Wednesday, March 17, 2004

It's not easy being green.

I never wanted to hurt anybody. I never meant to foster ill will. I just wanted to be the greenest person in my college dorm on Saint Patrick's Day.

Back in my those days, our school actually budgeted for beer as a part of the social agenda. You could count on keg parties in the dorm basement on any major or minor holiday, as long as school was in session. The St. Patrick's Day party was greatly anticipated since the time was ripe for spring fever; trees were blooming, skin started showing, and beer needed drinking. Sophomore year, I decided to claim the green day as my holiday. After all, my Irish grandmother was born on St. Paddy's Day, and I like beer. (Okay, I looove beer.) So what better way to celebrate my Irish heritage than to win the "Greenest Person" contest at the Saint Patrick's bash?

My quest for victory began one weekend in February. I drove to Mom and Dad's for home cooking, clean laundry, and to find my old Cadette Girl Scout uniform. My green poly-cotton slacks became all they could be when paired with a dark green turtleneck. The green felt beret and vest topped off my leprechaun outfit. On the way back to school I purchased green face paint, green food coloring and green spray-on hair coloring. I was ready.

St. Patrick's Day fell blissfully on a Saturday. That meant my best friend could drive down from her school to take part in part in the revelry. While the dorm party commenced downstairs, our beer-fueled “project green” began upstairs. I donned the leprechaun garb, then coated my hair and shoes with the vaporous green spray. By this point, I was looking green and feeling green. I smeared the face paint all over to complete my "Incredible Hulk" look. After the green beret came my piece de resistance; I poured the entire bottle of food coloring into my beer and quaffed.

Enter one very green and wobbly leprechaun-Girl Scout into the St. Paddy’s party. A very scary leprechaun-Girl Scout, with no substrate or orifice showing that wasn’t green (except for the reddening whites of my eyeballs). The crowd embraced my viridity, however, and cheered when they saw my green teeth, tongue and mouth. The host of ceremonies shouted that I was the winner of the contest, and handed me a humongous Heineken mug as the trophy of honor. He then mumbled something about there actually being two winners, nodding towards a somewhat forlorn girl in the front of the crowd. She had a green plastic top hat, a green sweater, and green buttons on the sweater that probably said something like “Kiss me, I’m Irish!” No green skin, no green hair, and certainly no green teeth. She was holding a clump of green balloons. Apparently, she had been crowned the contest winner right before I walked in. I nodded and smiled at her, then toddled up to my room to shower my green sheen away. My buddy and I probably went out on the town that night; I don’t remember and it doesn’t matter. All that mattered was that I had my trophy, which I still have it to this day.

Or at least I thought that was all that mattered. It turned out that the green-sweatered young lady felt much maligned by my storming of the contest. She stewed about it and festered my name in her soul until our senior year, when a mutual friend discovered that this person hated my guts. She hated my guts because I sauntered in and stole her 15 minutes of fame. She bitterly assumed that I hated her in return. In reality, I was mystified by her enmity when I barely even remembered her. Thus transpired the long-distance peace talks between us; she would talk to our mutual friend, then he would relay her messages to me. My enemy eventually became a compatriot, once she realized that I hadn’t intentionally rained on her parade. I breathed a sigh of relief that my potential psycho-stalker had been appeased. I’ve come to the conclusion that Kermit the frog was right: It’s not easy being green.