What The Hell An Irish Marathon Apparently Is
Of course, it could also be a legitimate cultural entity, like Australian football or German chocolate cake. Or even "Shaker gun," which is a dummy gun that makes fun of the fact that Shakers are pacifists, but in such a way that I doubt the Shakers mind. So I looked into it. And I couldn't find another damn reference anywhere. Wikipedia had nothing. My vast NI2 dictionary had no such entry. And even Googling "Irish marathon" left me with no actual information. You get references to "Irish marathons" (which are inevitably marathons held around St. Patrick's Day), and even a reference to THE Irish Marathon (it's in Belfast). But no information on how it's held, what the procedure is, and if there's any relaying involved. And certainly nothing to suggest that an "Irish marathon" was anything specific or peculiar to Ireland. So at this point, I was not only afraid that the term was offensive; I wasn't even sure it was a real thing.
So I asked a colleague, who turned to a single volume on his shelf---some ancient thing called "A Dictionary of American Slang", and found it instantly under "slang terms for racing events." Clearly, according to at least one compiler, Irish marathon = relay race. But there was no indication about whether or not it was considered offensive. And, since the book was not only old, but contained the entry "midnight express---A Negro runner", also with no note about offensiveness, I was left not knowing what to think.
I eventually went with, "No one seems to know this phrase at all, so who the hell cares if it's mildly offensive," and let it stand. That's the professional angle. But personally, I'm still really curious. Does anyone have any references that might help me out here?
P.S. This post has also inspired me to try to invent a few new slur phrases that haven't been invented yet---preferably to insult groups that don't normally get insulted. So far, mostly I've come up with terms that actually offend me. But I do like the phrase "Hit the Italian brakes!" for blowing one's car horn. If it doesn't already exist, I hereby claim patent.
P.P.S. Come to think of it, after reflecting on it further, I'm inclined to think that AMERICAN CHEESE is a slur as well. Excuse me while I write an aggrieved e-mail.
Labels: Dave Update