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I’m Sick of All the Irish Stereotypes. As Soon as I Finish This Drink, I’m Punching Someone—Or So the T-Shirt Says, Although Another Proudly Boasts I’m a Drinker Not a Fighter!

February 19, 2010

I do not wear t-shirts advertising anything. Not my school. Not a food product (although I’ve been tempted by Spam, refusing because the twee irony was just too much for me). Not anything that I “heart.” I actually do heart quite a few things, but I don’t put them on my bumper and I certainly don’t want to boast about them on my person. I most especially do not wear t-shirts advertising my ethnic heritage.

Such shirts are on my mind because I’ve been out shopping. In just about every store, I’m bombarded already by seasonal messages celebrating my own personal ethnic heritage, St. Patrick’s Day. The hearts have been put away for another year and the shamrocks have blossomed everywhere. I know it’s all in fun, but I’m bothered by the stuff associated with this festive time.

Take a look. Follow the green and here’s what you’ll see: Multiple versions of the St. Patrick’s Day Drinking Team shirt. Irish Whiskey Makes Me Frisky. Irish I Was Drunk. Mugs and mugs and mugs and mugs filled with green beer (and little green mugs on chains, big green plastic mugs, beer mug glasses—the kind for your eyes—and so much more). When My Irish Eyes Are Smiling, You Know I’m Drunk. The Bar—An Irishman’s Vacation Destination.

While you’ll certainly also see leprechauns (especially that little Lucky Charms® guy), pots of gold, pleas for kisses, and luck, luck, luck, you’ll also run into Drunky McDrunkerson. Let’s Get Ready to Mumble (paired with lots of beer bottles). You Look Like I Need a Drink. Dublin’ Up (a pair of beer mugs on this one). Green Beer Makes Me Stronger. The Drinking Irish. Drink • Drank • Drunk. You Can’t Drink All Day If You Don’t Start in the Morning.

But wait, there’s more: Here for the Beer. Irish—It’s in My Blood (Alcohol Level). Mean Green Drinking Machine. Drink Till Yer Irish. Drink Till Yer Green. Today I’m the Designated Drunk. Being Irish Is Like Having a License to Drink. Five Percent Irish, Ninety-Five Percent Drunk. Mugs Not Drugs. Support the Irish, Drink Beer.

Wikipedia (and no, don’t reference this resource in any paper you ever hand in to any professor, please) defines an ethnic group as a “group of humans whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage that is real or assumed.” I realize that all this assumed Irishness on St. Paddy’s Day is just in fun and that—irony alert—people most certainly desperately need an excuse to get stinking drunk, but I wish that something else were being celebrated on “my” day. Think about this next time you’re tempted by clever messages silk-screened on green cotton.

What t-shirt messages celebrate your heritage?

T-shirts are the chosen apparel for proudly and smugly displaying one’s messages. . .Some of these sayings are hilarious, others are rude, and still others just say “Don’t bother me.”
• Simran Khurana, “Top 10 Funny T-Shirt Sayings,” About.com

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