My Mortal Enemy

Excerpt from the upcoming book Aspects of Irish Culture:

In rural Ireland, it is considered the height of poor taste to kill someone, particularly if you don’t like them. Far better, it is, to let them suffer, to let them live.

Good enough for the bastard! you say.

Let that thundering hoor toil away in his oul swamp of a haggard. Let him know the shame of them useless sons of his getting into drugs and loose women… or worse, spending their best years in vain trying to drain his wet meadow!

Good enough for him, you see. Death would be a sweet release,and where would be the satisfaction in that? No, an early escape for him from this mortal hardship could not be countenanced.

Til Death do us part…

The trouble is, of course, that an enemy becomes the sole focus of your attention for life. Thus, you are caught – surprised – by the emotion that engulfs you when you learn that oul’ McInerney is dead at last.

Good enough for the bastard! you say.

The sudden gulp and sob, as you lean against the cattle crush or a kitchen table for support, though, tells the true story… yet, should it really be so shocking?

Naturally, you have formed an intense attachment, no less visceral than that of your arm to your body. Anything less than numb bereavement would be shocking, when you have given so much of yourself to them, when you have nurtured and cherished this special relationship that no other could understand. Only you could fathom the depths of the uniquely-flavoured bitterness you have borne towards McInerney all your life.

When he has died, it is your duty – to him as much as yourself – to crow about his demise. Everyone around you smiles grimly and nods at this ranting old devil. They know the truth.

Too much love will kill…

It is love, in a dark velvet cloak. It is almost pathetic to see. At any given opportunity, you bring him up in conversation. Let us give a name to this love that dare not speak…

I suppose you heard oul’ McInerney is gone…? you say to any who will listen, in a voice so bitter and cracked it is indistinguishable from that of a grieving widow.

For you alone could give the true eulogy on McInerney! No one knows more about the man; his likes and dislikes, his careful secrets. You know more than you would ever have cared to know about your own mother, or your wife (or – perish the thought! – your lover, as if there was time for such continental fancies when an enemy of such lethal and vicious cunning as McInerney must be watched day and night).

Enmity has nourished your soul, like the (rare) sun and (ample) rain on the soil has nourished dockleafs and ragwort in McInerney’s fields. It has possessed you, your every thought. Each action has been weighed and calculated to determine how it would affect your lifelong rival. Never had long-term plans nor goals existed for you. To do so would be foolishness in a world where long-term has always meant getting to the end of the week ahead of that swine across the stream. You have spent your life in flux, always nimble, always adapting, so as to adjust to what McInerney attempted, like in the famous summer of 1973.

Next time out, a further look at love in its truest form, with Exhibit 1: The Silage


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