Irish and Jewish mothers share a stereotype with one exception: Irish mothers don’t temper their sense of guilt. With all the love in the world, an Irish mother can simultaneously worship the ground her son walks on and act with a deeper sadism than the bastard offspring of Jeffrey Dahlmer and John Wayne Gacy.
Growing up, the brother and me were pretty spoiled – it was more Enid Blyton (without the casual racism) than Angela’s Ashes, but Mam wielded the wooden spoon of guilt like Zorro felling Spaniards.
When I went through a period of fibbing she tole me that my tongue would turn black and fall out if I lied. How did she know?
“A little bird told me”
Not only was Mammy a Gaelic Doctor Doolittle, she’d created a network of avian turncoats.
That little bird told on me. Every time. It must have been a stool pigeon.
Idiopathic tongue-ectomies aside, the best correction I got was herself telling me that boys who hit their mother would face the worst punishment ever. When they died, after their four-score and ten, and were buried the offending member would end up rising from the ground and become a gruesome, peeling tribute to the finale of Carrie.
“People will come from miles around,” she said, “to visit the slowly rotting hand and say ‘There lies a terrible child who was mean to his mother.’”
Of course, we laugh about it now, but I still hate that bird.