The warbled sound of Kesha’s voice singing, “It’s goin’ down/I’m yellin’ timber” wafts from the interior of one of those quintessentially generic Irish pubs one might find anywhere in the city. They’re not necessarily on “every corner,” but all one need do is walk slightly down the street to encounter an O’ or Mc-something or other’s sandwiched between, well, not much of anything. The proprietors somehow manage to reserve an entire block to themselves and yet also not be fully visible from the corner. Not saying Irish mafia shit, but…
Kevin had never much taken a shine to his very distant Irish heritage. The thing about distant Irish heritage, however, is that it’s never shakable in last name format. Even if you were a lass, eventually you’d find yourself tied to an Irish bloke and take on his Hiberian moniker. The Irish can’t help themselves when it comes to falling for other Irish people. It’s like some innate, prehistoric need to keep the species bountiful. Kevin’s sister, Kennedy, swore she would never marry an Irishman. That her primary goal in life was to find someone with an Italian last name and take that on instead, thereby shirking what she called her “gross” culture. But lo and behold, before she could corroborate that Enzo who, appropriately, lived near the Place d’Italie, had a correlating Italian last name, she had already fallen in love with him. Or at least, already fallen in love with his huge uncut dick. When she found out his last name (O’Donnell) one month and three pregnancy tests later, the chips had fallen where they would.
“O’Donnell!” she exclaimed in disbelief when he told her. “I thought it was the same as the shop where your dad works—Visconti.”
Enzo laughed when she said this. “Visconti is the name of the man my father works for. Sure, my dad’s name is Pasquale, but he’s got an Irish father. Whose last name is—”
“Yeah, yeah. I got it. O’Donnell.”
“What’s the problem? It’s me you love, not my name.”
“Ah Christ, next you’re gonna come at me with some ‘what’s in a name?’ bullshit.”
He arched his brow in vague acquiescence. “Well, what is in a name?”
“Only centuries of being treated lesser than.”
Enzo balked. “And you think Italians have been treated like fuckin’ royalty?”
“Compared to the Irish, hell yeah.”
This continued to escalate into a larger argument between the two about which European immigrant race was treated with more disdain in the U.S., despite neither of them having ever lived there, with Kennedy coming at Enzo with her usual line about how the Irish were treated the same as Black people. At which point Kennedy’s Black friend, Melissa, walked into the room and said, “I know I don’t want to end our friendship so maybe you wanna shut the fuck up.” And that’s what finally ended the tiff about Enzo’s Irish last name.
Kennedy McRae became Kennedy O’Donnell before the year’s end, and Kevin was happy to attend the wedding with what he thought was his own serious girlfriend. Her name was Kayleigh (there was something about K names in his life), and they had met, of all places, at the Louvre, among a cluster of statues. Although the contract she had with her job was set to expire in a few months, their relationship kept her from leaving. She decided to seek employment with a different company, for the sake of keeping things going with Kevin. Although that might have put a lot of pressure and stress on most men (especially of the Irish persuasion), Kevin was relieved that she was taking such a serious step. It made him feel quite secure in his decision to bring Kayleigh to Kennedy’s wedding as his plus one.
Of course, he couldn’t have known that the real reason she was obliged to attend was to seize the opportunity to secret away with Kevin’s brother, Killian. Four years his senior, Killian had evidently taken an excessive liking to Kayleigh at a family dinner a few months back, and the two had been orbiting one another’s genitals ever since. In all their wisdom, they believed everyone would be too distracted to notice that they had both gone missing for quite a considerable length of time as Kennedy, pregnant belly and all, danced the night away to pop hits of every decade, lovingly played by DJ Shillelagh (a.k.a. Evan), who was obviously far more interested in announcing his traces of Irish heritage than Kevin and Kennedy.
It was around the time when Evan started playing “Timber” by Pitbull and Kesha (after a string of other hits that included Rihanna’s “SOS,” Black Eyed Peas’ “Don’t Phunk With My Heart,” Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” and Shakira and Wyclef’s “Hips Don’t Lie”) that Kevin fully realized just how long Kayleigh had been absent. And when he put it together that Killian was gone, too, he immediately got a sinking feeling in his stomach. One that was confirmed upon finding the two going at it in the “changing room” where Kennedy had been permitted to gaze at herself in the mirror in her wedding dress and second-guess this life choice before the ceremony commenced.
The sight of the two of them, complete with the delight on her face turned to surprise and horror, could only be mitigated by the sound of Kesha’s voice. He tapped into it, escaped into that world of “blackout culture” (Irish culture, if you will) and somehow managed to pass out himself. Granted, he had been drinking his fair share.
When he came to, he was on Kennedy’s couch. He had no idea how much time had passed or who had brought him here. He soon found it was, indeed, Kennedy and Enzo, who weren’t slated to leave for their honeymoon until the following day. She emerged from the kitchen with a cup of tea and brought it to him.
“Look who’s awake,” she said sympathetically. And then Kevin immediately remembered why she was being sympathetic.
“Oh god,” Kevin uttered. “Kayleigh. Where is she?”
Kennedy sighed. “Well, dear brother, she decided it would be best if she went back with Killian to London tonight. I think she was afraid of facing you.”
Kevin could hardly believe it. “Why would she do this?”
Sighing, Kennedy offered, “You know how charming Killian can be.”
“Did he need to charm my fucking girlfriend?”
“It would seem so.”
Kevin sipped the tea slowly and cautiously, almost as though he didn’t trust it not to stab him in the back somehow.
“You’re welcome to stay here as long as you want,” she added.
Kevin suddenly fathomed he was at his sister’s on her wedding night, ruining her ability to bone. “Shit. I have to go. I shouldn’t even be here. You’re supposed to be having sex.”
Enzo walked in at that moment and assured, “There’ll be plenty of time for that on the honeymoon, don’t worry about it.”
Kevin jumped up from the couch. “No, no. I have to leave. I just want to go back to my apartment.”
“It’s so late, can’t we get you a car?” Kennedy asked.
“I want to walk. It’s what I need.”
So it was that Kevin found himself on the same street as one of those infinite number of pubs you might see anywhere in the city, but never bother to truly notice. They all blended in so effortlessly despite clashing with the “Parisian vibe.” But what could Paris do but accommodate the apparent demand for such places? Even if there were far more British people than Irish ones in this town. It was no matter, really, why it was there, only that Kesha was beckoning him inside to torture himself further with more alcohol. More distorted thoughts and images of Kayleigh gyrating on top of Killian, which she was probably doing right now, come to think of it.
Except he didn’t want to think of it. And as he sang loudly along to the words, “You better move, you better run” (“run” being the word Kevin interpreted from “dance”), that’s just what everyone at the bar, man or woman, proceeded to do as he keeled over sideways on the stool. No one bothered to attempt moving him or waking him up. Not until much later anyway.
When Kevin returned to consciousness on the street outside the pub at dawn, he reasoned that it was because there’s no “better” environment than an Irish pub for a “shrugging off” of and lack of concern over such behavior. He had to believe that, as opposed to, say, everyone’s a fucking sociopath.