Monday, March 17, 2008

When Irish pants are fallin'

St. Patrick's Day was never a big event in my family while growing up.

Mom would boil a slab of corned beef beyond recognition. My sister and I would find different ways to conceal the cabbage under mashed potatoes, used napkins or assorted condiments. Dad would put some green food coloring in his Carling Black Label. But that's about it.

It probably has something to do with that, despite our family name, we've never been real sure whether we had any Irish in our heritage. My mother's parents came over from Italy. My dad's family has lots of German and Polish in them. I remember having one Polish grand-uncle named Yosh and my dad always said his mother made great strudel. Not material that's going to get me into the Ancient Order of Hibernians any time soon.

Nonetheless, Ireland tops my list of places to one day visit if only to be able to pay respects to the brewers at Guinness for all the joy they've brought me over the years.

I took my first stab at a homemade St. Pat's feast this year. Cooked up my own batch of corned beef in the Crock-Pot this weekend … simmered in Guinness, naturally. Skipped the cabbage, but did the red potatoes, carrots and onions and bought a surprisingly tasty loaf of soda bread at the corner A&P.

I sipped down my annual shot of Jameson, a tradition I picked up from a real Irish TV cameraman I worked with during a college internship, and dug in. Shockingly, it was really good. The wife claimed it was the best corned beef she ever had.

Of course, My Love also believes it was the first corned beef she'd ever had in her life. Remember, my wife is a Midwest farm girl of an undetermined European stock that has most likely never even tried Lucky Charms. But I still accept the compliment.

True to form, my kids hated it. Thing 2 pronounced it "horrible" but he says that about everything that is neither a hot dog nor a McNugget. Thing 1, at least, liked the soda bread. It's a start.

But, this morning, I was greeted by a surprise.

Thing 2, who is that rare type of morning person who could make Attila the Hun soil himself, came downstairs all dressed for school for a change. But not in the clothes I laid out for him. Instead, he had put on a pair of green corduroy pants, a green school sweatshirt and the oversized, foam leprechaun hat his Mom brought home for him from a business trip to Dublin last year.

"And look!" he yelled.

With glee, he undid the button to his pants and let them fall to the floor. He revealed a pair of shiny, emerald green soccer shorts underneath.

Erin go brea, little buddy.

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