Last St. Patrick’s Day, I volunteered to drive my niece, Brittany, and her boyfriend, Jeff, to the South Side to attend a party. This way, the young couple didn’t have to drive on St. Patrick’s Day.
It was unseasonably warm last March 17, and St. Paddy’s fell on a Saturday. This meant that everyone was celebrating the American-Irish holiday. On the way there, from about Station Square to their final destination, 16th Street, we were in bumper-to-bumper traffic. A sea of green-clad pedestrians marched past us. A throng of humans were heading from the parade downtown to Pittsburgh’s bar district.
For those unfamiliar with the South Side, it is miles of alcohol-infused environments, from Jacks, the Smiling Moose, O’Leary’s, Winghart’s, the Lava Lounge, the Tiki Room and Margaritaville (okay, that one’s better for Cinco de Mayo). Watering holes for as far as the eye can see.
Most people were wearing blue jeans and green T-shirts. Some wore more outlandish celebratory outfits. Some of them wore green make-up, various shades of green, from Orion slave girl to the Statue of Liberty. Forget “Fifty Shades of Grey”; I saw fifty shades of green that day.
I dropped Brittany and Jeff off at their party, and I went up to visit some friends in Shadyside. I told Brit to text me when she was ready to for a ride home. I drank water all night, because I was the designated driver. My niece was 21, and it was her first big celebration as a card-carrying (literally and figuratively) member of the bar crowd.
The ride home was even more amusing. I picked Brit and Jeff up around 2 a.m. She texted me right when I was winding down. I swung back down Carson to get them. Once again, it was bumper to bumper, but now everyone was schnockered. We’re talking blitzed, bombed, crocked, flying, fried, gone, half-in-the-bag, hooched, inebriated, juiced, lit, loaded, polluted, stewed, stoned, tanked, tipsy, wasted, woozy and zonked.
I saw a sea of slow-moving green zombies: “Night of the Living Drunk.”
As we drove down Carson, people clutched mailboxes, telephone poles, any object they could, to steady themselves. I was idling at a red light when one woman staggered toward my car. She stood on the corner, swaying back and forth. I thought she was going to vomit on my car. I wondered if it was acceptable to blow through the red light to avoid having the contents of her stomach splayed on my hood. There were far too many cops around for me to try it. Luckily, her boyfriend, male friend, or possible total stranger, grabbed her hand and took her away.
My friend Robb refers to St. Patrick’s Day as “amateur night.” He says the same thing about New Year’s Eve. Robb, as you may have guessed, is far from a teetotaler.
I am all for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve got a wee bit o’ Irish in me. My mom is Irish and Greek. My dad was Italian. I guess that makes me one-fourth Irish, one-fourth Greek and one-half Italian (ethnicity mathematical computation). I do hope that everyone drinks responsibly this year. Have fun, but don’t be a green zombie on Carson. There are already more of them than you can shake a shillelagh at.