I Had a One-Night Stand in an Irish Graveyard
I was splayed between gravestones, with multiple jackets strewn across the grass. Like most men, Galway Guy was bending my body in ways that it simply does not bend – not everyone has gotten into the yoga phenomenon. I was shivering as dew seeped through one of his many jackets and onto the small of my back.
It was only my third day in Ireland. I was already feeling loose as a goose, which led me to the thought that I must not leave the bar without capturing a man for meaningless sex.
The night was drawing to a close and I knew it was time to really hone in on my prospects. It was a Monday night, so things weren’t looking all that good. But I’m no quitter. I gulped my Galway Hooker, swaying to the live band playing upstairs while half-heartedly laughing at my friend’s jokes, though in reality, I had checked out and put my mind fully on the pull.
Eventually, I spied a young man, and by young, I mean late 30s, standing alone wearing seven jackets and carrying a Parka over his arm. His hair was styled in the fashion of the 1980s band Wham!. I could tell that he was exactly my type: at least 10 years older than me, style indicating a recent breakdown, and hanging out at a bar on a Monday night.
I sauntered over to him with drunken confidence in full force. Once facing him, I leaned precariously on the wall next to me and told him I was in love with him and could see the universe in his eyes. It works every time. And just like that, we walked out of The Quays together, stopping every two minutes for a passionate falling-in-love-style pash.
As we meandered home, Galway Guy and I bumped into some interesting men sitting on the side of the road. One of them told us he had just broken up with his girlfriend and she’d kicked him out: a drama king who was homeless only until his girlfriend let him back into the house. They gave me something suspiciously sweet to drink, which vaguely resembled wine. Free alcohol is always accepted. We chatted a bit about who knows, but I could see Galway Guy getting fidgety under all of his jackets, so I bade my farewells and decided to focus my energy back on my prize.
We began our journey home once more, and then it dawned on me that Galway Guy was in fact taking me in the opposite direction of my hotel. I screamed internally and pulled my phone out to figure out where I was supposed to be going. Galway Guy politely explained that I had simply failed to tell him where I was staying, and that he would take me there without murdering me first.
Once this crisis was averted, we turned around and headed for the hostel, but not before my obligatory McDonald’s toilet stop. What a privilege it was to be in a totally different country and still be able to gatecrash my local McDees for a wee without buying a single fry!
The walk back to the hostel was much longer than the 15 minutes Google Maps had promised, which gave me ample opportunity to reach peak inebriation.
This began to highlight my less-becoming traits to Galway Guy, one of which is being hyper-judgemental. I passive-aggressively asked him why he wears his hair as if trying to replicate the ‘Wake Me Up Before you Go-Go’ music video, and why he was wearing more than one coat. Was this also Wham! related?
His answer to my questions: “I don’t want to be like anyone else in Galway.”
My reply: “There are other ways to achieve that.”
After a good 10 minutes of being insufferable, I decided to cut Galway Guy a break and get down to business. We came this far for a reason, after all.
I realised, by this point, that we were passing through a graveyard.
My knees were beside my face, feet in the air. I felt like someone had paused me in the middle of a backwards rolly-polly. My head was perched on some concrete that I told myself was not a gravestone, and my bright orange undies had been flung over the hand of an angel statue. My body started convulsing; my jaw started chattering and clenching; I muttered the sweet nothings of a girl who was about to catch her death.
Luckily, Galway guy had no shortage of jackets to throw over my shoulders, so I was in no danger of dying of pneumonia that night. What a hero.
I eventually got my shivering under control and we made it to my hostel. I thanked him for his jacket and gave it back, not that he needed it. He gave me his email address, which I supposed was a normal thing to do for someone who is almost in the baby boomer generation. I told him that I would skip my trip to the Aran Islands the next day to hang out with him. I had no intention of doing this. Then I gave him a goodnight peck and set off on my next mission, which was trying not to wake my roommates.
I was still drunk the next day. Dressed in dungarees with pockets full of painkillers, I got on a public bus barefoot, with socks and Doc’s haphazardly stowed under my arm. Eyes half-closed, mouth notably dry, I announced to all within earshot: “I had sex in a graveyard last night!”
My friends and the Irish on their way to work cheered in support.
Cover by Elizabeth Jamieson