On the bus from Killarney to Kenmare we took narrow roads through the national park there. These are roads where sometimes drivers in one direction have to pull over to allow drivers in the other direction to pass.
These are roads where, rounding one of the many blind curves, you might find yourself face to face with imbecile sheep who haven't yet figured out that the grazing on the asphalt is rather poor.
The bus is going fast.
It rocks and sways like a ship at sea in a hurricane.
Also, it drives on the side of the road that I'm not used to, and the driver sits on what, to any sane person, is the passenger side.
In other words, it would not be unreasonable for me to barf on this journey. In fact, I'm considering it. Or rather, my stomach is.
To enhance my misery, the driver has turned on the radio, with the volume quite loud.
In between my prayers to whichever Celtic goddess is in charge of barf prevention, I notice that we're now listening to the Radio Kerry Death Notices.
It's obituaries, on the radio.
And apparently I was wrong about the national pastime—it's not drinking, it's dying. These obits go on for quite a while.
As I'm turning green (except for my knuckles, which are white as they grip the armrest), I'm a little envious of the folks whose death notices I'm hearing. I'm thinking death might not be so bad right now. Might offer some relief.
The short, old woman across the aisle, wearing a kerchief on her head and rubber boots that reach up to her knees looks over at me and in a fragile voice says, “Oh, darlin' . . . ”
“Ugggh . . . don't say it . . .”
“Darlin', ye look like ye could use a pint.”
“You know, that's insane,” I say, trembling, my body quivering with nausea. “I'm sure I look more like I've already had ten pints.”
I stare at her. I know I must be hallucinating from the intensity of motion sickness. She's not really there. She didn't really say that.
She reaches into her purse and hands me a potato and some soda bread, and now I'm sure I've gone down the rabbit hole.
My god, I'm in worse shape than I thought . . .
|Sometimes the rain gives you this . . . but the sheep will still kill you.|
I'm not hearing any causes of death with these notices on the radio. But I wouldn't be surprised if some of them were the result of speeding buses colliding with sheep. My mind wanders. I imagine the scene, the police questioning everyone, even the remaining sheep, who are pretty shaken up.
“Well, we were all there, right, mindin' our own fookin' business in the middle of the fookin' asphalt, which I must say now, was rather poor grazing. . . and then outta nowhere comes this, this bus. . . and it just . . . it just . . . oh, it was baaaaahd!”
|What you see before the sheep appear and the bus crashes. Not bad, eh?|
Oh, hold on a sec. There's someone banging at the door.
“Open up! It's the blog police!”
What the . . .
“Ye think yer gonna get away with them shite sheep jokes while bloggin' in this country, do ye?”
“Well I . . .”
“You oughta be ashamed 'a yerself.”
I am. Deeply ashamed. What was I thinking?
“How fookin' original. Yer sheep say 'Baaahd'. I'm afraid that cliche's gonna cost ye dear.” He's getting out a pad to write me a summons for having my head up my writerly arse. In fine print, down at the bottom of the ticket, it says Should ye wish to contest this summons, pull yer head outta yer arse and fook off.
“Look, you try writing a blog when all that ever happens every day is rain—fookin' rain, fookin' wind, fookin' hail, fookin' clouds, fookin' mud. . . .and then more fookin' rain.”
“Well, what about the beautiful ravens takin' their nuptial flights? That's poetry, that is,” he says, matter-of-factly.
“Ok . . . well, you're right. That is lovely and awe-inspiring, but still. . .”
“You know what ye need, Girlie?”
oh no . . .
“That's it—get out, Paddy! If one more person offers me a pint . . . . I don't even like Guinness!”
“Well, there's Murphy's . . . “
“Why don't you people ever tell me I need one of those nice handmade Irish sweaters?”
“Jameson's is good. Have you tried that?”
“ . . . Or a little Irish step dancing?”
“Step dance? Why didn't you say so, Darlin'? Here . . . hold my shillelagh . . .”
Paddy breaks it down.
He's gotta be 150 years old, his tweed jeff cap just flew off his head, but he's the Lord Of That Fricking Dance, all right.
I hear fiddle music, and I don't' even know where it could be coming from.
“Well, I'd be lying if I said that wasn't impressive,” says I.
“Now we'll have no more lazy shite jokes about sheep talk, will we?”
“No Paddy. I promise.”
“An' stop callin' me Paddy. Yer just stereotyping!”
“Ok. I'm sorry . . . “
“It's Seamus O'Malley.”
“You gotta be kidding me.”
“My work is done here.” He pulls a potato and a sausage link out of his pocket and hands them to me. “I'll be fookin' off back t' the bog now.”
“All righty, Seamus. And hey . . . thanks for setting me straight on the whole sheep thing. This writing stuff, it's hard sometimes, you know?”
“The blog is 'writing'? Oh! Yer bound to make me bust my gut! That's a good one, all right! Sure Joyce never kept a fookin' blog, boy.”
Boy? “Joyce . . . is that your wife?”
“Look, smart ass, you want another summons?”
“Yeah. Ok. Weren't you about to fook off back to somewhere?”
|What too much wind and rain does to trees.|
The bus is still swaying, the death notices are going on and on. So, naturally, I'm enjoying a nice little fantasy about my own Irish funeral (which may be sooner than anyone thought, if after this blog post I discover the Irish can't take a joke).
The chieftain standing over my grave is burly—beefy even—unshaven.
He has a raven on his shoulder, as befits his mystical and mythical status.
The raven's name . . . is Steve.
The chieftain is wearing a fine cloak held in place with a gorgeous Celtic clasp of gold inlaid with colorful glass. He did not buy it in a tourist shop in Killarney, either. He ripped it from his enemy's cloak in battle. That's where he got the matching sword, too.
He looks good. Damned good.
Never underestimate the importance of accessories. They make a statement.
In this case, the statement is “I'll vanquish you, and take your stuff.”
He doesn't smell very good, but that's not important here.
In this scene, the camera (yes, it's my funeral, and I want good cinematography) zooms in on the single, perfect tear welling up in his eye, as he mutters under his breath to no one in particular “She once wrote about me on her blog.”
The raven on his shoulder cries out “Blog!”
But no one jumps, startled. This is a solemn occasion.
And besides, that's just Steve being Steve.
I was the chieftain's betrothed, and I'm wearing the claddagh ring to prove it. He didn't steal this ring from an enemy, though. He's too classy to give me stolen goods. He bought it at one of the tourist shops in Kenmare.
My hair is made up in three plaits, two that wrap around my head, and one reaching down to my waist. My tunic is gorgeous, because I embroidered that shit myself.
That's right . . . when it rains, you embroider by the fire. All. The. Time.
Anyway, let's just say I look really good for someone whose bus collided with sheep.
Cú Chulainn's ghost rises above the pyre, crying out, cursing the damned sheep that were in the middle of the asphalt where, if he's told them once, he's told them a thousand times, the grazing is rather poor.
500 people from villages all around southern Ireland rally themselves to roll a giant stone slab onto my grave, though centuries from now, no anthropologist or archaeologist will wonder how it got there.
They'll assume we brought it on a truck and used a crane to set it in place.
They'll know we once had trucks and cranes, and the use of villagers would have been gratuitous.
But they won't know that the stone circle that surrounds it was erected so that the largest opening in the circle faces Napoli, where they would never dream of making a pizza with cheddar, for Christ's sake.
But we know the villagers place the stone slab, doing their duty, paying tribute to this American tourist who liked to bitch about the rain and write passive-aggressive blog posts as if the Irish made this weather just to aggravate her.
They work hard. They work together to hoist the enormous slab, then set it down with reverence.
You know what they're gonna need after this?