Lost Journal: An Interloping Irish Princess

Journal entry: March 6, 2011 (age 41) – Irish Princess

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a big deal in Binghamton. I skipped the festivities yesterday, but enjoyed looking through photos of the event on the website of our local newspaper, the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. When one particular photo popped up, I did a double take. Then I guffawed. Then I called the person in the photo, the one and only Missy Harris. Missy and I dated last year, and we remain good friends.

“Missy,” I said, already laughing. “The newspaper has a photo of you in the middle of Court Street during the parade. You’re walking all by yourself, smiling at the crowd. What the heck were you doing out there?” Her reply was very matter-of-fact. “Parading.” Some silence on my part prompted her to tell the story of the events leading up to the photo.

A friend of Missy’s had invited her to carry the banner for one of the parade’s most popular attractions: the Broome County Celtic Kazoo Band. Through some friends in the group, I know that, in addition to being a lot of fun, the kazooers generally take the business of kazooing pretty kazooing seriously. Missy is also a lot of fun, and she takes her apparel for such occasions VERY seriously. These two forces clashed a bit moments before the beginning of the parade. A band member told Missy that she wouldn’t be allowed to march with the kazooers unless she wore their assigned uniform for the day, which consisted of jeans and a white sweatshirt with green accents.

In response, Missy opened her long coat to reveal what she assumed would be an undeniable trump card. She was wearing a white, green, and orange folk dress that made her look like an Irish St. Pauli Girl. With a big smile, Missy looked down at her dress, then at the dress code enforcer, and chirped, “But I look cute!” That didn’t fly. Apparently, Celtic kazoos and cuteness, even ethnically appropriate cuteness, don’t necessarily mix. Faced with the decision to change into distinctly un-cute couture, or get her Irish up, she chose the latter.

Directly in front of the kazooers there was a group of marching war reenactors. (“Civil War? Revolutionary?,” I asked. “I dunno,” she replied, “I think they were wearing blue.”) Several soldiers at the back of the group took a liking to Missy (and her costume), and asked her if she would march behind them to keep them company. Missy’s one-word answer nicely summarizes her philosophy of life: “Sure!”

The parade-plus-one started down its long path. When the reenactors and kazooers approached the reviewing stand and the media, the parade’s announcer started shuffling through his papers and whispering to the people near him. They watched as a beaming Missy waved and smiled to the crowd. She threw goodies to the children from a green pot o’candy she bought for the occasion. She stopped to pose for photos. She was signing autographs. In short, she was living the life of Riley. Finally, the announcer joined in the festive spirit of the day. “There she is, folks – the Irish Princess of the Parade!”

I wonder what’s the Celtic word for “chutzpah.”

Tim Mollen
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