That special look

in me

I get the Look about once a month here in Las Vegas, give or take. This is neither a look or the look, it is the Look. A hypothetical observer of the person Giving this Look to me would note the significant import given to this Look and mentally capitalize it. For me though, the Look means a few awkward moments of this Irishman becoming the Giver’s personal hero, favourite celebrity in the flesh and possibly a lifetime counselor. These are grave powers that should never be used for evil.

The Giving of the Look usually begins with me in a store somewhere, ordering something. I speak my part and mentally roll a D100. Roll a 1-99 and I get a simple I’m sorry, but could you repeat that again? Roll a 100 and I get the Look. A few silent moments pass as mental hard-drives spin up, processors crunch numbers and programs are loaded into RAM. And then I get asked:

I’m sorry, but are you Irish?

Yes. Shit.

I’m a Foreigner, you see. A flesh and blood Irishman straight for the storied days of yore. Mexicans don’t count, to Americans. I mean, their Uncle Mitch went on holidays in Moscow and in the room next to him? A Mexican family from Tijuana. The Mexican people are so ubiquitous here that they blend into the background noise and don’t really get noticed on a conscious level. Hispanics in general, that is visitors from Central American, South American and even from the Iberian Peninsula, suffer this fate too. You are foreign, but not Foreign.

I usually cringe inside while waiting for the Giver’s next statement. It will fall into one of the following categories:

So, you’re Irish… This rest of this statement is an unspoken implication that by being Irish I have regularly conversed and consorted with pixies, fairies, druids, warlocks and also that yes, I know where the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow is. I can get away with a knowing smirk and a wink.


Do you know where….? The village asked about was abandoned during the famine and is now little more than a jumbled pile of stones on a lonely moonlit hill somewhere. Why yes! This village is still a bustling town somewhere peopled by your distant cousins.


When is it a good time to visit? It never really is. This is fucking Ireland, one of the wettest places on Earth outside of the Amazon Basin and Seattle. My home city has the world record for most consecutive days of rain. We light fires and use heaters in July as it can get so damp and miserable. In winter we either hide behind a glass in a warm pub for two months straight or stay home and screw like rabbits. In summer we either hide behind a glass in a warm pub for two months straight or stay home and screw like rabbits. Well this is a fine time of year as the weather is great.


Do you know who…? This is the worst – and thankfully rarest – question of them all. I am hailed as literally one of their flesh and blood ancestors brought through time to the present day and expected to deliver learned ancestral advice on the direction of their life and critique their life to date. I hate you. You did fine, but you should maybe get a girlfriend and maybe look for a better job, okay?

Six Months in the Mountain Kingdom

in me

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