I was thinking of the old Buffalo Springfield song this week: "Something’s happening here, but what it is ain’t exactly clear…"
Whatever the case, they’ve canceled the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin and also the one in Boston, all because of that creepy, crawly virus going around that has nothing to do with Corona Cerveza. Here in Socorro the weather isn’t helping much. Wet and cool. Almost like springtime in Ireland.
To be sure, St. Patrick’s Day is nigh. When everyone wants to eat corned beef and cabbage, drink Guinness and get misty-eyed to the strains of Danny Boy andToo-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral. Those are the two Irish songs that immediately pop into my head, but there are other good singalongs, such as Molly Malone and The Galway Girl. Then there’s the song by Paul McCartney that was banned on the BBC in the 1970s called Give Ireland Back to the Irish.
Generally, I’m told there are four basic themes for Irish folk songs:
● I had too much to drink and I regret nothing.
● I met a fair bonny lass and she was bonny and fair.
● We will fight the British forever and ever and ever and…
● I have left Ireland and I shall never be happy again.
Anyway, the Irish have given us more than Irish Spring soap bars and Lucky Charms cereal. According to the website irelandbeforeyoudie.com (bucket list, anyone?), there’s Halloween, Oscar Wilde, banshees, Liam Neeson, blarney, leprechauns, and let’s not forget TV’s Father Ted, the priest on Craggy Isle. There’s one other notable import from the Emerald Isle that needs mentioning here: Irish step dancing, the most bewildering display of seemingly being calm and collected from the waist up and wacky insanity from there on down.
From my perspective, it bears a strong semblance to clogging, that Southern tradition of kicking up a storm while avoiding any appearance of frivolity. If I may, I grew up listening to family stories of the days before radio and TV when my countryfied forebearers would gather on a front porch with banjo, fiddle, mouth harp, and maybe a “pianer,” depending on whose porch it was. Before long, someone would jump up and start clogging away on the bare wooden planks. And stories go that when Uncle Jack joined in, everyone would back off and watch.
My great-great-uncle Jack Howard, it's said, was the king of clogging in that neck of the woods. He'd tend to his cows and work his cotton fields all week long, but on any given Saturday night, he'd be on the big porch down at Thigpen's Store on Rabbit Trail Road, clogging up a storm, not unlike the Lord of the Dance, Tennessee style. I never witnessed it, it was long before my time, but I can imagine he’d give those Riverdancers a run for their money.
But I digress.
St. Paddy’s Day is when it seems pretty near everyone lays claims to have some sort of Irish heritage. Well, not everyone, but there are a few who made being Irish cool, like the Irish Americans Gene Kelly, Bram Stoker, Jim Carrey, John Kennedy, Conan O'Brien, and Anthony Quinn, who was both Irish and Mexican. And hey, if you don't want to be pinched, you'd better wear green. It's a custom that I thought would fade away after fifth grade, but apparently, a good number of grown-ups still get a kick out of it. Legend has it that if you wear green, you are invisible to fairies and leprechauns, so if you're not wearing green, people have the responsibility of pinching you to remind you to be on the lookout, lest a leprechaun sneaks up on you and steals your gold. Or something like that.
And hey, just keep in mind that pinching thing could backfire on you if you get charged with battery. ‘Nuff said?
The clogging side of my family is from Irish ancestry, but I’ve never been to Ireland. For that matter, I’ve never been to Spain. And to quote Sam Elliot in The Big Lebowski, “'Course I can't say I've seen London, and I ain't never been to France. And I ain't never seen no queen in her danged undies…”
I’ve tinkered with putting Ireland on my bucket list, but I’ve got a leaky bucket list. One day I want to go to the top of the Empire State Building, and the next day I want to drive through a redwood tree. And the next minute it's something else. When you get down to it, I’m perfectly content with Magdalena. There’s no coronavirus on my back porch, anyhow.
This past weekend I watched a DVD double feature of Outbreak and Contagion. With that in mind, just remember to wash your hands and don’t touch your face.
For that matter, keep your hands off my face as well. I just washed it.