There’s a lot of confusion as to why I’m here.
“What,” they say. “Is an American doing on Inishmore?”
“It’s Ted Fest,” I say. They chuckle. Then they ask me again.
It’s a bit wild inside Watty’s – drunken priests and drunken nuns and Mrs. Doyles with their teapots and men dressed as pregnant nuns giving birth at the bar and Father Jacks screaming, “Feck! Drink! Arse biscuits!” – so I slip out to the front to get some air. The night is cool and fresh and, for the first time in years, I can see the Big Dipper twinkling up in the black sky. A man in a paddy cap spies me, says hello, and when he hears my accent, says:
“I bet you don’t know anything about Father Ted.”
“Quiz me,” I say. My favorite Father Ted character is Bishop Brennan. My favorite guest character is Graham Norton as Father Noel, “The Annoying Priest.” My favorite Father Ted episode of all time is “Kicking Bishop Brennan Up the Arse.” My favorite quote: “… a very crude, watercolor painting of a man in a bishop’s hat!” I first started watching the show three years ago – naturally, through Sean’s influence. Father Ted is Sean’s all-time favorite show. The first few months we knew each other in Japan, we watched all of the episodes on youtube. We laughed until we cried and he was relieved that I “got it,” even though I’m American.
But no one asks how I know and love Father Ted. They’re still stuck on why I’m even there on Inishmore in the first place. Maybe it is odd. We never had Father Ted in the States so I suppose Ted Fest wouldn’t attract too many of us. Most Americans stick to the bigger cities when they come to Ireland, searching for their roots. I have no Irish roots. I just like visiting places that are off the beaten path. I just like Ted.
“Don’t you think,” says Mrs. Doyle, topping off my cup of tea, “That it’s a little odd for an American to be here?”
“No,” I say. “It’s a beautiful island and I like Father Ted.”
Many of the Ted Festers have come from the mainland, like me. They ask where I’m from and when I say I’m from New York, they sing Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” – the song accompanying all the TV promos of Sex and the City reruns on Comedy Central.
“I feel bad for you,” says a priest. “You don’t know anything about what’s going on here.”
“Why are you here?” asks Bishop Brennan. “Why are you here, really? What is an American doing at Ted Fest?”
Because it’s Reading Week at school and I’ve been wanting to come to the Aran Islands and I love Father Ted.
That’s why I’m here.