Oxycontin Tattoos

27th October, 2010

There are more skyscrapers in downtown Brooklyn than the whole of Ireland. There’s also more oxycontin consumed per capita here, but that wouldn’t be that hard, given that most of us in Ireland don’t know what it is. (And, to be fair, Brooklyn is in the top 10 biggest cities in the USA.) The fact that we don’t know (and don’t know it can be pulverised, and freebased, or snorted, and is damned near amazing, and dangerous), preserves what’s left of our innocence. According to some sources, it’s great when you just want to “chill”. When you want to be a passive verb (ah, the passive voice can be good at times); when you want a “chill” to come upon you with GREAT vengeance, when you want to enter the kingdom of a major Chilldom.

Yes, you guessed it, Biddy, it’s a time-release opiate, a synthetic morphine, (“Feck off, Miley,”) made to make the pain go away. Right you be there Michael and Marsha. Right you be. Have another pint, or ten. Rum and black? No bother.

During the Northern Ireland “Troubles” there was a roaring trade in prescription Valium, mainly amongst the mothers: taken first thing with a shaky morning cup of tea. Their husbands and fellas didn’t, as a rule, “touch the stuff”. Sure, they just had a rake a’ black pints, breakfast, lunch and tea instead. As Leland Bardwell writes: “don’t touch them – them’s your mammy’s pills.” (That morning consuming of drugs brings back US friends’ stories in Spain about their “bushy-tailed” swallowing of the daily tab of LSD for breakfast before High School. But there isn’t the same quiver in the hand at all in that, is there, now? Or the same reason. Not by a long shot. Though, the tragedy – or the reason – might be more private). By the way, fraternity lads, that’s why we don’t appreciate the American cocktail you call “the Irish car bomb”. Just saying, boyos, just saying. Try asking for that in South Armagh, lads. You might just get one.

Apparently, there are more cool people in New York than the rest of the US put together (or so naturalised New Yorkers would tell you), not including – of course – Austin (Texas), Portland, San Francisco, and Lawrence (Kansas). They say that the coolest person in every small town moved to New York, and is now a smaller fish in a big smelly sea of cool; but whether boy or a girl, one can be tattoo-sleeved in such a way as to suggest, “em, don’t think I’ll be going home any time soon, like.” That’s another difference.

(“Jaysus, Didi, aren’t they fierce sensitive about their tatts and prescription drugs?”

“Sure wouldn’t you be, Gogo, if your arse was blue with them, you had your back done in several Portuguese Man O’ War jelly fish, just for the fucking craic of it, like, and you were high on pills, all at the same time?”

“Jaysus, that sounds wild, ha? Are they lunatics, or what? Nuther pint while we wait?”

“Sure, go on the kid. We have another while yet.”)

I had a similar conver. with an Italian American lass – or was it a Jewish American girl? Anyway, we concurred that people from more “ethnic” backgrounds, for want of a better word, or people more “recently arrived”, don’t do as many tatts, or at least the ones from wrist to shoulder, because what would “the mammy” say at the Chrimbo? (“Sorry there, lads, “the holidays”, I should have said, apols. Christ, indeed, Didi, you’d want to be watching what you were saying, wouldn’t you?”) It’s an unprovable hypothesis, and a ridiculous generalisation, but I have the sense that, along with the great geographical distances, there are distances in the US in terms of the family. (“Do you think that, now, Gogo, you awful gobshite?”) Well, I suppose it was here that divorce was pioneered, after all, along with the great LSD experiment, and that isn’t a bad thing (I’m referring to the first, of course, the first! (“Lob us an auld tab there, Didi, while you’re at it. Oh, you already put it in me pint? The devil fuck you.”)

A Jewish dude at a party the other evening said: “what’s the difference between a Jewish and an Irish mother? The Jewish mother says ‘you’re killing me!’ The Irish mother says: ‘I’ll murder you!'”

Mammy, I saw my first facial tattoo the other day. And it wasn’t on a New Zealand Maori, I can tell you that much for nothing. I wouldn’t say he’ll be looking for a pensionable job in the bank, would he? Won’t be long ’til the Christmas. “Ara, sure, the Holly and the Ivy!”

“Would you ever shut up, Didi?”

“Gogo, you’re an awful bollox.”

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David McBloglin

My name is David McLoghlin, I am the author of "Waiting for Saint Brendan and Other Poems" (Salmon Poetry, July 2012); I am an Irish poet, writer and literary translator, who currently lives in New York, and blogs about its vicissitudes, while not writing other things, like my 2nd collection. I moved to NYC in 2010 to study at NYU's MFA Program in Creative Writing, from which I graduated in 2012, two months before my book was published. Before moving to the US, I lived in Ireland, Spain, Belgium, France, the USA, and travelled in a variety of countries (including Morocco, Czechoslovakia (when it was that country), Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Norway), whilst engaged in a number of pursuits. Newyorkperistalsis.wordpress.com came about as a catch-all for impressions related to moving to NYC alone: culture shock, in essence, and all her ugly sisters.

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