Characters: The Woman I Hope is Irish

by D. C. Haddock

She’s looking at me like she really wishes I wasn’t here. Her mop of red curly hair in sitting precariously in a frizzy ponytail on top of her head, and her bangs are sticking out every which way, clearly impeding her vision, but she seems past the point of caring. She has kind of a funny accent that I cannot place, and thus the only thing I can think when I see her is: Irish. She’s in the throes of middle-age, the lines creeping across her forehead day by day, the weariness setting in under her eyes, nestling in until death. I can hear the stress in her sweet little voice as she stares me full in the face, both hands now on the counter in front of her, and asks me, “What d’ yeh want?”

She’s the perfect model of the busty, bawdy bar-wench one sees in the fantasy settings of stories such as Robin Hood or A Song of Ice and Fire; she’s beginning to age, she’s abrasive, she retains many of her womanly features through all this, and she doesn’t take any of your shit. All she’s missing is a course leather bustier, a stein brimming with ale, and a lute. So, naturally, this woman scares the living daylight out of me.

I fumble about for a moment before producing the carton of milk I had completely forgotten I originally intended to purchase. With that same I’ve-seen-some-shit attitude, she leans over, eyes me up and down like a hog ready for slaughter, pulls one hand off the counter and plants it with a smack! on her hip that is now jutting out to the side, and exclaims “Yeh need more than milk fah lunch, de-ah, that’s plain!” I start to mumble something about the granola in my bag before I can see she’s already hawking the next victim in line, and I jump at the chance to scurry away, the alpha-female victorious once again.

I could sit and imagine that a husband or two have seen the whites of her knuckles too close for comfort a few times and a half, but her superiority complex is completely understandable in a place like this. She’s a menopausal woman in a smock, serving coffee and sandwiches to college kids. Her happiness may depend on her daily scoreboard relying on the amount of clean, unblemished 20-somethings she can spoon-feed a taste of reality with a quick quip of her tongue. I think she may find a smile disarming, if anyone dared; not a meek, my-face-is-frozen-fear kind of smile, but a large, round-faced, touching-your-eyes kind of smile. Maybe I’ll try that tomorrow. If I can grow a pair by then.