Don't Call It St. Patty's Day
One glaring problem with the age of Facebook and Twitter is that anyone can publish anything off the top of his head, without putting any thought into it whatsoever. A related concern is that we're learning that our country's confusion over the difference between "its" and "it's" runs deeper than we really could have imagined.
Each year, the days leading up to March 17th remind us of another alarming reality that wasn't obvious before social media: apparently at least half of Americans think that the holiday is called "St. Patty's Day."
Now, imagine that you were were kidnapped as a teenage boy and sold into slavery in a foreign, wild land. Then imagine that you escaped back to your homeland, and daringly returned to your captors to convert them -- all of them -- to your faith, driving out a country-wide infestation of snakes along the way, establishing yourself as the patron of that nation forever. And imagine you did all this only to be called a girl's name by millions of assholes on the internet centuries later.
That is the situation that St. Patrick, rolling in his grave, faces today.
The distinction between "Paddy" and "Patty" shouldn't be tough. Think "paddywagon" -- which refers to a police van used to round up Irishmen, in the days before Irish immigrants grafted their way into respectability -- and you'll get it. Alternatively, think "Peppermint Patty," a cartoon character we all know and love and who, crucially, is not a dude. That should be a hint.
Don't believe me that this simple spelling error is a huge problem? Here is the first result that came up when I searched for "patty" on Twitter:
@WomensHumor: Dear Liver, I understand March is hard for you with spring break & St.Patty's day. PUSH THROUGH, you little champion, you.#LiverPepTalk
This is the Perfect Storm of inanity. It's all here: Bad humor, self-conscious boasting about drinking, and a gratuitous reference to spring break so that the writer feels included. The misspelling of "Paddy" is just there as a backup, to ensure that you're aware that whoever wrote this tweet is an imbecile, if you somehow were unable to glean that from the rest of its contents. Unfortunately, this is about the best you can expect from people calling it "St. Patty's Day." This particular tweet, I regret to inform you, was retweeted more than 4,000 times.
For those of us from places where every guy who wasn't named Sean or Brendan or both was Patrick, this mistake is grating. All the Pats I know would be horrified to see the written word "Patty" referring to them and not some girl named Patricia.
I am not one to rob anyone, Irish or not, of a perfectly good chance to get together and party, but honestly, maybe knowing whether the patron saint of Ireland has a boy's name or a girl's name should be a rock-bottom minimum requirement for celebrating today.
So let's clear this up once and for all: St. Patrick's Day, St. Paddy's, St. Pat's: all correct. St. Patty's: gravely wrong. Disqualifying.
If the previous paragraph contained anything new to you, let me suggest three other items to review: your vs. you're, loose vs. lose, there/their/they're. Along with its vs. it's, think of these as making up the four-leafed clover of common spellings you horribly botch on a daily basis.
And do not write "St. Patty's" ever again.