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Where Coats Go Astray


The Temple Bar area in Dublin, Ireland is a drunkard’s haven. It is roughly six-square blocks of pubs, restaurants, clubs, discos, and even more bars located just off the Liffey River; a river made all the more beautiful after the late night runs to the local eateries to snag a gyro or a burger before heading back to the room: you can lean against the railing, see the lights sparkle off the foul waters, and savor the night’s end.  

Most pubs close by 11pm, as in London, but also as in London, there are some that stay open until much later. Only difference is you don’t have to pay a left nut to gain entrance. Simply being courteous to the doormen, even though you’re not a leggy, dumb blonde can get you in.  


 

“Fitzsimmon’s” is one such place, within spitting distance of the river. We’ll get there in a minute though… 

Now I had this plain, blue winter coat, heavy but not overbearing. Perfect for spending time in Dublin because it kept you warm-and believe me, the nights were into the 20s and most days it rained-so it was great for taking on the plane or around town. 

I tried being cool on other trips and took my black, leather jacket, but those fuckers weigh a ton and after a while it’s not fun carting the extra weight around. As you get older all you want is comfort and being able to move at a moment’s notice; fuck carrying a second or third pack with whatever else you think is important to haul across an entire continent.  

A rucksack and a daypack, that’s all you need. Some have the need to take a different outfit for every day of a six-month trip, apparently never hearing of something called a launderette or a sink.  

You’ve seen those poor bastards at the train stations, carting small houses on their backs and dragging another bag on rollers and slinging an extra day pack and six pairs of shoes and three pairs of sandals that dangle from the sides of their steamer trunks with their Discman headset tangled up with a wet beach towel that must weigh five-fucking- pounds. My god, what if they gotta run for a train? And one day they will, God help them, but they will…     

In any case, this coat of mine, a present from my mother for this Irish trip, was a prized possession, and, for the first week in Dublin before shoving off across the rest of the Emerald Isle-I was pleasantly surprised by how well it kept me warm. Never felt the bitter cold seep into that puppy. I loved that fucker…  

So I’m in Fitzsimmon’s-the doorman let me in without thinking twice because that was the first place I would hit as soon as we were kicked out of whatever other joint I happened to be in. 

It’s crowded; of course. Music’s blasting, people are drinking up, the dance floor pounding, and the women are plentiful. You quickly take off your coat because the place is stifling and put it over your seat before you sit, or, if you’re going to be roaming around, like me, you fold it and shove it under a chair, or bar stool, and, generally, through unspoken pub etiquette, it’s as good as laying it over the back of a church pew.  

What man would fuck with another’s man coat? Not here. People know how cold it gets. You may take a swing at another man, hit on his woman, or steal his drink, but you would never, by God, take his coat…. 

Before I can continue, I have to back track about four hours in the evening. 

At the start of the evening… 

At a pub named after the street it is on: Temple Bar, a pub with three other pubs inside, including an outdoor patio. My first night in Dublin I had met up with two young English girls at this pub, had a great night, and I kept coming back here hoping to meet others to capture the magic of that first night. This night, my last in town, it was two Scottish lasses I was working on. 


 

Wait a minute. Hold it. We should backtrack another hour into the evening, before we get here, then off to Fitzsimmon’s. Don’t worry, trust me on this… 

So I’m in the Temple Bar, sucking back on a Jameson-a true find for me if there ever was one-and pints of Carlsberg, for the one true constant in Ireland is to drink. I’ve been with the drunks in London (wild and stupid), and the drunks in Scotland (frightening), but the drunks in Ireland are inhuman.  

In any case, I’m sitting back, shot in one hand, pint in the other, scanning the room, and I spy a pair of lovely Scottish lasses. Only problem were the two Irish lads hovering over them.   

And just like in any country, no matter what language or culture, the boys are doing their best to impress the girls. The inane jokes, the reaching out their hands to touch their arms when they double over with laughter, the nonchalant way they move closer, trying to close the circle, and then there’s always the “I’m going to the bar, you girls want another?”  

And it’s usually the quiet one that leaves his buddy to take the night to another level. Minutes pass then comes the moment when the girls have to go to the toilet and that gives time for all those involved to analyze weather or not to continue with this charade or leave, and it will always be the woman who leaves. A man will never do that. The ugliest woman in the world can walk into a bar and always come away with a fuck…     

Anyway, the boys are doing fairly well, but one of the girls makes eye contact with me and the bigger of the lads, some huge fucking creature, catches that and stares me down as if to say piss off. I look away.  

But after the girls do their bathroom routine it somehow feels off. Soon, the other girl too is looking away, and one of the boys is out of witty lines, and the two who are still talking, but barely, feel what’s happening; and, since the girls don’t get up to leave, and so the lads won’t feel like they’re beating a dead horse, the boys make up some story about finding another of their mates outside.  

The lads excuse themselves and walk away, but not before the creature gives me an eyeful of rancor and challenge. But it’s all huff; being turned down by women in front of another man is enough of a humiliation for one night.  

“Fuck it”, big boy says as they lumber out of the room, “Let’s get another pint”. The smaller of the two though begins to take a step toward me. The big lad takes him by the arm and says, “I said let’s get another pint.” 

I saunter over to the girls the second the lads leave and start in with the ladies. Mid-20s, teachers, somewhat impressed that I’m a writer, and both laugh at my jokes. Killing time in a bar. I’m chatting with two young ladies from Glasgow in a Dublin pub and that makes me a happy man.  

Just then the lads come by again, to see if their women are still there, maybe have another go at it, and they see me; hands punctuating my stories, not giving a fuck, having fun. I know nothing’s going to happen with the girls, I felt that, so I proceed to entertain myself. I get nervous though when the boys come back because they are drunk, they are bigger than me, and they were throwing me the whammy earlier. 

Then it gets awkward real fast: the girls try to introduce me to the boys so everybody can be “friends”. Whatever. I want no part of this. And by the looks of the big lad he clearly wants to no part of this. His mate gives me another sneer, I ignore it, we go our separate ways, and the real losers in this are the women because now they have to buy their own drinks.  


 

Okay, now it’s later … 

We’re at the Fitzsimmon’s, and I’ve stuffed my coat under a barstool. The chairs for the moment are empty and I have no doubt that over the course of the next couple of hours the coat will remain.  

Almost immediately I’m lucky enough to be fooling around with a hot, young, 22-year old from South Africa. She tends pub in London. I get her address, her e-mail-which I will promptly lose the minute I step out later-and then we’re making out like two horny teenagers by the bar.  

Tongues probing, her hand on my cock, me with my hand down her jeans, and then it gets fuzzy, like cotton candy filtering my vision and I have to ask to make sure: did that really happen? And then her fat friend came along, cigarette in one hand, cell phone in the other, pist, wobbling in ugly platforms; the friend who no doubt had the car, and she belches, “We have to go now!” and fucks up the mood.  

Hot women always have these types hanging around. Good safety nets, they figure. So my woman leaves-I think her name was Zelda- but not without an invitation to her flat the next time I’m in the U.K. and then, for some reason, I get curious about my coat.  

I Bugs-Bunny-my-way back to where I stashed it, but now there are two drunken Irishmen sitting on those seats. I peek under the barstool and say, “Excuse me, just looking.”  

“Hey, what the fuck are you up to, eh?!” One of them shouts. “And who the fuck are you?” 

“I’m just seeing if my coat’s still there.” 

“It’s there, mate. Now fuck off,” he snaps. Eyes red, looking for a fight. 

“Dude, I’m sorry…” I should have taken the coat right then and there, but I didn’t want to insult the man and move the coat and in effect say that I didn’t trust him. He was already drunk, so I waved my hands in retreat and slunk away. His friend cackled like that little, furry rat sucking off Jabba the Hut’s tit in “Return of the Jedi”. 

Fuck it. Next time insult the man, at least my coat would’ve been with me for the walk home in near 20-degree weather with frost forming on the ground… 

So the evening progressed, I got drunker, then, it was time to go. I made a b-line for my coat-as did the others who stashed their things around the room-and not only is the stool empty, but so is the space under the seat.  

My coat is gone.  

Goddammit. Sonofabitch. You dumb sonofabitch! How could you be so fuckin’ stupid? You drunk! You drunk! You drunk! They took your coat to fuck with you and it’s your- fucking-fault! 

After much self-flagellation, I leave the pub, passing the cloakroom near the entrance. Cloakroom? What? How much? One pound. One fuckin’ pound could’ve saved me the worry and panic, and so it is now an axiom I carry to this day and pass on to others: Always cloak.  

In any case, seeing that cloakroom only made matters worse. The self-hatred came in waves, and as the other revelers were busy buttoning up, throwing on their scarves, chucking on gloves, I had to make my way into the night at 4am in shirtsleeves. The hostel was nearly two miles away.  

I could’ve taken a cab, but I was on the cheap, and besides, I wanted to continue to punish myself for my stupidity. Goddamn it was cold. I think my lips started to turn blue at one point.  

Getting out of the Temple Bar area is a maze: go straight here, make a left there, then a right, then straight again… 

I passed a street fight involving about forty youths: clanking trashcan lids with chunks of concrete and splintered swords of wood and then they charged one another, jumping on each others’ chests and backs and their pubescent girlfriends were screeching “STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!”  I heard the sirens of approaching Guarda so I bolted down another street…  

Only to find some drunk and his girlfriend standing at a store front where the boyfriend whipped out his member and let out a steaming stream of white piss all over a glass door. He laughed while the girlfriend shook her head and put a hand to her face.  


 

Within seconds there was the Guarda-out of nowhere it seems-and he tapped the lad on the shoulder and said,“ What are you up to now?” The boy turned to look at the policeman, still pissing, still making wet circles on the glass in front of them, and it took a full three seconds to realize who it was that interrupted the process.  

Once he did though, he stuffed his sausage back into his pants, the girlfriend stepped off, and the Guarda slammed the lad up against the glass door and threw the irons on him.  

The three of them walked away, neither saying a word. No drunken, histrionic-charged protests from the equally drunk girlfriend, no shit talked back to the officer; just silence. Wow, what a difference from Back Home….  

I remembered another incident a few nights ago involving an arrest. I was at this late night burger joint, drunks getting their greasy fixes, and some moron was acting up, talking shit to another customer. They were arguing politics, but one of the guys clearly didn’t want to participate any further. The other guy persisted though, got on people’s nerves.  

The manager called the Guarda who arrived in minutes. They asked the gentleman to step outside for a chat, and just as the man raised his finger to give it to the officer, another officer came up behind the man and whacked him on the back of the head with his night stick.  

The man dropped to the floor. Two more Guarda jumped out of their van, picked up the dead weight, tossed him into the back, and sped off. The whole scene took 30 seconds. I bring this up because as I turn the next corner I come across that same burger joint from earlier in the week.  

Now, I’m still angry, but I want to eat something before I head to my room. I feel restless too, like I’m trapped. Getting ripped off in a foreign land, I never experienced that before.  

Yes, there’s always the possibility of getting robbed, especially the way I go to it, so thank God it was only my coat. Believe me, there have been plenty of opportunities for those ambitious few to get to me, but due to the whore’s luck I’m blessed with, this has been the only setback.  

Irish cocksuckers steal my fucking coat though!   

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