You’ve always dreamed of seeing Italy, but your parents discourage this. They discourage most things, living as they do in a battered farmhouse in the west, where they consider cake a foolish luxury and don’t much care for gifts.
You were determined to be a career girl, and refused to go to the secretarial course the nuns recommend. You will be a woman in charge of your own destiny, not one foolish enough to believe in true love.
A rich financier makes you believe in true love instantly.
You live in Dublin, near enough to walk the quays and feel the spray. You know how to pronounce “quays.”
The parentage of the fey twins that live down the lane is questionable.
You do go to Spain on a bank holiday, but are made too nervous by the topless beaches. Italy will have to wait until widowhood.
Vacations terrify you, as when you were young they inevitably signaled that one of your parents was really going on a drinking binge and would need to go back to the hospital.
For some reason, the entirety of your city visits one restaurant where they never describe the food very well. You worry about how thin the house manager has gotten, and glare at old biddies who ask why she doesn’t have children.
The priest has lost his faith again, and wonders if it’s possible to do good even if you’re not sure God was such a nice fellow to begin with.
Your most beautiful friend is undoubtedly, absolutely, without question sleeping with your husband. He is weak and can’t resist. She is far more elegant than you, and never has a cloud of frizzy hair. Your husband used to find your frizzy hair adorable, but although your beautiful friend is cold, she has sleek, luscious hair. They bang for five years and she never apologizes.
Someone has uttered the words “dead marriage” within the last 48 hours.
You married the rich financier, but find only emptiness in your extraordinary wealth. An older man who is “not quite right in the head” reminds you how important friendship is. This cannot make you give up your weekly hair appointment, though.
You and your friends all feel sympathy for the silly young woman two flats over who got involved with the married man. You can tell from her roundness and subsequent slimness that she “went to England.” Her pale beauty seems much faded, and you wonder if there are any nice young waiters she would like at the restaurant where everyone in the whole of Dublin goes.
At least once a month, someone utters the word “vegetarian” at the restaurant that everyone goes to. It is a word said like it has just been invented. The chef is proud of his “vegetarian” dish, which still probably has beef broth in it. Everything is improved by beef broth.
Your parents’ marriage is depressing and sad. They speak to each other of nothing and never laugh together. They insist they are very happy and anyway it’s too late for them, and your soul dies the day you realize they are right.
Every time you have sex, someone drowns. This is not considered a notable occurrence, this is simply how sex works in Ireland.
Once a day, you feel a prickle on your neck, as if someone is watching you from across the lake. They are, and it is either your real mother or the man dangerously obsessed with you.
America is a far off place which half your siblings departed for the day they turned eighteen. Every detail you ever hear about it is wrong, but you will never know this. Your mother is shocked when your sister wants to marry a Polish man from Chicago, but you tell her it’s a sign of the times and she nods, refilling her teacup.
It is never entirely clear if you are in the 1950s or 1990s. Either way, you continue to wear daring skirts with twinsets.
Nine times out of ten, fathers are alcoholics or gambling addicts, but everyone continues to insist that Irish alcoholism and gambling is a thing of the past.
Your catering company has ruined your marriage and your partner’s relationship, in fact it seems entirely too fraught with drama to present good food regularly, but Yelp doesn’t seem to exist and you are very successful.
Getting old has not dulled your spark, unless you never had one, in which case you will find one and buy a new slip.
Your husband’s brother is definitely stealing from you.
Jessica Ellis is an award-winning screenwriter who has never written anything you've seen. You can find her hawking her wares like a Dickensian fishwife on Twitter at @baddestmamajama.