I remember, when I was in high school, wishing that I was Irish. At least I wished it for one day a year. I was so jealous of Carolyn O'Rourke, with her green plastic bowler hat, green sparkle nail polish and green plaid shirt. I remember the green milkshakes at McDonald's. Green cupcakes with shamrocks at the bakery. Everyone scouring their closets to wear that awful shade of kelly green to help celebrate the day (the closest I ever got was my rainbow suspenders with a Kermit the Frog pin). I also remember how much I wanted to celebrate Ash Wednesday—I thought the black smudges on people's foreheads, when they got to school late, was the coolest. But that's another yearning.
When I moved to the city, my flirting fascination with this particular Irish celebration died a quick death. The upper east side was the big city's parade end point and man, who knew so many roaring drunk, throwing up in the street people could find their way there. Second Avenue was turned into a huge parking lot for all the luxury coaches that ferried people to the city so they could drink green beer until they nearly passed out, before shuttling them back to suburbia. Bars hung up temporary banners, renaming themselves with Irish pub-esque names. Crushed plastic cups lined the streets. 2, 3, 4 in the morning there would still be guys screaming in the streets—so drunk you couldn't really understand what they were saying.