Believe me. There is no better way to prepare for St. Patrick's Day than to spend time with the young and beautiful Kathleen Kelly, the most Irish female in all of Rim country.
Kelly, don't ya know, teaches Irish Step Dancing every Saturday Night at the Payson Senior Center, where she makes Michael "Riverdance" Flatley look like a one-legged clodhopper ...
In conversation, she can't help but speak every other sentence in a perfect Irish brogue ...
And she uses her telephone answering machine to update all callers on precisely just how many shopping days are left before Ireland's favorite holiday.
You don't get more Irish than that.
Before I continue, though, full disclosure must be offered: Kathleen is to paraphrase the movie "Young Frankenstein" "my ... my ... my ... GIRLFRIEND!"
(If you have ever dated an Irishwoman, you now understand why I introduced her as "the young and beautiful Kathleen Kelly." To refer to such a red-haired, green-eyed, Emerald-Isle goddess in any other terms is to put your life, safety and physical well-being at serious risk. But I digress.)
In the relatively short time that the stunningly lovely and ageless Kathleen has been my ... my ... my ... GIRLFRIEND, she has taught me more about Ireland's heritage, history and culture than could be absorbed through a dozen viewings of "The Quiet Man" while listening to the Irish Rovers sing "The Unicorn" during a dinner of corned beef and cabbage.
But mostly, what I've learned is this: What Kathleen proudly refers to as her "girl logic" i.e. rationalizations which make no sense whatsoever to even the sturdiest male intellect, such as my own is actually "Irish logic."
This discovery was made quite by accident. While researching a St. Patrick's Day story for the very publication you now hold in your mitts, I came across an Internet Web site dedicated entirely to popular Irish proverbs, adages and sayings ... and found that most of the entries had an extremely familiar and wholly impenetrable ring.
Before including these bits of Irish wisdom in this article, I ran them past Kathleen in order to 1) make sure their origins are indeed authentic, and 2) to see if she understood a bloody single one of 'em.
Incredibly, they are and she did.
In order for you to sympathize with the conundrums of Irish logic which are regularly presented to me by this magnificently constructed and extremely intelligent woman, here's a sampling of the country's most popular and oft-quoted gibberish, along with a few made-up ones I've thrown in for the fun of it.
I double-dog dare you to tell the difference.
"Do not mistake a goat's beard for a fine stallion's tail."
"Neither give cherries to pigs nor advice to a fool."
"Soft words butter no parsnips, but they won't harden the heart of the cabbage either."
"Handfuls make a load."
"Any man can lose his hat in a fairy-wind."
"It's no use carrying an umbrella if your shoes are leaking."
"It's as hard to see a woman crying as it is to see a barefooted duck."
"There was never a scabby sheep in a flock that didn't like to have a comrade."
"The hand goes only where the leg goes."
"Keep your tongue in your jaw and your tow in your pump."
"To be red-haired is better than to be without a head."
"Do not keep your tongue under your belt."
"Never speak to the feet while the head is alive."
"What I'm afraid to hear I'd better say first myself."
"It's a bad hound that's not worth the whistling."
"He couldn't drag a herring off the coals."
"A whistling woman and a crowing hen will bring no luck to the house they are in."
So ... did you pick out the obviously ridiculous and nonsensical phonies that I made up?
Dream on. I didn't invent a single one of them. They're all real McCoys.
This is not to say that the Irish are incapable of logic and comprehendible thought. I actually found a few adages that didn't require the services of a professional Irish-English translator to understand:
"It's bad manners to talk about ropes in the house of a man whose father was hanged." I think we'd all agree on that.
"A turkey never voted for an early Christmas." That is exactly right.
"Marriages are all happy; it's having breakfast together that causes all the trouble." True wisdom.
"Drink is the curse of the land. It makes you fight with your neighbor, it makes you shoot at your landlord, and it makes you miss him." I think we can all relate to that one.
"A narrow neck keeps the bottle from being emptied in one swig." Hear, hear.
Actually, I found one more: "Irishwomen have a dispensation from the pope to wear the thick ends of their legs downwards." But since I have so much admiration and respect for the prettiest, smartest and strongest Irishwoman in Rim country, I have sufficient American-male logic not to include it here.