Monday, March 14, 2011

Surely St. Patrick had none of this in mind...

Those of you with access to any decent calendar will know that the Feast of St. Patrick isn't officially celebrated until this Thursday. But, in Chicago, this weekend just past was the weekend for the parades.

The big downtown parade was held on Saturday and the largest remaining neighborhood parade, the Northwest Side Irish Parade, was held on Sunday.

There used to be a South Side Irish Parade, too, that marched south on Western Avenue from 103rd or so. From a small gathering of moms with green streamers on their strollers, that parade grew and grew until the good people of St. Barnabas and St. Cajetan Parishes got thoroughly disgusted with drunken outsiders, many of them well underage, vomiting on their well-tended lawns and urinating in their bushes.

The prodigious consumption of alcohol has been a staple of St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Chicago for longer than I've been around. But there is a fuzzy line between a lot and way too much. I've slid across that line myself a time or two. In today's increasingly intolerant world, though, I worry about my kids making the same mistakes I did. The consequences of those mistakes are ever so much more severe now.

Thus it was with grave apprehension that I received Younger Daughter's announcement that she was planning to have a bunch of people over to the house Saturday morning to "pre-game" before the downtown parade.

"Pre-game," in this usage, means to get sufficiently buzzed before going to one's ultimate destination. The idea is that the bar tab will be lower.

My apprehension turned to real concern when Younger Daughter (she is 21 now) and her boyfriend Olaf and another of their friends bought enough hootch Friday night to keep a busload of college kids happy on a cross country journey. "You'll be goggle-eyed and stupid before you even get to the train," I complained. And, unhappy as I was, Long Suffering Spouse was miserable.

At least as my wife tells the story, there is no great sloppy-drunken feast in Cuban culture. My wife's mother has a particular aversion to even occasional drunkenness and my wife inherited these views. Put it this way: In my younger days, if I drank too deeply of the Nectar at a social gathering, I would naturally want to compensate by sleeping in on the following morning. My wife would not permit this. Depending on how bad I'd been, she'd send one or more kids in to wake me up in the morning. If I hadn't been too bad, it might be only one or two kids sent in to do the job. But if I'd gone way over the top, singing off-key and amusing one and all with my antics, all of the kids would be asked to wake up Daddy. At one point, this was five kids, jumping on the bed and shaking my remains.

This is called behavior modification therapy.

And -- let me tell you -- it works.

But back to our story. As it turned out, most of Younger Daughter's friends either couldn't get up early on Saturday or decided, at the last minute, to pursue other interests. So it was just the kids who'd bought all this stuff who wound up gathering in my garage Saturday morning. With Long Suffering Spouse anxiously looking in from the kitchen from time to time (she was making soda bread), I brought the kids into the house and put some CDs by the Chieftains and the Clancy Brothers on the stereo. "You may as well be exposed to some other aspect of Irish culture besides ethanol," I told them.

We chatted awhile as I sipped my coffee (just coffee, thank you) and chatted about global warming.

Sure, they may have been bored to tears, but they didn't drink nearly as much as they would have if left shivering in the garage -- and I enjoyed the morning.

When I dropped the kids off at the train, the station looked like a general evaluation order had been issued: Everyone in the neighborhood, it seemed, was heading to the el. And they were all wearing green.

It was cold in Chicago Saturday, gray and windy. I didn't think the kids would last long at the parade, and I was right. Younger Daughter soon tracked down her oldest brother (who lives near downtown) and the party moved to first one overcrowded tavern, then another.

Middle Son, the accountant, had to work Saturday morning. Tax season doesn't stop, even for St. Patrick's Day. But he stopped at the Curmudgeon home after work, instructed by his sister (at my suggestion) to pick up their enormous stores of alcohol and move it to his apartment. Olaf and Younger Daughter and Oldest Son and his wife Abby wound up at Middle Son's apartment at some point. After awhile, these four went back to the apartment that Oldest Son and Gabby share with their little dog, Rodent. Younger Daughter wanted to play with the dog.

Oldest Son had to work yesterday, so he wound up curtailing his celebrations pretty early in the afternoon. In fact, he drove Olaf and Younger Daughter back to our house at a still respectable hour on Saturday night. The only casualty of the day, as near as I can tell so far, was Younger Daughter's fleece jacket. She's pretty sure she left it at Middle Son's apartment, but Middle Son reported last night that he 'hasn't started cleaning up yet' from Saturday's party, so he doesn't know whether he has it or not.

Yesterday's controversy grew from the jacket Younger Daughter used as a replacement.

But I'll get to that story -- if I get the chance -- tomorrow.

1 comment:

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

i can't seem to get past the part where you are singing off key and having "antics"!

smiles, bee