BY BRENDA SHORT
Copyright is held by the author.
AS SOON as she entered, the music assaulted her — raucous and primitive, but there was a certain rhythm to it that was hypnotic — primal, but enticing. Before she knew it, she had walked into the middle of the whirling group, unable to stop herself, kicking off her shoes and loosening her hair on the way. Once there, she gave herself to the moment, gyrating with anyone who was within arms distance and screaming like a banshee.
Suddenly, the music stopped. A moment later, everyone yelled out their pleasure to the band, slapped each other on the back and walked to their tables to continue drinking before the next set began. Within seconds the dance floor was empty and Sinead was left standing alone, looking for her shoes. Her date for the evening thoroughly amused by her abandonment, was standing on the fringe patiently holding her coat and purse. He had rescued them from the floor moments before, where she had carelessly discarded them and him, without a thought in her haste to immerse herself instinctively into the pagan ritual.
“Drink?” he asked, finding two seats at a tiny table that already held four people.
“How did you find seats, and yes please, Guinness,” she answered.
This was her first date with John and she wasn’t sure that she wanted to come with him to an Irish bar on St. Paddy’s night, but he thought it would be fun. Sinead had the feeling that this might not work out so well. John was the most sought-after bachelor in the company and had dated some of the other women. He didn’t date them twice and so the rumour was that he was gay, but Sinead knew gay and he wasn’t it. He had asked her out several times, but she always made an excuse up until now. This time, John said Irish pub and she fell for it. She was Irish, second generation and her whole life so far had been dominated by that culture, interspersed with Canadian of course. Sinead made it a rule never to date colleagues. It only led to unpleasantness eventually, like the gay comment for instance.
The band members took a quick break and at that point a middle-aged man, a little more than slightly inebriated, took the stage and began to sing Danny Boy to the delight of the crowd. He managed to get through the song with the help of several others reminding him of the lyrics and ending up on stage with him. There was a bit of a scuffle when the band members came back and tried to get rid of them, so that they could continue and one woman, who had joined them, almost fell off stage. It seemed, to Sinead’s annoyance, that this woman was at the same table when she finally walked over, but she was insisting that she had to sit on her boyfriend’s knee. She was becoming rather frisky.
They stayed at the table for a while, not really able to converse because of the volume of merriment, increasing all the more as the green beer flowed freely and interrupted only by the wild, Irish music and soulful Celtic bagpipes. So, as the floorboards were heaving anyway, Sinead dragged John onto the dance floor and insisted that he dance an Irish jig with her, finally dissolving into hysterical laughter at his attempts to copy the other revellers.
As soon as they sat down, the woman beside John tried to climb onto his knee. She was becoming overly amorous with her boyfriend and he was ignoring her, so she decided to entice John to taste her charms by pushing his face into her cleavage. Sinead was incensed at this blatant and very public attempt to steal her date and reached over to push the woman off, uttering a few choice phrases in Gaelic and causing the hussy, as she called her, to push back, scratching and clawing at the same time. Suddenly, Sinead noticed a scratch on the back of her hand. First blood? How dare she!
Well, that was it. The gloves were off! Sinead stood up and grabbed the woman by the hair, pulling her off John’s lap. One punch was all it took. One upper-cut, squarely on the chin and the woman fell to the floor. In moments, she was scrambling to get up, swearing like an Irish navvy, her pink, lacy panties showing, what little there was of them, as her skirt rode up her thighs. Jeering and cheering was heard over the sound of the band and suddenly, someone shouted “cat fight” as the throng began to push forward.
John grabbed Sinead by the arm as she shadow-boxed in the background, waiting for her opponent to turn around. He dragged her off struggling and protesting, through the crowd that had appeared from nowhere. Once outside, the white haze disappeared from Sinead’s eyes as she realized what she had done, but too late now — and they hadn’t even had time to finish their drinks. John hailed a passing cab and bundled her inside, leaving the scene of the incident before anyone could reach them.
“She seemed to be a regular,” John said breathlessly. “Everybody knew her by name. You could’ve gotten into a lot of trouble.”
“Not really,” Sinead said, laughing. “My brothers taught me how to box when I was six. I used to beat them up when they teased me.”
“You know they call you frigid, don’t you?” he said, smiling and changed the subject.
“Ah . . . But do you know you’re gay?” she retaliated.
“Well! I do live with a man after all . . . but I guess it’s up to us to prove them wrong,” he murmured seductively, reaching over and kissing her neck to convince her. “By the way, what are you doing next weekend?” he said, sitting up and changing the subject again.
“I’ve an old boyfriend that I’d like you to beat up for me,” he said, ducking as she punched his arm lightly. “Just kidding! But, seriously, I’d like to take you out again, only this time I’ll let you choose the venue . . . as long as it’s not an Irish pub.”
“How about Tuesday instead, at the race track? I enjoy the occasional wager and they do a special supper on Tuesday nights, roast beef with all the trimmings. And guess what . . . Danny Boy is running this week!” she offered, “What a stroke of luck.”
“Got to love the Irish!” He grimaced.