WARNING; THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS PROFANITY, GRAPHIC VIOLENCE AND ADULT SITUATIONS AND SHOULD NOT BE READ BY ANYONE WITH AN OUNCE OF HUMAN DECENCY.
(If I had an ounce of human decency, I’d most likely drink it.)
The best party I ever went to was my father’s wake.
I was very sad, of course, but sadness is for before and after (forever after) the funeral.
The wake is different.
I saw friends and relatives I hadn’t seen in years, even some friends of my father I’d never met.
There was the usual “I’m sorry for your troubles” and “your father was a fine man” and other condolences from friends of the family.
Once they left, we (by which I mean my vastly extensive family) got down to the business of a proper Irish wake.
We do it right; it’s wasn’t like old times where the body of the departed lies in state in the parlour and the women of the family keen and all of that.
We threw a party.
It was still traditional in a sense; all of the men went into the kitchen to drink, while all of the women stayed in the parlour.
All but one.
It took her awhile to make it into the kitchen; she was new to the family at the time, but aware of our customs, and wanted to be respectful.
At the same time, she was never one to be excluded from the boy’s club. By the time she showed up, all of us (uncles, brothers, cousins) were very intoxicated and were telling jokes.
Because you have to laugh; crying is not allowed.
My wife can’t remember jokes (I have a hard time with that myself), but she likes to make fun of Englishmen when they’re acting in a less than masculine manner by saying, “Now let’s do a winsome Morris dance!”
(She says this in front of said Englishmen, which has damn near gotten me killed a number of times. Winsome, lose some. I finally had to tell her to stop; so she started saying it to me and my family when we got to staggering after drinking too much.)
We were drinking too much. And staggering a bit. And this was the first time half of these people had ever met my wife. Upon entering the kitchen, she made her Morris dance remark.
Everyone thought it was hilarious.
They all started paying more attention to her than me (natural enough, as she was the only woman in the room), but it was my father’s wake. So I became irritated.
One of my uncles noticed this and said, “Why don’t you give us one?”
The only joke that came to mind is why you should stop reading this. Right now.
“Alright, there’s this boy in the Somme. He’s in a trench, it’s night, all of his mates are dead, it’s pouring rain, the Germans are still firing, and he’s out of ammunition. He knows that they’ll be coming over the wire at any minute, so he fixes his bayonet and readies himself to die, but not without taking out one of them as he goes.”
Now I had their attention.
“Soon he hears someone running towards the trench, and sees the silhouette of a man leaping towards him. Just then, an artillery shell lights up the night sky and he can see the face of the man; it’s one of his mates from another company.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Hush, we’ve got no time for that! Listen, I’ve got this French girl in my foxhole and she’s amazing! She’s got a perfect body, and she’ll do just about anything; one minute I’m on top, then she’s on top; it doesn’t matter; you’ve got to come over to my foxhole and get some of this!”
“Well, I dunno. Does she give good head?”
“Head? Man, she ain’t got no head!”
That got a shocked laugh out of everyone and we kept on with our winsome Morris dance into the wee hours.
When I woke the next morning, I felt just fine. I went to have a piss, but before I could finish, I heard a scratching sound at the door.
“I’m in here!”
“Please. Hurry.” It was one of my brothers. He had dragged himself down the hallway by his fingernails. He needed to vomit. I let him in and he crawled over to the toilet. While I was standing there laughing as he struggled to lift the toilet seat, I said, “Head? She ain’t got no head!”
He didn’t make it. He started puking and laughing at the same time and made quite a mess.
A few hours later, the alcohol in my system wore off and I started to feel ill. I went upstairs to vomit, and there was my brother, lying in wait. He said, “Head? She ain’t got no head!”
If you’ve ever been to an Irish wake, I’m sorry for your troubles.
If you’ve never been to one, I just feel sorry for you.
I’ve always been told that Samhain is the time of year when the dead can communicate with us. That may be true.
My departed communicate with me on a daily basis, because I hold their memory in my heart and mind.
Wakes are not about mourning; they are a celebration of life; the lives of those you’ve lost, and your own life as well.
Sure, it was crude, and I warned you.
But my father would have laughed and that’s all I care about.