Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yankee

my A to Z - every day of the challenge I will find a word by flinging my finger into my American Heritage Dictionary and then riff on it. The posts may be essays or poems or stories or memories. Who knows what will happen when we give Serendipity her wanton way?

Yankee

Really - that's the word

The light in the pub was dim, filtered through smoke and we laughed to think we'd left the fresh spring air of this Irish countryside for its somber air. A couple of Guinness's and a bit of lamb stew set in front of us would have us thinking differently but now we were just finding a table and adjusting our eyes to the sudden change. There wasn't many in this place - an elderly lady in the corner with a basket of groceries and some men standing up at the bar. The pub was right across from the hostel where we were staying. We were in Tralee. Wasn't that a nice name? It sounded like our mood.

One of the men at the bar was big and loud with a red face and wild gesturing hands. He'd eyed us going in - two middle-aged women and now we saw him approaching us. He turned back to the keep and bellowed "two pints for the ladies". We thanked him and hoped he wasn't going to be pesky but he seemed to just want to welcome us as strangers to his part of the world.

"You'd be Yankees I'm guessing."
"You'd be wrong." I said. "We're from Canada."
"There's never a difference." And he stood there above us and laughed.
I had gotten used to this sentiment after a week in Ireland. I'd had the same problem in England. Didn't seem to matter that we had maple leaves embroidered on our bags and Canadian flag pins on our jackets. Americans did that too. It grated on me though. I liked being a Canadian. Coming to the British Isles had made me realize the two polarities of my own country - from Yankee to Limey - and we were neither one nor the t'other.
I looked up at the fellow and gave him my broadest beamiest grin.
"You must be English."
His face changed before me as he took in my statement. His eyes lost their twinkle and his hands clenched by his side.
"Jaysuz, Mary and Joseph - I'm not English. I'm feckin born and bred in Ireland."
"There's never a difference." I said.
He slit his eyes at me and leaned forward. His face took on an even redder hue - like tawny port. Then I saw his thoughts as if his skull were glass and I could see the wheels and gears moving. His hands unclenched, spreading out, as a huge laugh bellowed up from his considerable belly.
"Slainte Canucks! Slainte!"

5 comments:

KatieO said...

LOVE this story ;-) and love your "theme" for AtoZ.

So glad the month is almost over, although it's been fun!

Liza said...

I'm sorry to say I was on the other side of this when in Australia in my young twenties. We met two young men who sounded like us (well, compared to the Aussies, anyway) but when we asked if they were American, oh, my, did we get shot down.

That said, this piece is an amazing painting that helped me trace back the years and really get to the guts of that reaction. VERY WELL done, my dear!

Now tell me, is there any chance this story was true? It sure has a ring of reality to it. :)

One more day! I am so impressed with how thorough...and enjoyable your A-Z has been. Congratulations, a day early!

Jan Morrison said...

Katie O' - any chance you can relate to this story from the t'other side?
Liza - this is a true story - I went to Ireland nine years ago (ten in October!) to walk the Dublin Marathon for Joints in Action (arthritis). Afterward a friend and I travelled to Dingle by train and bus - so this occurred pretty much as stated in Tralee.

Margot Kinberg said...

Jan - What a great story!! And I just absolutely loved your rejoinder, I really did :-).

I've absolutely been drinking in your approach to this A-Z blog challenge :-).

Anonymous said...

nice idea.. thanks for sharing.