I Am Going To Be Irish For A While

by a contributor

Paul Handley

I told my friend Hal that I was going in for the surgical portion of my WASP-to-Irish ethnicity change on Monday morning. I asked him for a ride since I wouldn’t look like my license after the procedure was completed.

“Sure,” Hal said, “but why do you want to be Irish?”

“Everybody seems to like them. Who doesn’t want to hang out in an Irish bar for a session over a pint?”

“Session of what?”

“That just means music with traditional instruments and sing-alongs. Mostly just the chorus so the tunes don’t get ruint.”

“Are you trying to talk with an Irish lilt? It sounds like you knocked out a tooth on a curb.”

“It’s called a brogue. I’ve been undergoing ethnic orientation therapy for weeks. I started playing Gaelic Hurling. The equipment is really unique. I have to import the hurley stick from Ireland.”

“Are you kidding me? They can’t make it here?”

“The hurley stick is made from an ash tree.”

“Uh-huh, and does it have to be blessed by Father Bono? I’m no treeologist, but I’m pretty sure there are ash trees in this country.”

“I don’t know. I just buy it where I can. Have you ever bumped into any hurley sticks at your local sports market?”


“There you go. So the ash breaks really easily when there is a clash between sticks.”


“Yeah. It’s pretty violent. It’s so cool.”

“What else is involved?”

“I’ve started drinking Irish whiskey.”

“Like before games, during?”

“It’s all the pregame and post game ceremony that makes hurling so great.”

“Drinking isn’t exactly a new ceremony.”

“It depends on what you drink. Listen to this toast. Croi follain agus gob fliuch.”

“Very lofty. Does it mean anything?”

“A healthy heart and a wet mouth!  Everyone heads off to the bar after practice and games for a bit of craic.”

“Irish bars serve crack?”

“C-R-A-I-C. It’s a wee bit of fun.”

“It is, is it? A wee bit?”

“Wee or scads. However it turns out.”

“So do you buy the sticks by the bushel? Maybe you can get your own ash stand going and sell to the hurling crowd.”

“No, too limited a market. It’s not for everybody. There are Irish guys on the team that don’t really talk to the non natives.”

“Really? Why?”

“I don’t know. They’ve been hurling since they were kids. They’re way better.”

“F’ them.”

“It’s part of their culture. I have to respect it. They’re pretty cool to me. I think it’s because of my red hair.”

“You don’t have red hair and what does that have to do with it?”

“Well they’re a little like the Japanese, because they’re from an island, there is a kind of purity.”

“So, how many hurley sticks do you go through?”

“It depends. Because ash is so dry I leave the stick in the bathroom when I take a shower so it can absorb the humidity.”

“That works?”

“Sure. I also bought some linseed oil and rub it into it.”

“What motion works better for you, up and down or back and forth?”

“Hilarious. How old are you?”

“I’m not the guy stroking a wooden stick in the bathroom.”


“Ash is wood and it’s what you’re waxing in the bathroom.”

“I tell you what else I do with that stick. I carry it when I jog at the park and when those nasty geese try to nip me, I club’em.”

“You have completely lost your mind. Skipping through the park like a maniacal leprechaun dispatching birds.”

“You’ve said yourself they crap all over everything.”

“I know what I said, but that doesn’t mean I’m laying em’ out with a club.”

“Fierce dispositions on those geese. I have to jog more because I’ve taken up smoking. Those Irish people are amazing. They can smoke cigarettes all day and blow by me on a high snig. You wouldn’t know a snig from a puckout. It’s all in the culture. Kinda private like. You wouldn’t understand, mate.”

“Mate, I believe is Australian.”

“That’s what I bring to the table; a little cross-fertilization. The isolation is good, but at the same time there are connotations which negative-types are apt to leap on.”

“Aren’t you worried about being called a plastic paddy?”

“That’s exactly what I’ll be after the surgery. I can get some cosmetic things done; they’ll tattoo some freckles, dye my hair, but anything else will have to be retouched with a knife.”

“I’m glad you have found a umm… niche for yourself. If you ever want to dip back across the pond here give me a call.”

“I’ll do that soon, but I’m pretty busy. I’m looking into moving the family to Boston. You know, so I can really immerse myself in the culture. But I still need a ride before all that.”

Paul Handley has published humor in The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review; Gargoyle; McSweeney’s Internet Tendency; Monkeybicycle; a short play performed at Pulp Diction III; a short play published in the Mayo Review; hundreds of poems; and a full length book of poetry entitled 5-Tool Poet from Punkin House Press.