The Venue in Belfast is a place I’ve only been to a couple of times, once when I was about sixteen and once when I was twenty-seven, which is the night in question. As I understand it, The Venue gets to stay open longer than other places in Belfast, on account of having a restaurant licence. To justify the alcohol, which is clearly its real appeal, and to avoid getting shut down, they ensure that food remains available at stupid o’clock. This means that after you pay in, you get a voucher entitling you to a burger and chips, or some such. You can also purchase drinks tickets, which I promptly stockpiled, but I have no idea whether I used them or whether they just disappeared or what.
The Venue is also rawktastic.
My night turned into a brief series of hazy recollections.
I am on the dance floor, punching the air with glee, possibly to Crazy Crazy Nights by Kiss.
I am sitting near the dance floor talking to someone.
The Venue has closed and I’m outside a chippy on the Dublin Road waiting for a taxi with Joanna, her boyfriend, and a boy I acquired at the club.
Me and the boy are getting busy on Joanna’s sofa and Do I Look Like A Slut? by Avenue D is playing on the stereo. It’s a classy scene which is only enhanced by my cringeworthy dialogue.
I am at the top of the stairs plaintively calling Joanna’s name because I can’t find my backpack and I don’t know which room is hers. But maybe she’s already passed out. Instead, I find an unoccupied bed. I summon the boy.
And then it was morning and the boy needed to go to work. He was cute. He also looked about nineteen, although I’d woken up with the number twenty-two stuck in my head so maybe that was it. I couldn’t remember his name. He wanted to see me again but I told him I was leaving in a couple of days and I should do family stuff till then. This was true, but also, I couldn’t remember a damn thing about him so I had no idea what we would have to talk about. Also, I didn’t know how to navigate the not knowing his name thing.
The one thing I did remember about him, because it was the kind of thing that’s hard to forget, was that he worked in my dad’s pub of choice, where I was going to show up a couple of hours later to surprise him. Given that the pub was outside Belfast, this seemed like doubly bad luck.
It was #176 himself who served us lunch. I hoped desperately that #176 hadn’t told all his colleagues about me. But I had other problems besides that: I couldn’t eat a fucking bite because my hangover was making me so goddamn nauseous. I had to go outside for some air the moment the food arrived. I’d never previously looked so blatantly wretched in front of my dad, and I was mortified about that, too.
Joanna’s sister Carolyn had, the previous night and at my request, loudly introduced #176 to people in front of me, multiple times, so I could get his name into my head. It never worked. The one thing that did work was MY DAD INTRODUCING HIM TO ME.