LUCK OF THE IRISH
Itís not easy to admit, but Iím the
human equivalent of a canine mutt. My ancestors were obviously on the
loose side, sleeping with anybody and everybody. As far as I know, they
kept their wanderings confined to the European continent, but also managed
to cross the English Channel for some fun and games.
Consequently, Iíve got a lot of different
continental European blood in me, along with a good dose of English
lineage. But the only heritage that is really close to my heart,
especially with St. Patrickís Day coming next week, is my beloved 1/4
I may be a mutt, but at least I could
explain why my nose was so red and why I always felt like singing when I
drank too much.
That is, until the other day when I was informed
by my mother that I was no longer Irish.
"What do you mean Iím not Irish," I
cried. "Youíre Irish." Then it dawned on me. "Oh, my God.
She patted my hand gently as I checked her facial
features, looking for some resemblance. "No, dear, youíre not
adopted. Itís just that your sister has been researching our family
tree, and sheís discovered that my great-great grandfather wasnít
Irish after all."
"What was he?" I asked with some trepidation,
still in shock over losing my beloved Irish heritage.
My mother took a deep breath (for a woman in her
80ís) and dropped her head slightly. "Welsh."
"Youíve got to be kidding me?" I
answered. "Welsh? Welsh? How frigging boring is that? Canít we at
least pretend he was Scottish? No one wants to be Welsh. I donít know
anyone who has even been there."
She was back to patting my hand. "Wales is a
beautiful part of the British Isles," she said softly.
"Have you been there?"
"Not yet. But maybe Iíll go soon."
I wasnít buying it. I donít know much about
Wales, but Iím guessing itís a lot like Oakland. There is no there
there. One moment I was from the Emerald Isle, the next moment I was from
a windswept, rocky outpost where the most famous person was some writer
whose name escapes me. Talk about a bad day.
I left my mother and my Irish eyes were certainly not
smiling, primarily because they were no longer Irish. St. Paddyís day
was just around the corner, but I wasnít planning on any celebration.
Foremost on my mind, though, was that I had to tell my
children they were no longer Irish. I was hoping they could handle the
news better than me.
First up were my two teenage sons. "I have bad
news for you boys," I told them over dinner the other night.
"Youíre not 1/8 Irish like Iíve always told you."
One of them immediately high-fived the other.
"Yes!" said the 17 -year-old. "I knew we were part black.
"No," I replied, tempering their enthusiasm.
"You have no African-American blood. Youíre Welsh."
"Whatís a Welsh?" asked the 16-year-old.
I didnít bother explaining. It was too depressing. My
strapping young Irish lads were now descended from boring old Welsh
goat-herders. Anyway, it was time to break the news to my two
The girls had always wanted to be Jewish, ever since
their best friends in elementary school celebrated Christmas for 8
straight days. Or as they called it, Hanukkah. But as they entered the bar
scene when they turned 21, they realized being Irish had its advantages,
especially on St. Patrickís Day. This was going to be hard for them
"What do you mean weíre not Irish?" one of
them said when I informed them of the devastating news. "What about
Oops. I forgot about the other half. But my wife is
French-Canadian (never could make up her mind---what is it, French or
Canadian?) and I was pretty sure she didnít have a drop of Irish blood
in her. She certainly didnít like to sing after quaffing a few pints.
I asked her when she got home. "Yep," she
replied triumphantly, "1/8th Irish, through and through.
Irish blood is still flowing through our family, thanks to me."
Sheesh. Everybody was Irish except me. St. Patrickís
Day will never be the same. Instead of wearing green, Iíll be wearing
Welsh colorsógrey and darker grey.