Today is my day—St. Patrick’s day. Yet, somehow, a day that was supposed to celebrate my conversion of the Celts to Catholicism has become a celebration of robust and wanton alcoholic behavior as well as a made up story about some snakes.
Let’s set the record straight, I am not Irish, and unlike many of you tonight, I never pretended to be. I came to Ireland after a group of scalawags kidnapped me and sold me into slavery. (As you can imagine, Irish slavery isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You can only be forced to compose so many odes.)
It was only after I escaped from Ireland that I became a priest and returned to convert my former captors. What a right mess that lot was. You probably thought the worst offense committed by a Celtic was Kevin McHale’s clothesline of Kurt Rambis. (Google it, and yes, Saints know how to use Google. It’s miraculous.)
I wish it had just been snakes. That would’ve been easy. Instead, I had to deal with warring clans, primitive conditions and a complete lack of help from the Leprechauns. Seriously, I could have used some magic and several pots of gold.
Regardless, I still don’t understand how my day became a day of drinking. I will ignore the fact that some people will use any excuse to drink, often co-opting other culture's holidays: Cinco De Mayo, St Patrick’s—Thursday.
The Irish people are not a group of drunken layabouts. It’s a country of poets and artists. It’s the land of Joyce, Yeats and Bono. It’s the land of Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and Dracula.
Didn’t know an Irishman created Dracula, did you? He was an allegory for the British sucking the life out of Ireland. So think about that the next time you read “Twilight.” He’s not a symbol for ever-lasting love. He’s an imperial overlord bent on exploiting a nation’s natural resources.
There’s a lot to celebrate about the Irish besides their supposed predilection for whiskey and stout beer. And I, as their patron saint, demand that this holiday be about more than green milkshakes and general loutishness.
However, I understand that my position on this matter stems from my standing in the Catholic church and a case of Puritanism that went undiagnosed because the word hadn’t been invented yet.
Therefore, I, St. Patrick, decree that all peoples out celebrating this day honoring my namesake be safe, courteous and responsible. I may not have actually driven out the snakes, but I whisper quietly and carry a big shillelagh.