I suppose the luck of the Irish was with me.

For in search of our ever-elusive nail clipper, I dug among the various vials and brushes of my wife’s makeup bag and instead clawed up . . . an Irish blessing.

My initial thought? . . . St. Patrick’s Day had come twice this year.

And my next thought? . . . What else might be buried there? If I fished a little deeper might I pull up some green beer? Or perhaps even a leprechaun?

But that’s where my luck departed. Because I couldn’t find anything more, not even the nail clipper.

Yet between my fingers on a frayed and crumpled bookmark read the famous blessing that adorns all sorts of novelty items at Irish gift shops around the world, including, I think, those in Ireland . . .

May the road rise to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face.

And rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

The blessing is so well known that it has been set to music and is a popular choir number.

But why had my Japanese wife slipped this into her makeup bag? True, she is fond of inspirational literature. Yet what has she been thinking as she blinked into her makeup mirror with that blessing propped alongside? Has she seen those words and instead thought these . . .

May your eyebrow pencils always be sharpened.

May your lipstick keep off your teeth.

May the sunshine stay out of your eye shadow.

And may moisturizer soften your cheeks.

And until we meet again,

May God keep you in good supply of hand cream.

“Did you know?” I tell her after she bangs through the door, having faced yet another day of commuting. “That you have an Irish blessing in your makeup bag?”

She eyes me with eyeliner-lined eyes. “So?”

“So . . . uh, why do you have an Irish blessing in your makeup bag?”

I wait a beat for her answer, an answer delivered with the whistling hammer of logic.

“Because I couldn’t find one in Japanese.”

“. . . Oh.”

“And where else would you have me put it?”

I think and glance toward our refrigerator door, pinned with more magnets than a retired general with medals. But a sight there stops me from speaking.

For attached to the door are not only photos, train schedules, and overdue bills; there too hangs the missing nail clipper.

“You leave my blessing alone,” she tells me. “If you’re so interested, go write one yourself.”

Which strikes me now as a marvelous idea.

For why should the Irish corner the market on blessings? It occurs to me that the overworked, under-appreciated, and typically talent-challenged foreign residents of this fair land could use a blessing all their own. Just forgive me if I borrow the Irish cadence. I do have an ounce or two of Irish blood in me somewhere.

The Gaijin Blessing

May the seat before you always be open.

May your sake cup always be full.

May the Rainy Season not dampen your spirits.

May the sun find you only with smiles.

And until we meet again, my pretty

May God bless you like he did Hello Kitty.

“How’s that?”

She gives me a look that says it is not quite makeup-bag quality.

And she is about to say more, when I remind her that if you cannot afford to be kind, you cannot afford anything. You are the poorest person on earth.

“An Irish saying?”

Could be, I tell her. Depending if some novelty shop will print it.

“Well,” she says (kindly), “Your last two lines could use a rewrite. At least.”

No blarney there. Yet I feel pressed to start all over.

The Gaijin Blessing II

May your visa always be valid

May your ga’s not mix up with wa’s

May your misadventures make your best


May your troubles be all but forgot

And until we meet again, my friend,

May your pockets overflow with yen.

“It does make me think,” says my wife.

“Think what?”

“That if you had proposed in verse, I’d be single.”

The third time is the charm, say the Irish. Or maybe that’s the Scots. I may have some of their blood too.

Gaijin Blessing III

May your futon rise up to meet you.

May your ofuro always be hot.

May your bento brim full with goodies

May your tatami soak up all spills

And until we meet again,

May peace there be for your heartland and thee.

A pause — which I break by saying: “I suppose Yeats isn’t exactly spinning in his grave.”

“Oh I don’t know,” she says. “I wouldn’t powder my nose by it, but it’s suitable for nail clipping, at least.”

Sure and begorrah, that’s plenty good for me.

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