|The McBride cottage in Bunbeg, Donegal, Ireland.|
It won't surprise you that I'm totally charmed by my chiropractor, Brian Quinn of County Chiropractic in Plymouth. He's Irish, after all, and despite 18 years in the UK, he still sounds like he's from Ireland.
But he's also a darn good chiropractor. I presented the "poor dear man" as they would say in Ireland with four month's worth of all sorts of inflamed joints and locked down muscles. Four months' worth. I had made two trips to France in intense pain, and spent a couple more weeks at home messing about with yoga and aspirin. And yes, to be sure, a wee bit of the crayture. Indeed, I could barely wait for cocktail hour the whole four months.
Anyway....all my inflamed and bunged up parts were moving better before I left his office on Tuesday. I'm darn near pain-free today after another treatment. But more than that, my funny bone--which is never in pain, another feature of the Irish I always think--was tickled.
We got talking about the fact that when people are about to tell an Irish joke and they realize you're Irish, they stop. As Brian says, "They will suddenly say, 'Oh, I've forgotten it. Never mind'." He tells them to go ahead. Funny is funny, after all. And then he told me a joke. But I'm not going to use it here; watch for it soon, though. It contains sheep and Irishmen; how bad can it be?
I often wonder if it's the fact that the Irish had a lot to cry about for about 800 years that has given us all--mutts like me and purebreds alike--a well-developed sense of humour?
I don't think so. Lots of populations were stressed. I don't recall American Indians, for instance, being particularly noted for their ability to make and laugh at jokes. Now, on the other hand, Jewish people are almost on a par with the Irish for being able to laugh at themselves. Yes, I believe that's the only population I can think of that would not laugh, but happily laugh at themselves.
Simon and I talked about it on the drive home. I decided that in the case of the Irish, it's that the Irish won't put up with pretension, not at all. That brought to mind my late father and his sister, my late Aunt Margie, who I am reputed to look like.
Anyway, Margie was a bit of a glamour puss, plus she was surrounded by adoring brothers, my father being the youngest and least susceptible to being charmed, apparently. When her family would come from their home in Brooklyn, NY to ours on Long Island, we would all go to the beach. There, Margie, aka Glamour Nanny, would decorate the beach blanket, lounging around in her white satin swimsuit but not going near the water, as it would mess up her hair.
|Back row: The late James J. Donlon and Margaret Donlon|
Front row: Maureen Donlon Robinson, Dennis Donlon, Susan Donlon Lukens, the late James Donlon
Taken sometime in the early 1960s in Brooklyn, NY, at Christmas
We laughed, my Irish family did. We laughed at the beach, at the dinner table, at weddings and yes, of course, at funerals. That's what an Irish wake is for, after all. You might remember some things sadly, but before it's over, you're going to be streaming tears from laughing, at least in the New York of my youth, and, in fact, in Delaware in recent years. When Margie's eldest son, my cousin Jimmy, died there about ten years ago, there was a wake, of course. Before it was all over, his two sons--one of whom was a U.S. Army major stationed in Hong Kong and the other a Delaware State Trooper--had told the joke, and the rest of us were cracking up--again--over My Name is Fink.
Oh, you don't know it? Here it is:
A man needs a new suit, so he walks by a tailor shop in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn; for the uninitiated, this is an an area of Jewish-owned businesses, renowned for bargains.
In the window of the tailor shop is a sign: "My name is Fink and what do you think I make suits for nothing".
Good deal, the man thinks, so he walks in and orders a suit.
A week later, he goes to pick it up, tries it on, all is well. And then Fink hands him a bill.
"What's this? Your sign says 'My name is Fink and what do you think, I make suits for nothing'."
"No, no, no," Fink says. "You said it wrong. The sign says, 'My name is Fink. And what do you think? I make suits for NOTHING??!??"That joke has probably been told at every wake for every member of my family descended from Anna McBride Box, late of Bunbeg, Donegal, and Brooklyn, NY, or the Donlon family, one of which Margie became through marriage, or anyone surnamed Box whose ancestors lived in Brooklyn.
I tell it now because, well, I needed a joke to finish my paean to Irish psychology. And, since it has been a part of my family's life for so long, I also tell it in honour of two women of the family who have died within the past month.
RIP Dorothy Finney, my ex-sister-in-law.
RIP Donna Carol (Rowe) Box, my sister-in-law.
I hope the Angels of Mirth are busy entertaining you both in your transitions to another life.
I will miss you.