Being in quarantine is making this IMAGE writer yearn for a night out on the town but it isn’t for the reasons you may think
It’s 6 pm on a Saturday.
The sun is starting its descent home for the night and a pinkish hue is flaring up across the sky. Your hair is freshly washed, your fake tan looks fantastic and you are pouring an ice-cold glass of white wine. It’s a glass of Pinot, of course. Hell would freeze over before you would lower your standards to a Sauvignon Blanc.
You are due to meet the girls at 7 for pre-drinks which entails a good solid three hours of gossip and prosecco before the mini-bus comes for collection.
You’re probably in a town in County Leitrim but it feels like New York. The place is hopping. The streets are flooded with 10 people and the street lights look as if they are dancing.
You had never realised how beautiful the pub was. It’s glistening in the moonlight, the lights on the roof twinkling with delight.
You touch its walls to see if it’s real. For a minute you think you might be dreaming, but then the bouncer snaps you out of the trance and asks if you need to take a minute to sit down and drink some water.
“No,” you say, “I’ve never felt better.”
The DJ is playing Maniac 2000 and you feel like crying. You thank God for every DJ Dom and DJ Derek who is blessing the country tonight with such fine musical excellence.
You run away to the mystical world of the smoking area. You tell anyone who wants to hear that you don’t smoke on nights out anymore.
Twenty minutes later you are clutching the butt of a cigarette.
Then the hours have passed, and you are in the chipper with curry sauce spilled down your top.
And for one glorious minute, you think life couldn’t get any better than this.
The first night out
For many, the first night out following the coronavirus crisis will look somewhat similar to this, give or take a few elements. Now I am not condoning drinking, smoking or anything the devil promotes in his spare time but I just have to say it.
I am gasping for a night out.
However, that doesn’t mean I am salivating for the sweet nectar of a pint of Guinness.
No, it is for a much more wholesome reason than that.
We have an unfortunate name made for ourselves. The word Irish is usually followed by an alcohol reference in a sentence. Say “I’m Irish” anywhere in the world and a short glass of whiskey is immediately placed in front of you, along with a fiddle.
It’s Paddy’s Day, it’s the horse racing and it’s the get-togethers. Being social is such a huge part of what we are. We are habitual creatures who like to talk, whether that be in big groups, small groups or just with ourselves.
Everything is better when we are together. Birthdays, weddings, communions and even funerals are easier to navigate as a group. Over the years we have said hello and goodbye as a community and that has been taken from us, which is why I think so many of us are finding this such a particular struggle.
In the grand scheme of things, a night out isn’t as vital as getting to see your grandchild for the first time or being able to hug your mother, but it is still a wonderful commodity.
Speaking to family and friends over the last few days has shown me I am not alone in sharing this sentiment. It seems there is a great contingent who is looking forward to a cold pint on a hot summer’s day. Though they themselves admit it’s for social reasons more than a liking for deochanna alcólacha.
And it isn’t as if we can’t drink during this pandemic. Off-licence sales are up and Instagram is flooded with pictures of DIY cocktails, so the logic has nothing to do with wanting a session.
This blind romanticism doesn’t just apply to pubs – it’s cafés, restaurants, the parks, and the beaches too. Meeting a friend for a coffee on a park bench is just as fulfilling.
We want to be together. As melodramatic as that may sound, it’s true and is at the heart of the matter.
Nevertheless, I won’t lie. There is nothing in this world that can beat the sheer excitement and trepidation which comes before a night on the town. The frenzied texts, the smell of tan, the plop of ice against a glass, and the awareness that anything could happen.
We don’t know what the world will look like post-coronavirus. There is so much at stake from our health to our economy but when this is over and the dust has settled I look forward to the day in the sun.
A day when I sit down and see friends and families reunited.
I’ll see people drinking 7up and people drinking Chardonnay with a packet of bacon fries thrown in between.
I’ll see people smiling, laughing, debating, crying and cheering for a sport they have no interest in.
Most of all though, I’ll see people doing what they do best.