Life, Living, Becoming...
Gerry Coughlan

  Scarlet, I was...

Patricia Cahill was my first love. She was an older woman. I was about 12 and she must've been in her 20's. She was an actress and a singer in a pantomime and I had a dream the night we got home from seeing her perform at the Gaiety Theatre. She was so gorgeous. She wore a ballroom gown and had a lovely face and a beautiful voice... and breasts!

We danced together in a huge ballroom
and then we kissed and I felt funny.
Funny, peculiar not funny, haha

I had girlfriends when I was growing up but in those days, you tended to hang around in little groups - for safety... so we wouldn't be tempted to commit a sin... in thought, word or deed. French kissing and a hand up a jersey was as bold as it got, most of the time.

In my teens, I'd go every week to St. Joseph's School for the Blind in Drumcondra where they had a disco. I met a couple of girls there. The blind people weren't at the disco, silly - it was part of their fundraising effort!

Slow dancing or "lurching" as it was known, was a nightmare as you tried to keep your hips away from your partner in case she'd feel that part of your body over which you had no control. Sometimes she didn't mind and would hold you closer but that didn't happen often...enough!
Once I remember missing my stop because I was in no state to get off the bus... for no good reason. It just happened. Patricia Cahill wasn't sitting next to me naked; or dressed for that matter!. I was sitting upstairs right at the front and there was no way I was running the gauntlet in a packed bus of mammys and daddys.

Look at the state of him.
No shame at all!
That's disgraceful
What's your name, young man?
Lucifer, you old bat!

And I thought of eternal damnation the time it happened during Mass. It was the Devil's work. He was probably laughing his head off at this young fella sitting in church, dreadfully uncomfortable.
Please, Holy God, help it to go down.
Help me to think of something else. I promise I wasn't thinking of something dirty. Forgive my mickey for he knows not what he does. Amen.

You were supposed to tell those things at Confession. I was too embarassed to and God knew anyway and that I was very, very sorry. Anyway I'd been punished enough with missing my bus-stop and all sorts of inconveniences.

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