Luck O’ The Irish: Fiction or Fact?
I’m Irish—well, actually my great, great grandfather was Irish. I’m not sure what that makes me. Five-eighths? Nine-sixteenths? Well, either way, we are very proud of our Irishness in my family. You’d think we were half or more, the way we carry on with our Irish pride: giving each other elaborate St. Patrick’s Day presents, eating potatoes for every meal, suggesting that the world’s hunger problems could be solved if we would just start eating our young (see “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift). We wear four-leaf-clover jewelry, display Irish sayings that no one really understands, and we can quote lines from “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” and “The Quiet Man” like nobody’s business. And let me just say that I feel right at home here in potato country. My favorite food in the world is mashed potatoes and gravy, but I am also a fan of hash browns, French fries, potato chips, baked potatoes, scalloped potatoes, funeral potatoes, boiled potatoes. . . the list goes on. In fact, if you see me on the street, please refrain from shouting “potato famine!” It will scare me.
Yet for all my Irishness, the “luck of the Irish” has never really been a part of my life. Not to complain or anything, but I am actually quite unlucky for an Irish person. To date, and despite years of trying really hard, I have never caught a leprechaun, successfully followed a rainbow to a pot of gold, won a contest, drawing, or sweepstakes, or found a twenty dollar bill in the pocket of my winter coat on the first day of winter. Where is my Irish luck?
Where was my Irish luck when my seven-year-old was diagnosed with mumps, despite a perfect immunization record?
Where was my Irish luck when we moved into a new house, and discovered that our seemingly brand new and very fancy-looking Samsung fridge needed to be completely taken apart and de-iced bi-weekly? (Note to self: buying a Samsung fridge is the equivalent of buying a Whirlpool cell phone and is not advisable.)
Where was my Irish luck the day we moved into our house and found that our basement was flooded from the previous owners forgetting to turn off the sprinkler that was spraying directly into the window well?
Where was my Irish luck in 2008, when the combined sufferings of our family consisted of two broken arms, one cracked head, one stitch, eight cavities, five ear infections, one sprained ankle, one rock up the nose, two visits to the emergency room, two bouts of stomach flu, and one long and unpleasant labor?
And where was my Irish luck when we were living in Taiwan for a few months last year, and our two-year-old daughter got motion-sick all over a pregnant me on a crowded subway full of on-lookers? On New Year’s Eve! On our way to eat a steak at Chilis! Where was my Irish luck then?
Where is my Irish luck at tax return time, at D.I. when I want to find something awesome, and at the end of the month when I take the Walgreen’s survey to win three thousand dollars?
Every now and then I might find a quarter in the couch cushions, or a forgotten chocolate bar in the cupboard, but that’s about it. Sometimes I might be able to avoid getting hit by a speeding car in the cross walk, or I may discover that if I had gone on a road trip I would have been stuck in a blizzard, so it’s a good thing I decided to stay home. These things fall under the category of “dumb luck” not “Irish luck.” “Irish luck” is much more fun to be the recipient of, or so I’m told.
The question is, will my lack of Irish luck force me to hang up my four-leaf-clover earrings for good? Will I turn my back on my heritage, on my people? Will I boycott U2, potatoes, and Jonathan Swift? Will I forget the years of potato famine? Never! Irish luck may be a myth, but Irish pride is undying. Happy Saint Patty’s!