Friday, July 18, 2008

Different Perspective

I seem to remember hearing on Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me something about couples being way more likely to fight in places like Ikea. The dubious factoid was based on a survey done around Valentine's Day and the speculated cause was that something about all that domestic perfectness illuminated the flaws in their lives. Or something. (It's entirely possible that this was not a real survey and that it was one of those Fool the Listener stories, but for whatever reason, it lodged in my brain so just go with it.)

I'd love to see a similar survey done on the Cliffs of Moher. Peter and I are 2:3 in the fights to visit ratio. We managed to avoid a fight the last time, but I think that's because we know all about the Cliffs' reputation and were on our best behaviour.

We'd gone with Peter's sister, her husband, and their son. The Nephew's temper was getting a bit frayed around the edges. He was terribly disappointed that he was unable to march right up to the edge and dangle his feet off the side, the way his mother had when she was young. At one point, I had to stop him from climbing over the barrier at the end of the official path. He pouted and said "Life is just one big disappointment." But aside from a little whinging, we all made it through the trip without incident.

I warned my family about the possibility of fights at the Cliffs. Given that we'd been traveling, packed like clowns into my town Peugeot for 8 hours when we arrived at the Visitor Centre's car park, I thought for sure we'd end up with at least one minor fight. So I was pleasantly surprised when we skated by with just some complaints from those that wanted to make it a short trip and those that wanted to explore a little more.

This dichotomy, between The Walkers and The Non-Walkers, was a constant concern throughout the trip and we did our best to search for compromises. In this case, the Non-Walkers went back to the car while The Walkers had a longer look around. Everyone was happy and we all knew a special trip awaited us the next day: a boat tour to see the Cliffs from a different perspective.

When we set out for the Jack B the next morning, my mother was nervous. The sky was grey and I guess to her, the ocean looked threatening. I could empathise since I'm a bit terrified and intimidated by the ocean. But I figured that the operators of the Jack B weren't going to go out if it wasn't 100% safe. It's hard to make a living from tourism if tourists hear that you've accidentally killed a few.

I sat in the open back of the boat with my aunt. My other aunt and my parents went into the covered seating section in the middle of the boat, although my father came out to the back shortly after the boat left the dock.

About ten minutes into the ride, my aunt looked into the covered area for my mom, but she wasn't there. We were surprised to see that she was out on the bow of the boat with Sean the Friendly Crew Guy. I was shocked to see my mother riding easy on the rail. This was not the mother I thought I knew.

I had to go up to the bow to check it out. It was no optical illusion - my mother was comfortable out on the bow. Sean was entertaining her, pointing out birds and telling silly jokes in a conversational style, so you were never quite sure what was real and what was a joke.

"Are you surprised to see me out here?" asked my mother.

"Yeah, of course I am."

"Ah sure, she's a salty old sea dog, so she is," declared Sean. "We'll be offering her a job before too long. She'll have her Captain's ticket within two weeks, so she will."

The view of the Cliffs from the boat was even more impressive than the view of the ocean from the Cliffs. The towering sea stack was more visible and even more impressive. The people on the top of the Cliffs looked like small, brightly coloured dots.

I'd say they don't get many fights on the boat. You're way too busy marveling at the spectacle and enjoying the thrill of being out on the water. Changing your perspective can really change your whole experience. Just ask my mother, the Salty Sea Dog.


At 18 July 2008 at 18:10, Blogger Noelle said...

I'm trying to think now of all the places that triggered fights with me and my ex. And why your father looks exactly like one of my sales reps.

At 18 July 2008 at 18:38, Anonymous patty said...

i'm visiting the cliffs of moher in september and if that is the only thing i see on my trip it will be enough. don't think we will be seeing it from the water, darn the luck, sounds like it would be more glorious

At 18 July 2008 at 18:49, Blogger -Ann said...

Noelle - We don't tend toward public fights, but the Cliffs of Moher is like the Bermuda Triangle for interpersonal relationships. We're not the only ones who've had this issue there. As for the other part of your comment, maybe my dad has a twin. A sales rep twin.

Patty - Have a great time! You really should look into taking a trip on the Jack B. It's quite reasonably priced - 20 euro - and is well worth it. I wouldn't bother spending money to go into the displays in the interpretive centre though.

At 18 July 2008 at 20:39, Blogger Babaloo said...

The sky really was grey that day. But what a great trip! I've been to the Cliffs twice and so far, touch wood, no fights. I haven't been out to see them from the sea, though. I think that is a trip worth taking, definitely.

At 19 July 2008 at 12:31, Blogger laurie said...

ok, (a) you can't walk to the edge anymore??? what the fuck???

(b) "packed like clowns" into the Peugot made me laugh;

(c) i am immediately transported into deep love by your description of Sean.

At 19 July 2008 at 12:34, Blogger laurie said...

oh, and for patty-----there's a wonderful holy well very near the cliffs. i've never seen it in person but i am definitely finding it the next time i go.

judging by the pictures i've seen, it's enclosed and absolutely dripping with rosaries and prayer cards and virgin marys....

it's on the liscanoor road, and it's called st. brigid's well.

here are pictures

(ann, have you been there?)

At 20 July 2008 at 03:55, Blogger Irene said...

I come from an arguing kind of family and we could never have made such a trip. On my own I am invincible.

At 20 July 2008 at 13:47, Blogger wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I totally understand why couples fight in Ikea. It's a horrible, soulless place intent on herding you through while tempting you with stuff you really don't need. If you go for just one thing, you still have to trek through the entire store.

Good for you mother for conquering her fears. Sounds like Sean's charms were too much to resist.

At 20 July 2008 at 19:46, Blogger Kaycie said...

Having never been in an IKEA, I can't argue too much, but when my husband and I shop for furniture or housewares, he tends to laugh a lot as I amuse him, which amuses me. But we've been together quite a long while now, and we never had any illusions of perfections.

I love your description of Sean. I bet he made your mother feel quite special. How lovely.

Every time you post one of these, I think it's time for me to visit Ireland.

At 21 July 2008 at 01:15, Anonymous Amy P said...

Should the Purcells ever come to visit, we might have to stay clear of the Cliffs. Though our most historic fights have taken place while packing for vacation or while riding in the car when the only escape route is being left of the side of the road. Glad to hear you made it through unscathed!

At 21 July 2008 at 18:19, Blogger -Ann said...

Babaloo - I highly recommend the boat trip - and go to the front of the boat!

Laurie - Glad I made you laugh. I think it's a combination of fear for public safety and the real issue of erosion that has change the to-the-edge policies. I've not been to that well but it seems I should check it out.

Irene - Sometimes it's easier to be alone, isn't it? :)

WUASTC - That's about the best description of Ikea I've ever read.

Kaycie - Sean seems to be collecting quite a number of fans. :)

Amy - 'Should the Purcells come to visit'....???!!! Surely that should be 'When the Purcells come to visit.' :)


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