25 Feb Just Because I Don’t Agree Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Get It.
The drinking day of drinking days is once again upon us. On Saturday, hordes of bros and broads will hit the streets of Chicago’s biggest bar neighborhoods. Clad in their gaudiest green white and orange, they will set their minds and livers to a collective goal. That goal is to get as fucked up as possible and generally, to do so in the quickest fashion possible. Overpriced green beer, Irish whiskey and copious amounts of other alcohols will flow freely down the gullets of this writhing mob. There will be laughter. There will be singing. There will be fighting. There will be people urinating, puking and worse in alleys and front yards everywhere. Some of these people, behind coke bottle thick beer goggles will meet the temporary loves of their lives and proceed to set Shakespearian size stages for Greek tragedy size Sunday morning regrets. Essentially, these people will become drunken, incoherent, assholes; and one of those assholes will be me. That’s right ladies and gentlemen St. Patrick’s Day is here!
Every year when our beloved dirty green river gets even greener, people come out to mark the anniversary of the death of a Catholic missionary who “drove the snakes” from Ireland. How do they do so? Drinking or course! This is the way any good Irish party is celebrated. It is this day or more appropriately the Sunday morning after when I will also see and appreciate something in a new light. Prohibition.
First, let me say how ironic I find it that one of the most fun, lose yourself, celebration days in the United States of America is an Irish Catholic holiday. We’ve come a long way from a time that a papist mick from County Cork couldn’t get a job, to a day where he can proudly scream his faith and country loyalties in the loudest most obnoxious ways he can think of. That’s not all I find amusing though. What I take no small amount of pleasure in is that the biggest thing these actions offend is Prohibition itself.
Make no mistake, as much as prohibition was an anti drinking movement it was also an anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic movement. A huge part of me, probably the Catholic part, takes great pleasure in imagining the faces of Frances Willard, Wayne Bidwell Wheeler, Billy Sunday and others if they could witness the debauchery Saturday will bring. I imagine myself raising my 10th pint of Guinness to them and saying, “Here’s to you assholes! Fuck you very much!” Actually, that’s a great idea. I think I’ll do exactly that.
All that being said there is something else I will do. I will understand. This sort of ridiculousness can’t and shouldn’t happen everyday. I feel like St. Paddy’s has become the collective id for a country that was once so hopelessly out of control with their drink. It’s a day when we throw away the conventions that prohibition provided us and let out an unfiltered, unabashed and un-caged scream. It’s a day to blow off the steam that must be collected over the course of a grown-up year.
Prohibition was a bad idea from the start, and it was even more poorly enforced. Did it even need to happen? You may be surprised to hear this, but I think yes. In a day when women were at the mercy of their alcoholic husbands, fathers, and brothers, fueled by week long St. Patrick’s Day-esque binges with no escape or legal recourse, we needed something that would force us to pump the breaks. Something needed to happen to force us, all of us, to look in the mirror and say, “What have we become?” Unfortunately, like so many other things still in America what we got was abstinence rather than intelligence. Rather than teach responsibility we were force-fed total sobriety. A thought so ill conceived that it was doomed to failure before it was even uttered.
However, on Sunday mor… early afternoon I will rise. I will be groggy, queasy and more than just a little worse for ware. I will do one other thing too; I will look at my own reflection in the mirror and I will understand. I will check my phone and start to repair the damage done the day before. I will be grateful that I only do this a few times a year and not everyday. I won’t like it, but I will understand it. I will fucking understand prohibition. God help me.