Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Romancing the Irish: What Not to Do

As anyone who has ever worked in any job longer then two days will tell you, some people are just batshit. The public are a rag-tag bunch of dithering weirdos, and serving them requires a level of patience and rationale that is reminiscent of the early work of Jesus Christ. This is something I went into detail with as early as last week, where we learned about the character quirks of Other Michael Keaton. As easy as it is to identify weirdos, sometimes it can be incredibly challenging to separate the crazy people from say, the casually eccentric, or in this case, the die-hard romantic.

Almost everyone who has worked in retail or service has been in a situation in which a customer has a crush on them. I'm not saying this is a weird thing: I, for one, have gone through several heady phases of borderline stalking moody looking boys in book shops. It's not that the worker in question is particularly attractive, it's more to do with the fact that they're paid to be nice to you so you'll buy more stuff. In capitalist terms, I believe this phenomenon is called Sexy Economics, or "Sexonomics".

Sexonomics is not something that has escaped the attention of American Apparel

For every ten people that understand the joys of having a casual crush, there is one person who is more then willing to cross the casual/creepy crush line. A lot of people have stories about this. My friend Eduardo, for example, was once given a mixed cd from an elderly gay gentleman. My friend Ashling was approached by a man who excitedly told her how good she looked in pants, and then asked her to sneak away with him while her boyfriend was at work.

The other day, I was serving a customer who tends to come in around the same time every week. I'd always understood him to be a relatively normal dude: the kind of nervous 20-something that perpetually carries a backpack and tentatively asks about Battlestar Galactica boxsets. The frequency of his visits have led to us building something of a rapport, mostly made up of short conversations about whatever CD I'm playing that day. This time however, he seems significantly more nervous then usual. As our transaction ends, and I hand him back his change, he takes a package out of his ever-present backpack and hands it to me.

"This.. this is for you." he starts in broken English "There is a CD of my friends band, that I had when I was living in Brazil. I'm Brazilian.. and well, I thought you would be interested. In case you don't like this, there's also a DVD in here. It is of one of our great singers. I think you'll like her."

"He obviously wants to murder you." says Ashling, who is immediately on the scene.
"You don't think this is even remotely sweet?"
"No. It's weird. People don't just do this kind of thing."

What she means is Irish people just don't do this kind of thing. And she's perfectly correct. Irish romances are spawned in a very precise way, and invariably begin with two drunk people running headlong into one another. This sounds like I'm bowing to the worlds limited view of Ireland, but let's face it: Irish people like getting drunk. So why not start a relationship at that exact point?

After this initial sloppy encounter, a typical Irish romance will invariably go through a quick courtship process. This will consist of a series of semi-organised encounters where the two lovebirds in question will show up at the same place at the same time and act like the whole thing is a total accident. Some other stuff will happen, and they'll eventually get married.

And eventually turn into this

Romance isn't something we do very well, or are able to react to appropriately. What might seem like a sweet gesture in Brazil seems psychopathic in Ireland, and there's something a little sad about that. It makes me think how women can complain about the lack of romance in modern men, yet be fundamentally freaked out when some well-meaning stranger makes a nice gesture. I feel guilty that, despite this dudes best intentions, I am more overwhelmed with terror then I am with gushing sentimentality.

Unless he is actually trying to murder me, in which case I don't feel guilty at all.

Courtesy of American Hell

1 comment:

  1. It's all true and we're all doomed. One way ticket to Canadia Land, please.

    The post basically confirms everything I've believed about Irish people's terror of romance, intimacy and mixed tapes.