Hilary drove the white van and shot side-glances at Rhea. She knew so little about her lover of less than three weeks. She had innocently invited Rhea to come home and dry-off, after a long protest march against the Irish Government and the Catholic Church. The idea was just to let Rhea shower and pop her clothes in the dryer. But, things had got out of hand, or at least their hands got out of control. The love making had been non-stop since then, resulting in Professor Hilary giving lectures at Trinity College, looking like something the cat had dragged in.As she spoke about international law, Hilary would glance at the young faces before her. Then, in panic she would realize that, at the age of thirty-five, she was dating a woman their age. But, Rhea didn’t seem to notice the age difference. And the sex, it was awesome. Better not think of it now, with her hands on the wheel. Hilary recalled the first time she had laid eyes on the talented comedian and writer.
Under a cloudy, dull afternoon, both Dublin colleges, Trinity, and the University College Dublin, met in the quadrangle of Trinity. The atudents were joined by trade unions, Amnesty International, Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered groups, and social activists.
Rhea had walked up to the microphone wearing a University College Dublin hoodie. Her red curly hair hung about her shoulders. She had the look of Irish Celtic royalty, fierce green eyes, broad shoulders and a tall frame. She had a presence and once she smiled and displayed the dummy, her fans cheered.
“Biddy, Biddy, we want Biddy Mulligan.”
Hilary noticed that Rhea was accompanied by a life-size dummy. Hilary turned to a student. “What’s up with the Dummy?”
“Oh, you mean Rhea’s prop. Sure, isn’t she a hoot. Have you ever been to Oscar Wilde?”
Hilary knew the gay bar with its entertainment, but it was filled by mostly a young student crowd.
“No, I’ve never been to Oscar’s.”
“Ah, you should go. The Rhea and the dummy will make Broadway one day, mark my words. And she writes a weekly column in Ireland’s biggest newspaper. If you haven’t gathered, I’m a big fan.”
“I read that weekly column,” acknowledged Hilary “She’s quite witty and political.”
“She takes the Mickey out of everyone, including the Pope. Jaysus, there isn’t a topic that she won’t tackle.”
Hilary soon realized that Rhea was an excellent ventriloquist. Biddy started with a few crowd pleasers pointing to students gathered around the make-shift platform. She teased both colleges.
“Look, there’s cheeky Charlie. He became bi-sexual so that he could double his drinks. Little scrounger, he’s never bought a beer in his life. That’s how he can afford to go to Trinity.”
“Mikey Moore, now he’s a coffee connoisseur from UCD. He ranks coffee by the number of outlets in the establishment.”
“Very good, Biddy. Now it’s my turn. Do we have any mathematic students present?”
A few hands were raised.
“A Math Prof, from, let’s say, Trinity, faxed his wife. ‘Dear Wife, I’m 54 and you don’t satisfy me any more. I’ll be at the Grand Hotel with an eighteen year old student. The wife faxes back. “Dear Husband, I, too am 54 and I’ll spend the afternoon with our eighteen year old pool boy. And being the brilliant mathematician that you are, you’ll see that 18 goes into 54 a lot more times than 54 goes into 18.
There was laughter and good -hearted bantering back and forth. Rhea held up a hand.
“Seriously folks, what I can’t figure out, is Ireland’s abstaining from the Brazilian draft. This country asked for the United Naations to include an acceptance of sexual orientation in its Charter of Human Rights. We know homosexuals are routinely beaten and put to death in certain countries. Why would Ireland, oppressed for centuries by the English, not support basic human rights?”
“Ireland was a bloody coward. It couldn’t vote against the draft,because as a member of the European Union, these rights are enshrined and must be met by all member countries. It couldn’t vote with Brazil, because of the pressure of the Vatican. By sitting on the fence, Ireland was content to be neutral. Well, let me tell you, no country can be neutral on human rights. That is why we are marching today. And at the Post Office, where rebels in 1961 struck a blow for freedom against the English, we will expose these oppressive countries. So stay with us all the way.”
There was loud applause and shouts of support as Rhea handed over the mike to the Rally Marshal. He outlined the route and rules of behaviour.