Monday, February 27, 2012

Being Irish/Catholic

Dang, it’s St Patrick’s Day already. Hell, I just sobered up from Mardi gras. Being Irish/Catholic is gonna’ kill me.

Family History

My mother’s maiden name is McCleland. She was Mary Katherine McCleland, a family name spelled with one “l”. Her mother, who was a Cochran, another very Irish name, would let you have it with a shillelagh if you spelled McCleland with a double “l.” She lived to be 95, whittled to nub but her dying words were, “One L! One L! One L! Get it right!” She loved my Grandpa something fierce.
My grandmother, like my mother, had red hair to boot. Everyone in my family had red hair, I, being the only one who kept it, thus the jokes about being crimson.
“Hey, Rusty! Ya’ momma left you out in the rain?” or “I’d rather be dead than red on the head like the…” And the one that hit home, “At least a blond can get laid.” A girl’s favorite was not red headed.

It Does Set You Apart

Being a red head is rather special. Ask any of the “true”, or any woman who has ever changed their hair color three times. There is blond, brunette and redhead. Oh, it’s usually the last color they choose but eventually they’ll get there and some even stay. Introduce me to a bona fide red head and you can have first born. I’m pretty sure I can sell them.

The Big Parade

My mother’s brother, a McCleland, who has pilgrimages to Ireland to find our roots, lives on the route of a St. Patrick’s Day Parade and every year throws a one hell of a party. (I wanted him to rent a midget dressed as a leprechaun and have the little guy stand still on the lawn as a live lawn ornament. In mixed company, he did not think that was a good idea.)
This spectacular parade, made up of floats and marching groups throw green beads and trinkets, leprechaun dolls, and plenty of vegetables. Yes, at our St Patrick’s Day Parades we throw cabbage, potatoes, and carrots, everything you need for an Irish stew. People even hold out pots and anticipate the dinner that will bring them all the luck of the Irish. (In today’s economy I guess we’ll catch a lot of Brussels sprouts.)
It wouldn't matter because on this day everywhere you look you’ll see shades of green, shamrocks, men in marching groups saying, “Kiss me I’m Irish,” and hand women on the parade route a green paper carnation, or rose, or perhaps a beautiful long bead for the traditional kiss. Some are quite competitive. The women, that is.
St Patrick’s Day is always the 17th of March and always on the heels of Mardi gras. Damn, it’ fun being Irish/Catholic on a day I really enjoy having red hair.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mardi gras

It’s said in New Orleans that Mardi gras is French for throw up in the street but for my family it was our livelihood.
We made costumes for the wealthy elite who came to our house for “fittings” to try on the elaborate costumes that tourist from all over the world would travel to see. I learned never to park in someone’s driveway because the rich thought they owned mine. I had to take three planes, a taxi and rickshaw to get home for supper but “Hey, they pay our bills.” That’s what my mother said. Actually, it was “Larry, for Christ’s sake, they pay our bills. Damn it!”
They not only paid ours they paid others in the neighborhood as well. When I came home from school ladies from the area were in the back of my house cutting large bolts of velvet, piecing together costumes, gluing rhinestones, and decorating what the riders of parades would be wearing.
I remember them being beautiful. Purple, green, and gold satins, lame’, sequin braid in different widths, all busily finding their way into something as wonderful as tradition.
Today, I love to see those costumes, vivid bursts of color, knowing what went into my sister designing them, my mother executing them, and being part of the pageantry of what we call Fat Tuesday.
All hail the wealthy elite under the starry night, or on a beautiful sunlit afternoon, for he is king, or queen, for a day.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I'm Driving Your Life Away

What really ticks me off is when a person crossing a street walks right up to your car, inches away, trying to get to the other side, as if they know by some sensory perception exactly the path my car will take as it approaches.
“You, ignorant bastard, I am only supposed to stay straight so I don’t hit your stupid ass. Wait, let me put down my beer so I can get a better grip on the steering wheel. I ought to just chuck it at you to teach you a lesson.”
People do this all the time where I live. When it’s a double lane, bigger idiots will cross into the middle of the road when I’m on the left side of the street.
“You moron, a maroon, God love you, you complete trusting son-of-a bitch.”
To put complete faith into something as dangerous as a vehicle coming down the street at 35 mph or more is unfathomable to me, and these aren’t people texting. These are people looking my way, the walking dead, looking straight at the car.
I can see their faces, sometimes groups, all smart enough to look my way but not to realize I could be yelling at my kids in the back seat, dialing a cell phone, have the sun in my eyes, or God forbid, really drinking. Then if I hit your ass at the very least I would get the blame. No questions asked.

It makes me ask the question, has anybody ever asked a chicken what is so important on the other side of a road?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Happy Valentines Day 2012

Love is in the air. I should know. They call me cupid, which rhymes with stupid, and is why we have a love/hate relationship.
It isn’t easy being me, sharpening arrows to just right thickness then firing them delicately through people’s hearts? They go astray from time to time and guess who gets the blame? You got it, Cupid here, the one you asked, sometimes prayed, to strike while the irons hot.
Let me tell you, I’ve heard them all. “Please, let him be the one,” and “Please, don’t let her leave me,” and when things don’t go your way, I take a hit. “I’ll never fall in love again,” is what you resort to. You forget that Love is grand. Love is what makes the world go round, and Love is a bottle of tequila and the hot person you just downed it with but I don’t hear you asking me for any salt and lime. Sometimes, I get no respect.
Here’s something else, Valentine’s Day is entirely too close to January 1st. The powers that be have me working overtime in winter with nothing on but a sash. It’s freezing out here and where the hell, I’m sorry, heck, am I suppose to carry a cell phone? Hey! Higher power! “Give a cherub some knickers for God’s… well, your sake.”
And, another thing, people sit there in the dark blaming me for their problems after only a few rounds at this thing called romance. Look, I’m part of something bigger, what I do is just the first step. Somewhere, somehow, I get nudged to the side. Lust creeps in and he doesn’t even wear a sash. You’d think him, you could recognize. Go figure.
Anyhoo, I know when I take aim you’re not always with the “one and only.” What you would call… I hate to say it, “soul mate.” Who the heck is? Believe me, there are many soul mates for each of you, some of you, too many. That alone should make you not take me for granted but you do, ignoring what’s right in your face, her special friend on Facebook, his co-worker, and by all means, watch out for the person listening more intently than you are. I know love can go wrong. Hello? Does a “May-December relationship” ever sound like a smart thing?
My point, never take me for granted.
Let’s be honest. For me, piercing you with the arrow is the easy part. What I long for comes when commitment takes hold. That’s when the magic starts, when that yearning inside starts to build, to consume, the desire deepening, heating to a boil, and miraculously you want to elevate yourself, give and not demand, go beyond what you thought was humanly possible, emerge empowered and try to find something in my world. I don’t blame you. From up here it’s pretty sweet.
And when everything works out, two minds, two bodies, and yes, two souls latch together, two of you become one. Then, my friend, my work is done. That’s what I seek. That is what makes me reality.
Dad gum it, I love this job.