They tell you that Dublin is a dangerous city; rough and full of crime, like New York City used to be before Giuliani turned it into the Disneyland of your twenties. Listen, people say. You’re not to go wandering about the seedier parts of town, where the knackers in their track suits are running about. Some of your female classmates have told you about being mugged in broad daylight with a syringe full of blood, or being followed home down a dark lane. You’ve listened to all of the warnings and you behave sensibly, but the truth is that you took the warnings with a grain of salt because you never felt the supposedly sinister edge of Dublin. Somehow, even though you’d been flashed twice and saw homeless people lining the streets, it just always seemed too full of magpies and swans and greens and beautiful Georgian doors to be scary.
Now that you live alone, things are different.
You’ve lived alone before. You adored it back then; free to prance around in a Borat swimsuit and sing showtunes at the top of your lungs. And, really, it’s fine. You like your neighborhood; you have your pretty little flower pots lining the windowsill; you feel a sense of peace as you tramp up the carpeted staircase to your apartment. But you’ve never lived alone before in a city where you don’t have loved ones. You know it’s okay – you’re a grown woman, after all – but you’re still up some nights, wondering how long it would take someone to beat down your apartment door. You’ve figured out your escape route; out the bedroom window and onto the roof. It doesn’t look very far to the ground. You’re only on the first floor.
In the morning, you leave the Victorian brick house that is your home and as you push past the black wrought iron gate, a man steps out of his car, parked at the curb.
“Excuse me,” he says. His car is black and shiny, and he’s wearing a nice suit. “You’d never let me into the building, would you? It’s my son, you see. I need to get into his apartment.”
He looks distinguished enough; he probably does have a son who lives in the building. But you’re shaking your head, mumbling something about being from New York and having grown up in the 1980s and being part of the “Stranger, Danger!” generation and he says, “All right. Never mind,” and you say, “I’m sorry, I really am,” and then you walk a little more quickly to the bus stop.
Later, you’re in the shower, soap in your hair, and singing “Bad Romance” because you’ve recently realized that the way to INSTANT FAME is to cover Lady Gaga hits. The door buzzer sounds. You’re not expecting anyone. Sometimes that happens; someone wants to come into the building but can’t remember which apartment their friend lives in. You ignore the buzzer: woah-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh… caught in a bad romance.
But then, through the sound of the running water and your amazeballs singing, you hear pounding on the door – heavy beats that make you drop the soap.
You turn off the water.
“Who is it?” you shout. Water drips from the switched off tap. Your pulse is humming. “Who is it?”
“UPS!” comes the reply.
“UPS?” you shout back. “Are you sure?”
You wipe your face and throw on a bathrobe. There is still soap in your eyes and you blink as you open the door. There stands a man in brown shorts, holding a medium-sized cardboard box.
And he’s all, I’ve got a package for you.
And you’re all, What’s in it?
And he’s all, IT’S A DRESS.
And you’re all, Oh, yeah; my dress, because you’ve been expecting your bridesmaid dress for Alexandra’s wedding this June. But then he’s all, So you need to pay the VAT. And you’re all, I do? And he says, Yeah. Cash or check will be fine.
But Mr. UPS man, I don’t have either.
Oh, you don’t, do you now?
No, Mr. UPS man. I don’t. I’m just out of the shower and I don’t have any money. Isn’t there something else I can do?
And somewhere, off in the distance, bow chicka bow wow cuts through the tension. Sure it’s only genius British comedian Bill Bailey standing in your bedsit with an electric guitar, playing 70s porn riffs.
Cut. I said CUT. And… gross.
You can pay by credit card.
Remember now; if you’re buying something from America and having it sent here to Ireland, you always have to pay VAT.
And he’s gone and you now are 46 euro lighter, but you have a bridesmaid dress. It’s kelly green. It’s a Jenny Yoo. The bride’s family paid for it. You never thought in your life that you would ever have a Jenny Yoo dress but now you do. You never thought you’d be such a silly little chicken either. Isn’t life strange.