Sharp sunlight is reflected and bounced off the deeply mottled turquoise of the harbor at Marbella - Puerto Banus - where the jet-setting beautiful people yacht-surf. Even I look like a beautiful person squinting happily into the camera, my frizzy hair backlit into a rusty glow.
“You look Irish,” my Mediterranean daughter says, and needlessly adds. “It doesn’t look at all like you.” I smile and smooth down the plastic holding the ancient photos in place. I run through my Irish ancestors, the Fitzpatricks and the Fitzgeralds, until I bore even myself. No one has ever met any of them, any of their descendents. There’s just me now, and my Iberian daughters prefer the ounce of Italian blood I claim.
“The Irish are drunks,” says my daughter’s boyfriend. I shoot him a look that he doesn’t understand, so I say:
“Yah, an thass only ta putap wittallaya that aren’t,” I say in a brogue taken from movies about Boston. The boyfriend looks up then, his dark eyebrows raised in confusion. The girlfriend shakes her head, rolls her eyes.
“What were you doing in Puerto Banus, anyway?” asks my proletariat daughter.
“A friend lent us a place his parents left him,” I say. “They were movie stars back in the forties. The apartment was small and ugly, though, so we spent every day in Malaga. We drove back and forth by the harbor, and one day I noticed a wooden sailboat with blue sail covers. We rode in to have a look and stayed all afternoon.”
I smile at the memory of those beautiful, outrageously expensive ships - the yachts and schooners and transatlantic cruisers - and I smile at the dirt poor couple strutting expansively under the sharp October sun. They looked a lot like my Mediterranean daughter and her boyfriend.
“I wonder why I never thought to go to Ireland,” I say.
The daughter and the boyfriend look at each other, then get up and leave.
“Fine,” I say. “Erin go bragh.”