Saturday, March 3, 2007

What a Difference a Year Makes

I'm regressing. In my anxious anticipation about the pending arrival of our baby, I have morphed back into a teenager. My face is breaking out. I'm an awkward kid wondering how to ask the girl I like to the prom, so I can't sleep either. I know the end is near, I just don't know when it's coming. It's kind of like when I was pledging my fraternity. I've been told to pack a bag, and wait for that final step: "Hell Week." I just have no idea when that phone is going to ring, summoning me to the next stage in my life.

Coincidentally, exactly one year ago this weekend, I was also finding it difficult to fall asleep in nervous anticipation of another blessed event. There was no baby on the way. Not fraternity involved.  No one was getting married. We were about to host our annual St. Patrick's Day pre-parade party. Say that five times fast.
2006: So young and irresponsible (and fun) 
But this year, the annual Hoboken tradition went on without us. It is a tradition that we, as transplanted Hobokenites (people whom the natives of this fine city refer to as "yuppies," as if it's a bad term), have embraced over the past 8 years like, appropriately enough, a drunk embraces a toilet. Neither one of us is Irish, but we have marked Hoboken St. Patrick's Day on our calendars since we moved here. It's part of our lore, and has been for a quarter of our lives now. It can't just be dismissed merely by saying "You're grown-ups now."

You may be looking at your calendar thinking St. Patrick's Day isn't for another two weeks. You would be both correct and incorrect. The day most people celebrate is March 17th. But in Hoboken, land of mozzarella and cannoli, we do it on the first Saturday of the month. In order to achieve maximum financial capitalization, the city, in its infinite wisdom, holds its parade a two weeks before the actual St. Patrick's Day, as to not compete with the one in Manhattan. Now, if it can only solve the parking problem.

2006: You don't have to be Irish to love bagpipes
Now, when I say parade, I can only speculate because I have never actually seen the parade. I know of it. I've been too busy drinking Guinness and eating Lucky Charms right out of the box in some bar. Yes, even the hairiest of Italians in the salamiest of cities is Irish on Hoboken St. Patty's Day. I do remember bagpipers, but they always come into the bar and play for us after this alleged parade is over.

I used to receive an excited email from my wife sometime each January, reminding me to take the day off, since I work Saturdays. In years when I couldn't, I would meet up with people afterwards, when they were as coherent as the assembly instructions to our baby swing. Those years the party would continue until well after sunrise. It was like Christmas for grown-up children in March. A day where you can relive a little bit of college. Drink all day, eat a couple of really big slices of really good pizza, and pass out and spend Sunday on the couch drinking Gatorade.

We would host what we termed "bagels and booze," early morning pre-game drinkfests that feature a smattering of breakfast treats (Mimosas, Bloody Marys, bagels). Others may refer to them as "kegs and eggs," but I will not serve them kegs and eggs. Not me, not I, nor my wife Megs. See? I have already learned the way of one Dr. Seuss.
2006: The parade before the parade
You may be thinking, this guy's going to be a dad in a few days? He's complaining about missing out on a day of drinking? But you have to understand: this is like celebrating New Year's Eve without a Times Square countdown. Like the 4th of July without fireworks.

Last year, we led a convoy of 25 people from our apartment, to a fine drinking establishment. Everyone wore a green & white T-shirt that read "O'Boken 2006." You see, we don't do things half-assed in our household. All or nothing.

The key to the pre-bar party is to get everyone satisfied enough so they will not mind the hour-long wait outside of the bar. Once inside, some years we had food delivered so we could stay and keep drinking. It's like the Wonka factory: no one ever goes in, and no one ever comes out. If you do leave, you have to wait in that line all over again. We made sure we ordered enough for the people taking care of us: the bartenders and bouncers. Hey, they're working on a holiday. It gets me so nostalgic, I feel like bursting out in a rendition of "Glory Days."

2007: So pregnant, sleepy and ready for Peanut
This year, we woke up at 9:30, a full two hours after our pre-game would have started . I had to get on a conference call for work. Yawn. Then we walked the dog to get bagel sandwiches, while watching scores of geeked up non-parents saunter by in their leprechaun hats, excited about the day to come. When we got home, I saw someone had stashed an empty beer bottle in the lobby. I said, "Can you believe this?" and picked it up, and threw it away. Then realized, I am an old man. That's something a dad would do.

Some of you may say, "if you're so hardcore, why didn't you go without your wife? You can still drink." My response to that is a resounding 'No thank you.' She's my sidekick, my wingman. I don't like to go anywhere without my wife. I married her because I enjoy hanging out with her. I'm not one of those husbands who counts the days to "boys' weekends" or "guy's nights out." She's fun, especially when she's had a few Bloody Marys and swig of champagne right from the bottle before 9 AM.
2006: What a difference a year makes

She is my straight man. The Abbott to my Costello. The Moe to my Larry and Curly. The Alice to my Ralph Cramden. I'm not nearly as funny if she's not around. She's my comic co-pilot. My biggest fan and my muse. So I'm not going anywhere without her. Just forget it. We're a team.

She's as depressed about missing this as I am. We were even holding out hope, telling our friends that maybe we'd have the pre-party anyway, and then they can go to the bars without us. But it just wasn't worth it. We're too close to the finish line to be host to a bunch of half-drunk fools just to feed them muffins.

Next year, we're going to be back. We're going to party like it's 1999, the year we moved to Hoboken. And Peanut will be fine without mommy and daddy for a day. We're going to be the coolest parents on the block. We're too much fun not to be.

Then again, can you call yourself cool, and still be cool?


  1. Congrats on you new baby daughter! How was the delivery? Was there a lot of pain, nausea, dizziness, fainting, crying and loss of control of bodily functions? But enough about you, how did Megan do? Looking forwar to meeting the newest member of the family!

    Cousin Bill

  2. She is beautiful. Congrats ona job well done.I am looking forward to meeting her. I will be in town March 23 - 25th, are you going to be anywhere around Toms River that weekend? If you are I hope I get the chance to say HI and meet my newest great-niece.

    Love AC (Aunt Claire)

  3. Congratulations Mannato family!

    I expect to Babysit!

    See you in the late Summer Meggo!

    Ryan Fogarty


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