It’s a dilemma. I face it every year. I don’t have green to wear and it’s St. Patrick’s Day. For your average run-of-the-mill citizen, this might not be an issue—but I do have an Irish heritage (in part), and so it’s a heartfelt concern. The reason I don’t have green has less to do with fashion (consider the source!) than with my clothing purchasing practices. First of all, I like to make my clothes last. Fabrics can be quite durable. They aren’t mechanical and therefore don’t break down often. I don’t live a rough-and-tumble life, so tears aren’t really a problem. The end result is that I keep my clothes as long as they’re functional. When they begin to wear out I go to the store and examine the clearance racks until I find something in my size. That means color selection is often a matter of very limited options.
Once in a great while I have landed something green. I still remember a green shirt I had in college. It served me well for more than four St. Patrick’s Days. It long ago succumbed to overuse, however, because I wore it on other days as well. And let’s face it, when I make one of those infrequent trips to the clothiers’ shops, this particular holiday’s not on my mind. Unless, of course, I go shopping in March. Back when I lived in Boston it was easy to get your Irish on. I bought a bright green silky (I don’t know if it was real silk) tie with white shamrocks on it. It was probably down at Faneuil Hall. It had been a bit outlandish to wear to work in New York City, though. Indeed, at work staid dress was by far the most common code. Consequently it hung unused in my closet for years.
When we moved a couple summers back, I noticed my green tie had faded to bronze. I thought it went the other way around. In any case, my last truly green clothing article was no longer green. Yes, it still has shamrocks, but I’d feel even more ridiculous trying to rock a bronze tie and pass myself off as Irish. It won’t even pass for gold. Of course, I work from home. I’ve practiced social distancing long before it was a trend or a government mandate, whichever it is. The only people to see my lack of green would be my wife and daughter, and perhaps a Jehovah’s Witnesses that might stop by. But still, even minor celebrations are anticipated at times such as this. Although I won’t be going out today I’ll probably be spending some time in my closet and reflecting on the true heritage of my Irish forebears.