Free beer!” The Leprechaun face palmed as we swarmed the cask and I passed out drinks. I felt a bit bad for drinking that guy, but judging from what I’d learned about him in the past two hours, it’s what he would have wanted.
“Three cheers for our emerald homeland, lads and lassies! Hip Hip!”
“NO!” Roared the leprechaun, and the shout filled up the whole pub, shaking the windows and worrying he owner. Some glasses fell off the shelves. “Yer not Irish! None of yah! Yer just a bunch of drunken fools playin’ at bein’ Irish! You don’t know the first thing, the first damn thing about what it is to be from Ireland.” He paused and pointed at a man wearing a Bruins shirt. “Except for you. You’re actually Irirsh.” The bruins guy gave a fist pump and cheer, finished his glass, and ordered another. “Now,” he said, returning to the task at hand, “will yeh stop, or do I have to turn you all into guiness?
The party was dead silent. Even the band had stopped playing. The leprechaun glared at us. No one said a word, except for me. I think it was the Guinness, but I was feeling particularly brave, like Willow, or Frodo Baggins, or Peter Dinklage, even.
“Why does it matter?” I asked.
“Why does it matter if we aren’t Irish?”
“Because you all just want to be Irish on St Patrick’s day, and then it’s back to normal tomorrow! It’s disrespectful.”
“Not really. You should feel honored. I don’t know any other country that has a day when the whole world wants to be them. It’s a compliment.”
“Yeah!” Someone else said. “Ireland’s cool!”
“Hoorah!” The bar shouted. Everyone at the bar started throwing their two cents in, and I could see we were getting through to the Leprechaun. He was visibly softening.
“So will you have a pint of…” I looked at the cask.
“Jerry!” someone shouted.
“Will yeh have a pint of Jerry with us, and forget yer sorrows till the morrow? Me lad?”
The leprechaun looked at each of us, scowling, until his eyes finally came to rest me. And then he smiled.
“Yeh had me at jerry.” He said with a wink. To this day I’m not quite sure what he meant by that, but whatever, I was 7 beers deep and thinking wasn’t high on my list of priorities at the time. We all cheered and the music started back up (whisky in the jar again ,I think). The Leprechaun grabbed a pint of Jerry, and smashed it against mine. My mug broke, and cut my hand quite badly, but it was St. Patrick’s Day, and a bloody and ruined hand was a small price to pay for getting to be Irish, even if it was just for a night.
Author’s note: Thanks for reading. Hope you liked it and I hope you have a great St. Patrick’s day, wherever you are. I wanted to take time at the end of this post to thank Melissa K. Martin for giving me the “very inspiring blogger award”. I’ll get around to doing the required things at some point, but it was a lovely gesture. Happy St. Patrick’s day!