A curious thing happened last week as we stood watching entertainers at the top of Grafton Street.
Curious, because, in a strange kind of a way, it brought me back half a century.
I was watching an amazing juggler, on top of a very high unicycle, as Connie, Chartlotte, some other kids and their mums shopped in the Stephen’s Green centre. (I’m allergic to shopping.)
They came out and, by then, the juggler was gone and I was watching a busker.
Then Connie noticed a bag by my feet.
It was a small Brown Thomas bag.
I picked it up.
And it contained a very expensive bottle of perfume.
We guessed that maybe a tourist had left it on the ground while he took a photograph or somesuch.
I said I’d wait there, holding the bag, in the hope that its owner would return. Connie went across to Butler’s to get some coffees.
I told Connie that, if nobody came in a quarter of an hour or so, I’d ask the busker to place it in front of him in case the owner came back later.
After about ten minutes, a gentleman stood close to me. I could see him looking at me and at the bag.
So I asked him if it was his. It was, he said. It was a present for his wife.
He thanked me. We shook hands. And I went to Butler’s to join Connie in the queue.
The man followed. He handed me his business card. He was a musician, from France.
And a Celtic musician at that.
I think he wanted to reassure me that he perfume really was his.
So why did it bring me back?
Well, because at no point did either Connie or I think of keeping the perfume. I can say it never entered our heads.
Until a couple of days later when I remembered something that happened almost a quarter of a century ago.
I had been in the States at the 1994 World Cup Finals.
And while in New York, took the opportunity to visit my favourite shop. Tiffany’s. It’s my favourite because of the movie, of course.
I had saved during my long World Cup trip. So I had a few bob to buy a present for Connie in Tiffany’s.
Mind you, the little card in the corner of the first counter I stopped at advised shoppers that “Items at this counter are priced between $50,000 and $250,000.”
I moved on.
Fortunately, not everything in Tiffany’s is priced at that level.
So I found a nice bracelet for Connie. I thought it was expensive. It was for me. But a mere trinket for most who shop at that particular store.
Connie liked it and that’s what was important.
And she wore it often until one night when we got home after being in Lillie’s, Connie realised it must have fallen off her wrist while we’d been there.
We called the club, but there was no sign of it.
It was lost.
And if it was lost, it was also found.
I don’t know if there is some woman in Dublin still showing off her Tiffany’s bracelet – it’s silver with gold Ts linking the silver parts – or if some boyfriend gave it to his partner not telling them he had found it rather than bought it.
I don’t believe in “Finders Keepers” and never did.
So my French friend has his perfume not because we’re honest, but because we’re normal.
And someone else has a valuable (to us) Tiffany’s bracelet because either they or the person who gave it to them, is a thief.
That’s what you are when you take something that doesn’t belong to you.
There’s no other word.