Here in America, we’re all Irish when it comes to St. Patrick’s day. The actual Irish in this country, or more like the descendants thereof, don’t seem to mind at all. Debauchery does not discriminate, and that is one of the things I love about it. I also love the Irish because they would rather drink with a crowd of not-us than throw a party where the celebration is only open to their ethnic counterparts.
I vaguely remember a joke, or maybe it was just some snide thing that cultural supremacists liked to say, about all white Americans believing they’re at least part Irish. Given the renowned (stereotyped?) fecundity of the Irish, it’s maybe not such a wayward assumption.
Still, I was not prepared for the pub-crawling hordes overtaking Philadelphia this past weekend. There were at least dozens, probably hundreds, of roving bands donning green and stumbling down the sidewalk by 10 am. Before I had even had my morning coffee there were kelly-colored coeds puking in the alley. It was all a bit…much. And I say that as someone who never turns down another round.
One notable characteristic of the merry population was that there were no rogue elements. The people in ridiculous green get-ups who were falling-down drunk would not perambulate in groups smaller than a half-dozen or so. Unlike a usual party night on the town, there were no couples or threesomes wandering around; this contributed to giving the day the general vibe of being a zombie apocalypse of sorts.
The more absurd or outlandish the behavior, the less willing people are to engage in it without the affirmation of others acting like-wise en masse. This may be because we have a word to describe people who are willing to act crazy by themselves: efficiently enough, that word is “crazy.” One guy wearing a green feather boa and shitting himself after too many whiskey shots at noon on a random day in March? Crazy. Thousands of such guys? Merely the revelers in a nationally recognized commercial holiday. It’s no good to know that there are other wackos like you out there somewhere; every genuine social deviant knows that there are similarly-oriented fuck-ups out there somewhere. It’s about the comfort of having the crazy behavior surround you in a cocoon of validation. You are not a deviant! You are a member of the established herd.
But last Saturday’s corporate binge drinking event isn’t the only zombified green movement in America. It’s just the more fun one.