Although I am Chinese American, I have fond memories of St. Patrick’s Day, as many of my Long Island classmates back in elementary school were of Irish descent. We would walk into class and find the chairs flipped and books spilled on the floor. The teachers would say the leprechauns came to our classroom and left behind green lollipops on our desks. I remember a music teacher of Irish descent who used to give tours of Ireland through a projector, showing us photos she had taken of Ireland’s fascinating landmarks. I remember everyone wearing green and shirts that said “Kiss Me I’m Irish.” I remember coloring the Irish flag and talking with a boy who claimed to have a leprechaun girlfriend named Emily. Surprisingly, despite engaging with what loosely seem to be aspects of Irish American culture, I have never, ever, had the Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s.
A week ago, I may have claimed that I never even heard of the iconic green shake. The truth is, I probably have. One of my classmates probably mentioned it and I probably overheard and forgot about it. I probably got asked, “Janet, have you ever tried the Shamrock Shake?” and I said yes, like a liar, because, like many other times in my youth, I was pretending I had a grasp on American culture when in fact I did not. After all, my family is the immigrant family that thinks Madonna and Marilyn Monroe are the same person. And so a few days ago, after being shamed by my more-cultured friends, I decided to celebrate the beginning of March by ordering and trying it for the first time.
After receiving my order, I unearthed the greenish holy grail from the McDonald’s bag and was alarmed at its bright, pastel color. It’s that nice cool shade of green that shouts, “This is mint! I am the mintiest of mints!” specifically the shade of that “My Little Pony” character, Minty, who’s in that DVD movie where she almost completely obliterates Christmas by being an absolute klutz.
However, the mint flavor was surprisingly subtle. There were hints of it, gracing my tongue with that refreshing factor, but the majority of it was just creamy. I’d expected it to have that overbearing amount of mint in mint chocolate chip ice cream—that “toothpaste-y” taste that some attribute to the dessert. Unfortunately, I have no opinion on mint chocolate chip ice cream. Before I dated my ex-boyfriend, I liked the flavor, but after we broke up, all I could think of was how much he liked it; now any time I eat mint chocolate chip I eat it with bites of spite. In fact, after having a few sips of my shake, I considered texting him for the first time in six months just to say, “Hey bastard, I’m having this Shamrock Shake without you,” just to see if he would respond, or per his typical habit, ignore me because he’s playing League of Legends.
Yet I had much to learn about this green refreshment. The first few sips I thought, “This isn’t much, it’s just sweet and slightly minty.” But then I went further. The mint flavor intensified. I got a brain freeze from the combined coolness of cream and mint. I started reevaluating my life, thinking, “Who was I before this?” I started to question the lore of “My Little Pony,” thinking, “If the ponies celebrate Christmas, do they have a concept of Jesus Christ? And does that make Minty Christian, or is she like my family, celebrating the commercial version of it?” My body started to shiver, even though the heater was blasting right next to me. I took a few more sips and suddenly realized, “This shouldn’t be a St. Patrick’s Day themed drink! This is the taste of Christmas!” and had the genius idea for McDonald’s to resell the Shamrock Shake as “Santa Shake” for December.
As I was close to finishing the Shamrock Shake, I decided to watch the entirety of “My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas.” I had a question: if Santa Claus exists in the “My Little Pony” universe, is he a pony or human? At least to my knowledge, only ponies exist in the 2005 “My Little Pony” universe, so Santa must be a pony. But does that mean Santa has to ride his reindeer-pulled sleigh? If that is the case, and we follow the principle that the only creatures who exist in Ponyville are ponies, that means Santa’s reindeer are also ponies. This implies that Santa uses slave labor for not only the (pony) elves who make his toys but also for those to pull his sleigh every Christmas Eve. And now I must convince my roommate that we need to watch all the old “My Little Pony” movies to further analyze the lore of Hasbro’s equestrian franchise.
To celebrate my success of drinking the Shamrock Shake, I dipped a McDonald’s fry into my shake, an American tradition that I have also only heard of recently. I have to say that I was disappointed with the result. I expected some euphoric breakthrough, but all I got was a soggier fry–a bit sweet and salty, but quite underwhelming. I resumed my movie.
At the end of a Shamrock Shake, there is a sweet sadness that consumes you. I enjoyed the foaminess from the white cream and mint drink but mourned my McDonald’s experience coming to an end. I could see the greenness of the shake fading away, slowly reducing itself to little white bubbles at the bottom of the cup. And then I finished it and felt empty. “That was it?” I thought to myself. “But what do I do with my life now?” I came to the realization that I had a life before I met the Shamrock Shake, one without the refreshing but ethereal coolness I sipped from a straw. I will miss my minty green friend. I will miss what it was like loudly sucking the straw while my roommate was doing homework and I was watching “My Little Pony” and thinking of my ex-boyfriend, that strange return to my childhood, and those days when things were better.
If you’re looking for something to celebrate the beginning of March or St. Patrick’s Day, I suggest getting yourself a shake. I can’t guarantee that your psyche will break down in the same way mine did, but you’ll certainly enjoy a refreshing drink. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to read the entire “My Little Pony” fan wiki.