The streets are green with liberty

Why your hangover is vital

Bill Beso

But sometimes, son, you can trust a man who occasionally kneels before a toilet. The chances are that he is learning something about humility and his natural human foolishness, about how to survive himself. It’s damned hard for a man to take himself too seriously when he’s heaving his guts into a dirty toilet bowl.

—James Crumley,
The Wrong Case

It’s a grey and dreary afternoon here on Portage Avenue. I am sitting in the lounge of the Rinkside Bar and Grill and a deadline looms menacingly over my head. I haven’t even touched my drink yet. Just two hours left now – got to stay focused. Have to finish the article and get this story out.

Which is easier said than done.

Getting the story out may be a problem, because right now, I have no story. Instead of coming up with this week’s article, I’ve spent the week planning and worrying, worrying and planning. That’s because earlier this week, I remembered that St. Patrick’s Day – much like my deadline – is just around the corner.

Saint Patrick, of course, is the patron saint of Ireland and is said to have single-handedly driven a plague of snakes from the Emerald Isle ... or something like that. And how have we come to celebrate the legacy of such a swell and holy fellow?

We guzzle dark stout beer and Irish whiskey until we fall down and puke on our shoes! It’s like Christmas in March.

This year, regrettably, the holiday has snuck up on me. I’m feeling horribly unprepared for the 17th of March. I still haven’t decided which bars I’ll visit that day. The King’s Head is an obvious choice, but the crowds and the lines are guaranteed to be ridiculous.

The Regal Beagle would probably be less frantic, and the place has always treated me well, but I think they host an open mic night on Wednesdays. I cringe to think of what might happen when me, liquor and a waiting microphone all get mixed together.

And that’s just the bars I’m worried about. I still need to figure out the order in which I’ll visit them, what I’ll be drinking when I get there, how best to conceal the open liquor I’ll have, where to sleep it off, the legal rights of persons charged with disorderly conduct/public drunkenness/indecent exposure – everything. It’s a lot of work to celebrate the day properly.

Still, I think the effort is well worth it. When I go pub crawling on St. Patrick’s Day, I consider it a political event. I’m celebrating two of this country’s fundamental freedoms: freedom of expression and freedom of association. Where others may see only a vulgar orgy of excesses, I see a living, breathing testament to democracy.

The price paid for such freedoms, in the case of St. Patrick’s Day, is the morning after. On that morning, I will sit though an early morning class with one of the most murderous hangovers imaginable.

I can’t wait.

Rob Holt is a second-year University of Winnipeg student and he’d like to thank everyone who comes to the party.

Published in Volume 64, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 11, 2010)

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