What You Know If You're Irish For Real
On this Saint Patrick's Day, I am reminded of my connections to the fair isle. Having not yet made it to Ireland myself, I rely on my mother's connection to the place and a few friends who grew up there. And then there is the fact that I live in Massachusetts, which somehow makes you Irish-by-association. But with all those factors considered, my very favorite story about Ireland involves my friend Kerry and a ditzy Irish-wanna-be girl.
Kerry was raised in Ireland and came over to Boston during the big wave of visa-waving young adults who fled their homeland in the mid-80's. He has since come to own several very successful Irish bars -- and looks as if he had to brawl for every single dollar. Kerry is not tall, but is strong, has jet black hair, ice-blue eyes, a nose that's cleary been broken several times, and a scar that runs the length of his cheek. Let's just say -- from the look of him, you'd never try and stiff him on a tab. But the other thing to know about him is he's a big mush when it comes to his wife, kids, and friends -- and that he has a very quick wit that waits for no one.
Once at a party I was standing beside him when a ditzy, chatty woman started talking to Kerry simply because he had a brogue. Kerry has pointed out to me before that a brogue helps if you're running a bar in Boston, but everywhere else it can be a pain in the ass because, as he said, "You're either seen as the ambassador to Air Lingus or people are after your Lucky Charms." Plus, in this case, we were kinda drunk. And so, when this woman approached him grinning from ear to ear opening the conversation with a too-excited, "Are you from Ireland??" Kevin just sighed and nodded.
"Ohhhhh I love Ireland," she gushed. "We went last year and I just loved everything about it! The landscape is so beautiful and the people are so friendly! I want to live there!" and then finally stopped and took a breath, gazing at Kerry dreamily and then wondered aloud, "Why would you ever leave?"
Kerry took a deep drink of his beer, leaned forward, looked the ditzy chick in the eye and said in his deepest brogue, "Because it fookin sooks."
Yes, the moral of my story is that Ireland sucks. Kerry's message to us all is that he could have stayed in Ireland and been a "fookin bootcha" as his butcher-father and grandfather before him -- or he could have got the hell out and been rich in America.
Somewhere along the way he learned how to pour a great pint of Guinness and what else do you want on this day of pride in one's heritage? God bless and may you be in heaven an hour before the devil knows you're dead.