No matter how high its aspirations, how lofty its goals, or how stringent its values, every civilization recognizes within itself the undeniable need for release. From the Roman’s Saturnalia to the French Quarter’s Fat Tuesday, societies across the world and throughout time have allowed themselves one day a year to just go completely batshit insane, mainly so they can make it through the other 364. The tiny collective of Hoboken, New Jersey is no different.
I’ve often remarked that Hoboken is where college Greek life goes to die, so it should come as no surprise that this city willfully, perhaps even gratefully, stages a spectacle of Dionysian proportions each year in advance of St. Patrick’s Day. For 24 hours, this crowded mating ground of yuppie insurgents transforms itself into the parking lot of Beaver Stadium out in State College, PA. Decked from head to toe in outrageous green flair, the bold and the beautiful of Sinatra’s home town stumble through the streets, seeking their next tallboy of Coors Light, wrists twitching in anticipation of beer pong and flip cup, inebriated senses on high alert for any of the hundreds of police officers canvassing the streets, ready to mete out justice for even the slightest of indiscretions. And Yours Truly, stone-cold sober and with camera in hand, was on hand to witness it all.
You’re probably asking yourself why an entire zip code decided to rewrite the calendar and throw its St. Patty’s bash before March 17. To be honest, I’m not sure why the event is never actually held on St. Patrick’s Day, or its closest weekend. Perhaps the Powers That Be hope that the city’s overwhelmingly young population will get all its drink out of its system before the actual holiday. More likely, it’s because there are far larger St. Patrick’s Day events happening just across the Hudson on the actual holiday, and this preemptive party is a way for local bars, restaurants, and liquor stores to make the money they would otherwise be losing to Manhattan businesses.
The timing is of no real concern to any of the revelers. City Hall could announce that next year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are going to be on October 23, and I don’t think anyone would really care. Bars would still be opening before the post office, young men would still be spitting from their balconies, and young women from across the greater metropolitan area would still be finding ever-smaller and ever-more-suggestive items of clothing to wear. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor sense of common decency stays these imbeciles from yet another appointed round of SoCo and lime.
Now I know it may sound like I’m taking a giant journalistic shit on my peers, but that’s not completely true. Getting drunk, whether day or night, has just never been my idea of a good time. When I’m drunk, I either fall asleep, start an argument, or conduct myself a bit, uh, forwardly. Sober as I was, I still had a lovely afternoon with my friends, all of whom were able to walk a straight line no matter what time I saw them. It pays to party with the pros. But before I tell you about that, I have one last thing to say; something that I am sure will get me in trouble.
Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day is otherwise notable for being the day that confirms all that I hate about women my age. Everywhere I went, there were bundles of brainless bottle-blonde bitches blocking the sidewalk. They had all taken their tenth grade Catholic school skirts out of Mom’s keepsake box and paired it with a t-shirt two sizes two small that said something along the lines of “Rub For Luck” or “You Don’t Even Have A Chance”. Every member of each God-awful gaggle I encountered had a pink BlackBerry that they struggled to operate with their freshly manicured nails. Many would trip, either because their come-fuck-me heels weren’t meant for the unpredictable sidewalks of Hoboken, or because they couldn’t see where they were going behind their sunglasses with lenses the size of hub caps. They were loud, obnoxious, and entitled. And if you think I’m being misogynistic or sexist, I’d like to know what you think the chick slumped over on some stranger’s stoop, puking into her own tits at half past noon, is doing for the women’s movement.
But I digress…
Kickball heroes and latter-day Three’s Company cast Josh, Rachel, and Jenny hosted a gathering at their apartment. Aside from fellow kickballers (whom you will all be reading about in a forthcoming spring season prospectus), there were other familiar faces on hand. In a true miracle of good planning, electronic communication, and simple fate, I was reunited with five of my best friends from summer camp. I had seen all these people within the past three years, some more than others, but never all at once. Suddenly, it was 1999 and we were eating our Chipwiches at the senior canteen after an evening activity that most likely no one found entertaining.
So, perhaps I shouldn’t shit on Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day. Sure, they may have been hosing down the piss and vomit at Hoboken Terminal when I finished my first outdoor run of the calendar year there this morning. And yes, I had a good laugh, between ragged breaths, as I watched hung-over sofa-sleepers helplessly paw at the ticket vending machines like bears at a Yosemite rest stop. But despite the crowds, the garbage, and the oblivious walking stereotypes, I had a nice day in Hoboken. By tomorrow morning, I’m sure the shamrocks will come out of the windows, the left-over green bagels will be tossed, and Hoboken’s citizens will once again stumble out of bed and tumble to the kitchen, pour themselves a cup of ambition, yawn and stretch and try to come to life. The society has had its release, and now it must remember those high aspirations, reach for those lofty goals, and live those stringent values.
At least until kickball starts next week…