Thursday, March 17, 2011

Top o' the Mornin' To Ye!

So, obviously I’m Irish, what with a name like Shelagh and all…although I’ve been called everything in the book aside from Sheila.  She-lag.  She-laughs.  She-lagla.  Shelga.  I’ve got a list somewhere.

And being as how it’s St. Patrick’s Day, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least acknowledge my roots, of which I am very appreciative.  The Irish have such great blessings:  “May the road rise up to meet you…” and all that.  “May God keep you in the palm of his hand until we meet again…”   You get the idea.  Poets, they are, every blessed one of them.

Without a doubt, the one phrase I hear most is “You have the luck of the Irish!”   Luck of the Irish?  I’m thinking maybe the Irish weren’t really all that lucky…well, aside from being born Irish, that is.  That’s pretty lucky.   

But, let’s look at the history:  potato famine, political unrest, snakes needing to be driven out of Ireland, the oppressive Catholic church, etc.  Those are just a few.  I’m starting to think that we really aren’t that lucky after all.  Or, maybe we just say stuff that we think we know, when really we don’t know much.

Kind of like my students.  For example, during a vocabulary drill in class, here are some things I heard:

“Who knows what Esperanto is?” I ask.

Student’s hand shoots up.  “I know!  It’s coffee!”

My reply, “No, that’s espresso.”


“What does infidelity mean?”

Student, oh-so-excitedly:  “It’s when you can’t get pregnant!”

Me:  “Um, no.  That’s infertility.  Good try though!”

And my favorite:

“What’s desiccation?”

Student throws hand in the air, bouncing out of his chair:  “I know that one!  It’s like when you have sex in a church!”

“No, that’s desecration.”

God love ‘em, they do try; and I can say that at least my students are funny, take everything in good humor, and make me laugh every single day.  Much like the Irish. 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

David Cassidy vs. Idi Amin - Steel Cage Match...or My Irrational Fears

Ever wonder where irrational fears come from?  You know the kind I’m talking about, like my sister’s fear of the word “tribunal.”    

I started thinking about that the other day when my friend mentioned David Cassidy was on Celebrity Apprentice.  Just the mention of his name brought flashes of terror.  I saw myself in a dark room – specifically the living room of my old childhood home –burgundy carpeting, the light from the TV casting an eerie glow, and “HEY!  I think I LOVE you!” playing in the background.  I don’t know exactly what happened that night while watching The Partridge Family, but I know something did, and I know this because my older sister was babysitting me.  Like any teenager, she was resentful of her chore and so I’m sure she took it out on me, all while The Partridge Family played innocuously in the background.  Scarred me for life.  (Thanks, sis!)

But that got me thinking about my other irrational childhood fear:  Idi Amin, the African general who staged a coup in Uganda in the 1970’s.  

Really?  Idi Amin, you ask.  Yes, Idi Amin Dada, to be perfectly correct (Thank you Wikipedia!).

Now, you have to understand I was much younger than my older siblings, so some of the stuff they watched was really not appropriate for a delicate child such as myself (yes, I typed that with a straight face).  Well, one night my other older sister was watching the news and a piece came on about Idi Amin’s takeover of Uganda and the terrible things he did to his own people. 

Scared the bejeezus out of me.  I made the mistake of asking my sister about him and her answer was:  “He’s an insane maniac who kills a lot of people.”  Insane, I gulped. Maniac?  I guess I should have better articulated, “But WHERE is he?” because at the age of eight, I had no idea where Africa was.   

I mean, how did I know that the chances of Idi Amin hopping a Jeep and DRIVING from Uganda to our tiny house in Massachusetts were pretty slim?  No one shared that tidbit with me.  I spent YEARS terrified of him.  I would cringe whenever I saw him on the news and wonder just how far away he was and when he would get to our house.   Stupid fear?   Most definitely…but a vivid one to this day.

I guess most irrational fears come from misinformation…well, all except the David Cassidy one because I’m SURE my sister must have tied me up and poked me with pins or something while the Partridges boarded their multicolored bus to head to their next gig.  

But that Idi Amin thing…that was real.  Now I look at it and laugh (kinda).  I can tuck that one away and say, “Heh.  You’ve got nothing to be afraid of.  That was just a stupid scary thing from when you were a kid.”   

Rationalizing is a wonderful thing…when you can do it.

Just don’t talk to me about killer bees.