They come from the Outer Limits, from universes far away, with strange names like New Lenox, Lockport, Orland Park, Tinley Park and Joliet, even.
They dress is shades of green. Sometimes the warpaint they wear is green. Often they wear funny Cat-in-the-Hat type hats, which flop over in the usually frigid March climate in Chicago.
They swarm in by the thousands, by the hundreds of thousands.
They park their cars up and down blocks for miles around.
They've come to see the South Side Irish Parade.
They line Western Avenue and its side streets.
The parade passes by, with the floats and the famous and the not-so-famous. It's a nice parade with nice floats. Better than the one in downtown Chicago. Less political.
These hordes who invade once per year -- it's a shame they never actually see the parade.
Usually, they are shit-faced before stepping out of their cars or disgorging from the Metra Trains.
If they are seeing the parade they are seeing it in double, at least.
And many of those eyes are very young.
Ron the cop told me about the last parade.
He is lucky enough to have pulled that duty.
Usually the Chicago cops ignore the underage drinking that is epidemic at the parade, only because they would need to put the busted in Soldier Field for a holding tank. But lately, these hordes from the Outer Limits have been turning from festive to combative -- with the cops.
That is not the whole of it, though.
Ron the cop told me that last year some of the younger Outer Limit folk decided that they were going to head back to their own star galaxy on the Metra rail, but instead of boarding from the platform like humans, they decided that the best way to get to the open doors was to crawl under the hissing and spitting train. Silly aliens.
Those who live near the parade route, whether they are Irish, Spanish, African-American, Asian or Mid-Earth dweller, are all Irish on that day. This means they mostly avoid the invading hordes from the Outer Limits and are nowhere to be seen on the parade route.
Instead, they hide in their houses at House Parties, or bounce from one House Party to another, carefully avoiding the piles of puke and looking the other way when one of the Outer Limit folk whizz on their neighbors dormant rose bushes.
The Outer Limit inhabitants may not know it, but one side of Western Avenue down this way is "dry", and the other side is "wet". Been that way since booze was invented.
Kind of a metaphor. One group is going to be happy to see the Outer Limit Barfers again, and others will be cursing them.
Mayor Rahm says this time will be different. More controls.
I hear he has imported and dusted off those mirrors they used to use to look under cars at Check-Point Charlie, which separated East and West Berlin. He is hoping that there will be no eyes, Irish or otherwise, staring back blood-shot from under the train.