Friday, March 17, 2017

Monologue Mania Day #1129 Two for St. Patrick's Day by Janet S. Tiger (c) Mar. 17, 2017

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Monologue Mania Day #1129 Two for St. Patrick's Day by Janet S. Tiger (c) Mar. 17, 2017  

for DJ, Trish, Shirley - and all my Irish friends- too many to list! -Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Have two monologues about St. Patrick's Day - 
                        the first - Leprechaun Stew first posted Day # 398 March 17, 2015          
                      the second is The Great Corned Beef Hunt -first posted  Mar. 17, 2014   Day #33
                                          Leprechaun Stew
                                               (for the Senior Channel)
                                        by Janet S. Tiger  (c) 2015 all rights 

             (Woman enters, carrying a mixing bowl and bag of food.  She has to be dressed with some green.  It is a St. Patrick's Day monologue after all!)

I want to thank the Senior Channel for inviting me here on this special day.

             (She takes the bowl out and starts the preparations, which will continue throughout)

We were small the first time my mother made us Leprechaun Stew.   

It was, of course, for St. Patrick's Day.  And my mother was very ingenious about the whole thing.

(Irish accent)  Oh, I have a fine treat for you, my dears!  Wait'll you taste this!

(Back to herself)  My mother had a thick accent, even though her family had come to the United States when she was ten, I think she cultivated it, and the thickness grew as she aged, until you'd a thought she had just stepped off the boat.

I first met my mother when she was 28 years old, that's when I was born you see, and she already had four children before me.  One, Patrick, had died at birth.  The rest of us were fine.  But my mother looked like a mother.  It was only when I had my own children and looked back that I realized how young she was then.  But when I was four, and she was 32, she was a mother, old and wise.  And about to make Leprechaun Stew!

Times were not so easy that year.  My father was in the Navy, and only came home once in awhile to father that year's newest Fitzgerald.  The money he sent never lasted the whole month, so the final days required extra care on my mother's part.  And God forbid if there was an extra expense, like Kevin's broken arm or a pair of lost shoes, the difficult end of the month would start in the middle.

That February had been cold, needing more heating oil, so March dawned warmer, but with less green for those of us wearing the green.  But what was going to happen for St. Patrick's Day?  Everyone had to have fun that day!

So, that year, on March 16th, my mother was desperate, and she went to Greenberg's grocery right before they closed, and she offered her services to him........

         (She looks around, seemingly shocked)

Not those kinds of services!   She offered to weed out all the bad food and vegetables for him, so the rotten ones would not spoil the rest overnight.  Mrs. Greenberg used to do this, but she had gotten very sick, which my mother knew because she and Mr. Greenberg had bonded over produce, both being aficionados of what was good and bad. 

 Of course, my mother had an ulterior motive - she got to throw out the bad save Mr. Greenberg the trouble..... of course.

So we got the discards.  Which we watched my mother prune and chop and grind and make into a new dish that she told us was extra special for St. Paddy's day - Leprechaun Stew.

She told us there were many secrets to this dish, including having to start it cooking at exactly nine o'clock, and the leprechaun had to be fresh caught, and put in at precisely midnight.

'A real leprechaun?'  We were impressed.  How could our ancient mother capture such a creature, let alone kill and cook it?  And would we want to eat it?

(Irish, as mother)  Oh, when you capture the leprechaun, you don't have to kill exchange for his life, he'll give me something special to put into the stew, you'll see!

And so our leprechaun stew was born.  We all tried to stay up to wait for mom's return, talk to the leprechaun and maybe trick him out of the pot of gold.  But midnight was a lifetime away, and we all slept through the event.

The next day, a delicious aroma filled the air - the leprechaun stew was ready!  There was something meaty in the stew, what kind of meat we could not determine, but the flavor was incredible.  What had the leprechaun traded for his life, we begged.

(As mother)  I can never tell - it's a secret, and if I was so foolish as to tell, I could never have the leprechaun's help again, so it is not worth it, it is!

(Back to herself)  And so the secret ingredient remained so.....guarded by my mother's honor for many years.  The leprechaun stew reappeared whenever times were really tough, always delicious, always there in the nick of time.

As I got older, I noticed a bag that was in the stew, and I asked my mother.  She would grab this bag and hide it, but we all knew that the secret was in the bag.

Funny how years pass, and we barely notice until something happens that stands out.  My father's death, even though halfway round the world, is one of those events.  While he sent money every month, he had kept a portion for his drinking, and so it turned out that the widow's military stipend was - although less than his salary had been - actually more than my mother got from him every month.

His death meant we did better.  Strange.  And another twist of fate took Mr. Goldberg's wife that same year.  I was twelve and my mother was, oh, so, old at 36!  With seven children, it was not easy.  And yet, due to their common love for fruits and vegetables, my mother and Mr. Goldberg started what was known in those days as.....a friendship.

Our lot improved greatly.  Mr. Goldberg sold his grocery, and we all moved to Los Angeles with him, where we started new, including a new restaurant, with New York deli that all the transplanted Easterners just loved. 

The first St. Patrick's Day out here was strange, and we asked my mother to make Leprechaun stew.    she didn't want to - she said there was no need, we had plenty of corned beef, all we could eat, and cabbage and (mother's accent)  Why in God's name do we need to eat some stew?  We can go out to eat!  Have a treat!  

(Back to herself)  So we went to a place that wouldn't charge us - my stepfather's restaurant.  Goldberg's New York Delights.....with the D-E-L-I in delights flashing neon that could be seen all over the Valley.

          (Shakes her head remembering)

That was soooo interesting when I started dating.....

Anyhow, so we come in, and on the board telling the day's specials, is a big sign......
'For St. Patrick's Day -  Goldberg's New York Delights is proud to offer....COLLEEN'S AUTHENTIC LEPRECHAUN STEW.

My mother started crying, and that was a meal I will never forget.  You see, I was old enough to know, for certain, there were no leprechauns anywhere near the stew, but I was curious, so, I snuck into the kitchen......

         (She looks around, will anyone catch her, she opens up the lid of a pot, is surprised)

Pops.....that's we called Mr. Goldberg.......Pops caught me and laughed.

          (She lifts something from the pot)

He pulled a bag out of the pot.........the secret.......pickling spices!  And the meat from the original stew was all the trimmings from that very day my mother went back......Mr. Goldberg knew times were tough and my mother was proud, so he had given her pickling spices and the trimmed meat for that day.....and a job at his grocery.

And that is what has led me, Colleen Fitzgerald to become the head chef of Goldberg's New York soon as I could, we dropped the 'ghts'

So I hope that, along with all our patrons, you folks on the Senior Channel can enjoy some Leprechaun Stew today - and any day you want to have a taste of something delicious.

The full recipe is online and right here onscreen -

          (She points up) 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

          (She turns to leave, stops, looks back)

And don't worry, no leprechauns were harmed in the making of this stew!

          (She exits to have a great St. Paddy's Day. Hope everyone reading does, too!)


         first seen on    Mar. 17, 2014   Day #33   

     The Great Corned Beef Hunt 
                      by Janet S. Tiger  (c) 2014 all rights 

                (A young man comes out onstage.  He is wearing something - or everything - green.  And                     he has a big smile on his face.)

(Thick Irish accent)  Top o the mornin' to you all!

(Regular Boston accent)  And that's about it for my Irish accent!

But I am Irish...through and through, and today is St. Patrick's Day - the grandest holiday of the year!

At least that's what my Uncle Joe used to say, and my mother would tell him to be quiet, that Easter was the most important, because that was the day Jesus returned, but Uncle Joe would argue with her - the sign of truly brave man, or one who had already put in a few pints! - 

(imitates a thick Irish accent)  But Molly, I didn't tell ye that Easter was grandest, you can surely have Easter as the most important, no doubt, but when it comes to    , there is no other choice except it be St. Patrick's Day!

(Himself again)  And then he would recount why Christmas was really for the children, Ash Wednesday for the Pious and Fat Tuesday for the gluttons!  But for the drinking man - and my Uncle Joe was that - there was no grander day than 'the wearin' of the green'

But my Uncle Joe felt that children should not be drinking, and they needed to enjoy the day, too, so that was the reason to involve the children in finding- as he put it- 'the finest tastin' corned beef in the town' to eat on St. Patrick's Day - along with cabbage and potatoes, of course.

So, starting about a week before the big day, Uncle Joe would take me and my brothers and sisters on what would become some of the grandest days of our lives!  First, we would take the bus or subway to the finer neighborhoods in Boston, and he would herd us in, like Irish cattle of some variety into these - hi-falutin'! - places,..and we would come to the grocery sections, and there would be meat in packages, not hanging from the ceiling as in our neighborhood! - and the butchers had no dirty aprons, and everything smelled clean.....

We would have to be on our very best behavior, as Uncle Joe would peruse these plastic-wrapped corned beef specimens and analyze each one with a perfect eye, honed from years of practice choosing...corned beef.

It had to have just the right amount of fat, marbled in JUST the right way - so that when cooked, the fat would....suffuse was the word he used - suffuse into the meat, and the taste would be exquisite.

Amazingly enough, the meat in the fancy places never seemed to please Uncle Joe - it was always too fatty, or not quite fatty enough.  Never once did he mention what I now suspect was the real reason for him never buying at a 'rich man's' butcher; their meat was too expensive!

So we would leave the 'fancy pants places' and visit less ornate stores in the areas I now know are called middle-class.  These establishments would be on nicer streets, and the butcher shops would have a mix of choices- but still, nothing good enough for Uncle Joe's discerning eye!

He would buy us all something to eat as we journeyed through the Boston of the 1940s, a post-war extravaganza of amazing excess and excitement.  Sometimes it was 'that Italian food' pizza - most often, hot dogs, still the leader back then.....before Macdonald's made us all burger crazy!

And thus, by the end of the day, we would be tired, dirty as children get, and ready to go home....but there would be no corned beef!

Surprisingly enough, we would end up at our local butcher shop, McGinnty's- who- surprise again!- was also one of Uncle Joe's favorite drinking buddies!

By this time, Uncle Joe was saddened by the lack of fine corned beef, and would complain to McGinnty bitterly about the problem, which was about to result in a - shocking!- corned beef-less St. Patrick's Day!

Suddenly, McGinnty would remember that he had just gotten in a new shipment - his last from some special place that had an amazing year for corned beef! As a child I remembered believing that corned beef grew better in some places, like a crop of better apples....and we would all be ushered into the meat locker where this incredible corned beef was being stored, never having been seen by human eyes other than McGinnty's!

It was a solemn event, McGinnty would open the boxes slowly and show us the meat.....running his thick fingers along the fat lines.   

Uncle Joe would look, and his eyes would widen in appreciation.....(Irish accent)  'And that, my dear family, is what good corned beef is supposed to look like,  - we'll take it!'

McGinnty would look surprised, (as McGinnty, sounds almost the same as Uncle Joe) 'But Joe my dear friend, I haven't even told you the price!'

(As Joe) 'That's all right, my friend, I trust you to be fair.......wrap it up! 

(Back to himself)  And we would cheer as if the Red Sox had won the World Series - the elusive corned beef had been found!

And it was - every year - dubbed the most delicious corned beef EVER in the history of the world!

            (He sighs, remembering.)

I was much older before I realized that the corned beef hunts were elaborately designed adventures - that Uncle Joe and McGinnty had the corned beef ready for us, that it had been paid for and the purpose of those marvelous days was never really that much about corned beef at all.  

Oh, yes, it was supposed to be the reason, but it also meant that once a year we would get to look at things we never got to see. (Remembering)  Clothing that was priced higher than a month's wages, objects  we marveled at- washing machines, refrigerators....all manner of kitchen gadgets...people who were dressed well, and cars and houses that looked nice on the outside, not just on the inside.

And, combined with the exposure to other worlds, was the discovery that all these amazing places .......did not have anything better than what we could get in our very own backyard.  

(Thoughtful)  These were lessons in life that I think about now.

(Laughs) And, until I became a parent, I never realized that the Corned Beef Hunt day gave my mother and father a much needed vacation! 

            (He now lifts his hand - with a fork in it- and is there something on the fork?)

So, today, on this special day, at age 78, I no longer can drink more than coffee, and only one cup of that! - but I can still  lift a bite of corned beef to make a toast in honor of my Uncle Joe – may he rest in peace! this bar, where he spent so many happy hours, and to everyone - on St. Patrick's Day, the whole world can be Irish!

             (He turns to leave, looks back at the audience.)

Pretty good for a man in his 70s!

             (Looks surprised)

Think I look very young for my age?  This is me on the inside - on St. Patrick's Day - everyone is young!

            (He walks off, whistling 'Wearing of the Green')  

The end- have a delicious day!

For those who are wondering about something brand new these last two days - just did some big re-writes on Caregivers Anonymous - will have the monologues from them posted soon!
Note: A few words about 'free' -  all these monologues are protected under copyright law and are free to read, free to perform and video as long as no money is charged. Once you charge admission or a donation, or include my work in an anthology, you need to contact me for royalty 
Janet S. Tiger    858-736-6315      
Member Dramatists Guild since 1983
Swedenborg Hall 2006-8

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