One Tuesday evening in Dublin
She was young and beautiful. An objective observer might attribute an equal portion of the former with that of the latter, but the overall effect was undeniable. I was already seated in the rightmost seat of my mid-row of the Abbey Theater when she made her way through a forest of knees to her own seat directly in front of me.
I remember her hair most. It was cut shorter than I would have expected, and for that reason—combined with her age—thought of her as a school girl, although of college age. I remember her hair bouncing, as she turned to look to our left—for someone, perhaps. She was dressed elegantly, in my opinion. A true dress—black, of course, which flaunted young convention by matching her hair if very much not her skin color.
She carried a book, the universal sign that “I am alone,” as I know so well. She took it up immediately, not giving the impression that she couldn’t put it down but rather to show that she might be alone but was unavailable. Still, she frequently picked up her head to look left, affording me the profile by which I could repeatedly confirm her beauty.
The story I made up about her was that she was some kind of student of the arts, and had just had to come to the Abbey, be she from some other part of Ireland or some other part of the world.
The play was absorbing, and I thought no more about her as it progressed. At intermission, most of the audience retired to a lounge or whatever, while my beauty and I remained in our solitary seats. I felt a need to acknowledge this—not to chat her up (she was way out of my league, in all possible ways), but just to indicate without actually saying so that I knew she was there. Besides, a character had said something like “I’m just a jibber,” and if she were Irish or a Brit, she might have some idea what that meant. I tapped her on the shoulder and asked. She didn’t stammer and she wasn’t rude, but she replied, barely without looking up, that she was new here, herself, and didn’t know. And determinedly returned to her reading obsession. Mission accomplished. The audience returned, the play finished (yet another delightful experience for this grateful playgoer), and we slowly dispersed. I don’t recall seeing or even looking for my beauty. I was thinking of the play, as well as singing and whistling Irish songs that I created as I walked up the aisle, higher than a kite at being temporarily Irish in Ireland. The way back was not complicated (downtown Dublin is a pretty straightforward arrangement), and I increased me whistlin’ and singin’ as I made me way across the Liffey (it divides downtown Dublin more or less in half).
As I neared the other end of the bridge, I heard quick deliberate steps, almost certainly female. And, sure enough, a beautiful young woman quickly passed me by as I leisurely strolled back to me hotel. It was my beauty. As she executed so deliberately her rapid “they’ll never get me” pace, I remember myself thinking: “Ah, my lovely, don’t be scared. No one’s going to hurt you.” But, of course, I couldn’t really guarantee anything other than that I wouldn’t. And I felt so sad. To be so young, to be so beautiful, and to be so cautious. She quickly reached her hotel entrance, pressed some secret button, and darted into safety.
I slowly, malely, ambled past the busy pubs, up the dark or lit streets—not caring which, and passed the few blocks to my own hotel. I wouldn’t have minded a pint, love...
Michael R Broschat Fall 2001