Laying back, watching through the cover of the branches at the people moving far below us in the parkland at the bottom of the cliff, I asked my father what it meant to be Scotch-Irish. I hoped it was good to be that, and I hoped that he didn’t mind, as he hadn’t been included in the Scotch-Irish head count earlier in the day by an elderly relative.
“Honey, this is a dry county. That means all those people sitting there below us are pretty dry, too,” he said, with a certain look in his eye, a little bit of an eye smirk as he explained this to me.“You know that beady-eyed cow, your grandma’s mother?” I nodded, fascinated with his frankness but unsure about what this had to do with anything.
"The stupid … " He waited just a minute. “Look. She won’t even eat rum cake.” I had no idea what he was talking about, but my father wasn’t the kind of person to question. You had to be careful.
“Is that bad?”
“What’s bad is not knowing how to have a good time. But the cow’s husband liked to give it a try sometimes.” He told me a story about something that happened before I was born - how he drove my great-grandfather on a grand adventure to the next county to pick up a six-pack of beer that they drank all the way back to town. That my great-grandmother had lost her sense of smell so they knew she couldn’t smell the beer on their breath, but she had found them out anyway. “You’d have thought the goddamned devil was gonna shoot up from the gravel in their driveway and claim his beer-soaked soul. Jesus!
“No way I’d put up with that. No way,” my father said.
I believed him. But to this very day, I still don't know what it means to be Scotch-Irish.
Dialogue: Anonymous.....The Next Line: Evil Editor