There Can Be Only One

Today, much of the world mourns the death of Maewyn Succat, better known as Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland — he who drove “the snakes” from the Emerald Isle, used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagans, and who talked so long his ash staff would take to root wherever he proselytized. This solemn day is generally spent in the most holy of activities, especially here in the good ole U S of A — we drink green beer, plaster cartoon leprechauns and their pots o’ gold everywhere, pinch non-green wearers, and generally make damned fools of ourselves.

I’m not overly fond of the day, myself. Succat’s campaign to Christianize Airlann brought about the collapse of the Druidic Tradition, all but erasing the knowledge and wisdom of the pre-Christian Celts. From purely an historical point of view, this is an unforgivable crime. I am a firm believer that to know where one is going, you need to know first where you’ve been…

But that is neither here nor there, for my thoughts today are on lighter memories. It being St. Patty’s Day, I’ve given thought to many a fine observance over the years, but none were so magical or influential as the one shared in Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Six, though it has more to do with Scotland than with the Emerald Isle.

My dear friend and co-conspirator Brent Smith and I had done our green beer and Jameson partying on the Saturday before, down at Papa Lou’s Chug-A-Mug, so on St. Patty’s Day proper we celebrated in a most excellent fashion. We went to see freaking Highlander.


Highlander, starring Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert had been out for a week or so, and Brent and I were both dying to see it. I was completely broke, of course, having blown what few greenbacks I had on the weekend celebration. Brent was usually more flush and he offered to pay my way into the show (something he did quite often, often to my embarrassment at the time). It took him half the day to convince me but convince me he did (and he always ended up convincing me… he was a hard guy to say no to). We climbed into his little red Pontiac Fiero and went to see, according to NASCAR Legend Ricky Bobby, the movie that won the academy award for “Best Movie Ever Made”.

For a long time I agreed with him.

HighlanderBrent and I didn’t just like the movie. We freaking loved it. We thrilled at the malevolence of the Kurgan, the majesty of Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez, the cool resolve of Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. We were on the edge of our seats during every sword fight. We cringed with every menacing turn of Victor Kruger. We cried at the death of MacLeod’s beloved Heather. And we cheered the final battle beneath the Silvercup, its allusion to Arthurian legend not lost on either of us.

Afterward, we drank and talked and fought with wooden bokken in the backyard of our place on Martin Street, resounding cries of “There can be only one!” echoing throughout the neighborhood.

My green beer swilling days are long behind me and my co-conspirator passed over to the Summerland seven weeks ago today. So, you all can celebrate Ireland’s Patron Saint all you like. Today I celebrate the memory of my departed friend, the homeland of my ancestors, and the “Best Movie Ever Made”.


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