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Society for the Happiness and Advancement of Merry Rainbow-Observing Celtic Kinsfolk Calls Emergency Meeting

By Katie Hoffman @katienotholmes

After serving as president of the Society for the Happiness and Advancement of Merry Rainbow-Observing Celtic Kinsfolk (SHAMROCK) for 17 years, Domnall Kilduff called his first emergency meeting for the morning of St. Patrick's Day. It would be the first time the society assembled in decades. Standing before his old oak dresser, a hint of stubborn March sunlight peeked through the blinds. Domnall carefully pinned his great grandfather's clover pin to his lapel. This was an important day for him, for SHAMROCK, and for his people. He hoped he was ready.

SHAMROCK was best (and only) known for being the shadowy group that authorized St. Patrick's snake removal in an impressive 23:7 vote, but in the years since nothing else the group has achieved has been as impressive as ridding the country of legless reptiles. Their impotence during the potato famine had irreparably damaged the society's reputation, and as most of their meetings took place in church basements, most people assumed SHAMROCK was an offshoot of Alcoholics Anonymous-which wasn't far off, as far as most members were concerned. SHAMROCK had gone the way of the student council treasurer position in every high school: Entrusted to the underqualified to accomplish very little.

It was still loud when Domnall approached the podium. Many of the groups members were meeting each other for the first time, and everyone was buzzing from anticipation. Or Guinness. He cleared his throat, knocking his knuckles on the side of the podium.

"Attention!" he called.

The clamor gradually waned like a driver turning down the radio to look for an address. It was quiet now aside from the shuffle of feet and the mechanical murmur of a strobe-lit shamrock necklace one member was wearing. Domnall took a deep breath.

"I've gathered you here today to speak about something that's been bothering me for a long time." The podium was wobbly, but if nothing else, it hid his shaky knees from the group.

"We have to stop letting everyone be Irish on St. Patrick's Day," he said.

Before he could finish pronouncing "day," the group detonated. A woman in the first row leaped to her feet yelling, "Tyrant! You can't go changing the rules! Everyone 's Irish on St. Patrick's Day! That's how it's always been."

"Please, miss, settle down," the man next to her cooed, adjusting his glasses. "Surely he can't mean that. Let the man speak his mind."

"No, thank you, sir, but she's right," Domnall confessed, "We need to take back St. Patrick's Day."

He came around to the side of the podium, resting his elbow on its edge.

"I remember when I was young, St. Patrick's Day used to feel special. I have many fond memories of myself as a young boy wearing green on St. Patrick's Day and proudly saying, 'Yes,' when people would ask if I'm Irish. But now? St. Patrick's Day means nothing."

"It's the damn kids!" someone yelled from the back, "they want the alcohol, sure, but they can't handle the limericks!"

"Yeah!!!!" a woman echoed from the coffee cart.

"And why did we get stuck with Lucky Charms. Couldn't we have had Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Golden Grahams? RAISIN BRAN CRUNCH?"

"Please," he sighed, "let's not get into the cereal debate right now," Domnall said with a heavy wave of his hand.

The man wearing glasses in the front adjusted his cuff links with furrowed brows.

"Have you even considered the economic ramifications of this? Sixty-five percent of Ireland's gross domestic product comes from the sales of green beads, plastic green leprechaun hats, and 'Kiss Me, I'm Irish' tee shirts. If you start reminding people they're not really Irish, the country will slip into a recession."

The group gasped, looking to each other and Domnall for confirmation.

"He's right," Domnall said, "there are going to be some sacrifices. But has any sacrifice been greater than pretending that corned beef and cabbage tastes good all these years? Or enduring traditional Irish music at every bar when March rolls around?"

The group fell quiet in contemplation. The longstanding endurance of corned beef and cabbage has been a hot button issue among the Irish for centuries.

"If we take back St. Patrick's Day, no one will know that we just want eat pizza with our beer. We could listen to Billy Joel if we wanted to, even G-Eazy."

A woman with a child on her lap in the third row called, "But how could we do it? How do we remind people that that looking good in green does not an Irishman make?" Her son babbled as she bounced him on her knee.

"How do we unmuddy the waters, Domnall?"

He smirked, walking back behind the podium.

"I thought you might ask that, so I came up with a plan."

Domnall pulled down the projector screen hanging from the ceiling behind him.

"Turn it on, Megan."

The screen was blurry at first, but what came into focus was a singular question, the one that divides the Irish from the St. Patrick's Day Irish. This question was the answer, Domnall believed. This was how St. Patrick's Day would be saved. When Domnall looked back out at the crowd, some people were slowly nodding their heads. Others looked unimpressed, which his hurt his feelings because he spent a lot of time getting the PowerPoint template just right.

He looked to the reasonable man in the front row with the glasses.

"What do you think, sir? Do we stand a chance?"

""Who in your family is Irish?'" he read aloud slowly, letting the full meaning of the inquiry reach the crowd. It was about as underwhelming as soda bread.

"See!" Domnall said, adjusting his pin, "We'll just remind them of what they've forgotten! That claiming to be Irish isn't like claiming to be gluten-free-there's proof! We could partner with Ancestry.com and-"

The screech of a few of the metal folding chairs sliding back in the front row interrupted his speech. People were getting nervous. It was one thing to talk about curtailing some of the unsavory shenanigans synonymous with St. Patrick's Day, but bringing Ancestry.com into it was a step too far.

"Then if we find out anyone has a shamrock tattoo and they're not Irish, we'll make them turn it into something else. A hydrangea maybe! Are there green hydrangeas? We'll find out. And the bars will never be crowded again! You'll never have to fight for a black and tan!"

A few people had started leaving while Domnall raved. Of everyone in attendance, only the man with the glasses in front row maintained his composure. He had forgotten that his usual Alcoholics Anonymous meeting had been pushed to tomorrow night to make space for a special event in the church basement. His olive green Thursday tie had gotten him swept up with the rest of the society members, but it was hard to argue with Domnall's stance. After all, a German-Italian had been in their midst all this time.

Society Happiness Advancement Merry Rainbow-Observing Celtic Kinsfolk Calls Emergency Meeting
Society for the Happiness and Advancement of Merry Rainbow-Observing Celtic Kinsfolk Calls Emergency Meeting

Katie Hoffman is a writer living in the suburbs of Chicago. She enjoys leftovers, lunges, and laughs.


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