St. Paddy Is Fine But
to Parade Is Optional
New Yorkers don’t usually complain about their city. They may not like what it’s becoming, but to speak evil of tourists, or say, The Bronx, may be grounds for a punch. Just don’t get them started about malls. Or the MTA. Tell no soul, but in certain quarters, parades belong to this list too.
Sorry, St. Paddy, and all those who helped build New York, but a lot of locals simply detest parades. And religious processions. Ticker-tape parades and dignitary visits too. Apart from marches, if there’s a crowd in one part of the town, I’ll be quick to run to the other side.
In the case of St. Patrick’s Day, for instance, such dislike has nothing to do with some moralistic aversion of public drunkenness, or all those incoherent ‘bros,’ or the retrograde core that fought, tooth and nail but lost, thank goodness, to prevent LGBT people from joining in, gladly.
The same about all the St. Pat’s related parades, the Eastern, the Tartan, and I’m sorry, but let’s include those ethnic and country-themed displays of people wearing funny hats, and yes, Thanksgiving too. There’s just no way I’ll withstand the elements and waste my day gawking at strangers.
If it sounds sullen, by all means, don’t let me stop you from going out there and do it like the Greeks and Romans; I’m just staying behind. And as I do when the United Nations is having one of those world leader summits, I’ll be at that cafe the other side of the park, bidding my time.
DO WE HAVE TO SING TOO?
I’m probably one of those sorry sods who don’t see the point. Or maybe they evoke the frightening sound of military boots hitting the pavement, troops carrying heavy artillery, marching in unison, stupid displays of menacing power. Being from Latin America, I’ve learned to fear what comes next.
I can understand, and even join, a good Puerto Rican party in one of the boroughs, or a festive roda de samba and capoeira, full of happy Brazilians. Invite me for Margaritas at your backyards, on Cinco de Mayo, and I’ll show up with some friends too. Maybe I just can’t stand crowds.
We all have done it, at least once, usually dragged by some out-of-town relative. Yes, I’ve frozen my behind, behind a four-deep (more)
layer of people, on Fifth Ave, for the Macy’s balloons, on a frigid Thursday in November. Or got pushed on Columbus Circle on Columbus Day. Never more.
NO ONE EXPECTS YOU TO SHOW
There’s an inevitability that parade-goers accept at face value, and disturbs me a great deal: you go wherever everybody else goes, as you must. And you run when they run too. And do not think about bathrooms. Have you heard of New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square? one word: diapers.
If you must ask, yes, I’ve been there too. When I’ll be back? Never. In all of them, there’s the cold factor, but in the summer, when the city is finally a bit empty, why on earth would I spend a day along a sweaty crowd? On the subway, I know, smarty paints, but that’s because I absolutely must.
As for the country we’re from, I’m sure each of them has enough quorum to fill Broadway till Harlem. They certainly don’t need me. Support the team, show you care, that kind of thing, if ever had any meaning, I can’t think of one to justify showing up. But, wait, there are some.
EXCEPT THAT ONE. OH, AND THAT ONE
Yes, there is such a thing as exceptions to anything one says. And yes, there’s always room to be an ass about anything. Thus, there are conditions for someone to live in New York and not care an iota about bloggers boasting that they know what is and isn’t to be a New Yorker.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But tell me, have you been to Coney Island’s Mermaid or Greenwich Village’s Halloween Parades? The May AIDS walk in Central Park is more like a civic duty, and we’re glad to do it, but to party on Gay Pride Day ought to grant you some kind of badge too.
Speaking of which, sure, we stomped on First of May, now that they killed the unions. And punched our cards at Veterans Day, for sentimental reasons. But being in Chinatown for Lunar New Year can awaken dragons inside anyone, even if you don’t speak the language (and your ears ring for days afterwards).
BEAT YOUR OWN DRUM, SLOWLY
And since this post is coming out like some kind of freaking Hallmark card – I Thought About You at the NYC ____ Parade -, a quick Internet search show that many a quirky parade would be worth experiencing in many cities around the world. Unfortunately, we’re broke so that’s that.
The point is that I’m not into it, but if they’re your thing, by all means. If you miss today, there are St. Patrick parades in the boroughs and in the Tri-State area. Have a jar on me. Sláinte. Just stay away from green beer. And funny hats. And old Irish songs. No, wait a minute, we like those.
Have a ball, it’s a free country and all that. A couple of dears of mine consider today their anniversary, bless their heart. My last name is Irish, by the way; something to do with coal, I hear. But you wouldn’t say it by my accent. Or aghaidh. Actually, stay clear from people who quote Gaelic. Cheers.