On March 17, another unwanted birthday came to fruition. Of course, being of Irish descent, St. Patrick’s Day is an excuse to drink beer. There is an old saying:
“God created liquor to keep the Irish from conquering the world.”
Had that occurred, every man and woman would be walking, stumbling, or crawling home from the local pub. One might argue we would be better off. Most certainly, it would end those admonitions on beer cans.
The evils of alcohol make for fine orations on the part of Bible-thumping preachers; would-be Carrie Nations; and social crusaders. Most certainly, it would end those irritating studies, which on occasion contend with each other.
A glass of wine a day, they tell us, is good for our health. Another study declares one drink can cut your life expectancy by tens of years. We hear the same thing about coffee.
Since I drink gallons of coffee a day, I roll the dice on how long I will live. I would like to be around to see the little green men on Mars. As for beer, the limit on my consumption of the beverage is only circumscribed by my wife.
A guy I know, a veteran of the Vietnam War, who was 19 at the time he served, told me at the end of a particularly deadly exchange with the Viet Cong, he was denied a beer. Which is kind of nuts when you think about it.
But, we digress from the function of this column; which is to comment on parties my wife threw at the newspaper office for me on St. Patrick’s Day. She would bring enough corned beef, potatoes, Rye bread, and cabbage to feed half the people in Ireland.
She did this during the 40 years I worked at the newspaper. The expectations were so high, that had she missed one St. Patrick’s Day meal, there would, in all probability, been a riot.
The one thing lacking; something I longed for, was to hear the pipes. Nothing moves an Irishman more than the sound of bagpipes. During one period of Irish oppression by the English, the bagpipes were outlawed.
Of course, this did little to stem the irritation or challenge to the English, but there it was. What did they expect from a race of warriors, whose clans spent much of their time fighting each other?
On my 50th birthday, my wife delivered not only the corned beef and cabbage but a state trooper, who played his bagpipes at various functions throughout the state. He wore everything one would expect of a bagpiper; the kilt drew the most comments.
Most people associate the kilt with the movie “Braveheart”, in which the Scottish displayed their derrieres to the English army. It was a fine display from a people closely related to the Irish.
The state trooper took to his pipes in an office of limited space. The effect on the office was astounding. A bagpipe at play carries for miles. Confined, it is deafening.
Indeed, the long-term effect proved highly lucrative for doctors, and businesses selling hearing aids. My wife meant well, but, she has been held to account for the fact that I am now deaf in one ear, and the other teeters on the edge.
The publisher, the venerable Bill Hamel, burst from his office, in a state of shock; which, in itself, was something to behold. Equanimity returned with the departure of the bagpiper.
Unfortunately, the owner of the funeral home – a friend of mine – was in the office that day.
By Harry Reynolds