Long long ago in a far away land I was teaching Critical Thinking through Nature Writing in a small classroom at San Diego State University. My students were slow leaving and I was hurrying to pack up my stuff so the next class could come in. The first person to come in was a large muscular kid with red hair, red whiskers and a Flogging Molly T-shirt. He didn’t slink in as students often did under these circumstances. He just walked in happily and smiled at me as he took his seat.
I was taken by his t-shirt. I knew what it meant to flog Molly (shhh) but a t-shirt? I looked at him.
“You’d like this band,” he said and smiled. I thought I just might and I liked him.
The following year the same kid, wearing a different t-shirt walked into my business communication class on the first day. “Hi,” he said. “I found out what you teach and guess what? I’m a business major.” No, not cause and effect. Coincidence. He was a great student, not one of those kids driven to get straight As, but more the type who knows that however things go it’s going to be OK.
And, in the meantime, I’d heard Flogging Molly and later that semester I went to an open air in Carlsbad, CA and heard them live. It was late winter which can mean storms and squalls pass through from the ocean and that happened. The stage was covered with tarps, water poured behind the band. There was a little fright about the thing that happens between electricity and water but let the show go on. Big tarps were tossed into the audience to hold over themselves, but my friend and I surrendered. What’s a little (lot of) rain? It was a great concert and tremendous fun. I think it was 2004.
I was living in the mountains then which made the return home in the storm and dark pretty fun.
Strictly speaking, Flogging Molly isn’t an Irish band. The guy who found the band, Dave King, was born in Ireland, though, so there’s that. They identify as a Celtic punk band and that’s pretty accurate.
The four leafed clover they use as their motif isn’t accurate. St. Patrick taught the Irish pagans the trinity from a shamrock and the key word here is “TRI-nity.”
The student went on to graduate at some point down his road which, doubtless, rose to meet him. I only saw him once after he left my class. I was walking across a pedestrian bridge at SDSU, having a bad day, feeling down and worried about something. He was coming toward me. He said, “Hey,” I looked up. He grinned.
I said, “Wow. I was having a bad day. I think you just made it better.”
“That’s what I’m here for,” he said and I believed him.