Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saint Patrick's Day Relief

At one point in the movie Gran Torino, the character played by Clint Eastwood takes the young Cambodian boy he's befriended to his local barber in order to teach him a thing or two about genuine manhood.  If I remember correctly, the barber character is of Polish descent, while Eastwood's is of Irish.  (It might be the other way around, no matter.)  Throughout the process of Eastwood's hair being cut, he and the barber engage in straight-faced, but good-natured male banter about the suspect nature of the other's origins in which nothing is off limits, and I mean nothing.

According to contemporary standards, the banter is deeply offensive and had it happened in real life some Commissar of Political Correctness would have no doubt brought them both up on a hate-crime charge.  But I think Eastwood, as the director of the film, did this deliberately.  I think he did it as if to say to his viewers, "Lighten up, would ya?"  Today, Saint Patrick's Day, I witnessed just some of this same banter for real and, I must say, it was oh so refreshing.

My job brought me to Miami this morning and I was for an hour or so surrounded by a group of working class American men.  They were all, save one, of latin descent, mostly Cubans, but with a Venezuelan and a Colombian, I think, thrown in the mix as well.  The lone Gringo, as they call him, routinely calls them all "Mexicans", even though he's well aware of the differences.  They all laugh at this just as routinely.  At one point he called to one of them and asked him if he knew that today was Saint Patrick's Day.  He did.  The Gringo then lifted his shirt to display underneath a t-shirt which sported the Irish colors along with some statement or other about Saint Patrick's Day.  He then asked the same fellow if he knew what Saint Patrick was most famous for.  He didn't know.  The room was quiet.  He explained that Saint Patrick was most famous for running all of the "Damn Mexicans" out of Ireland.  The room erupted with laughter.

Do you think we can ever get this country back?

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