Welcome to The Echo’s annual feature — Summer Soap. Now in its fifth year, Summer Soap is a daily fictional serial run over 12 parts, which began last week and runs till Saturday. Called Cork’s Quick Coupler, this story, set in the world of speed dating, was written by Jessica Militante, from the MA in Creative Writing Programme at UCC. You can catch up with previous epsiodes at echolive.ie.
Episode 9: You’ve Got A Friend in Seán
The event was coming to a close and I, for one, couldn’t have been happier. Why did just talking to people for the last 30 minutes feel like running a marathon?
I kept telling myself that I only had one more guy to go before I could go home, put on sweats, and watch Netflix without having to utter a word to anyone.
Maybe I’d ask Ciara to make me her special chocolate and popcorn balls as a reward for actually suffering through this thing, but after that, I planned on not speaking for the rest of the weekend.
My final date slid into the chair across from me, looking for all the world like he was wanting to leave as much as I did. He had fine blond hair, dark blue eyes, and a small chip in one of his top front teeth. His name tag said ‘Seán’.
“I can’t believe this thing isn’t over yet. Nothing against you, beour, I’m sure yer grand but I’m missing the final episode of 'Killing Eve' for this and that’s just not acceptable, like,” he said, crossing his arms and slouching down into his seat.
“Wait, is that on tonight? Shit, I have to remember not to check Twitter on the way home, I don’t want any spoilers.”
“I take it this wasn’t your idea to come either?”
“Absolutely not. I was dragged here, forcibly, by that mad woman over there,” I said, pointing an accusing finger at Ciara.
“Ah, yes, talked to her earlier. I’m in the same boat but with yer wan over there,” he said, jerking his thumb at Siobhan. “I’m Seán by the way.”
“You know Siobhan? I just met her earlier in the bathroom, she seems really nice. Little pushy but in a good way. I’m Julia.”
“Ah, so that’s what yer name tag says! Here I was thinking yer mam named ya ‘Tesla’. Thought she was mad into cars, like. That’d have been morto.”
“Siobhan’s my twin but she got all the aggressive genes. We call her, ‘Shiv’, because she tried to kill me in the womb to escape,” he continued.
“For some reason, that doesn’t surprise me. She sounds a lot like Ciara. She signed me up for this and didn’t tell me until right before it was time to go.”
“That is definitely something Shiv would do. She forced me to come after her classmate fecked off to Dublin for a concert. Didn’t even care that I’m self-conscious from chipping my tooth on one of my mam’s biscuits earlier. She’s no baker.”
“Oh ouch. You can’t even notice though.”
“Bollocks,” he smirked. “But that’s sweet of ya to lie.”
“Really though, that’s nothing compared to Ciara. Once she made me meet her at a spin class that she claimed was for ‘beginners’ and it was so hard that I nearly vomited on the instructor.”
“Shiv did the same thing with a hot yoga class.”
“Ciara buys me clothes that she knows I won’t like and gets mad if I don’t wear them.”
“Shiv bought me an X-box for Christmas, decided that I didn’t play it enough, and sold it without telling me. Then kept the money.”
“Okay, you win.”
“What a victory,” he scoffed. “Christ, we’d better not let them become friends. They would take over the world, like.”
I watched as he looked over his shoulder at where Ciara and Siobhan’s tables were and shuddered. Seán was one of those people you immediately felt comfortable with despite having just met them. He was attractive but, to be honest, I didn’t want to date him; I just really wanted to become his best friend.
“Definitely,” I said. “We will just have to become friends in order to keep them in line.”
He winked at me. “I thought we already were.”
“Okay, enough about them,” he said. “I spend enough time talking about Shiv to my therapist. Tell me more about Julia.”
“There’s not that much to tell. I’m from Chicago, getting my master’s degree in music at UCC, and tired of the empty compliments and dead-end messaging of online dating. Nothing ever moves past being online. And the guys that do want to meet up, only want to meet up for something that I’m not interested in doing with a total stranger.”
“Recreating The Sound of Music with homemade hand puppets?” Seán suggested.
“Oh no, not you too.”
“I do a marvelous Maria impression.”
“It would just be so much easier if I were a guy. You don’t have to deal with the baffling internal conflict of wanting to be happily independent but also desperately desiring a romantic partner.”
“I am going to pretend to ignore yer implication that men can’t have human emotions for the moment because look at the state of ya. But ever thought that ya can be both? That there is nothing wrong with that and that there are probably many others who feel the same way?”
“Of course not, I’m 100% unique and utterly special,” I joked.
“Listen, beour, I think ya are making things more complicated than they need to be, like.”
“Yeah, that sounds pretty on par for my personality.”
“Oi, lads! That is the end of yer last date,” Aphrodite yelled from her perch.
“Please come gather around for yer last bit of instructions and then yer free to go.”
As Seán and I both got up from Table #4, I did a large stretch and felt my back crack. Seán looked at me thoughtfully.
“I know exactly what you need.”
You can catch up on all the episodes of our Summer Soap below.