Last night I sat down on the side of that new big Star Wars arcade game in Cineworld. It’s the right height for sitting down and the vent was blowing warm air onto the back of my calves. Cinemas don’t have couches in their lobbies for good enough reason, pay first relax later. I felt I’d beaten the system by finding a place to rest. My cine-buddy texted to say he’d be ten minutes late, I was twenty minutes early – I was in for some good ass sitting.
People trickled by, all ready for an enjoyable evening, I noticed the new couples, the friends and the fellow cinecard holders ready to be bored by Steve Jobs. Whilst I sat, a group of youths veered near me and slowed down, the beta male of the group walked back towards me, said nothing, and put his hands on my face, not to hurt me but in an act of “what are you going to do?” while his friends laughed. I got up and told him not to touch me and walked over to security. The group saw this and scattered, their night of hanging out indoors for free was ruined. I was delighted, as this kind of thing happens a lot, but it was the first time I was able to do something about it no matter how small. I then sat down and gave out to myself for staring into space and sitting on the side of an arcade machine and I thought, “Hozier wouldn’t stop me in the street and ask for the shift sarcastically”.
I read stories about street harassment in Dublin, I feel desperately angry for them, I read the inevitable comments underneath that say it’s not a big deal, you’re just looking for attention, you should be delighted that strangers want to tell you you’re beautiful. How are you supposed to feel when strangers want to tell you you’re not beautiful? That in fact the opposite. How do you feel when you walk across the Ha’penny Bridge and hear the words “fat bitch” whispered into your ear, you turn around to see who it was while a pile of lads walk away laughing? There’s no one else on the bridge. You keep walking and give out to yourself for forgetting to bring your headphones out with you.
It never happens when I’m with people, so I always think I’m over-reacting when a man pushes his friend in to me, or when a lad runs up to me and says “will you shift my friend? C’mon you’re gorgeous, do you think you’re too good for him?” while his friend is in fits of mortified giggles, shaking his head. I just laugh and say no as if somehow I’m in on the joke, that way I feel like we’ve made a funny little street play or I laugh because I’m scared he’ll hit me, I mean if I’m low enough to have my feelings hurt for a laugh why not? And then I walk on and I get a bit sad and I blame myself for wearing a big pink fluffy coat and a headdress. I try to rationalise it, I try to figure out what’s wrong with me, then I remember, saying something derogatory to a stranger is far more abnormal than wearing a funky animal hat from Pennys.
I’m a stand up comedian. Being heckled is a different story. Every time I’ve been heckled it’s been by a person from the same demographic that annoy me on the street, a very drunk man in his twenties or young lad collecting pallets. When they heckle me, it’s always about how they want to fuck me and how this is laughable.