Thursday, March 17, 2011

pat in the middle

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

For those of you in Boston, Chicago, and New York, the day means parades and green beer.  And, of course, Irish jokes.

Dan Green, a loyal reader in North Carolina, sent me this joke almost a year ago.  It has been fermenting in my in-box for an occasion just like this.

Patrick walks into a bar in Dublin, orders three pints of Guinness and sits in the corner of the room, drinking a sip out of each pint in turn. When he finishes all three, he goes back to the bar and orders three more.

The barman says, "You know a pint goes flat soon after I pull it.  Your pint would taste better if you bought one at a time."

Patrick replies, "Well now, I have two brothers -- one is in America and the other in Australia and here I am in Dublin . When we all left home, we promised we'd drink this way to remember the days we all drank together."

The barman admits that this is a nice custom and says no more.

Patrick becomes a regular customer, and always drinks the same way -- ordering three pints and drinking a sip out of each in turn, until they are finished.

One day, he comes in and orders just two pints. All the other regulars in the bar notice and fall silent.

When he goes back to the bar for the second round, the barman says, "I don't want to intrude on your grief, but I wanted to offer my condolences on your great loss."

Patrick looks confused for a moment, then the penny drops and he starts to laugh.  "Oh no," he says, "Everyone is fine! It's me -- I've quit drinking!"

Here in San Patricio, we celebrate Saint Patrick's Day with fireworks and second degree burns.

It may surprise some of you that we would be going out of our day to celebrate an itinerant Anglo-Saxon priest the Irish adopted as their own.  But San Patricio has a patron saint.  And he is -- yup! -- Saint Patrick (or San Patricio, as we know him around these Latin-speaking parts).

That is him on the right.  Sitting on his carry-all for not-so-spontaneous processions around the village.

Every year the village goes all out to have a great one-week party in honor of the amateur herpetologist of the emerald isle.  Yellow and green decorations are everywhere. 


Along with carnival rides.  Food stalls.  And castillos -- those towers of fireworks designed to whirl and spin, and toss burning rockets into the crowd.

And this year had quite a few firework twists.  There was more of everything. 

Lots of mortars.  Several of those giant displays so popular at county fairs.  And lots of the little rockets that fire into the audience sending people jumping and whooping with sheer pleasure.

This year I took one right in the stomach.  I took a photograph, but it does not do the experience justice.  And it was not until I got home that I noticed the entire left inseam of my dockers is one giant black singe.
Rocket scars are worn with reverential pride around here.

Before I moved south, I read stories in several blogs describing similar fireworks-centered fiestas.  Almost every blogger would then say they had tired of attending the late-night celebrations.

I could not understand it.  I was enthralled at the sight of my first castillo.  But, after two years of fireworks for every conceivable event, I found myself thinking similar thoughts this week.  I simply had other things to do.

But the young man who delivers my bottled water invited me to attend the Wednesday night festivities with his wife and his son.  So, off to the plaza I went.

I had a great time.  The castillo did what castillos do best.  People oohed in delight at the spinning fire and shrieked in real terror when the rockets began firing at them.

But that is not what the event is all about
.  I also ran into people I had not seen for a couple of months

One of them talked me into joining her on two carnival rides.  Both were fun, but the last one was thrilling.  Better than any ride in a themed amusement park.


You can see it at the right.  It looks deceptively calm.  But when it starts, the seats turn over and over in a very irregular pattern.  You almost have the feeling that death is waiting for you on the next spin. 

It was great.

On each spin, I kept thinking: this is exactly the type of ride Islagringo would enjoy.

It was an evening of experiencing the joy of basic good times with one another -- renewing our souls in social communion.

And that was only Saint Patrick's Eve.  Tonight I will need to join the crowd again for another shot of joy.  With a final chance to see Saint Pat smile.

And, who knows?  I may even participate in the bull chase -- despite my bum ankle.


Islagringo said...

Oh Man, you have opened yourself wide open for my snarky comments with some of the things you have said. But perhaps that is best left solely to the imagination. Anyhoo, I didn't realize that St Pats was celebrated at all in Mexico. I have never seen or heard of any other community celebrating it. My bad? And you are right. I have been on that ride you describe and found it deliciously terrifying. There was a great Tilt-a-Whirl in Merida but I could not talk any of the old fogeys with me into going on it. Hey! I know what our next trip should be! Let's travel around Mexico and visit all the festivities with rides and partake of them all!

Felipe Zapata said...

It's Saint Patrick's Day?

Steve Cotton said...

I swear the church could be somewhere in Brooklyn. With its shamrocks, green and gold banners, and Saint Patick statues. My research has not uncovered any Irish connection. There may be none. After all, Patrick is a saint of the "universal" church, but he certanly seems to have made a wrong turn to Melaque.

Steve Cotton said...

Sounds like a great plan.