The Haymaker’s Jig

So our city has an “Irish Cultural Festival” every year. Actually, it’s pretty lame, to use Poncho’s new favorite word. But my dance school was performing, so guess were I was on Saturday?

We (Mom, Poncho, and I) got there early because I was hoping there would be many musicians present, namely Irish flute players to answer all of my pressing questions. (Pressing because I have $200 in an envelope labelled “Flute Fund” and it’s burning a hole in my dresser drawer. My socks might catch fire if I don’t spend it soon.) (Just kidding. I’m not so cliche as to keep my money hidden in a sock drawer. In fact I don’t even have a dresser.) (It’s actually in a drawer full of postage stamps, post-it notes, and old stories that I wrote in the third grade and can’t bear to throw away even though they have titles like “Two Little Ragamuffins”, I kid you not.)

Also, Mom wanted to get Poncho a bodhran. And I like that I can say “bodhran” on here because it’s in print and not in real life where I consistently fail at pronouncing even English words correctly. And Poncho wanted to get just about everything he saw. Except a kilt. He drew the line at the mere suggestion.

So eventually it was time to get over to the stage and warm up, run through the show a few times.
(Dance teacher: “Pen, you look terrified when you’re going in the circle.”
Me: “Because I am terrified!”
Dance Teacher:  “Oh, come on. Of what?”
Me: “Falling, or screwing up.”) (I could never decide which would be worse.) 
Then it was time to dance, but the schedule was messed up and we had to wait for an hour and a half next to the stage, in a big clump of green and white tie-dye. While we waited… I stood beside a large fan that was going, half-listening to the conversations that were happening around me. I was really, really thirsty, but I didn’t have water. I briefly considered “accidentally” drinking out of someone else’s. Then I spied it, in the corner, partly hidden behind a makeshift backstage curtain: one of those plastic barrels, full of water and stocked with paper cups. Which I promptly used, despite thinking that I was maybe not supposed to. I felt like a real rebel, boldly drinking the cold water. Liberty or death-by-thirst! I swigged it down and crushed the paper cup into my fist.

Then I realized that I’d been observed the whole time by the one boy in our class, who snuck over to the water just as I snuck away, both of us pretending not to see each other. Rebel code of honor.

Finally we danced, and it was fantastic, and I didn’t fall or screw up. And I knew I had to come back and dance again later, so in between I hung out with some friends and tried in vain to find some flute people to talk to. And Poncho got a bodhran!

Time to dance again… Then I realized that the musicians who were playing before us now had a flute player! Of course they did, since we were in line to go onstage. The musicians started packing up, and then our show began. I kept debating– go backstage and talk to the flute guy, or stay?

Then I thought: If I do not talk to a flute person today, I HAVE WASTED MY LIFE.

So I went.

Me: “Hi… Um, which one of you was the flute player?”
The three guys: (with thick Irish accents) “Why?”
Flute Guy: “Me…?”
Me: “Um, how long are you going to be around? I have to dance but I wanted to ask you some questions.”
Now, keep in mind, music is blasting in the background. Also did I mention the accents.
Flute Guy: “Can you ask me them now, or…?”
Me: “Ask in an hour?”
Flute Guy: “I said, can you ask me them now, or, are they long questions?”
Me: “OK, well– IplaytheclassicalflutebutIwantanIrishflutebutIdon’tknowwhichkindtogetorwheretogetone?”
Flute Guy: “Oh. That is a long question.”
Me: *Internal panic as I realize the Straight-Line Jig is ending*
Flute Guy: “Do you have a pen?”
So one of the band members scrounged up a pen, and the flute guy told me his email address while I scrawled it on my hand. Just in time to make it to the Reel!

When that was over, I came offstage to find that Poncho had gotten himself a rather heavy foam-ish sword in the meantime.

Then we finally went home. And yesterday was Eliza’s graduation party (chest-wracking sobs) (move along, I’ll be fine in a sec…) (see? oh, that sniffling you hear. It’s just allergies. I swear.) and we learned two ceili dances, one of which was called The Haymaker’s Jig and was my favorite. The other was called The Siege of something-or-other. Names of songs and dances are interesting, because they just make me wonder how they got named that. Like “The Downfall of Paris”. Pretty upbeat song, and the dance really seems to have nothing to do with the downfall of anything. And sometimes songs are called “Tripping Up the Stairs” or “The Dusty Windowsill” and I just raise one eyebrow at it all.

Just kidding. I can’t raise one eyebrow. Only Poncho has that particular power.


PS: Bill said to me at the beach, “You Irish like to exaggerate a bit, don’t you?” And I said, “It’s not exaggerating. It’s called telling a good story.” Hence the bit about the socks catching fire, and the one eyebrow.
PPS: Also now whenever I think of eyebrows I think of how Bug got sunburned over one eyebrow at the beach. She looked perpetually bemused for a while.


4 thoughts on “The Haymaker’s Jig

  1. Sharron

    It’s the Siege of Ennis — but it gets slurred. I’ve heard it called the Siege of Dennis – but that’s absurd.

    Glad you didn’t fall.

  2. crescendocroise

    ahhh yes… that was so fun Celi Dancing!!! Zelie was tooo cute! Nothing like Irish dancing with 25 year olds to 2 year olds!!!!!
    I will be emailing you, calling you and praying for you, Pen!!!! Always call me if you need be!!!! I am never too busy for you! I love you with my whole heart to heart’s breaking!!!

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