According to my mother, her grandfather emigrated from Ireland to Jamaica. This is not unusual. My father was Eastern European Jewish. St. Patrick’s Day was always huge in my house. We always had corned beef, cabbage and beer, even for us littles. Amongst the most played records in our house was an Irish sing-a-long record. I am constantly amazed that my husband, whose father is the first of his siblings born in the States, does not know the words to any of the old songs. A few times, when I was older, I treated the parents to the Chieftains on St. Pat’s. All that being said, I can’t stand the holiday, never could.
St. Pat’s was insane when I first started working in Manhattan. Firstly, and the one thing I am in agreement with my brother-in-law, was that the trains were crammed with non-professional commuters. This had nothing to do with work classification but rather with knowing how to commute. Secondly, it was the era where smoking was allowed on the train and the revelers would smoke even if it was a non-smoking car. The streets were clogged with drunken teenagers and others. By the end of the day, the celebrants were vomiting on the streets and in the train. If I could, I’d call in sick. As to driving at night, it wasn’t happening for me. Even in that relaxed era, I was not voluntarily putting myself in the path of drunk drivers.
On the other hand, I am writing this on the Ides of March, which as a teen, I did celebrate. I was part of a group of nerdy, good kids in high school. Today, the weather is similar to those long ago remembered Ides, warm with wind. Our group would cut school and walk several miles to what was then called Salisbury Park. We would run around and walk home late. We had read Julius Caesar and it had captured us. Bear with me and this will come together.
I have written before of my postal worker. He is extremely Irish so my husband reminded me this morning to make sure I ring him this weekend. Another thing about me – I remember lots and lots but lack a certain feminine snetimentality. I rarely remember the dates I met some of the important men in my life. For example, I know I met my college boyfriend at the PhiGam TG but not a clue as to date. He used to send me anniversary cards. I never remember my anniversaries for either of my weddings. Well, I realized after my husband said to call, that I actually met K St. Patrick’s Day 1984. 35 years! I only went out that night because a girlfriend was depressed and begged me. It was at a club across from Salisbury Park, so very close. We were fairly inseparable until 1988 when I left him briefly for RC, direct from Ireland. We stumbled back together until 1991. I married in 1992. We have never, ever not been in contact with each other. As I have said before, in many ways, we have had a marriage. We have stuck by each other in sickness and health; through our relations with others; richer or poorer. Postal, Old Girlfriends, Postal and Rituxan
Years go by and I am working with a fellow named Joe S. He is 12 years younger than me. My first marriage is over and I am licking my wounds. Joe S begins taking me to Karaoke nights at the local bowling alley. He is an aspiring actor and writer. I see him in plays. He allegedly has a girlfriend. He kisses me. I spend evenings at his mother’s house whilst he plays the piano. She looks at me meaningfully and tells me she will build an apartment upstairs for any girl Joe marries and babysit the children. One night I have to tell her that I am only 12 years younger than her. He rings me one St. Patrick’s Day as his girlfriend has stood him up and he needs a “date” for a party. I used to be good “arm candy”. OK.
The phone rings again. This time it’s Joe T, also much younger than me. Where were these people before I married? He, too wants to go out on St. Pat’s. He has taken me to parties before that remind me of my youth – arty and weed filled. We compromise on a drink for the following week. I enlist my best friend to go with me. It’s a club up the street from me. It used to be a roller-skating rink and an ice cream parlor. We walk. Joe T falls hard for her. In the meantime, I meet JoeBe. He is much older than me for a change. My father can’t stand him. Every time he calls and says, “It’s Joe.” My father replies, “Which one?” Daddy delights; JoeBe steams. He lives across from Salisbury Park I go onto live with him someplace else for several years.
So, I remember my “anniversaries” with K and Joebe. Joebe and Joe S are both dead. I was at work one day and saw a 1 year memoriam on Joe S’s passing on the Ides of March, March 15. Joebe died a few years back. Mortality, Perspective and Balance,Men, Gypsies and a Funeral
This is a weekend for remembrance – the giddy, happy celebrations of my childhood, the anniversaries of important adult relationships and passings. Our journey is an unknown road with bumps and detours.