Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Quarter Century: When Irish Eyes are Smiling

I'm 1/16 Irish. Basically, that's just enough that I wish I was more but not enough to say, flat-out, that I'm an Irishman. What's more, I managed to inherit all of their weaknesses -- pasty white skin and freckles, curly hair -- and none of their strengths -- an awesome accent.

Still, I've always loved St. Patrick's day, despite the fact that I hate the color green and I like my corned beef and cabbage to be 10 parts beef, 10 parts potatoes and 0 parts cabbage.

I like the inherit whimsy of the holiday, unlike Christmas and Easter where if you start to have to much phone some buzzkill scolds you to remember the "true meaning." It's not oppressively commercial like Valentine's day where you spend your money out of a sense of guilt, nor is it outright pointless, like Arbor day -- seriously, what IS that?

St. Patrick's day: wear green, rock out to some Dropkick Murphys, have a party, try not to kill yourself.

Like most Utah Irishmen my ancestors made their way to the saline shores of the Great Salt Lake after being converted to Mormonism. I don't really know the whole story but at some point along the line two pushy Americans in shirts and ties knocked on great-great-Grandpa Madsen's door. A Madsen married a Jeppson who married a Wood who then spawned me, a mutt with Irish skin, Danish teeth and a big Welsh nose that some people say makes me look Jewish. I'm not.

There's not to many St. Patrick's Days that I remember with real clarity. In elementary school I remember my mom had a tin can full of Irish-themed pins that we would bust out and wear to school every March 17. The older siblings didn't participate -- too cool -- but that still left two or three of us to fight over the "Kiss Me I'm Irish" pin. It didn't matter anyway, since no one ever did. After school we'd watch Darby O'Gill and the Little People, which come to think of it is kind of weird for kids to be excited for.

In March of 2006 I received a letter from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints telling me that I needed to pay them $9,000 for the opportunity to put my entire life on hold for 2 a 3rd world country. I remember because in the photographs of the event I'm holding up the big white letter with my best fake smile and there's shamrocks taped to the wall behind me.

In 2010 I remember I was in San Diego. We went to SoCal for Spring Break and spent a day in SD because everyone wanted to go to the zoo. I hate zoo and as I am often reminded I'm a stubborn cuss, so instead of joining my friends in ooh-ing and aah-ing at sad animals in captivity I roamed around downtown Diego by myself all day. Oddly enough it was one of the best SPD's I've ever had. When I finally met back up with my friends I arrived early and, since I couldn't get into the car, I camped out on the roof reading a book (thus explaining the following photograph).

When we got back to our hotel in L.A. we saw on the news that there was a huge party going on at the beach nearby. No one wanted to go with me. I think it was around that time that I made my decision to never let the lameness of my friends stop me from doing the things I enjoy, best decision I ever made (go to a movie by yourself sometime, it's weird at first but once you get over that it's the best thing ever).

Despite how terrible I look in these pictures it was a great trip. Fun fact, that shirt is one of only 2 pieces of green clothing that I own (purchased in Brazil: TIE IN!) and as such will be what I'm wearing when I attend a Real Salt Lake game later tonight.

Last year I was in Las Vegas watching the Aggies win the WAC tournament. I don't remember anything specifically St. Patty's-esque happening on that trip but if memory serves correct that trip spanned the 17th of March. You would think I would remember the drinking capitol of the year in Vegas...It kind of worries me that I don't.

As for this year, I just got done shooting some pictures of the Salt Lake St. Patrick's Day parade (I'll post them later) and now I'm in the library catching up on all the TV I missed this week covering the Sex Education bill.

Hopefully by next year I'll be settled in enough that I can put together the perfect St. Patty's Party. Gobs of green food, cabbageless Corned Beef and Cabbage, a playlist of old Carbon Leaf music and a requirement that every guest either wear a fedora or sport a big red mustache and beard (I suspect most guests will go with the fedora).


  1. Grandma's completely Irish and we have some on Dad's side too so how do you get 1/16th? This is an honest question, I keep doing the math in my head and I'm getting 1/4+ confused.

  2. I was just talking to mom about this. GREAT-grandma was full Irish, grandma is half, mom is a quarter and we're a 1/16th with change from dad's side

  3. I've always thought 1/16th too. And I miss the "kiss me I'm Irish" pin - I wish I could still borrow them, and the Halloween Earrings, or have Mom paint our faces before we go off for the day. Also I'm reading your blog backwards and laughed that I wrote about good ol' Darby in my first comment and then read it in yours here. I haven't seen that since we're kids, but do catch myself singing the "she's a dear..." song now and again.

  4. it's "She's MY dear, MY darling one"

  5. Reading back over what I wrote...yeah I sing it MY I think it was a typo.