America seems to have a strange effect on the Irish.
I have a brother in law who lives over there. You may be surprised to know I have a brother-in-law, but in fact I have several. When I first met Herself last century it came as something of a shock to discover that she had parents, let alone a large swarm of siblings. Of course they are now scattered all over the place like discarded beer cans, and as I said, one ended up in America. I have heard rumours that it was a case of America, or ten years without remission, and he chose America. I was told with some authority by the bat my mother-in-law that he lives “beside the Post Office in Boston”. Who am I to argue?
He came to visit not so long ago. He seemed to have inherited some of his parents’ genes as he had a large brood of his own with him. It took two cars to shift them from the airport to the house. The swarm descended on the place like a ship load of randy sailors finding a brothel. Within a blink, they were everywhere, rooting through cupboards and nosing in places where they shouldn’t. One of them came back to report to his father that he had found a VCR. I was about to mention I didn’t have any war medals, when his father replied that “just because they have a video recorder, that it didn’t make them someone special”. I had to rough him up a bit for that, but it left me thinking.
That is when it really hit home. These bastards [I never inquired whether I had a sister-in-law-in-law] thought they were back in the land of pigs in the kitchen and thatched cottages. I think they were amazed that we even had electricity. It’s just as well we didn’t have one of our regular power cuts at the time. It didn’t seem to occur to the brother-in-law that by the time he left the Old Sod that we were actually quite civilised, and that in the intervening years we had actually discovered such things as television and computers.
The other thing that struck me about him was that I could hardly understand a word he said. I have heard American accents before such as when I accidentally switched on an American programme on television [I estimate that there is about a 90% chance of that] and quite a few times I have heard various American Dialects up at the land fill, but that was mostly just squeals for mercy before I dispatched them. This brother-in-law of mine had spent all his formative years in Ireland, and the chances were that he managed to pick up a fairly good Irish accent during that period. Yet he fecks off over The Pond and in a few short years he is more American than the Americans themselves.
I have witnessed this elsewhere.
Herself has a friend [yes – that came as an even bigger shock to me than discovering she had parents] who went to Florida for a weeks holiday. This friend came back after a week, and I swear to God, even the Americans couldn’t understand her. She had the thickest American accent I have ever heard. Not only that, but her holiday had suddenly become a vacation and she couldn’t understand how ‘us guys’ could get by without a regular work out at the gym. In the space of one short week she had become an American. Her only saving grace was that in that short week she hadn’t been able to grow a new set of teeth. Americans have this obsession with teeth [do they think we are all horses?]. If God had intended us to have a perfect set of teeth, why did He invent decay? Answer me that one!
Anyway – back to the Brood from Boston. They stayed with us for a week. It was a miserable week, with brief respites of joy when I managed to corner my nephews and nieces and fill them full of Guinness. Have you ever seen a five year old pissed out of his mind? It’s a bit like watching a new born giraffe.
I got rid of them in the end.
I told them there was a new McDonalds that had just opened in the quarry.
Well, how was I supposed to know they were blasting that day?
Article submitted to The Irish Book Review