It’s Friday night and we’re in our final year of university. We should continue studying but the temptation of a couple (ok many) glasses of vino is luring us away from the library’s fluorescent lighting and signature scent of sheer desperation. A couple of snapchats later, Jenny* our friend from the university down the road is in, and Claire will join us at some point depending on how well her Tinder date goes tonight.
I run to the closest Spar, get my signature bottle of El Gato Del Negro, feeling chuffed that I know it means ‘the Black Cat’ because I happened to ace Spanish in the Leaving Cert. I courier it back to my room where I make myself to do some citations on my paper before the makeup ordeal can begin.
Jenny is here quicker than I anticipated. I pad my way out of my dorm in my polar bear slippers to let her in. She’s ready all ready the little scamp, and looks #hawt. I launch into all my latest goss. She mixes her drink while my semblance is assembled and I curse when I let foundation drip onto my jeans again. Dab of Garnier’s Micellar Water on a cotton bud and it’ll do. “Sure no one will see it in the dark anyway.”
Lucy is here just in time for the Justin Bieber playlist on Apple Music; she had to go home to get changed. (She’s a seasoned No. 16 traveller.) I’m holding up the group so we swap goss- ringmaster and I finish getting ready while the girls tell all. It’s been a while since the three of us have been together, and a few glasses of vino in, we feel emotionally compelled to celebrate this fact and indulge in a good ol’ bear hug. Alcohol inspired whispers of “your friendship means so much to me” fill the gaps between perfume and powder. But it’s the truth, obviously.
We’re late leaving campus and the security men raise an eyebrow as we slink out the door. A band of thieves in pleather jackets, armed with clutches. (Except Lucy because she’s mad cool and only uses her pockets.) We try one club but it’s so dry we leave; but luckily our carriage awaits.
I think his name was Fernando. At least that’s what we sang to him as we were charioted up Grafton street in his humble rickshaw. (Who doesn’t like a bit of ABBA?) He said he was from Brazil but I’m still on my Leaving Cert Spanish buzz so asked if we could converse in that instead. The girls cringe as I piece together the remnants of my rote-learning, but I’ll have you know that Fernando and I had a lovely conversation. (I think…?)
Out of the pumpkin and down the gilded stairs (generous, I know). A tenner in. (Absolute RIP) But alas, here we are. Coppers. The kingdom of GAA jerseys and disappointed tourists who were assured that this here venue is “the best nightclub in Dublin.” Everyone waits with a prepared ear for the opening bars of C’est La Vie by B*witched (it’s bound to make an appearance.). But the DJ has to pull us closer in the back seat of his rover first.
We seesaw between spaces. Clumps of sequins divvying out smokes to the right. Awkward cases of “can I buy you a drink?” to the left. The Christmas decorations are still up and the age demographic spans about 35 years; I pause and look around trying to decide if I’ve been transported back to someone’s granny’s living room on Stephens’ night in 1996.
A blonde man has been placed in front of me. “He was looking at you so we brought him over.” Lucy and Jenny giggle with mischief. The poor man looks shook by their brazenness. “It’s true, they caught me.” he says. They slink off but situate themselves the next layer of bodies over, watching like mother bears over their cub in case he turns out to be a predator.
Continuing their brazen streak, I demand to know where he’s from. He’s certainly not Irish. He shows me his ID. He’s a Canadian pharmacist. He’s also looks like he’s 90% muscle-supplements and 10% human. Drunken promises of how it’s easier to travel to Ireland than within Canada (wtf?) and he’d like to keep in touch. I’m a classic case of cynicism but give him my name just in case I change my mind.
Claire gets here late because the date went well. (Yay!) We whisk her off to hear the highlights before I introduce her to my new Canadian friend. Jenny and Lucy have work in the morning so they hail a cab home. The Canadians dance as an awkward troupe, perhaps not used to the ways of the Irish. (Get as close together as possible. Link arms where grasps of pints will allow. Make up some chant that fits in the instrumental bars of the song [eg. ‘Yeah baby watch the free birds fly’.]) They’re not really for us, and besides they’re ancient (aged 26-27?).
It’s nearly 4am anyway and sure the club will be closing. Ever wonder why we think Ireland is such great craic when those bff’s you made (that you pinky-swore you’d stay in touch with) in Aya Napa on your sixth year holiday will be out until 7am? Just sayin’ like.
The Canadian guy insists on walking me home, and Claire has left so I accept his offer. Mum told me never to walk home by myself at night, and in fairness this guy looks like he could demolish a bus by just looking at it. He leaves me at the gate to my university and hopes that we can “like stay in touch on Snapchat and stuff.” I nod politely, selectively forgetting to tell him that I don’t in fact have Snapchat.
The security man from earlier is still not impressed when he checks my student card on the way in. Come on, I think, you were young once. I glide (read: stumble) past him proudly.
Head is finally on the pillow. Thank goodness. My good ol’ pal Garnier Micellar Water is nearby somewhere but I’m too tired to get it; besides I love it when there’s an imprint of my face on the pillow when I wake up in the morning….
Eyes are just closing when my phone buzzes. A friend request of the Canadian sort. I put my phone on charge and roll over, a mass of sophisticated glitter dissolved into a foetal-positioned, soft-toy hugging lump. In the morning the friend request is gone. Oops, he’s impatient. Sorry pal. Guess I was right to be cynical. We gals are cleverer than they think. I re-open the Group Chat and the girls are all awake.
“Last night was gas, we have to do it more often.”
*names changed because I’m sound.