What Is a Brain on Shamrocks?

Like most minds, your thought process is guided by that inner voice that judges and assesses everyone and everything. In fact, that voice might have just asked, what voice is he talking about?

Yup. It’s that voice.

But you’re an Irish-American born to Irish parents, which means your inner voice has a brogue that sounds remarkably like your mother’s. It’s that “Celtic consciousness” that gets to work as you’re sitting on the back deck of your house reading the Sunday New York Times just as the last Mass of the day begins.

Not going to church this morning, are we? Well, I’m sure the Lord Jesus Christ didn’t want to get up the day he died for yer sins! Yerra, I’m sure he would have had more fun doing the crossword puzzle instead of hanging on the cross!

On the motorcycle road trip of your life, that inner voice will be in the sidecar, offering color commentary on the scenery that whizzes by. If you find yourself putting the kickstand down in the parking lot of a tattoo parlor in your late forties, for example, that voice will encourage you to stick to the bright lights of the interstate.

Is there a church nearby? While you’re in there marking up your arm so that it looks like a coloring book, I want to get a few decades of the rosary in. I will be praying to the Mother of God that ye’ll come to your senses. Not sure what ye are tryin’ to prove here. Are ye trying to set an example for my granddaughters? I’m sure they’re gonna wanna run off and get one of them tramp stamps above their rumps. Sure, that’ll be a marvelous look. But ye go ahead and do what ye want, luv. What do I know?

You try to argue with that voice but there is no winning. The voice always lands a guilt-punch below the belt and radiates pain throughout the body as you lay in a fetal position on the curb.

Nine pushes. ’Twas nine of the most agonizing pushes a mother ever had to suffer to give birth to a child and if I could have known that the son I gave birth to would talk to his mother’s voice in his head like that, sure, I wouldn’t have bothered pushing at all.

You were raised at a time and culture where parents and teachers never encouraged their children to be anything they wanted to be. The world was painted as just a big blue ball orbiting the sun, it was never positioned as your oyster! They paid enough for your education, but all that was expected of you was to not embarrass them in front of the neighbors. If you became a priest or nun, your parents would die with a smile on their face. But if all you did was manage by some miracle to scale a few rungs higher on the socioeconomic ladder, fair play to you.

What Is a Brain on Shamrocks?

Indeed, the inner voice may mock you once your income bracket rises. It’s a cruel irony that your parents toiled in lower-middle-class drudgery so that you could get a college degree and then hire lower- middle-class people to do the menial jobs around the house that are no longer worth your time. Your head never gets as big as your bank accounts, thanks to that voice inside your head.

So, I guess we’re all highfalutin’ now, are we? Too good to clean your own house and mow your own lawn? Yes, I know ye’ll tell yourself that ye have made enough money for ye to allow yer wife to stay home and raise the kids, and I’m glad for ye, luv. Really. Ye went a lot further in life than I ever thought ye would. But it wouldn’t kill yeh to clean the auld toilet once in a while.

Your parents never spent money on maids and landscapers. They tended their own house and saved every penny they could to provide for you and send what little money was left to their own parents in Ireland. If overtime wages and tips were good on any given year, they may have taken you over to see your grandparents. Those childhood trips to Ballylanders and Athenry in the motherland are stitched into the fabric of your soul and Ireland calls you, her traveling child, to come home every few years.

The inner voice has a belly full of Irish pride on St. Patrick’s Day, furious at the portrayal of our culture.

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