In honor of all dads this Father’s Day, I’m posting an old story I found while cleaning out my file cabinet. This childhood memory was published years ago in a long-defunct zine. The writing isn’t as polished as it should be, but the sentiment is still the same. Happy Father’s Day, dad. I’m sorry you weren’t around to see this in print, but I know you’re Irish Eyes are smiling, just the same.
Down “Write” Funny – Dad’s Blarney Stone
My father was the token Irishman in a small Norwegian/German settled town. He introduced the locals to Notre Dame and Bermuda shorts, scandalizing most of the old-timers by baring his bandy legs to the thigh. Dad also had a unique and colorful way of expressing himself, which made you mouth his words twice over in your mind before obtaining full comprehension of what was just said.
“She could hunt bear with a switch.”
“I could eat the north end of a southbound skunk.”
“Dumber than a hoe.”
“Nervous as a whore in church.”
“Couldn’t hit an elephant in the ass with an ironing board.”
“He couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were on the heel.”
You get the idea. Worked great for insults, and only added to the legendary peculiarity of the Irish folk.
Realize that my mom is German, and that none of my siblings nor I would readily admit that we had anything but pure Leprechaun green blood flowing through our veins. Sauerbraten sucks, and don’t you forget it.
My parents moved to our small town in the mid-sixties, shortly after I was born. Soon enough, dad became accepted into the fold, given his unique form of humor and outspokenness, military background, and the aforementioned novelty of his heritage. Despite himself, my dad was a good guy and easy to like once you got past his coarser tendencies. He took up with a Norwegian named Bud, and they became fast friends and Legion Hall drinking buddies.
Dad was the authority in the group on just about any subject he decided to be knowledgeable about, regardless of how little he actually knew about it. His ability to expound authentic sounding information on any given subject was well known, and the men gathered around to listen to his wisdom often. Of course, he could rattle off by route any particular Irish custom. What did it matter to a bunch of heathen Lutherans who couldn’t tell their ass from a hole in the ground, anyway? (According to my Irish Catholic Dad, no offense, please.)
Seems Dad became quite zealous on the topic of the legendary Blarney Stone in Ireland, detailing the traditions of how a true Irishman would lay on his back to kiss the suspended stone and demonstrate his loyalty to the mother country. Each of his buddies listened with beer-goggled rapt interest amidst frequent elbow ribbing to one another. An idea quickly formed amongst the easy flow of brew that fueled the story.
The big social event among the guys was the monthly Legion meeting. Not so much the read minutes or the civil duty discussions, but the big beer bash and back slapping joke-sharing afterwards. March’s assembly occurred on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day. Unfortunately, Dad worked second shift that night and was unable to attend. In his absence, his buddies concocted a plan to turn the teasing into a full-blown recognizance mission.
One of the Legionnaires was the foreman of the local gravel pit, and offhandedly smirked about a big ol’ rock just waiting to be pulverized into sand, and gee, wasn’t that a shame because it so resembled the Blarney Stone itself.
A case of Old Style and a half a dozen men later, and they were headed for the quarry.
Now, heaving that damn rock sober onto a truck would have proved quite a feat in itself. Drunk, these men were lucky no one managed a crushed limb, or at the very least, a hernia. From my understanding of the re-telling, the truck nearly got away from them, as it was pointed downhill while they were trying to load the ton of stone onto the back.
Literally. A ton of solid rock.
This thing was the size of a Sears double-load washing machine.
And they painted it green. Bright green.
My mother claimed to have heard a thump in the night but rolled over thinking it was a storm on the way. I can only imagine she must not have been half-awake. The grunts and groans and sniggering of six drunks dropping a boulder onto the front yard and then thumbing their artistic strokes over the surface of it with final touches, had to make a helluva lot more noise than that.
My eldest brothers had a paper route, so were up before it was light out. The rest of us were in bed, blissfully unaware that we were about to be abruptly awoken.
The boys came careening back into the house, papers and heels flying, shouting the news.
Six still drunken men were bent over guffawing and howling across the street at the service garage station as my father walked out onto the front porch to take notice of the new landscaping in his front lawn. Dad now possessed his own official piece of Ireland. His own personal Blarney Stone.
Of course, the first requirement was for him to kiss it and show the heathens just how it was done. And he did it with the true panache my Irishman father was famous for. I have never seen a man so fond of posturing as my dad was.
History was made.
Kodak moments abounded, some as blurry as his buddies’ vision, but one good one that was extracted for prosperity. It made the local news, took on special interest for the City news, and was eventually picked up on the wires by CBS News.
Dad’s Blarney Stone stayed put the ten years we lived in that house and then some. Easter fell early that year, surrounding the sacred stone with chicken wire and green bunnies. Mom planted flowers in one of the pockmarks and created a marigold edging around the bottom. We used to play and climb on it, scraping knees, elbows, and other various injuries. One time the heathen Protestants splashed it with orange paint, the brunt of another nighttime practical joke, but Dad’s prized possession weathered on.
When we moved away, the new people had it quietly removed, but that was fine with Dad.
They were heathens, anyway, and unworthy of his precious piece of heritage.