Riding the South

The blog of Scott and Jenny Morris

March 14, 2016

My Irish eyes

are smiling

By Jenny Morris

On Thursday I won’t be wearing Kelly green for St. Patrick’s Day (I don’t look good in it) and I don’t own any orange (Roll Tide). But my Irish eyes will be smiling — probably because of something Daughter No. 2 says to me.

When her maternal grandmother returned to our ancestral County Cork years ago to kiss the Blarney stone (see blurred photographic evidence above), I figured the “gift of eloquence” as Blarney Castle’s website describes it, or the “ability to flatter and deceive without offense” as some envious non-Irish person put it, would pass on to future generations.

In my estimation my progeny had a double advantage already. 1. Their grandmothers are each ½ Irish.  2. Though two of them were born outside the South, I got them all home as soon as I could. I figured learning Southern as a second language wouldn’t be so hard if the children were young enough.

And those of us who acquired it natively know speaking Southern has very little to do with any accent. Bless our hearts, our hospitality and hypocrisy are kissing cousins, and pretty close to what the Irish call blarney.

But our youngest, born in New York not far from the City itself, showed little interest in either Irish or Southern. In fact, in many regards, she is a plain-spoken Yankee.

Over the last decade I’ve collected several points of evidence in support of my assertion.

Exhibit A: At a routine parent-teacher conference, I learned Daughter No. 2 had turned to her first grade reading coach during their session that day and announced, “This school is full of problems for me, and you’re one of them.”

Exhibit B: Upset about attending a funeral, I got snippy with her, then turned to apologize. “I’m sorry, but you know the stress about visiting when there’s a dead person —” I started to say. “Yes,” she said, “the live people who will be there.”

Exhibit C: And then there’s her propensity to dispense with any niceties in answering her older sister: “If you want to know what we were talking about, you’ll have to ask Mom. I’m pretty sure it falls under the category of stuff we’re not supposed to tell you until you are emotionally more stable.”

So if you want a straight answer, consider contacting Daughter No. 2. Her willingness to speak the truth without any sugar on top marks her as an outsider more than any accent, transplanted Southerner status and Irish roots notwithstanding. But she always makes me smile.