Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Welcome to the world's largest (and annual) funeral -- bottom's up!!!

I really don't like St. Patrick's Day.

What, you ask? An Irishman who enjoys a Guinness as much as the next guy, or ANY guy for that matter, does not like to celebrate St. Paddy's Day???

Yes, that's what I'm saying.

Why, you ask. (That's is you're practiced in the art of obvious question-and-answer banter.)

Several things, I say. Here they are:

1. He wasn't Irish. St. Patrick was actually brought to Ireland from Wales as a slave. Nice, huh? Peel these 80 dozen potatoes and, when you're done, we have a wee snake issue you might want to take a look at.

2. Snakes might not have existed in St. Patrick's time. Who knows about this -- I'm no reptologist or anything. But parting the waters or making Guinness out of water (or tar) was not original. Snakes! He can drive snakes out of Ireland (and presumbably into water since Ireland is an island), proving snakes or people are kind of stupid. Who knows which is really true. Are we to believe St. Patrick was the Samuel L. Jackson of his time?? "We gotta get these m-therf-cking snakes off this m-therf-cking island!"

3. Oh yeah, he's not a saint. He was not associated with any particular faith. He has never been canonized by any Pope. (Canonize, kids, does NOT mean he was shot out of a canon as a form of saint hazing; it's the act of naming someone a saint.) So for all you (us) Roman Catholics out there who are going to hell if we get divorced, have pre-marital sex, or are gay and want to get married, because that's not what the church teaches us we MUST believe and practice, then you're are probably a hethen if you celebrate on March 17. (But we're all going to hell anyway based on these beliefs/rules so might as well hoist another one!)

4. St. Patrick was not born on March 17. He did not invent beer on March 17. He did not become a Saint on March 17 because, you know, he's not really a saint. Nor did he create Oprah on March 17 (see Really Big Bang Theory for THAT one). He died on March 17. Yes, death....woo hoo! (I wonder how many points that Not a Saint Patrick That Really Cool Welsh Slave Guy Who May or May Not Have Driven Snakes In The Water would have netted in the Ghoul Pool??)
Though in dying on this day and having millions of people revel in death, he did create the Irish wake.
(When I broght an Italian friend to her first Irish wake, she whispered "They DO know he died, right? And that he's laying right there?")

I also don't like the day because I don't need to celebrate being Irish. I AM Irish. Every day.

And celebrating being Irish has more to do than silly Halloween leprachaun outfits, green beer, painting shamrocks on your cheeks (hmmm which ones), and drinking until you forget how many fingers you have.

No, being Irish is about going to church even if you don't agree with it's teachings. Being Irish is about never showing emotions until your family is completely dysfunctional. Being Irish is about never crying until Uncle Seamus loses his left foot to gout, and then getting blind drunk becuase you haven't seen your cousin Courtney since your visit to the old country 10 years ago. And of course being Irish is about drinking because you want to, not because it's March.

Oh, yeah you MUST love the Kennedys. Shhh - it's unconditional. Don't ask why.

Have a great funeral, er, day anyway. Leave all your troubles behind.

And if you don't like Guinness, please take a tip I received from one Jimmy O'Neil back in my college days. "Have a 2nd pint,'' he said. "If you really don't like it after the 2nd one, I'll buy them both for you and never bother you again."

His advice changed my life. At least the portions that I remember...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Introducing the "Mancation" -- MAAC Daddies on the loose

Every year there are four special days on the calendar. No, not Arbor Day silly, though I do have a growing appreciation for trees.

Those days are the "mancation" for me and four buddies. If you know me well, you probably have heard about this. Me and three buddies venture to some exciting city in the northeast: Buffalo, Albany, Bridgeport CT, and -- pinch me -- Trenton, NJ for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference basketball tournament

The MAAC is one of those small school conferences you've probably never heard about whose team names are creatures or beings you've never heard of or will ever encounter. Golden Griffins, Purple Eagles, the Gaels. I went to Iona (home of the Gaels -- it's an Irish warrior, think Fighting Irish minus the Notre Dame). The other three guys didn't go to Iona, or any other MAAC school. And one weekend -- 10 years ago -- they apparently had so little to do, that they came to Albany, NY with me to watch teams (and creatures) they've never heard of to play basketball.

Ten years later, we are back. We have not missed a MAAC weekend since and we're not afraid to let it be known. We've labelled ourselves the MAAC Dadddies (I know, it's really lame. But it stuck). We've been written up in the newspaer (more than once in more than one city). We've had beers with coaches (and their mothers). We are known throughout the conference and, most especially, in the arena bars. We are not small time.

To illustrate what this weekend means to us, consider:

* My sister's birthday is March 4 and most years I'm the jerk little brother who misses her birthday five out of six years;
* One guy attended the tournament when his two-week old prematurely born son was still in the hospital. Oh relax, he was fine. Oh relax, the kid is six now and out of the hospital. He's lucky he popped out early, so that his Dad can be there on his birthday every year.
* Another MAAC Daddy had a mandatory regional manager's meeting that weekend one year. He blew it off.
* I lost my job two days before the tournament one year. Financial worries immediately set in and I ponied up for my share of the hotel and adult beverage consumption fund. I didn't eat for a month, but whatever. Beer has grains.

How bad is it? When I go to the arena in Bridgeport, CT -- a few miles from my house -- the bartenders, security guards and some random weird people say "Hey....where are the rest of the MAAC Daddies?" I guess it's our 15 minutes of fame.

I know what you're thinking. "Uh....why not go to South Carolina to golf? A trip to spring training or a five cities in six days baseball trip during the season?"

Let's put it this way....The year we first attended the tourney, we walked in a mostly empty arena on a Friday afternoon during a women's game. (Yes, we watch the women's games too. Sometimes.) There was a scramble for the ball, three players fell to the floor as timeout was called.

One of the guys, without thinking, yelled down to the court....wait for it...."Clean the wet spot!!"

That was the moment we knew we'd return every year forever. And our jackets were still on.

So while we might break our record for earliest beer consumed (9:38 a.m.) this weekend, please say a prayer for us. But think about your guy. (If you're a guy, don't to that. Think about your girl) Wouldn't he love four days away every year to blow off some steam and get the mancation he deserves.

Okay, fellas stop thinking about your girl. Or finish up. Either way, carve out your mancation today before you lose your mind. Oh, and clean the wet spot.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Say it Ain't So, Glo! My Girl Gloria is Cheating on Me

Today was a snowy, quiet day. I made up a couple of minor errands just to get out of the house. You know, return a Blockbuster movie, mail the rent check....Ooops, is it March already!!!??

One of my inspirations to get moving this afternoon (hey, I didn't say anything about bright-eyed and bushy tailed. You presumed that!) was that I typically clean off not only my Pathfinder, but the ancient, little green vehicle of sorts that belongs to my 84-year-old next door neighbor, Gloria.

I've mentioned Gloria before. She's the woman for whom I open toilet cleaners and roasted red pepper jars; I "fix" her answering machine (that is erase the messages after I've instructed her about 122 other previous times how to do the same); I take her garbage out.

So, you know, me and Glo are tight.

And I take this car-cleaning thing seriously, even though she's told me her family doesn't want her driving. Sometimes she's just GOTTA get somewhere. Hey man, she's an 84-year-old on the go! (She gave me 5 dollars during the first snowstorm. I didn't want to take the money so I bought that swill-wine and earned a nickel extra for when I need 2 minutes in a parking meter. The next time it snowed, I didn't go out that day, and she left a note on the door "Sorry you didn't clean my car today." So that's what we're dealing with here)

So I put on my winter layers, hat, gloves, goofy ski hat that makes my head 178 degrees. I trudge down the stairs, grab the shovel and walk outsi.......

What the? Who the? Dude....Someone cleaned her car!

Gloria is cheating on me!

So I dug out my Pathfinder, half brooding and half wondering who could be more benevolent than me!? Impossible! Whoever it was is an early bird, eagerly getting out before 3:30 p.m.!

I did discover that the new saint in town failed to shovel a path to Gloria's driver's side, which I not only happily did, I cleared a path on the passenger side too! Take that rookie!

So as I'm about to begin my trip to Blockbuster, my downstairs neighbor comes out with his own shovel and nods to me. I nod back, expecting that to be end of it. He says to me "I bailed you out this time, I took care of Gloria's car."

Newman! He's the guy! I actually kinda like him. And decide to drop my grudge. For now.

I said "You didn't have to do that. I told her I'd take care of it."

"Nice of you," I added.

"She gave me 10 bucks."


Bad economy and Gloria's upping the ante. Interesting. She drives a hard bargain that Glo.

I got over it in a hurry. I parked outside of Blockbuster, used my nickel for 2 minutes at the meter while I retured the movie. When I returned home, Gloria's garbage was outside my door.

The true test. The wasted tissues, empty tuna cans (or is that cat food), and empty Parmalat boxes of an admiring 84-year-old. Come on rook, step up. This is what it's all about. We can all be the Shovel For Hire, but let's see what you got on garbage day!

Make sure my foyer doesn't smell like elderly refuse tomorrow. Be sure to pick that up tomorrow by 2 p.m. I have an early day.