Apart from dicing a digit with the onions, Dublin is great fun. Our TV now works, so we--and by "we" you know I mean Ian the Lion-Hearted Sailor--decide to watch black-and-white documentaries about WWI and WW2 ALL fricking weekend. Yes it's Remembrance Sunday in Britain, but we are in Ireland. Still. OK. I get it. And after nine or ten hours of black-and-white footage of mud, carnage, futile hatred and more futile hatred, I most certainly will never forget . . .
. . . the Hell of war. Really. There are no words apart from WHY DO WE DO THIS TO ONE ANOTHER? It's unimaginable that the people who actually fought these wars understood the reason they fought. So many people gave their lives for the geopolitical ambitions of a few evil men. And, yes, millions more lost their lives trying to stop them. And then the victors stamped their boots so hard on the losers' faces that the losers could do nothing but retaliate. The Germans (now) have a saying: Imagine there's war and no one comes.
The deep structure of this quip is the idea that the masses might decide not to fight for their leaders' global hegemony, that the masses on both sides might just decide to live their lives in peace. Imagine that. It's easy if you try. Of course the Germans have a very good reason to be anti-war. As most Germans alive today had nothing to do with WW2 but nevertheless take the responsibility for it never happening again, they are big promoters of diplomatic solutions.
Actually--and correct me if I'm wrong--the Germans were prohibited from aggressive acts of war after WW2. Their army can be deployed only for peace-keeping missions and for self-defense. When they are critical of the US and other countries for playing world police, it's important to understand that they are simply warning against their own mistakes: aggression feeding aggression. If you insist on an eye for an eye, you'll all be blind. What good is that?
So I cut my finger. I'm watching all this footage of bloodshed, and I cut my finger.
"Plasters," I say. I don't yell or moan or whinge. It doesn't really hurt. It's a new knife.
"We don't have any," Ian the Lion-Hearted Sailor says--totally unimpressed, eyes glued to WW2.
"I cut the tip of my finger off," I say.
"Why?" he asks.
"Why??" I say. I don't tell him the omelet I'm giving him may or may not have my flesh in it.
It's Sunday, and the pharmacy around the corner isn't open. Holding my left hand above my heart, I walk to the little market around the next corner. It's throbbing gently: the finger not the heart or the market, although the heart is pounding fairly relaxed as well. Long story short, I get the plasters (adhesive bandages for you Yanks) I need and we set off to explore our new environs. We're going shopping. For shoes. I've had the same shoes for the last three or four years, so I'm all about the new shoes.
So I buy trousers. I call them my Dublin trousers, the ones I'll leave here so I don't have to schlepp so much back and forth. I also buy a jumper (a sweater for you Yanks).
We buy no shoes. The shoes are too expensive. It's not as if we are walking barefoot through the streets of Dublin. Ian the Lion-Hearted Sailor is just worried that Dublin will get cold and that our shoes will be inadequate, too porous. I'm trying on my third pair of jeans. Who cares about shoes?
"Cider?" I say as we're leaving a shop.
"I know the place," Ian the Lion-Hearted Sailor says.
"Lead the way," I say.
"I will," he says.
"Well do it, " I say.
"I will," he says.
"Stop it," I say.
And so we end up at a pub called The Brew Dock. It's not far from our flat actually, and they have gluten-free meals marked on their menu. I have the veggie burger with potato planks. I'm calling them planks because that's what they are. They're actually better than the burger, which is just OK but gluten-free so I'm happy. But much better than the burger and the potato planks is that the guy serving them says, "Just so you know, the potatoes were fried in a separate oil than the fish." (The fish is breaded.)
"Wow," I say. "Thank you." So these guys know the ropes with Celiac Disease. I'm a fan.
And even better than this, they have a cider on tap that is not Bulmers. Bulmers is fine, but sometimes I'd like to try something else. The cider they have on tap is dryer than Bulmers. Crisper. Lighter. Mac Ivor's.
The wonderful thing about The Brew Dock--at least on the day we grace their presence--is that I know ALL the songs on the CD they're playing. You might call these oldies, but I'd like to call them just very very good music. And of course I sing all the words to all of them. I love Ireland. When you sing along to the songs in the pub in Dublin, you can bet a few other people will sing along with you. Song is so important here. I feel at home. The bartender notices I'm singing, adds a harmony. Someone else starts humming. The whole place could explode with this common feeling, this shared love of song. I miss this. This doesn't happen in Germany.
What makes you feel at home?
I must be off,
Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's award-winning fiction and non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Indiana Review, Quiddity, SmokeLong Quarterly: the Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Contrary, Prime Number Magazine, [PANK], Necessary Fiction, and Word Riot. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice.