Harmony County

2011 & 2009 Winner of "Best Humor Column" awarded by the SC Press Association

Why we are called names

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About a week or so ago, in Magnolia, Arkansas, folks had gathered at Christie’s Chapel Church to mourn the passing of a local resident, who will remain nameless.

   One of the mourners was a middle-aged woman from nearby Texas. She brought into the viewing room, along with her grief, an open can of beer. Her sister, related to the deceased, took umbrage and expressed her displeasure in a physical manner.

   In the fight one received some facial scratches and expressed a passive aggressive remark to the effect that she was not going to be arrested by some “country cop.” Evidently the rural officer of the law who had been summoned disagreed and the two were taken to the local detention facility and charged with third-degree assault. I’m unaware of the disposition of the case. Check the AP line for updates.

   Being of Irish descent I’m fully aware that funerals are thirsty business. However, even we Irish consider setting an open beer on the casket, particularly without a coaster, a social faux pas.

   I’ve been to funerals where physical expressions of grief are demonstrative. People hurling themselves on the casket, fainting and being carried out were not uncommon. We Irish have a quaint little ceremony called a ‘wake’ which is usually held upon return from the cemetery.

   The wake is inevitably a very wet affair. Not particularly vocal, this in itself is highly unusual for any gathering of Harps, the whiskey flows. At my one wake I personally helped the Monsignor down the front steps and into his Chrysler to watch him roar off scattering pedestrians, traffic laws and I suspect, commandments in his trail. They never told me at Altar Boy School that this was a part of my duties.

   However, I never saw a wake get physical except in cases of the combined effects of alcohol and gravity. Where we get physical is usually at weddings.

   An Irish wedding is an unnatural gathering of two groups to whom a feud is a normal part of life. You have the bride’s family who consider that the woman is marrying far beneath herself. The groom’s family believes that the woman has the morals of an alley cat.

   So the normal wedding day schedule is Mass at 11 a.m. wedding at noon, reception at 1 p.m., brawl at 2 and arraignment at 3 p.m. This is followed at an informal reception at some saloon with a name like “The Blarney Stone” or “O’Toole’s Public House” where the families make up and swear eternal loyalty. The second gathering lasts till closing time, a perfect end of a perfect day.

   This is why many wedding albums in Irish families contain photos of rather bruised and disheveled people in both front and side views.

   I may be guilty of exaggeration with the Irish, but I can do that. “It takes one to know one.”

   However, in the case of the Arkansas funeral one can scarcely blame someone applying the names such as, ‘redneck, cracker or peckerwood.’ © 2009, Jim McGowan



Written by harmonycounty

April 17, 2009 at 4:42 p04

Posted in Americana

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