Monday, March 13, 2006

I Used To Be Irish, Now I Am Scottish

"Are you Irish?" the boy in my Humanities class asked. The one with the waggy hair.
Surprised at his inference I answered, "Yes."
"I can tell." He replied in a deep voice.
"How?" I questioned, ready to be flattered.
"Your eyes. They smile."
Somewhere, I heard a fleet of my Irish ancestors wearing clogs and singing,

When Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, 'tis like the morn in Spring.

Blushing, I asked the same of him,"Are you Irish?"
"Yes! How can you tell?" He looked eager.
"Your hair is waggy." I replied.
To which he reasoned, "The Irish in this country need to stick together... like this Friday night."
So the date was established.

When he showed up at my door he had a guitar.
"I thought I could sing you some ballads." Said he.
He came in and took a seat on the red couch. I lied dreamily on the floor, awaiting my Irish meastro. Whilst he was into one of his passionate songs of love and distrust, my 200 year-old-dog came waddling in the room. Chucka, who may or may not be Irish herself, was so lumpy, so fat and so mean, she had actually eaten one of the little girls at Lucy's ninth birthday party. My parents had to pay $10,000 to the grieving parents. So, $10,000 is how much a nine-year-old is going for these days.
Chucka found this situation none to appealing. The singing Lad, with his guitar, was taking up her spot on the red couch. The Spot where she had chosen to lie and wait out her days of a miserable existence. It was next to a window, looking out at the fir tree. Chucka could see eternity in each of those dripping needles.
What did Chucka care about the Lad anyway? No respecter of persons, she hoisted herself up on the red couch and pushed her butt against the Lad's rib cage until he budged a bit. Only for a moment did his voice crack, then he went back to singing about how tender rainbows will lead the blind back to the hearts of golden sunshine. And rhyming "kiss" with "bliss".

Like the linnet's sweet song,
Crooning all the day long,

Chucka was now sinking in the couch next to my date. Her butt was pressed against his hips and she kept sighing as he was singing. Having lived with this dog all my life, I knew what was to happen next. And I was sore afraid. Just as the Lad hit a high note Chucka, as a token of adoration, released a "poof" shot out of her famous Cannon of Fear. And then, another sigh.
My date was too enraptured to have heard the quiet air gift. But where his ears had failed him, his nose would soon succeed. Chucka's gas was known to turn the blood of brave men to frozen liquid. Women had been seen fainting. It was an evil smell of cooked broccoli left out in the sun all day and then mixed with rotten tuna casserole. There was none to escape its wrath.
My date stopped singing.
"I think your dog just had an accident."
His waggy hair looked stressed. It stopped wagging. He stood up slowly and walked to the door. "Should we, um...go get some food?"
He was flustered and probably nauseated.
I tried to laugh it off on the car ride. But for the first-time-smellers of Chucka's Present to Humanity, life suddenly isn't so funny. It's a dark, lonely and cruel, cruel place.

In the lilt of Irish laughter,
You can hear the angels sing.

When we got the restaurant the Lad was understandably shaken. We chose a little booth next to the window. Just two Irishfolk having pizza -a nod to the melting pot America had become. Before we ordered, I excused myself to use the restroom. Upon my return I saw that the Lad was talking to our server. Our tall, raven haired, Lady of Shalot server. He didn't see me coming. I heard him laughing, his hair wagging veraciously, his eyes grinning like the sunshine he was singing about earlier. And then he stopped, looked into her eyes, and in all seriousness asked,
"So...are you Irish?"

With such pow'r in your smile,
Sure a stone you'd beguile,

Years later my mother's cousin came over to share some vital family history. Apparently, our family came from Scotland, not Ireland. My mother cursed all those corn beef briskets and cabbage she had made over the years to celebrate Uncle Paddy.
I, understandably, was secretly relieved.

And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they steal your heart away.