Saturday, March 14, 2015

St. Patrick's Day in Chicago

#77 Bus on Belmont Avenue, March 14, 2015
Blogging on public transit. Just want to say that this is the scariest day of the year for me. I do not like leaving my home on the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day because the drinking starts early and I mean EARLY. Some Chicago bars open at 8:00a, so by as early as 10:00a I'm encountering the inebriated. This is the day of the St. Patrick's Day parade and dye-ing of the river. That's when enthusiasts with green hats, clothes, faces and hair line up downtown along the Chicago River and throw in green dye until the water has a jade hue. And I'm disturbed by it.

The whole inebriated day is a bizarre tradition to me and I've lived in a few different parts of the country. In Chicago thousands of people symbolically claim a link to an Irish heritage by wearing green and drinking alcohol. A vaguely similar thing happens on Cinco de Mayo when a bunch of white people suddenly pretend to care about Mexico by getting plastered. It's as if Americans can't think of a better way to celebrate than by sucking back the fermented grain and making themselves sick. 

I don't know why the Chicago version of this holiday makes me so uneasy. It just feels very white and male and drunken and scary. It feels to me like those people use entire parts of the city as their bar for the weekend, lurching from party to party, even more heedless than usual of the effects of their behavior. And that scares me. 

Last year I sat on a bus and listened to two young white people singing. The young woman sat on the young man's lap, wearing a short skirt and jacket that was inadequate for the weather. I felt concerned because she was completely swacked at 1:00p and couldn't even feel the dangerous cold on her bare legs. She looked very vulnerable to me and I had to put her out of my mind after I left the bus. It was the same bus I have to ride today. 

I have nothing against parades or celebrations in general, but drunk people wandering the city from early morning today until early tomorrow morning just makes me want to stay in. Which I would have done except for my committed Saturday morning activity: my Chicago EFT Tapping Circle Meetup. I'm there every week like church and am on my way there now. But once it's over, I'll scurry home and nothing short of my apartment building burning down will get me to go out tonight. St. Patrick's Day in Chicago just feels to me like violence about to happen. 
Empty 24-pack of Budweiser on the train at 3:00p


Matt said...

Too many people use St. Patrick's Day as an excuse for drinking. In Birmingham, England, about ten miles from where I live, there is a large Irish community and St. Patrick's Day is always celebrated with loads of people getting drunk. Surely, there should be better ways to celebrate the day of a saint, rather than getting completely drunk.

Regina Rodríguez-Martin said...

Someone who used to live in London (but not originally from there)who now lives in Chicago told me that people get even more drunk in London than in Chicago, which I REFUSE to believe.

Matt said...

I find it hard to believe that people in London get more drunk than in Chicago. I find it wrong for people to use a religious day as an excuse to get totally drunk.