Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dark Irish Girl

I love the idea of a nickname.  Back in 6th grade after seeing Dirty Dancing, I'd hoped somehow "Baby" would catch on for me.  A teasing fact revealed about the super-cool guy of a clique several years later was he had at one time tried to get people to call him "Cricket."  While this was pretty hysterical because of Young and the Restless connections, I secretly understood.

When I was quite young, I had a few nicknames.  My mom called me "Tiger."  This was probably due to my beloved tee shirt that featured a cartoon tiger.  (We were a pretty inventive, cutting edge family.)  Then there was "Cherry Pie" which morphed into "Pie" over time.  The worst of the worst was an uncle that insisted on calling me "Lovey Howell."  I'm not sure why he started calling me this, but the reason he continued was how furious it made me.  Wretched, wretched name. (At some family gatherings, I'm still greeted with this name.  I don't find it so dreadful anymore.  Now, I find it quite endearing, actually.)

No clever little nicknames, no sweet pet names since then, however.  Not heartbroken by this, but a tad bit disappointed, I guess. Whether it was the extra attention that a special little name indicated, or the silliness of a shared joke, I don't know.  Whatever it was, I just wanted some name to be called that wasn't my own.

Finally -- after many years of having nothing more than an occasional "Sweetie,"  I found someone that showered me with nicknames.  Heaven!  I adored them all.  I don't even recall most of them, now.  Most of them weren't all that long-lived, just momentary names said either making fun, or pointing out some foible.  But one that actually stuck was "Dark Irish Girl."

I'm not entirely sure how this was meant.  Just a recognition of coloring, and some sort of affection, I suppose.  To me, however, this name meant a lot more.

Ever since I'd been a child, I knew about the Irish curse.  An Irish father, a mother of English and Irish descent -- it was almost a doubled sense of doom.  The Irish may be known for the excess of drink, but none that I had ever known.  The curses that I knew well were split second bursts of anger and long-lasting depressions that came from nowhere but went on for days, or weeks, or months.  No reason behind these fits, just rueful sadness.  Being Dark Irish to me meant a recognition of these things.

I had never even heard of the concept of being Black Irish until I was an adult.  A fellow dark brunette from the isle of keening and loss laughed with me about students who assumed that "Black Irish" referred to African-Irish.  He laughed a bit, and he said, with a little too much familiar lamentation, "We both know what it really means, though, don't we?"

To have this association shaken away by a moniker that is not my given name is a lovely gift.  Not only do I not have to settle for "Nobody puts Baby in a corner," I can be the Dark Irish Girl. I can be a little different from the rest, and associate the former weight of curses with a sweet endearment from someone who took the time to adore me a little.

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