Ask The Consumerists: Why Is It Cool To Make Fun Of "Drunk" Irish People?

Reader Kyran sent this photo of a hat sold by Walmart and asked the following question:

“Why are the Irish the last group you can still make fun of in retail?”

Despite our extreme Irishness, we don’t really have a good answer for this question. Maybe it’s because most Irish people don’t really care if you make fun of them on ridiculous tacky baseball caps? Then again, maybe Walmart is secretly part of the Know Nothing Party?

Discuss.

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  1. A deluge of racist comments in 3…2…1…

  2. raleel says:

    married an irish girl. One of my good friends is irish and dating an irish girl (well, all of these are irish american). They know it’s kinda true :)

  3. privatejoker75 says:

    Probably because the Irish don’t really get their panties in a knot over this stuff

  4. bonzombiekitty says:

    Because in my experience, people of Irish heritage (myself included) don’t mind the stereotype. We generally think it’s just something that’s funny. I think we’re fairly good at being self deprecating.

  5. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Because if you make fun of a drunk Irishman, he’ll knock you out! I think it all balances out at that point.

  6. Landru says:

    Now, if you said the Irish were gay, then you would have a problem on your hands.
    (Gay Irishman here)

  7. bigat says:

    If I was Irish. I would be waving the racist flag. It’s amazing how one race doesn’t tolerate it while the Irish are either too blind or too drunk(pun intended) to relize that they are being stepped on.

  8. EBounding says:

    It’s because everyone claims they have some amount of Irish.

  9. Asvetic says:

    Most of the Irish I know enjoy being referred to in some capacity of drunk and pride themselves on their abilities to consume mass quantities of booze!

  10. bonzombiekitty says:

    Also to add – it’s been a fairly long time since the Irish were really persecuted in the US, unlike African Americans for example. And making fun of the Irish is usually in good fun, not mean spirited, nowadays.

    Besides that, deep down inside, everyone wants to be Irish.

  11. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @privatejoker75: I don’t know. For some reason, whenever there’s a discussion about racism on the Internet, a bunch of people pile on and complain about how horribly persecuted the Irish are because something happened to their great-grandfather once. I can see those people getting shirty about a drinking hat.

    Then again, I’m not sure one really qualifies as “Irish” if one is four generations removed from County Cork.

  12. savvy999 says:

    My guess would be that the rest of the world universally pities a folk who seem to be continually blighted with bad weather, bad potatoes, and ginger complexions.

    When truly all the Irish have left are inedible shamrocks and really good whiskey, its really okay with us if you overindulge in the latter. We’re not laughing at you, we’re kinda cryin’ with you.

  13. sp00nix says:

    Its like making fun of white people for being white.

  14. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    What is funny is how many people who aren’t Irish, like to pretend they are Irish for St. Patrick’s Day. With “Kiss me I’m Irish” pins, and wearin green, and drinking…you don’t see anything like that for Black History Month.

  15. Duke’s Assistant: The polls show you’re not doing well with women.
    Duke: Do they vote?
    Alice: Yes, we do.
    Duke: How about the Irish?
    Alice: Them, too.
    Duke: Uh oh, better change these posters!
    (poster shows Duke kicking a leprechaun, saying “Irish suck!”)

  16. Balisong says:

    I find it cute how the only person here horribly offended by this isn’t Irish.

    • RayDelMundo says:

      @Balisong:

      Most of the people who are horribly offended by any stereotype are not members of that group.

      They just like to demonstrate their sensitivity and acceptance by being offended on the other’s behalf.

  17. bigat says:

    WOW!! They really do like being stepped on!!

    [en.wikipedia.org]

  18. bigat says:

    Irish Famine
    Unit II

    [www.nde.state.ne.us]

  19. bonzombiekitty says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: Yes, I’m indignant about a drinking hat because my great great uncle was hung by the state of pennsylvania in the 1800′s under the pressure of the coal mining companies for a crime he didn’t commit just because he was Irish and associated with the Molly McGuires, and finally was pardoned in 1979.

    :p

  20. Bay State Darren says:

    My personal interpretation as an Irish-American:
    One aspect of Irish culture is self-deprecating humor, including not freaking out when others make fun of us. Mc’s [and thats not an offensive slur, it appears twice in my full name] roll with the punches. We’re a resilient people with a sense of humor. I’d probably find this hat more offensive if it read, “Drunk Mexican” and I’m not the least bit Mexican.

  21. nequam says:

    Chances are, 95% of these hats are purchased by Irish-Americans.

  22. bonzombiekitty says:

    @BayStateDarren: You’re right, if the hat did say “mexican” instead of Irish, I’d probably think it’s offensive to Mexicans.

  23. UTC says:

    As one of Irish descent, I enjoy that we don’t get riled up over nothing. I’d say things like this are definitely not worrying about. None of my Irish friends get concerned about this sort of “racism” either. Tacky shit is offensive, I don’t care who you’re aiming it toward. Frankly, better this than some mustard-stained Big Johnson shirt.

  24. ExtraCelestial says:

    @CumaeanSibyl:
    I think that’s what it comes down to. After a while you just become “white”. I think if there were more first and second generation Irish it would perhaps be more of an issue.

  25. KashmirKong says:

    For those worried about the racism of this hat, I’m pretty sure Irish isn’t a race.

  26. JohnOB1 says:

    Maybe we’ve got our mouths so stuffed with potatoes and beer (right? an Irish Seven Course Meal?) we can’t be heard complaining.

    I think the real reason is Irish people realize there’s no real harm in calling us drunk. It’s like shooting blanks. We can laugh it off and even make jokes about it ourselves… or even MAKE IT TRUE. Ultimately the words don’t really have an effect on people.

  27. jamesdenver says:

    The same people who market Sopranos shit and make reference to all Italians loving pasta and being in the mafia.

  28. MBZ321 says:

    This is definitely from Wal-Mart’s Halloween section because of the Rubie’s logo on it and not something that is typically sold…that is why.

  29. travis says:

    Because it’s true? ;-)

    It reminds me of a bit on Conan that my wife and I saw a few years ago. Conan was making fun of Irish people for doing different things. My wife and I were eating dinner and my wife nearly spit out her mashed potatoes laughing, proclaiming, “It’s true!” Then Conan says, “You know the Irish people are at home eating their potatoes saying: ‘It’s true!’”

  30. As an actual bona-fide Irish person (not Irish-American, or any of that nonsense), well, I hate to say it, but it’s sorta true. We have one of the worst rates of binge-drinking in Europe.

  31. dwneylonsr says:

    As we’ve said ourselves. “The only thing standing between the Irish and Greatness is Whiskey”. That and we really don’t care what you say. If you’re not Irish then your opinion doesn’t matter.

  32. mantari says:

    @KashmirKong: You’re so racist, you try to deny that Irish people even belong to a race! OMG!

  33. chiieddy says:

    @AlteredBeast: I think if I wore a pin that said ‘Kiss me, I’m part-African’, I’d get beat up.

    (Given we likely originated in Africa, this wouldn’t be an untrue statement)

  34. firefoxx66 says:

    Because, in my experience, every single person in America (except me) is of ‘Irish Heritage’, and very, very vocal about it. So who’s going to be offended?

  35. Bay State Darren says:

    IMHO, what makes it “cool” or acceptable to make fun of the Irish versus other minorities is that there isn’t any significant intolerance towards us in this country anymore. Like I sais earlier, this hat could be about Mexicans and actually be offensive, but thats because there is racism against Mexicans and many other groups. Somebody trying to do that to the Irish in this country would get laughed out of the room. It is just a joke when it’s toward our heritage, not anything more.

  36. raleel says:

    @travis: LOL! Ya, been there. My wife came back from the buffet one time with 3 kinds of potatoes… It was hard to stop making fun of her for that.

  37. WhirlyBird says:

    It’s because Irishmen have such huge man-junk. We don’t care *what* you tossers have to say – we can drink your men under the table, then please your women on top!

  38. Ghede says:

    The drunk-irish stereotype honestly bothers me less than the great potato famine jokes. Specifically the ones that go something like “Wouldn’t you like some corn? Oh no thank you, I’d prefer a potato.” or something along those lines.

    If you think they are funny, you are a stupid, stupid person. If you make those jokes, you are a stupid, stupid person.

  39. junkmail says:

    It’s because bigotry is only occasionally wrong.

  40. Mr. Gunn says:

    Because we’re jealous, that’s why.

  41. PaulMorel says:

    There is a very good reason why, in the US, it’s OK to stereotype people of Irish or Italian descent, but not ok to stereotype people of certain other races. That reason is, of course, that there is little to no real-world racism against Irish people and Italian people. People of Irish and Italian descent don’t get higher rates on their loans just because of their race (to point out the obvious, recent example).

    Now, if you went back about 100 years, there would be real anti-Irish racism. In turn-of-the-20th century NYC, there were restaurants with signs that said “No Irish”. Those wounds have healed now, but it’s only been 40 years since some restaurants had signs that read “Whites Only”.

    I imagine that, in 50 years, there will be more racial harmony, and rather than no race being picked on in retail, we will ALL be picked on in retail. Just like the Irish are today.

  42. hornrimsylvia says:

    I used to be sorta racist against the Irish. I got sick of all of the people of Irish heritage I know saying, “We’re the blacks of Europe.” I never understood what they meant. Then I saw the movie “The Wind That Shakes the Barley”, and all the Irish racism in the BBC show “Life on Mars” and understood how any sort of racism, no matter how lily-white, is not tolerable!

    Then I went and married one. He said it was only OK to be racist against the following Irish Americans: Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Pat Buchanan. He said they embody everything bad about the Irish with no redeeming qualities, and people should be deterred from acting like them.

  43. Peeved Guy says:

    et tu, Mel?

    All right, we’ll give some land to the [balcks] and the [chinese], but we DON’T WANT THE IRISH

    @BayStateDarren: I agree with you, but think that is crap. Either get on board the PC train, or don;t be so thin-skinned.

    @WhirlyBird: That made me LOL.

  44. SkyeBlue says:

    The “Curse of the Irish” has worked it’s way through a big part of MY family. One of those stereotypes with a bit of truth to it.

  45. swalve says:

    Because the Irish were trodden upon by the British for so many years, they developed a thick skin.

  46. arcticJKL says:

    Americans of Irish or, as in my case, German ancestry do not yet have an organized group of people whose so purpose is to let them know they are victims yet.

  47. BugMeNot2 says:

    Wait… That hat’s supposed to be a joke? I thought it was an actual drunk meter. Dammit, I need to get my money back.

    And I’m proud to be a drunk Irishman. Better than being a cheap Scotsman.

  48. PalmBayChuck says:

    I think the Irish stereotype isn’t as offensive as others (Stupid Polocks, Criminal Negros, hummmmm Effeminate French, ect)

    Being Drunk and Happy doesn’t sound so bad in comparison. I do think that we’re all pretty thin skinned though. I’m a really conservative Christian and when I see a good slam on the Daily Show, I think, “Good one Jon…”.

  49. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    @chiieddy:

    I would make some jokes about what people could do to celebrate Martain Luther King Day in relation to how people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in an Irish mocking way…but I’d be afraid of how offensive it would be!

  50. DMDDallas says:

    Not all people live off of being a victim. The Irish assimilated into American society and eventually the Anglos learned to tolerate them.

    Other immigrant and racial groups, on the other hand, have done things differently. They have learned to live off of perpetual victimhood status and create special groups to suck off society as such.

    As a part-Irish person, I pride coming from a group of people who took the high road and stuck it out. We didn’t whine and we earned our keep.

  51. firesign says:

    it’s fun to make fun of drunks regardless of ethnicity.

  52. @MBZ321: Given that the label says “Luck O’ the Irish”, and also the other items you can partly see around it, I’m guessing “No” on the Halloween suggestion.

  53. Zyada says:

    @GIT EM STEVEDAVE and @MBZ321.

    I suspect it’s the St. Patty’s Day display.

  54. Asvetic says:

    At least the Irish seem to be immune to the wash of Political Correctness that has swept this nation. I for one, welcome our drunk’n leprechaun overlords…

  55. SpdRacer says:

    How is it racism? Last time I checked, being Irish was a nationality, not a race of people.

  56. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @bigat: Irish isn’t a race, genius. Caucasian is a race.

  57. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    @SpdRacer: The same way being antisemetic is racism, when Judaism is a religion.

  58. yesteryear says:

    wait… does anyone know where i can find a “kiss me i’m black” button before black history month is over?!?!

  59. Aph says:

    We can capitalize on the stereotype easily in a alky culture (North American).

  60. I’m not Irish and I don’t play one on TV (not even on St. Patrick’s day, not even in Singapore, where I spent St. Pats, 2004).

    My thought is that Irish people buy this junk. If you were, I dunno, say English or Italian, and were wearing a T-shirt that said, “Irish are all drunks and red hair is ugly” you’d probably do best to stay away from any actual Irish people. Contrary to common opinion, they don’t have a very broad sense of humor about this stuff when it comes from outside.

    PS- props to Blazing Saddles… “Okay, we’ll take everyone but the Irish.”

  61. Impius says:

    I’ll ask for your forgiveness ahead of time for this but I simply cannot resist….

    “Because it’s impossible to find sober Irish people?”

    before anyone gets their panties in a wad over this, its all in good fun, I don’t mean any harm by it…

  62. Hambriq says:

    It’s because we just don’t care.

    Also, I concur with PotKettleBlack in that, most likely, the #1 audience for this is people who have some kind of Irish blood in them.

    Which is like, everyone, I’m sure.

  63. BugMeNot2 says:

    @AlteredBeast:

    Except anti-Semitism isn’t against Judaism; it’s against Semitic people in general, and one branch of them, the Jews, in particular.

  64. welsey says:

    @DMDDallas: Also helps that you look white!

    I think a lot of the stereotypes have to do with class issues, esp over in actual Europe, and that becomes a problem. I think it’s understandable to be pissed off that everyone is always assuming you to be drunk/angry/crazy. There are a bazillion irish stereotypes and I think regardless of race issues I think having them constantly brought up to you in casual conversation probs gets annoying, yeah?

    And people really do legitimately hate gingers, I read about this family that had to move cause they got so much harassment. But that’s less an irish thing…

  65. bluebuilder says:

    <— Irish here

    I think the Irish have figured out that this stuff doesn’t really matter and have the self-confidence to laugh at it and take it in stride. Humor is a powerful force, and if you look at anybody there is something to be found that is pretty hilarious, because after all what in the universe is more ridiculous than a human-being. Recognizing that is a progressive step in cultural evolution.

  66. Bay State Darren says:

    If this hat was designed, etc, and ditributed by an American company or companies, it’s very likely that at some point that Irish-American employees were involved in its implementation, given how common our ancestry is in this country. So they either A] Sold out their heritage to make a quick buck or B] Decided like many of us of Irish descent have stated here that it just wasn’t a big deal.

  67. ninabi says:

    An Italian friend once remarked to me (mainly Irish) that
    “The Irish have bad skin, bad teeth, bad bones”

    I guess we can add to that, “bad hats”.

  68. snoop-blog says:

    i’ve never made fun of drunk irish people. with so many other people to make fun of, they are just not funny enough. this hat didn’t even make me smile let alone, laugh.

  69. dorkins says:

    The Irish are just more mature than the delicate hyper-offended in our society.

  70. bohemian says:

    This is sort of like Norwegian jokes. Nobody really cares. If there were active biases against people of Irish or Norwegian heritage in jobs or housing you would probably see some outrage but since there isn’t you wont.

  71. SkyeBlue says:

    All I know is now I want reparations for how bad my Irish ancestors were treated by this country! Anyone want to drink to that?

  72. DMDDallas says:

    @welsey: ah, but you will not find very much opposition to people based on their skin color in society. the only issue is immigration, and all the immigration advocates go out of their way to disavow racism of any sort.

    that doesn’t explain why some groups forever live off of their “victim” label and some others don’t.

  73. quagmire0 says:

    Because unlike many nationalities/races, the Irish actually have a sense of humor. :)

  74. DMDDallas says:

    Although an inappropriate forum to have an extended discussion about this, I think people who are interested in the psychological aspect of this should read Friedrich Nietzsche’s writings on master vs. slave morality.

    I’ll leave you with this link: [www.sparknotes.com] and let anyone interested do their own research/googling on the topic.

  75. NickRB says:

    Only the Germans have a higher per capital drinking rate than the Irish. People don’t want to make fun of the Germans after those couple of misunderstandings we had in the first half of the 20th century. LOL. That’s how my German American wife tells me(Irish American).

    The drinking rates are true though. We of Irish decent CAN really put em away. Although I’d love to go to Oktoberfest and take on some of those German guys. Beer fest anyone?

  76. LochNess says:

    Stuff like this is just junk to make a few bucks off all the plastic Paddies.

  77. uricmu says:

    Here in Western PA, the Irish community prides itself on the “drunk factor” during St. Patty’s. People get smashed in the parade and all wear shirts and hats and crap that’s attesting to that.

  78. SkyeBlue says:

    Maybe making fun of the Irish being “drunkards” is like using the “N” word, it’s ok when we do ourselves but it is offensive when someone else says or does it to us?

  79. snoop-blog says:

    @SkyeBlue: i thought we burried the “n” word.

  80. pigeonpenelope says:

    that hat is offensive. walmart should pull that hat. they should have never ever put that hat on their shelves.

  81. MARTHA__JONES says:

    @ DMDALLAS: You may be the smartest person on this site today. I salute you.

    @SPDRACER: It’s not racism, it’s predjudice.

    @ALTEREDBEAST: Judaism is both a race AND a religion.

  82. Icantlikethat says:

    @BayStateDarren: A hat for $3.97…I have a feeling this was made in China.

  83. lukobe says:

    @MARTHA__JONES: Technically, Judaism is the religion, and Jew(ish) is the ethnic group…but yeah.

  84. PORTWEST says:

    Before the movie “The Departed” came out Conan O’Brien had Martin Scorsese on his show. They had a hilarious discussion of the many “racist” comments about the Irish in the movie. Throughout the interview O’Brien kept commenting on how he would not get any letters complaining about this. He suggested that the Irish would just think about it for a second and conclude that yeah that’s right and go back to whatever it was they were doing.

    Why don’t the Irish care? We care and we are proud of our “Bad Boy” reputation. We have a special word for when we get mad and kick the crap out or each other (donnybrook), our fondest memories are usually drinking stories. We have the Blarney Stone that gives us special powers in B.S.ing each other. When we tell you about something that was a truly horrible occurrence, it ends up sounding more like an adventure than a trauma. Our stories about our heroic behavior and our stories about our stupid behavior are equally entertaining. (Often they are the same story.) When we look at our foibles we get to laugh. Yes, as a group, we are proud of our drinking. We see ourselves as drinkers, who get home somehow, get up in the morning and go to work. (Not rehab.) It may be a strange area of pride but it works for us. If you are nice, we will let it work for you too, but only on St Patrick’s Day. We appreciate your patronage but on a day to day basis we realize somebody has to be serious.

  85. Skiffer says:

    @TinkishDelight: Fuck off…
    After a while, you just become “American”…jackass

  86. Skiffer says:

    @arcticJKL: “…do not yet have an organized group of people whose sole purpose is to let them know they are victims yet.”

    Amen…

  87. Onouris says:

    You know having Irish ‘ancestry’ doesn’t actually make you Irish, right? If that’s the case most of you are English.

  88. jamar0303 says:

    @AlteredBeast:
    “…you don’t see anything like that for Black History Month.” May I point you to this video-


    + Watch video

  89. pharmerjon says:

    @yesteryear: @yesteryear: I’m sure you could find an “I’ll rob and kill you cracker!” Button. MLK would be proud.

  90. synergy says:

    I went to Notre Dame and so I knew my fair share of “Irish” and I can agree with what others have said. Most don’t care and many pride themselves on the amounts of alcohol they can consume. I don’t know if that’s supposed to be bad or good, but if the group itself propagates it and thinks it’s funny, then what can be done?

  91. forgottenpassword says:

    I thought fat people were the last group you could make fun of & discriminate against?

  92. Rusted says:

    @EBounding: being part Irish kinda unavoidable after a few generations. On my mother’s side, just a little bit.

    I don’t drink. My father did. He was Swedish-Scottish-Danish, small part Spanish.

    @MARTHA__JONES: Only race that exists are humans.

  93. Falconfire says:

    Why pick on the Irish? Poles and Italians are constantly picked on too without really getting up in arms beyond a few people here or there. How many people here have called someone a Polack not realizing that its about as bad as calling a African American the N word….

  94. ZekeDMS says:

    Because we just don’t care. At all. No true Irishman or Scotsman gets up in arms over this kind of thing. We drink. A lot.

    Hell, we look at that Family Guy episode where Peter finds his real father as a tribute to the culture. Even my grandmother, who doesn’t watch anything over g-rated movies, thought it was great, and said so between bites of her baked potatoes.

  95. redhelix says:

    I actually get really offended when people claim to have Irish blood (when they obviously don’t) just because they can drink really well.

    I come from an illustrious and interesting Irish background, and when I talk about my heritage, people would rather know about my alcohol tolerance than my immigrant great-grandfather and his sister who died on the Lusitania.

  96. welsey says:

    @Onouris: I know, right? It took me a while to figure out the majority of the “I’m Irish” posting was being done by Americans, actually. If you are first generation I’d give a pass but what’s with this?

    I’m American but why are we so weird about this shit…also I just watched I’m Alan Partridge, that episode from season one where the guys from Dublin come by and they got pretty offended by him making fun of them with all the stereotypes. So lets base arguments off Alan Partridge episodes, and therefore I say that the stereotypes are offensive.

  97. uffa says:

    Perhaps racism should be determined not by what groups currently experience “real-world racism”, but by the context of the material.

  98. LochNess says:

    @welsey: This kind of stuff, with the professional “Irishmen” in the US, would really irritate my parents, having actually been born and raised in Ireland.

  99. Peeved Guy says:

    @LochNess: Your parents are Irish and your user name is based on a “creature” in a Scottish loch? Should I be impressed with your cleverness or mortified at your lack of geographic knowledge? :-)

  100. welsey says:

    @LochNess: Yeah my ex would get real annoyed about that stuff too, the school I go to everyone thinks that they are Irish (they are AMERICAN) and he was like “what is this shit?”

    I just really don’t get the need for Americans to not identify as American. It confuses Europeans.

  101. LochNess says:

    @Peeved Guy:

    Neither. I don’t even remember where the nick came from, other than that it isn’t really a geographic reference.

    Btw, all “lochs” as Scottish. In Ireland they’re “loughs” :-)

  102. ColdBloodedBMC says:

    As an Irish person, I resemble those remarks. I completely agree with ZEKEDMS on this point. We are not offended because ITS TRUE!!!

  103. ColdBloodedBMC says:

    The irish are not holier-than-thous that cry and complain because they get a bad rap. They deal with it by drinking and fighting, and they know it. Do you think stereotypes appear with no basis in reality?

  104. William C Bonner says:

    I remember growing up with polish jokes. My uncle was polish, and he thought they were funny. Then we moved to Australia, and they had Irish jokes, but not polish jokes.

    I was 14 at the time. It was the first time about comedy in that the joke needed an object of derision, but that it didn’t matter what.

    Mostly, I think people need to have thicker skin.

  105. Amadaun says:

        As an Irish American I’m often baffled by my peers, you’d think there there was nothing more to being Irish than being able to drink.  It’s a stereotype thats just so ingrained in the culture that we don’t even pay it any mind anymore.  Why isn’t the measure of “Irishness” how well you can sing old songs?  Or how much Irish history you know?  Half of the kids who are always extolling themselves as proud Irishmen couldn’t even tell you what county their family emmigrated from let alone who Brendan Behan or Yeats were. 

        At my university I was at a party not too long ago and some girl saw I was wearing a flat cap (another stereotype I suppose) and assumed I was of Irish descent then started telling me how Irish she was and blah blah blah.  Then when she was done she saw the claddagh pin I keep on the back of my hat and said “Oooh that’s pretty!  What is that?”

        P.S.  To all you actual Irishman out there who call us plastic paddies, we don’t need your approval to be Irish, the united states are still young enough that each ethnic group still keeps it’s own traditions and history seperate from others (Italians, Germans, WASPS, etc.).   And even then  we have enough of our own history that Irish American could be considered an Ethnicity in it’s own right.

  106. dadelus says:

    Hey the Scottish are drunkards too!!!!!

    1/2 Scotch – 1/2 Cherokee, I’m soo screwed!!!