‘Probably the Smallest Pub in Dublin’, boasts the Carlsberg sign outside The Dawson Lounge.
Dublin pubs are places where men can go to drown sorrows and nurse grievances. So it is only right that the smallest put should this afternoon be the venue for two of the city’s pettiest citizens to air their shallowest grievances.
“Arjen Robben,” I announce, out of the blue.
“What about him?” asks Aidan.
“If I had an identical bald twin, I think that’s who it would be.”
Aidan doesn’t give a shit.
“No way is this the smallest pub in Dublin,” he says, shaking his head in disgust. “What a con. I’ve been in way smaller places. Way smaller.”
“Ah, I don’t know.”
Chelsea defender Ashley Cole appears on the television screen.
“I betcha I know what you’re thinking”, I say. “You’re thinking, ‘Why would any man be so insane as to cheat on Cheryl Cole?’ That’s what you’re thinking, right?”
“Who’s Cheryl Cole?”
“But you want to know what’s going through my mind right now?”
“I’m thinking ‘Man, I would sell my Granny for that hairline. I’d send her to Afghanistan for that hairline. My God, if it were any lower it would merge with his eyebrows.
Aidan turns around and has a look at me.
“Are you sorta dressed up there today?” he asks.
Took him long enough to notice.
We’re talking pants. We’re talking shirt. We’re talking jacket. We’re even talking matching socks. This is a cosmic alignment comparable to a full solar eclipse.
“What’s the occasion?” he asks.
I shrug. “Just a small invitation-only function in the Shelbourne Hotel.”
Aidan almost drops his glass.
“Fuck off… Who invited you?”
The truth isn’t nearly as exciting as what he probably imagines. So I leave his question hanging in the air.
“Go on, tell us. Who invited you?”
“Ah you know,” I shrug enigmatically. “A friend.”
I stand up.
“Now if you’ll excuse me, I have somewhere to be.”
I leave him sitting there with his mouth open
Out on the street, I buy a copy of the Big Issue from a street seller. Since I’m feeling flash, I even throw in a little tip. I arrive at the Shelbourne a couple of minutes early, so I wait outside the front door for my date to arrive.
I catch a glimpse of my reflection in a car window. Bald or otherwise: I scrub up well.
I’m so busy admiring myself, in fact, that I almost don’t notice a stranger take the Big Issue from me, press something into my hand and disappear into the hotel. I open my palm in amazement.
It’s a two euro coin.
Well, that brings me back to earth with a bump.