I worked for a very long time in an Irish pub. I still go there frequently: my boyfriend is the successful manager. Yes, I could sense your thoughts at the second line, you might have thought I like my Guinness too much. That is the nature of Irish pubs, besides being the best place for a crispy fish&chips when not in English-speaking countries: that is, of alcohol being served at 10 in the morning.
There is, in fact, a middle-aged woman whom I met when working there. She is the most regular customer: that means, she is an alcoholic. Red wine, to be precise. Her total consumption would usually be 12 glasses per day, equal to 3 bottles (Belgian doses are quite generous): despite that, she would never order a full bottle. She would sip her glasses throughout the day. Most of the time staring at nothing. Occasionally in the morning, when still fresh, she would glance at a local free copy of the daily paper. But I wouldn’t be sure she is aware who the current president of her country is.
I do not blame her. I have my obsessions. My addictions. Different, maybe. Because there would be a thing that I’d never understand about S. Her real name is known to us. I remember at the beginning when I started working at the pub, we used to call her the Red Wine Lady, even if she had been around the place way longer than us, even if she had a name, a surname, a whole life before we started earning our money out of people like her. So that is why we started calling by her real name eventually. But I would not reveal it here: that is respect, I guess.
As I was saying, there is something I would never understand about S, among many things. I know her parents do not live in her city: she has to travel and reach them in the countryside, usually driven by her sister or some other relative which I hope takes care of her. She has to change the street where she walks everyday to take her cigarettes and reach her provider of alcohol – either the pub, some cafes, the supermarket, it’s a free country – she changes the landscapes that she scrutinizes when deciding what to eat for lunch – I know her well, she loves walnuts, chicken, and mayonnaise – she sleeps, showers, dresses in a different place. She is someone else, even for just a little while, just a couple of days. But that is not enough. That would not distract her, convince about the possibility of embracing her other self, because when she comes back, she would enter the pub, slowly approaching the bar, but ordering from us quickly, since she’s been missing for too many hours, her red wine.