MEN ARE LIKE EARRINGS
That night we’re sitting in the foyer of the Seaview- Phil and Tommy, Jimmy and Mel and myself.
Paulie Cullen’s band is playing in the lounge inside. Paulie, however, is sitting with us. He’s just been fired by the other band members in the middle of the previous set because he was too drunk to remember the words to Johnny B. Goode.
“Sacked from me own band,” he laments. “The nerve of them humpy bastards!”
Everyone is trying not to laugh too hard. Well, the women are, the men are slagging him.
“Jaysus, Paulie, I think I can see a lawsuit in this. Don’t you Tommy?”
“Oh, definitely, Jimmy, definitely.”
“It could be better than the time the patrol car hit you!”
They’re referring to the time Paulie (drunk again), fell in front of a Gardai car and then sued the Police Department over it. He won.
“Do you think so lads?” Paulie sounds hopeful. I’m only half listening to this exchange, as I’m trying to keep one eye on each door, although I know he rarely comes into the Seaview. He’ll either be up in the Anchor with the Lifeboat crowd, in Fitz’s with the Yobbos, or…I don’t want too think much about ‘or’.
“Who are you waitin’ for, Sam? Or is there somethin’ interestin’ about that door that we can’t see?” Jimmy teases me.
“Piss off Jimmy, I don’t know what you’re on about,” I answer, blushing.
“Who’s goin’ to the bar?” Tommy says. “Your turn, Sam.”
So I take everyone’s orders- at least it will give me an opportunity to scan the other room. God, I’m pathetic.
When I go inside, I see Danny standing at the other end of the bar, and my heart starts thumping. He’s chatting away to some young one who looks like all her birthdays have come at once. But it can’t be the one from Dublin; this is a local girl that I’ve seen before. What’s this feeling, anyway? I dig around in my rather dusty memories, the ones having to do with men and relationships and such. Oh crap, I think I actually am jealous. How embarrassing is this? Dan finally breaks away and walks over to where I’m standing.
“Howdy, neighbor. Mighty purty night, ain’t it?”
He knows I really hate it when he talks in that awful John Wayne accent.
“It’s just lovely. Don’t your feet ever get sore, Pilgrim?” I ask, smirking at him. I’m really annoyed that he seems so cheerful.
“What the fuck does that mean?” he laughs.
“You know, what with all those women falling at them.”
“That’s quite funny,” he says, just looking at me with what I think is a rather patronizing little grin on his face. “I see you’ve been honing your comedic skills. You don’t seem in very good form tonight, though.”
“I’m in fine form, thank you very much!” I snap, making a liar out of myself. “You seem awfully happy anyway. Did you enjoy your CPR training today?”
Danny shakes his head and gives me more of that ‘I know a secret’ grin. He leans over and says in my ear, “You’re jealous.”
“No, I’m not,” I laugh.
“Oh, I think you are.”
I don’t say anything, it’s useless. We both know he’s right. I hate myself for it, but I can’t stand the thought of him snogging someone else.
“You know, you were the one who didn’t want the ‘complications’ remember?” he reminds me. “So you can’t go all quare on me now and start actin’ jealous and stuff. Unless this means you’ve changed your mind.”
That hangs in the air like a side of beef. I want to change my mind so, so badly, and he’s handing the chance to me on a solid silver platter. Still, I say nothing, and he waits. He looks like he’s going to wait forever so I frantically try to think of how to put this. How do you explain twenty years of disappointment to a kid who is just starting the whole painful mess?
“It’s like- pierced ears,” I say, finally.
Danny just stands there, staring at me, and I even wonder where I’m going with this. There’s a few moments’ silence while I try to figure out how to expand on my idiotic statement, during which Spa Nolan comes staggering up to us.
“Hey, lads, what’s the craic?” he says cheerfully.
“Fuck off Spa,” Dan instructs him.
“Okay,” he says obligingly, and walks away.
“Danny! That was so rude,” I scold. “I can’t believe you did that, poor old Spa. He was only trying to be friendly.” Maybe if I distract him he’ll forget that stupid earring thing. He doesn’t. He ignores my attempt at diverting him, puts his pint down on the bar, and crosses his arms- stares at me for what seems like an age.
“I’m just waitin’ for the part that makes sense, Sam. Because I have to be honest, the pierced ear analogy is just a bit weird so far,” he says. I couldn’t agree more. I seem to be stuck with it though, so I give it another try.
“Do you know what happens when you don’t wear earrings for a while?” I ask.
Christ, help me out, Dan. I’m dyin’ here.
“Well, the hole closes up and when you try to put the earring back in it you just can’t quite get that sucker in there.” Okay, that wasn’t too bad. But he’s still looking at me like I’m speaking ancient Babylonian.
“This sounded better in my head,” I admit.
“I’ll bet it did, but go on.” He seems highly entertained with watching me struggle, the little shite.
“Well, it’s like that with men, when you haven’t had one in your life for a while it’s really hard to fit one in, even without all the other ‘complications’…I want to try, but I’m scared it might hurt too much.” Oh ick. Don’t give up your day job, Samantha.
“I see.” He shakes his head. “And you think I have some rat-arsed philosophies?” He looks at my ears, which are currently devoid of earrings. “How long has it been then, since you’ve worn any?”
“A while,” I tell him, hoping that he’s still getting the metaphor. He nudges Karen Devlin who is standing next to him, deep in conversation with another girl.
“Karen, give us one of your earrings, would ya?” She looks at him oddly for a moment, then shrugs and pulls one of the tiny gold hoops out of her ear and hands it to him. “I’ll have it back to you in a flash,” he tells her.
“You’re not putting that in my ear, you know,” I warn him.
“No, I’m puttin’ it in mine,” he tells me, and slides it into his right ear. I’m amazed- I’ve never before seen him wear an earring. I’ve never even noticed the hole. I just stand and gape at him, the dead carp back for a special guest appearance.
“See there? I haven’t had an earring in there for years, and it went straight in. So I do believe your theory is fucked.”
I start to giggle at him in spite of myself. “You are really a nutter, do you know that?”
“Well, Sam, it’s like those fellas that stick knittin’ needles through their bollox and such- mind over matter. If you really want to do it, you can. The question is… do you really want to do it or not?”
“I don’t have a bollox to stick a knitting needle through,” I tease, unable to answer his question yet. I feel like do when I’m standing over at the Castle at the edge of the cliff. When I look down it always flashes into my head that it would be so easy to slip and fall and that would be it. One minute there you are, healthy as a horse looking at the rocks, the next minute you’re spread all over them. That’s how I feel now- like I’m about to be splattered all over those rough jaggedy rocks.
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