The bananas are hidden away in your cupboard. What was their offense? You look at me sheepishly. I can’t look at you without laughing. Ever. My body is not used to that. Laughing. Not like this. Unguarded. Unafraid that I look like a deranged bottle-nosed dolphin.
That cynical distrusting person inside me shakes her head. “He’s going to see right through you,” she says.
“What?” You ask in that thick Dublin accent. So it sounds more like “wuah?”
“Nothing,” I say.
We’ve talked about everything but haven’t even scratched the surface. We haven’t touched our phones in days. I don’t know what’s going on in the outside world. I don’t fucking care. If the world is going to end, I want to be right here, in your little apartment where the pulse of Dublin is always throbbing. Where the people care but don’t care. Where the seagulls are constantly bitching at each other and cacophony of half the population slinks in and out of trains and buses…and cafes…and pubs.
I love this town. I love that it’s constantly renewing itself while remaining a dignified reminder of the consolidated past. I love that you can get a whiskey at two in the afternoon and no one bats an eye. I love that I can sit in a cafe and write my silly stories. I love that I can get lost and find my way with the kindness of a stranger. I cross Dame Street and see new places I’ve never noticed even though I have been on this street every day for two months. I love the pizza place in Temple Bar, oh god, the tourists are obnoxious and the pizza is the greasiest in town, but you and I are there…were there earlier. It matters now. If shit hits the fan, I will be avoiding that pizza place and all the other places that have felt the warmth of your breath.
You stand in your tiny kitchen, making me a fancy coffee, stealing glances at me trying to be mister cool. You and I are so cynical and distrusting of the moment. I see us fighting it. Making excuses about it when a great many love stories started out in arcane situations. Why can’t we be a love story?
“You’re an idiot,” my cynical self speaks up again.
I’m eating one of your shamed bananas. And you turn around and hand me a coffee. I feel uncomfortable with this reality. I’m supposed to be sitting in a bar watching other couples give each other the puppy dog eyes while pretending not to be a total creeper living vicariously through them. And now I am here. I have arrived. We have arrived.
“Oh, he figures it all out and decides you’re more trouble than you’re worth.”
I’m going to strangle that voice. It doesn’t need to survive this night. Haven’t we done our time in this game? The scores of lovers warming the bed but leaving us blank? The endless meals alone with the glow of the TV as the companion? Haven’t we attempted the partnerships? Had the children? Gone to the weddings and the funerals and secretly wanted to sneak away for a smoke with that one person who got the ridiculousness of it all? You and I deserve that, you know. We’ve done it all. Alone. Even when we were not alone, we were alone.
I sip my coffee and listen to you talk about the radio station you have on. I have to pay close attention because your accent is so Dublin and my ears are too American. Every now and then you stop and look at me like you can’t believe I am real. I look at you the same way. I burst out laughing.
“Wuah?” You have this absolutely adorable deer caught in the headlights look.
“Monkey nuts,” I say.
That was the start of it. The start of this. The fucking monkey nut conversation. And the trash bag Halloween costume. I think something tugged inside me then at that little pub in Smithfield. The other voice that is super shy and doesn’t come out unless the cynical one is drunk and taking a nap. That voice knew.
“Excuse me. I hate to disturb your misanthropic existence, but this is the guy.”
I stare at you aware but unaware. I stare at you and start poking at cynical voice to wake up and put a stop to this. Someone is going to get fucking hurt. But the cynical one pushes my finger away and rolls over.
We’re back in your apartment and you totally finished smoking yours. I’m still working on mine, of course. Okay. Why not? Life has dicked me around enough already. And if I lose, I lose. I lose big, in fact. Oh fuck…I don’t want to lose. But if I win…I fucking win. I win that love story. And hundreds of years from now people like me and you will be talking about me and you. The two writers. The Irish person and the American person that met in Smithfield, but almost didn’t meet at all. Damn. There is a story right there. And we’re writing it.