A man and his Pillow Pet in Dublin

I can hardly think of a place more festive than the city of Dublin, Ireland, before Christmas. Music and laughter fills the air as people shop on Grafton Street. Pubs fill with merry revelers. The city glows with light from holiday decorations and exuberant holiday jumpers.

My friend and I drifted into a pub that night, bought a pint each, and found a cozy corner to watch the crowd. A joyful and noisy band was playing on the opposite side of the bar, and everyone sand along. It was a boisterous, tinsel-strewn party.

And then we saw him – belly up to the bar, next to a man wearing a homemade Santa beard. While waiting for his beer, he was loudly singing, hands raised above his head, bobbing a penguin Pillow Pet to the beat. He was also wearing a red onesie.

My friend and I couldn’t help but laugh. He was the most ridiculous thing we had seen in Ireland. We forgot about the man as we started talking again, but several minutes later, he walked toward us on the way to the bathroom. I guess he saw us laughing earlier, because he stopped in front of us, tapped my friend on the nose with his Pillow Pet’s plush beak, and said “Boop!” before walking away.

Nothing is more mysterious than a man with a Pillow Pet. Any other time, it would have been bizarre and awkward, but in a Dublin pub before Christmas, it fit.

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Gun control, bars and bathroom convos

Oh, the conversations you will have in the unisex bathrooms of French bars!

I was revisiting the city I studied abroad in, Lille, and I had to hit up one of my group’s favorite bars, La Plage (“the beach”). It comes complete with sand on the floor, fiery shots at midnight, and fishbowls. Classy, I know, but good times were had and promptly forgotten there.

Lille, France

Buying the next round a La Plage

This particular night was right after a school shooting in the US, and I had briefly heard about it before heading out that night for dinner and shenanigans.

In the bathroom at the bar that night, while washing my hands and talking to my friend in English, I heard someone ask behind me, “Excuse me, are you American?”

“Oui…”

“What do you feel of gun control?”

“Uhhh….”

And thus began my conversation with a random French guy in a bar bathroom about guns. It was a minor miracle we could understand each other even just a smidgen, based on 1) language barrier, and 2) alcohol consumption. Anyway, I think we agreed and we spent a few minutes talking loudly over each other, nodding and saying “eeuuhhh” to hold our places in the conversation. So French.

P.S. Alcohol did wonders for improving the quality of my French r’s, I think.