by Valerie Nusbaum

In my ongoing effort to educate as well as entertain (and believe me, I know I haven’t been doing a good job of either lately), I thought we could create some limericks together in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. It’s not that difficult, and I can assure you that you’ll amaze and delight your friends and family. Your kids will love it, too, because it’s a time-honored tradition of poking fun at someone else and being able to get away with it.

When I was younger, my family and I spent more than one Irish holiday with our friends, the Murphys. We had epic game nights and lots of themed parties and foods, and we did more than our share of silly stuff. The night we wrote the limericks is a fond memory, in part because we couldn’t rhyme much with Lillian, Barbara, or Anita.  Rhyming the name Johnny was easier, but there were three Johns in our group, and don’t even get me started on Rockne.

What exactly is a limerick, you ask? It’s a short, usually funny poem largely associated with the Irish and probably named after the county of Limerick in Ireland.

Limericks have five lines, with the first, second, and fifth line rhyming with each other. Lines three and four must also rhyme with each other, and there’s a certain cadence to follow.  A limerick is usually written about a person and the first line generally ends with the person’s name. If the name is difficult to rhyme, however, it can be used somewhere other than the end of line one, or you may opt to write about a place or activity. It’s really up to you.

Here’s an example:

There was a young fellow called Randy.

With tools he was really quite handy.

But he cut off his thumb,

And stuck it back on with gum.

Now nothing he makes looks as dandy.

I never said I was good at writing limericks. My job is to explain the basics and turn you loose. I have faith in you and know you can do it, probably much better than I can.

Here’s another one:

This next is a tale about Wanda,

Who liked to work out with Jane Fonda.

Twas back in the eighties,

When some of the ladies

Liked to hang their firm buns off a Honda.

Armed with the knowledge of how to create a limerick, I struck out to spread the word and begin the creative process with my loved ones. As predicted, Randy and Gail were the only people who agreed to help me with my project. Randy and I spent a little time working on the cadence of the limerick, but I don’t think I explained it very well. The cadence goes something like this:

Da dum da da dum da da dum dum (Lines 1, 2 and 5), and

Da dum da da dum (Lines 3 & 4).

This is what Randy came up with:

There once was a girl who was smart in

  the head.

Her horoscope said don’t get out of bed.

She once saw a dog

That looked like a frog.

It told her she’d nothing to dread.

I must tell you that he sat straight up in bed last night, asked if he could turn on the light, and grabbed a pencil and paper to write this down.  He’d apparently been thinking about his limerick for quite a while.

A year or so ago, I had a strange dream, and to this day, Randy still laughs about it. I dreamt that I was a young lady in Ireland, and I was being courted by a young Irish lad.  He was very sincere and sweet, but one of his ears was funky looking. 

When I told Randy about the dream, I misspoke and said I’d dreamed about being chased by an Irishman with one funky ear. Randy thought the poor man had only one ear, but that’s not what I meant. Never mind the dream. I’ve evidently started something because I just got an email from Randy containing this limerick:

There once was a fellow named Dylan,

He had only one ear, which was thrillin’,

He didn’t hear the thud,

Which left him in the mud,

Now he’s just lying there chillin’.

My sweet friend Gail came up with this ditty:

I once had a fine friend named Val

She was a super-doop pal

She had quite the mother

Just like no other

The quirkiest kind of a gal.

And she just emailed me another one:

I start out each morning with coffee

It’s best with a wee bit o’ toffee.

Without it I’m mean.

I make quite a scene.

I start out the day a bit “off-ey.”

I had to respond, so I came up with this one:

There once was a lassie named Gail

Who was so good at spinning a tale.

She told us a story

Of a murder quite gory.

Now the house where it happened’s for sale.

That’s all there is to it, my friends.  You have a few weeks until St. Patrick’s Day, and even if you’re not Irish, this is a fun thing to try. Grab a pen and paper, maybe a green beer if you enjoy it, or some corned beef and cabbage and soda bread, and prepare to amaze (and possibly insult) the people you know. Just please don’t tell them I put you up to it.

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