50 Days of Doctor Who 50th ➥ Favourite Quote or One-liner → “I am and always will be the optimist, the hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams”
50 Days of Doctor Who 50th Challenge: What is your favorite quote or one liner from Doctor Who?
Happy Halloween from Gastly, Haunter and Gengar!
If you’re not following my friend, Alex , well you should be! I’m still trying to be even half the animator he is!
“DON’T YOU FUCKING TOUCH MY BAB..oh..oh thank you kind sir”
so adorable, bless that guy for helping :)
The restless man’s greatest curse is his restless mind, for a mind without rest is incapable of dreaming. He searches and searches for the missing pieces to his jigsaw self, remembering the times he was 12 and wished so dearly the car wouldn’t take the exit for home but rather for someplace new. He feels the wind off the Bay like the breath of God as his vessel ferries him west, the bridge twinkling above and barges off in the blackness painting the sky orange like silent fires, and he feels something like peace. But the quiet crumbles to shapeless noise as thoughts come rushing back again, and he wishes for a dream, just one big dream, to consume him with desire and show him the way. A moment of focus, to want no more than what he already has, to feel settled… To be 12 again driving on the highway with his father, wanting nothing more than for the car to take the exit toward home. I suppose this all means the restless man does dream, albeit of something intangible and hard to define: he dreams only of being restless no more, of being found, of loving all.
And with her came the loss of that dream in exchange for a brighter one. With her the wandering darkness fled like a thief in the night, with her came the belief in something better. She mends his broken heart, she eases his weary mind, she lifts him from the deep. She conquered fear and lay him to rest, gave life with her laughter and made his soul to love.
For a time, I lived in the south of Ireland. This is the heart of the country, in my opinion, amongst the rolling green hills and sheep-trodden pastures of Cork and Kerry. I travelled there alone, figuring I’d spent too much time near San Francisco and needed a change of pace from the warm golden West. The Irish are a very welcoming people, and theirs is a culture of food, drink, family, music, and Christ. I went to Ireland with the expectation that I would feel more at home there than anywhere I’d been before, but of course, prior to the trip the farthest I’d been from California was Oregon (and New York once when Grandpa was alive). For the most part I think this expectation was the teen angst I never experienced in high school, quietly rebelling against the not-so-horrible idea of living in the East Bay forever. In any event the expectation lived and died unfulfilled, for as much as I found Ireland a magical place and one I would visit again in a heartbeat, I seldom found myself not missing home. One occasion, which I think notable enough to here tell you, is a strong exception.
Granny called me from Oregon one particularly cold and stormy afternoon whilst I was indoors with my whiskey and the television. I’d been feeling lonely that day; my friends lived in the city centre, a good half hour’s walk away, and while I loved my friends, I had neither bus fare nor the will to march along the River Lee in below-freezing winds.
“If you want good company there are some folks in Dublin who would love to meet you!” Granny said. “I’ll send you the number. Mr. Carey is his name, give him a ring and I’m sure they’ll invite you over.”
“Awesome! Will do. Well wait, um…. Who… who are these folks though?”
“Mr. Carey’s wife’s cousin goes to our church in Westlake.”
Practically family then. I’d nothing to lose, and new acquaintances to gain—myself a people person, I took Granny up on the offer.
Mr. Carey picked up the phone and was ecstatic when I stated my name and interest in meeting him.
“Oh fantastic yes, Alexander, oh sure! Why don’t ye c’mon up to the house yeah we’ll have ye up for a bite to eat now. Friday like, if that’s grand with ye?” He spoke so jumpily and with such unpredictable intonation that I barely made it out with any understanding of what I’d just heard. Somehow I got the feeling that he would look like a normal-sized Bilbo Baggins.
“Oh! Um, absolutely, yes! Thank you so much! Can I bring anything?” I replied.
“No no dear no, just yer self and we’ll have the craic. Give us a ring when ye get to Heuston Station and I’ll come find ye. Wear a hat and big coat and I’ll know what ye look like. Come hungry, sure the missus will cook us up something lovely.”
“My goodness, thank you so much! Really, this sounds… grand, yeah?”
“Ohhhhh sure yeah, look at ye, spent much time in Ireland now yer saying ‘grand’ oh dear… Yes grand, we’ll be lookin’ forward to it Alexander. Cheers then!”
And that was that.
The week went on with the weather getting colder and folks staying indoors more than ever before, leaving only for classes or trips to the pubs and markets. I’d assimilated to the local lifestyle in that regard, and blended in for the most part, but also I went running through the rain every night. That was when I listened to a new album my sister gave me, and went to the gym to force myself through ab crunches so I could impress Gabi with the pretty smile when I got back home, and then I would run back and cry the whole way. In the onslaught of autumn rain, no one I ran past could tell. See, sometimes when I spend too much time alone my mind checks itself into an unsavoury Hotel California of emotionalism, which sounds juvenile, and in fact it’s very unlike myself. For whatever reason, I was rather quiet that whole week.
On Friday I went down to Kent Station and caught the last commuter train, where the faces are all tired and the voices low and resigned. Across from me in the coach an old man fell asleep, and his head, which looked and bobbed like a pale toad’s, came to rest on the shoulder of a young woman next to him. He sure produced a lot of slobber, and if I recall, he ate half a block of plain cheese right before his nap. I don’t think the woman knew him, by the look on her face, and I drew a picture of the scene for an art class assignment that (at the time) I’d thought was stupid. I fell asleep too then, and dreamt of nothing in particular. Three hours later, the train jerked to a halt at Heuston Station. The apple I’d brought for a snack rolled off the booth table and fell into my lap, waking me softly like a puppy in need of a jaunt outdoors; I ignored it because I wasn’t hungry. This was a new city and I already felt a bit lost just by being alone with myself (which really ought to be when a man feels the most ‘found’), so perhaps I longed to be back in Cork or someplace else. We can call the whole phenomenon “glorified homesickness,” the glorification and over-glorification of things a trademark of my more dramatic side. In any event I was avoiding forming expectations about an alleged dinner party with some very, very distant relations, lest I be unpleasantly surprised one way or another. So when I say my evening with the Careys went beyond anything I could’ve ever expected, I mean that in the truest of senses.
Heuston Station in Dublin is a beautiful place, full of colourful faces bidding farewell and being reunited, wrought with the smell of diesel and that railroad smell when wood is turned black from soaking up an engine’s sweat. I hauled my bags along the platform past the taxi queue, with its cabbies listening to the rugby match on the radio and taking a quiet smoke. A family of Polish tourists hurried past—I hadn’t seen many tourists in Cork, I’d gotten used to men who drank Murphy’s and women who called me “boy,” or “bye” with their accent—and I thought of home where everyone’s from somewhere so different. The phone buzzed in my pocket and it was a text from Mr. Carey, telling me to walk out by the bridge and find him there. So I walked into the cold dark night under a pale moon, and found the man humming to himself by a small Honda.
Mr. Carey was an older man, you could tell by his thinning white hair, but with a young face smiling wider than the River Liffey. He wasn’t much taller than me, sporting a thick green wool sweater and a windbreaker over it—half the layers I was gift-wrapped in. His face was unmarred by wrinkle or scar, but with a beard and a pipe and a slash across his cheek, Mr. Carey could’ve passed for a benevolent old 1840’s sea captain. His eyes had jumped up from the lazy river at the first sound of my approach, quicker than a bored child comes to life when he realises mass has ended.
“You must be Alexander! Knew ye by the cap, got one from Donegal myself…” he exclaimed, motioning to the patchwork tweed flat cap on his head. “Fantastic to have ye, how was the trip up?”
“Very smooth!” I replied. “Direct line, no transfers or anything.” I shook his hand and he pulled me into a hug. The wool of his sweater wasn’t scratchy and he smelled like wood smoke and red wine. “I had to fight off hordes of hungry commuters with a stick, the way they were looking at this little beauty.”
I produced a box of tarts I’d found at the English Market in Cork—a token of gratitude to my hosts, and a tastier one than flowers anyhow. Mr. Carey’s face lit up like I had just told him Christmas now comes but 365 days a year and the Good Lord himself had sworn the novelty would never wear off.
“My God… Just lovely, absolutely lovely, would ye look at that. Cherry almond now? Well then… From the English Market, my goodness, the missus will love that… You really shouldn’t have!”
“The least I can do! Thank you again so much for having me.”
“Well for heaven’s sake lad what were we supposed to do, you’re in Ireland and so are we so it’s only natural. Now, ye must be hungry! Ohhhh sure the missus has cooked up something grand. Bacon and cabbage, with white sauce!” His eyes widened as he told me the menu, his grin instantly inspiring one of my own. Though the image of leafy greens served with crispy fried pork seemed unfamiliar, to say the least, the way he sold it sounded like a million-dollar Thanksgiving dinner. “Let me grab your bags now then, nice and easy!” Mr. Carey chimed. In a wink the car was packed and ready to go, and with a smack on my back the cheerful young old man ushered me into the passenger seat. We were on our way, lest we be late for dinner.
We passed the horribly crowded bus stops along Batchelor’s Quay, and I saw the Halfpenny Bridge lit up like Disneyland after dark. A Clancy Brothers CD was playing “Mountain Dew” in the background, and between hearing “die-de-doo-de-lay-de-dum” on the stereo and Mr. Carey yacking about the Guinness he’d put in the fridge for us (“Some lads’ll tell ye it shouldn’t be chilled but feck ‘em, I like it cold!”), I thought this was about as quintessentially Irish a day in Ireland could be.
“Oh Mrs. Carey’s been cooking all evening since she got home! They’ve got her working late at the hospital, she’s a nurse ye know. Ahh soon enough she’ll join me in retirement, yep the golden years, all we’ll have then is pure craic!” He chuckled. “Been reeeal grand since I last worked a day!”
“I bet! All my retired friends at home go back and forth between driving cool cars and visiting Hawaii.” I added. “Ah boy, I’ve got a ways to go…”
“Sure ye do! Absolutely! It’s all about the ride there though. I was a cop for thirty years, guard to the Taoiseach himself—that’s our prime minister ye know—got to meet the likes of Clinton and all the Parliament and what have ye, following him around. You’ll see pictures at the house now!”
For heaven’s sake, I was in the presence of a celebrity! My folks raised me to worship Bill Clinton as the last honest president the U.S.A. had ever seen (when all you’ve seen in your lifetime is George W., you lower your standards a little bit), so naturally anyone who met him must’ve been mighty important in his earlier years.
Twenty minutes passed, and in that time we’d left the bustling city centre and made our way to the quieter suburbs where the Careys lived. The houses all looked the same, small and quaint, made unique only by the varying shades of light glowing from each front window. The little Honda veered over to the curb, and we came upon a cottage with smoke trickling out of the chimney and a Christmas tree visible through the living room window. “Home!” Mr. Carey exclaimed, breathing deeply as he brought the engine to a quiet halt.
We were met at the door by a rosy-cheeked lady with her hands on her hips, who I concluded must be Mrs. Claus minus the candy-cane dress and any toymaking comrades. “Daaaaarling,” Mr. Carey swooned as he leaned in for a smooch. He then carried my bags into the house and out of sight, but not before glancing back at me and raising his eyebrows in that cheeky way he did. I first saw it when I gave him the box of tarts. He’d widen his eyes, lift his brows high, and look down at you a little bit, with the kind of slight smile a young boy gets when he’s trying to hide just how excited he is about something. You could tell this man loved everything about coming home.
“Alexander! A pleasure, just delighted you could come. Hurry hurry, it’s warm inside!” Mrs. Carey beckoned, pulling me into a great tight bearhug. It was like hugging the smother-happy great-aunts I’d been terrified of in my youth, only with no fearsome threats of me being so cute I’d get eaten up.
“Thank… you… so much!” I squeaked.
“Whiskey or Guinness or wine first then, Alexander?” Mr. Carey called from the kitchen. I looked down the hall and saw his head buried deep in the fridge.
“If it’s Jameson I’ll go with ‘Choice A.’”
“Good choice, yes, got it chilled even.” We made eye contact and he did that eyebrow thing again. It made me smile.
Kicking off my shoes, I took off the God-knows-how-many layers of warmth I’d bundled up in, and set my cap on a peg next to Mr. Carey’s. A wood fire was crackling happily in the cozy sitting room, where trinkets from Africa adorned the mantle and thick woollen blankets lay asleep on the recliners. In the corner twinkled the Christmas tree, streams of tinsel kicking flecks of golden light every which way and miniature photo frames hanging lazily on the branches. Taking a closer look I saw nothing but happy faces smiling back at me, memories of Christmases past, each one a perfect image of peace and hope. If there’s one time of year that can bolster a man’s faith in humanity, it’s got to be December. Amidst torrents of bitter cold from an angry northern sky, chances are there’s a hearth nearby with promises of kindness and warm libation.
Mrs. Carey brought me a glass of whiskey and put a hand on my shoulder as I surveyed the tree’s vibrant assortment of ornaments. “Ah yes… That’s our daughter’s wedding there, that one, and that one there they gave us all at the hospital a few years ago.” She pointed to a happy redheaded couple in front of a stone chapel and a stethoscope sporting a holly wreath. “But come, you must be hungry! Dinner’s on the table!”
“Dinner’s on the table, she says! Ahhhhh the best words ye ever could hear!” Mr. Carey hollered happily.
“Along with ‘Breakfast is served,’ ‘Lunch is served’…” I quipped, inadvertently quoting Uncle Billy from It’s A Wonderful Life. The Careys laughed heartily just the same.
I stopped dead in my tracks at the dining room doorway, for the richest aroma that side of the Atlantic had sent my nose straight to nirvana and shut down the other four senses altogether. I felt like a child catching his first foul ball in the bleachers—blissful surprise of the first degree. In fact, I hadn’t just entered a dining room; I had come upon the glory of a feasting hall. On the oak table sat sizzling a great fat pig, auburn in colour and billowing steam that smelled of hickory and honey. It was then I remembered that Mr. Carey named “bacon and cabbage” for supper, and as had slipped my mind, “bacon” in Ireland simply refers to ham. This was not unfortunate. Next to the great roast beast was a platter of soft buttery potatoes, for an Irish meal without spuds is, well… not an Irish meal. The cabbages too looked tender and succulent, dusted with herbs and burnt crispy at the edges, and by Mr. Carey’s right hand (which firmly clutched a glass of dark stout), a deep bowl of parsley cream sauce beckoned me warmly. In Sunday school we learned that up among the stars, the good Lord and His angels dined only on fresh milk and honey; if that was the case, I’d take the Careys’ over heaven any day. With a subtle sign of the cross to apologise for this devious thought, I set foot in the divine room and took a seat where Mrs. Carey held a chair out for me.
I still had my whiskey in one hand as I scooted the chair in, but Mr. Carey was already pouring me a glass of red wine. Mrs. Carey bustled off to the kitchen a few more times, bringing dinner rolls, sautéed mushrooms, and other goodies with each trip. At the sausages’ arrival, Mr. Carey beamed and did his signature eyebrow-raise. Soon all three of us were seated, and at once a solemn moment passed over the assembly. Catching on, I bowed my head and clasped my hands together.
“Shall we say grace?” Mrs. Carey proposed.
“Absolutely,” replied Mr. Carey without hesitation.
“God, we thank you today for our dear friend Alexander, for you bringing him to us and to Ireland safely,” Mrs. Carey began, “and for the food we are about to eat, the roof over our heads, your Spirit with us, and each and every day you wake us up in the morning. We thank you in Jesus’ name, amen.”
“Amen!” all said in unison.
“Aha! Bon appétit,” Mr. Carey chimed with a grin.
Thus began the frenzy. Before I could say “Oh no really, I’m on a diet” (which I wouldn’t have said anyway), slabs of juicy pork were being stacked so high on my plate, you’d think the apocalypse was coming with no time for seconds and thirds. Enough rolls to cross the Sierras on came hurtling my way, followed by a waterfall of cream sauce and an avalanche of mushrooms.
“Oh ye must be staaaarved,” lamented the mister.
“Absolutely starved! Give ‘im some cabbage, too! Builds muscle,” joined the missus.
“Spuds! Needs his spuds!”
“Oh here have some sauce with the spuds now.”
“Yes that’ll be lovely.”
“Christ above, I’m being spoiled tonight!” I proclaimed with delight. If I thought my Arabic grandmother misunderstood “No thanks, I’m stuffed now,” I couldn’t wait to see how these two would interpret it.
It was love at first bite when I took a stab at the ham, or should I say, the “bacon.” The meat melted like butter in my mouth, exploding into shades of smoky and spicy like fireworks of flavour. This was perfection: a family reunion without the crazy uncle, a first kiss without the bad breath! I dug into the cabbage, soft enough but with the right amount of crunch, dunking each tasty morsel in the parsley sauce. Between mouthfuls I managed the usual “Thank you so much!” and “This is so, so delicious,” but with more honesty and enthusiasm than I’d ever before. The Careys chuckled as they feasted on with me, and looking up for a second I saw the two of them steal a quick peck.
“You’ve done well, missus. Real class,” said Mr. Carey, matter-of-factly yet adoringly. I nodded vigorously in agreement, mouth stuffed and cheeks puffed like a chipmunk in autumn. The three of us went on merrily for at least an hour, alternating between whiskey, wine, and beer as we ate our fill, chatting about everything from Irish history to the latest movies all the while. Mr. Carey told me with pride that most of his boys had become policemen (gardaí, in Irish) like him, and another had stolen away to Australia to pursue a career in advertising. I told them how my parents had met, with my dad’s older brother dating my mother’s younger sister and the whole family coming together on a fateful December evening. We discussed the finer points of the last Star Trek movie, the prettiest and messiest cities in Europe, and the best recipes for soda bread. It was the closest to home I’d felt since the last time I was in San Francisco.
The once-mighty ham was nigh defeated and the mountain of rolls now a molehill, when a moment of quiet came over the table. I was polishing off my plate with a final bite of potato mash, lest the unimaginable come to fruition and a drop of gravy go to waste.
Across from me, Mrs. Carey set down her utensils and leaned forward a bit.
“So, um… Alexander…” she began with hesitation.
“Yes’m?” I replied, now reaching for a sip of something to wash the feast down.
“Yes, so… Um… How do we know you?”
I paused. I looked down at the plate, then to the empty glasses in front of me, then to the Careys with eager, slightly concerned, and wholly curious looks on their faces. Had I gotten into a car with the wrong Mr. Carey, supplanting another guest of honour and wallowing in the spoils? What had Granny told me about these people in the first place? Not much, I suppose… None of us had ever met, nor had any real relation to one another.
“Well,” I started, wondering if my answer would get me kicked out of the house, “Mrs. Carey, I believe your cousin goes to church with my grandmother in Oregon.”
“So we don’t actually know you…” Mr. Carey piped up from the head of the table, sporting the straightest of faces and most suspicious of voices. I gulped awkwardly, the way they do in cartoons before some convoluted Acme contraption backfires. Just then, his eyebrows started to move into something familiar, and the hint of a smile returned to the corners of his mouth. “…And yet you’re practically family,” he finished, his eyes twinkling and his face full of kindness.
“Yes, yes indeed! Oh I’ll have to tell Margaret to tell your grandmother hello from us. Yes that’s it, we’re your Irish family now,” Mrs. Carey added. “And you know, she’s my favourite cousin, Margaret. We’ve the same name!”
“Oh yes, she’s lovely. We’ll have to go to Oregon soon and pay her a visit, now you’ve reminded us. But listen, we’re Uncle Richard and Aunt Margaret to you now, ye hear?” Mr. Carey said with a laugh, getting up to bring dessert in from the kitchen.
I responded with a very Irish “That’d be grand,” a smile, and a raise of my glass.
“Ye know, I’d completely forgotten Margaret telling me about your grandmother! When you called and asked about visiting, I just assumed you were someone we’d met before,” Mr. Carey explained, returning with my English Market pies. “The name sounded so familiar… Alexander… the Great! Am I right?”
I always got that when I was younger, meeting distant relatives for the first time. And yet for all the distance between myself and this Irish couple, I felt closer to them after three hours than I did to most of my second cousins. That’s the beauty of people, really. You can share blood or a name or a house, or your grandmother can go to church with your adopted aunt’s cousin, but at the end of the day—at the end of a lifetime—it’s actions that define people. What others give to you is what makes their hearts good; how you receive it is what makes them your family.
The rest of the night was spent indulging in pies topped with thick cream, and cup after cup of hot tea by the fire. When the kitchen was clean and the sound of lads walking home from the pubs was no more, I retired to the guest room in the loft. Mr. Carey left me with clean towels, an electric blanket, and an alarm clock to get me up for breakfast. We’d be having black and white pudding, more bacon, sausages, duck eggs, fried tomatoes, and of course, spuds. He gave me a tight hug, looked at me with a smile, and said “Now we’ll see ye in the morning, son! G’night!”
“Good night, Uncle Richard! Sweet dreams,” I replied, and closing the door, turned to notice a crucifix above the window. A wise man back home once told me, “You shall be known by your deeds alone; remember that, and you’re second to none.” If that is true (and I do believe it is), then God must really smile down on the Careys. So with a prayer to thank Him for all the family I have in this world, I got under the covers, closed my eyes, and went to sleep.
- Alexander Prucha