June 19, 2001

I am about to return to the ninth level of hell.  The dark hole of Calcutta.  The worst café in all of Dublin.  The Beanery Café.  Where yesterday I began my career in food service with an angry howl of someone who’d had a pile of fossilized shit dropped on their foot, breaking every delicate ribbon of bone and reminding one why they had sworn they would never work in food service in the first place.

Let me paint you a picture.  I arrive at 11AM, evidently to the surprise of the staff.  That’s fine, though, as they seem eager to help and are seductively kind and inviting as a cult offering you a refreshing kool aid beverage as they sign their wills and get ready for the mothership of the inevitable.

So it’s me, Fabio and David.  Fabio is the cook, even though his status as a recent immigrant from Italy has left him with about four words of English – but two of these are “espresso” and “cappuccino” so they don’t really count.  As if that wasn’t enough going against him, he’s never cooked before in his life.  A fact he repeats over and over, like some prayer whispered by an impotent husband on his honeymoon, hoping something divine will zero in on his panic and deliver him from his plight. [Boy, that’s fucking overwrought.  How about, like a monk mumbling through an incessant rosary?]  I can only frown and nod, and he just keeps soldiering on, undercooking sausages and neglecting to complete orders.  He tells me he is from Napoli and is an Italian folk-dancer, the exact name of which sounds dashing in its Italian but was registered by my uncultured brain as nothing but a series of lilting tones, evoking in me candlelit forbidden dances of passion in abandoned barns, but not registering the name in my head.  He dreams to make it big as a dancer, and says he is excited because he found a partner on the street just the other day and now he can go to dance competitions and make big money.  I hope the best – he is not a happy chef.

Then there is me, who has never worked food service before and who, quite frankly, finds coffee disgusting, having to my stomach the same effect as I imagine curdled mare’s piss would.

Completing our unholy trinity is David, the old hand at things.  Not the manager, as we have none, but the voice of experience there to guide us through the day.  He is fifteen, surly to customers, speaks barely above a whisper with his thick Irish accent deep in his throat, and he chain smokes.  There must either be no smoking age here or the tobacconist must divine in his face the life sucked from his soul each shift he endures in this hellish place, and provides him with the only comfort available.  Outside of heroin.

A short pause entitled: “I have learned to fear the Irish child.”

I am here again in the Garden of Remembrance greedily snatching this moment of sunshine so rare in Ireland, but keeping my coat on due to that wind that insinuates itself in between my blood cells and runs like an infection through my body, much like this cold that last night denied me my one unmitigated pleasure – that of a good rest underneath my warm duvet.  However, last night was cold and clammy and the absence of companionship rendered me unpleasantly additionally more so.  But back to why I fear Irish children.

1) Walking home last night I walked by two young boys sitting on a sofa outside a dingy store, angelic with their golden hair and ivory skin, throwing their heads back and howling, “Hellooo yooo fooook” to no one in particular, though I imagine they were hoping to include all of humanity.

2) Walking to Spar the other night, two children (they travel in packs, like jackals, making as much noise and probably as fond of carrion) accosted an Asian man who passed me and asked him if he would go to the store to buy them something.  He said no, of course, and I was quite sure they would attack him from the tone of their violent, loud response.  The words of which now escape me, but were quite possibly some derivative of “Hellooo yooo fooook!”  Some Dublin child street slang, no doubt.  The most confusing element being why children would need someone to buy them anything, being true, far pre-teen actual children and not sixteen year olds looking to score some booze for a kickin’ party at Joey’s house ‘cause his mom was out of town.  And it has been established that even fifteen-year-olds can buy cigarettes.  What could possibly be denied these two vulgar eight year olds?  And why were they on the prowl at 11PM unaccompanied?  They ate their mothers, no doubt.  Irish children must be encouraged to drink as early as possible in the hopes of taking the edge off them.  That’s the only explanation I can find for the duality of the Irish character.

3) Just now, walking by the projects by the theatre, I saw one child in one of those plexiglass boxes on a red cement pedestal that has until recently been the repository of one of those hideous Christ statues, that pop up all over this most Catholic of countries.  Two other children picked up little stones and were throwing them at their friend in the box, no doubt using him to record the strength and ingenuity of the ancient plastic box.  As I walked by one of the children picked up a good half of a good strong brick and threw it with abandon at the box.  It broke in half on impact, the brick, not the plastic, and flew back at the two children.  None of this phased the little bastards, and they frolicked off, still the best of friends, to find a dog to rape or something, all unaffected by the incident.  I however, was a bit shaken.

Anyway, now I need to complete my journey to the goddamnedawful café – on calling to see when next I worked, Paul the manager said, “Can you come in at 12:30?”  Paul, me, like a fool, said, “Yes.”  I work until 3PM.  Which will probably mean 9:30PM.

Anyway, I must go.  It is good incentive for the job search, and to return to school.

In short – Irish children are the sort of children you always find yourself lucky to run into – with cars.

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