Are you of Irish heritage? I read a funny book written some time ago, titled Are You Irish Or Normal?, written by John O’Grady and Sean O’Grada. Good question, insensitively asked. Being of Irish descent here in multicultural Australia, all I can say is that it helps to be Irish, because…
My sisters and I grew up in the suburban wilderness, in the sprawling weatherboard on the large block of land, with a vegetable patch, fruit trees, a woodshed, and a Hills Hoist rotary clothes line. All as normal. However, each nuclear family has its own peculiar dysfunction. Ours was either lurching from being ‘giggling Gerties’, to descending to Irish moments.
One instance of such a moment was the routine of peeling an apparent mountain of potatoes for tea. Spuds were pared, and the peelings were wrapped in newspaper bundles, with assorted tea leaves from an ever present tea pot. The lowlight of this was that regular losing of the potato peeler, or the small knife my mother used.
“Look in the bin!” This was an old family custom. Anything lost could be found in the bin. Thus, newspaper bundles were obediently unwrapped, and the missing object located. Only recently, I arrived home in my car, and promptly misplaced my car keys. I searched my car and home. I found the car, but not the car keys. Like a sign from the past, I thought, “Look in the bin!” Yes, my car keys were sitting in the bin, staring at me. I do not know how they got there. As I wrote, it helps to be Irish because…
Do things like this happen to you? One day, long ago, this once newly married teacher came home from a hot day at the chalkboard, and found the cling wrap in the fridge. Strange. More than 40 years later, I occasionally still wonder what I placed in the cupboard instead of the cling wrap. This is all do with the mystery of having Irish genes in our DNA.
My younger sister is a great homemaker and an excellent cook, in the best Australian chick mode. Yet culinary disasters can afflict anyone. When her children were still rug rats, she decided to cook meringues in the microwave, when a microwave was a new invention. In went the meringues. “Bang!” Her sons were fascinated. Each mound of egg white and sugar exploded in sequence on the brilliantly lit carousel. “Bombs! Mum made bombs!”
Her eldest son was delighted, gazing in fascination, as my sister made another batch, muttering a few choice words. “Yes! More bombs!” We agree it helps to be Irish because … Must have been Irish eggs. Whatever.
Life can be full of Irish moments. An older male of my acquaintance, headed off one afternoon for a relaxing spa and sauna at a local gymnasium. He is really of Irish descent. At 3pm, he realised that he had his mobile phone in the shorts he was wearing in the spa. Whoops! Some hours and around $1,000 later, he appeared with a new phone. That was an expensive Irish experience.
In daily life, it is hard not to laugh as the leprechauns in our psyche enable us to proceed from one Irish moment to the next. “It helps to be Irish because…” We shall never know if we are Irish or normal. Keep on smiling. (Signed, giggling Gertie!)