“Do Not Fucking Touch Me” is one of Dave Holmes’ tips for celebrating this St. Patrick’s Day. It reminds me of a favorite picture of me and my dad. We’re both leaning back against a table in the same exact way. I’m half his size and pinching him because he’s not wearing any green and it’s St. Patrick’s Day, which means it’s also his birthday. Growing up, St. Patrick’s day meant two things: telling your friends you were wearing green underwear, and my daddy-o’s birthday.
But now I’m an adult and I have no idea what St. Patrick’s Day means to me. I’m from California and Irish-American identity isn’t as big a deal out here as it seems to be in places like Chicago or Boston. I’ve probably celebrated Dia de los Muertos more than I’ve “celebrated” St. Patrick’s Day.
I’m not usually a humorless lesbian, but I’m kind of no fun on March 17th, because the cultural stereotypes bum me out (even when they’re also pretty funny) and I always find myself reading articles about the famine or how hated Irish immigrants were in America or how history repeats itself. Plus I suspect anyone super proud of their Irish heritage of being a white supremacist and unnecessary uses of food coloring make me irrationally furious. Green beer? Red Velvet? Bite me.
Maybe one day I’ll go to Ireland and standing on her soil will complete a circuit within me. That’s how I felt in Scotland and it took me by surprise.
Mostly I pass for just your average white person. When I think about what I am and who I come from, I think of the places my family and I have lived. Of the farmhouses we left. Of the suburban homes we made. Of the cities we elbowed our way into.
March 17th is one of the few days a year I connect myself to Irish American heritage. Maybe one day I’ll know how to celebrate.