I’m a little bit drunk; Whiplash IPA works fast on an empty stomach. The back of the bar at Pálás isn’t really the back of the bar. The mirror is clean, the candles unlit and un-melted.
Journey is playing, “Do they have more than one song?”
To my right there’s a crumpled bag of Doritos, framed by competing cans of energy drink and beer. I wonder, “Did they feel up, down, or hungry when they left?”
“Maybe it really is the back of the bar?”
In the mirror I catch a glimpse of my ‘beard’. It’s getting scraggly and I have a soul patch, “Should I leave it?”
The guy across the bar, with the faded shirt, tan pants, and gleaming inches between cuff and sock-top reminds me that I could be asking other questions.
I close my laptop and slide it into the protective sleeve. I notice, suddenly, that it’s kind of warm, “Right, that’s why my back is always so sweaty.”
It’s time to go.
The theatre is full, but there’s a single seat, back left, between a guy my age and a woman my mother’s age. Back home I’d decide that it’s a buffer seat, but over here, it’s my seat. I acknowledge both of them, cheerfully, and sit.
“Oh, ho, oh!”
I look around, hastily, to make sure that my chair didn’t somehow make that sound. My eyes settle on a checkered shirt; definitely from over there. “The right side of the road,” bubbles up from his companion. Right, the roundabouts and single-track roads conversation. I’m a tourist too, but, I’m different, right?
I exchange knowing glances with the my-age-guy and the my-mother’s-age-woman. We have a bond now. She starts talking about wine, “The bar is so expensive, that’s why I bring my own.”
I’m sitting next to Mary Poppins.
Out of the bag comes two glasses, a bottle of red wine, and a can of Pringles. She offers all of it to the two of us. We’re growing boys, she says. How can we say no at this point? We kind of do, to the wine at least, that’s the polite thing to do. We take a few sour cream and onion Pringles though.
Leaning into pre-show comradery feels great.
We crunch Pringles and talk about the Thailand boys. We talk around the rescue, “It must be awful for the family of the rescuer who died.”
That’s the movie that needs to be made.
Forgiveness is an individual thing. I think that’s missing from a lot of conversations.
The lights come up at the end of the credits. The my-age-guy is already out of the theatre, so I make eye-contact with the my-mother’s-age-woman, who is now the red-wine-woman. We walk, in small talk, down the stairs to the front of the theatre and stand on the front steps.
She says, “A bit predictable, but nice.”
“I’d recommend it, I loved the way it looked,” I say.
I liked this one.
In my head I add, “The performances were amazing, and the pacing of the scenes was perfect. They fit together so well.”
As we walk away from the theatre, she says something to her friend that sounds like, “It’s all about the x and y chromosome.” The bottle of red wine was empty when we left the theatre.
I say goodbye and turn towards the crowds swishing up and down the cobblestone. I pause, like I do every time, to see how long the bro hanging from the bar can last before his hands start to slip. Can he hang for 100 seconds?
47 seconds tonight.
I stop at the McDonalds and get a raspberry flake McFlurry—peak indulgence.
I flip on Golf Weekly and join the analysis of Rory’s putting. I’ve given up on playing golf over here. Maybe I’ll play when I get home?
The putting analysis ends and I switch to Esther Perel; just your casual golf to relationship counseling podcast switch. She has the best accent. “You can create space for intimacy and connection to re-emerge, but if you’re always the caretaker you can’t…”
I have a friend, back home, who would enjoy this, he’s thinks about these things—it’s his job.
I arrive home to Tess hanging out, in the front room, with her really cool friend. He looks like an artist. He’s rolling his own cigarettes, smoking in the house. When I was a kid, I held my breath when I walked past smokers. Tonight it’s a character trait, part of a momentary aesthetic.
I almost want to join him.
I make a tea instead.
I hear about the dame of local film, about the time that he stopped talking to her.
They’re talking again.
“That happens sometimes around here,” he says.
“You forget why you weren’t talking and then you just start again.”
That’s Galway, apparently.
I decide that it’s time to let their conversation roam to its darkest, most illicit corners.
I climb the stairs to my room, close the door, and turn off the lights.
“I love the way today looked, the scenes fit together, perfectly.”