Category Archives: comedy

Fruit Flies

Our office Christmas party was a decadent affair held in Battersea Evolution, a vast space in Battersea Park, capable of holding thousands for corporate events and shows. The set up was most impressive. A champagne reception awaited us on arrival. The nibbles were miniature meals – chorizo and potato stew and miniature curries were but a few of the savoury options. I ate every thing around me and despite this managed a trip to what can only be described as stalls dedicated to cheese and desserts. My belly contained a happy stomach.

Three thousand colleagues attended the event. Our department was a small group compared to the overall number of employees based in London. If you were separated from the posse, chances are you would remain alone for a good half hour before encountering someone you knew. I managed to lose my friends three or four times, using the time to admire the numerous well dressed City Boys. On one such occasion, around midnight, I  encountered Charlie, my friend and colleague, in a room set up for karaoke.

“This place is huge,” I shouted in her ear over the croaky singer. “I’ve been on my own for ages”.

“Did you hear about Regina?” Charlie asked me.

She read the confusion in my face.

“Regina was taken away in an ambulance an hour ago.” Her tone was serious.

Regina was a colleague of ours who had only joined a few weeks ago.

“No way! Are you sure? What happened?”

Charlie leaned in closer as the singer on stage attempted to own a Meatloaf number. She leaned towards my ear. “Apparently, she was outside and received an injury to the head.”

“Oh my God!”

Charlie explained Regina had been queueing for one of the funfair amusements near the entrance and received a head injury. She paused in her explanation. “I don’t know if it’s true or not, but … It doesn’t sound believable, but someone said she was hit in the head by a coconut.”

“A coconut?”

“That’s what I heard.” She shrugged.

I refused to believe this. “That must be false. I think it possible something hit her in the head. Someone is bullshitting on that detail.”

We continued partying. Every now and again, we were either told or asked about Regina’s accident. I dismissed it as gossip.”We’ll find out tomorrow,” I said to close the matter.

The next morning I arrived into work a few hours late with a heavy head. I had been awake until 6AM. I walked to my desk, praying for a quiet day, and caught sight of Regina at her desk. I thought best not to ask about the rumour. I figured numerous people had inundated her with questions already.

An hour later, I heard her call my name. She stood next to me. Her thick Spanish hair was tousled down around her face. Her dark complexion failed to mask her tiredness. She looks as tired as I feel, I thought. The rumour must be false. I bet she was out almost as late as I was. 

“I must leave work early today. Do you mind?”

“Of course not,” I replied. I intended to do the same.

“I must see a doctor.”

“Are you OK?” I asked. “I heard you had an accident last night. Is it true or …?” My question trailed.

She nodded and pointed to the corner of her right eye. There was bruising. “The eyesight in my right eye is fading.”

“What happened last night?”

She concsidered her words. “I was standing outside queuing for one of the rides with Paul and … someone threw a coconut at my head.”

“A coconut?”

“Yes,” she confirmed, “a coconut.”

I did my damndest not to laugh. This poor girl had received a potentially serious injury and I wanted to erupt with laughter. I felt awful.

Charlie spun around in her chair. “You mean it’s true! You were hit in the head last night? With an actual coconut?”

Regina nodded and walked towards Charlie.

“Did you keep the coconut?” Charlie asked this in a sincere manner.

“No,” Regina said. “It would not fit into my handbag”.

I turned in my chair and laughed hard and silently. I was grateful Regina was not at my side to see my amusement. On composing myself, I stood up and ushered Regina to the door. “Get out of here. You need to see a doctor quickly”.

Regina was back in the office the next day, her eyesight fully restored. The bruises healed quickly. A week later, we even laughed at the sheer misfortune of receiving a blow to the head … by a coconut … at night … in the middle of Battersea Park …. in December.

A Close Shave

The sudden realisation you are single is a severe blow to the psyche. Obviously, the worst part of any break up is the emotional stress. A break up roughly tosses you naked from the warm, insulate cocoon of a relationship onto the cold, concrete street of the Singleton. Casually dismissing the emotional turmoil of a break up, there are other superficial considerations that a Singleton is presented with; you have to give a shit about your appearance again.

Admittedly, it is grossly unfair to impute couples have given up on their appearance; there are many beautiful, well dressed couples, but I know that while in a relationship, I regularly opted to sit with a tube of Pringles in my pyjamas rather than join my friends for a night on the town. Perhaps, singledom encourages one to make more effort in their visual appeal for obvious reasons. Since my break-up, I’ve changed my hair, lost weight and had my teeth done. While I might have considered all this while in a relationship, I can’t say would have done anything about it.

When I turned single last year, the consensus of my friends was I should get back on the horse, firmly believing the best way to get over was by getting under. Well, in hindsight, they were all wrong. Wrong! The best way to get over a breakup is by locking yourself in a dark room, meditating for hours on end and unravelling each and every emotional issue on the list you spent weeks compiling. Only then, will you be exorcised of the demons from your previous relationship. However, back then I did not know this. I obsessed with finding a new horse.

“It has been a while since I was on the horse,” I told Brian one evening, walking through the after-work hubbub of O’Connell Street. “I misplaced my saddle.”

“Giddy up,” chortled Brian.

“I am a bit out of practice and there’s another matter I must address.”

“What is that?”

“Let’s just say, I am sporting a full bush.”

“Ah I see. Get yourself to Boots and buy a Philishave.”

A Philishave is a body grooming device found in the beauty-maintenance kits of most gay men and some straight men too, I presume. It is a shaver which grooms, trims, sculpts and tidies body hair. This process is referred to as “manscaping”. There are a number of advantages to manscaping. The main benefit of maintaining a tight shave in the pubic region is that it makes a penis appear larger. This factoid will encourage a flurry of men to visit Boots and purchase said body groomer. Another benefit to muscular men is that less hair causes muscles to seem larger and more defined. I’ve never had a discussion on manscaping with any of my gay, male friends, though I am interested in the frequency they do it and the areas of their body they attend to.

As necessary as it is, I hate manscaping. I have no patience for it. The stupid Philishave comes with a number of clip-on devices that allow you apply the blade to varying degrees of tightness. I guess one is meant to gradually apply the tighter blades until happy with the result. I never do this. I generally just go for it, regularly resulting in a sparse result. I often undertake a manscape at the most inopportune moments – an hour before I am due to meet friends or just before I embark on a date. My most comical incident was when the battery died about ten minutes before I was due to meet a guy. Let’s say, had the date gone well, there would have been an interesting topic of conversation later that night.

I went on a date last Thursday and in true form, decided to manscape before leaving the apartment. I took up the buzzing blade in my hand and without hesitation, ran it across my stomach. I examined my work. I had just left a clear hairless line across my stomach.

I screamed aloud. “Why do I always do this? Agggghhhhhhh”

From experience, the worst part of such a mistake is the follow through. You have to shave off all remaining hair or risk looking odd. I am now completely bare-chested. I stood in the bathroom, looking in the mirror, chewing my lip.

“Whoops. Fuck it anyway.”

The date went well and yes, he saw my bare chest. He laughed when I explained myself.

I dismiss the embarrassment of such a mistake, but what does fill me with horror is the likelihood of ingrown hairs, which I suffered from when I waxed my chest years ago. I am moisturising and exfoliating like a man possessed by chaetophobic demons.

You couples have it easy.

Awkwardness Is …

About a month ago I was on a first date with a guy I quite liked (at the time). We did drinks in the Secret Bar, during which the laughs and conversation flowed. He then suggested we grab some food. Over noodles in Wagamama, he declined my invite to another pub.

“Let’s go back to your place,” he casually suggested.

By this time I’d had four glasses of wine. Despite my drunken haze, my date’s forwardness caused me to choke on my fifth glass of wine. I thought for a moment, weighing up the situation. “OK then!”

He had consumed only Sprite that evening and so drove us home in his small, pratical car. I’m sure my merry chirp irked him slightly. He parked the car and we made for my apartment block. He walked on ahead of me. Compacted snow was thick on the ground. My impractical brown shoes made the short journey treacherous. I slipped two or three times.

About twenty metres or so from the apartment block door I heard a loud squelch.

“Did you just fart?” I asked.

My companion cautiously turned on the ice and looked at me. “Eh, no.” His surprise was evident. He turned and recommenced his slow trek along the icy pathway.

I should have stopped there. “Are you sure you didn’t fart?”

“Eh, yes,” he replied in a bewildered tone.

It then dawned on me the squelch could only have been caused by his step on the snow. The five glasses of wine had caused me to bypass my already flimsy think before you speak policy. I said no more to him until we were in the lift, hoping the elapsed twenty seconds may have induced some sort of amnesia.

Nice Guys Come Last in Line

The airport on Saturday morning was busy. The queue for security snaked in a visually deceptive manner. On my last visit to Dublin airport, when I flew to Brussels, the queue was longer, but only took twenty minutes to get through. I remained calm. After all, I had more than forty-five minutes until boarding.

Five minutes later the line had barely moved. I stressed. Others in the queue panicked. Numerous queuers made telephone calls to vent frustration. One such person tried to engage a DAA staff member, to receive a courteous reply that he should have allowed ninety minutes to pass through airport security.

I continually monitored the front of the queue to assess the pace at which it moved. I recognised a few people who had been near me only minutes ago. Somehow, they had managed to navigate to the front of the line. Minutes later, after crawling a few feet, I witnessed a group of girls duck under the partition and scramble towards the security check. I watched. No one protested at their brazen disrespect for the queuers behind them. Even the security guard said nothing.

I have never been a skipper since I greatly disapprove of cutting in line. Depending on my mood, I will object if someone tries to cut in front of me. Perhaps, it was the tiredness or the stress, but there and then I decided I too would skip the queue since so many others had done it with ease. I slipped under the guide rope, pulled my suit case and stood up tall.

My rule-breaking-induced adrenaline rush was rudely interrupted by a shrill, annoyingly nasal, American accented, female voice. “Get back! Get back!” I heard. I turned to observe a small lady, maybe five foot or so, with curly hair, fanny-pack and woeful, white sneakers. Her hand gestures were as if she were shooing away a misbehaved puppy. “Get Back!”.  I made an assessment; she was short, no threat at all, and her husband took no interest in the situation.  I could take her no problem, should it come to blows, I thought.

“Sorry,” I said insincerely and turned my back. I prayed the queue would move quickly.

“He just skipped the queue! Who does he think he is? He just skipped the queue. He can’t do that.” The Yankee dwarf’s volume dial and pitch was on max.

I listened to the loud, attention grabbing, nasal hissy fit emanating behind me. Again, I willed the queue forward. I felt another tap on my back. I turned around and stooped over to look my challenger in the eye. The American pointed towards a security guard and boy did she have a smug look on her face. “He wants to talk to you,” she said with her arms folded.

“Is it true you skipped the queue?” asked the security guard.

“Yes,” I answered like a scolded child.

The greying, middle aged security guard commenced his lecture. “You know you can’t just skip the queue. All these other people are ahead of you so you can’t just pass them. Where were you in the line?”

I raised my arm and pointed to the floor beside me. “There,” I answered, looking down in shame. Much to the amusement of others in the line, he unhitched the guide rope and returned me from whence I came.

A gentleman whom I stood next to minutes earlier smiled in amusement, despite the fact he had by now probably missed his flight.

“Well, it was worth a try.”

Same Difference

On Monday, Marcus treated me to a trip to the Lighthouse Cinema to see His & Hers. I arrived in Smithfield ten minutes early and waited patiently. I took shelter in the entrance of a closed shop in an effort to avoid the heavy rain that pelted onto Smithfield Square. A brigade of junkies occupied another doorway further down, refusing to allow miserable weather spoil a party. After five minutes or so, I walked out into the centre of the square, looking up at the surrounding apartment blocks. They are built far too close to one another, I thought. I recalled an evening when I visited a friend for dinner, who at that time lived in one of these apartments. After clearing our plates, we took to the comfort of his couch, which provided an ideal vantage point, from where I could see into ten or so apartments. I had no interest in Coronation Street that night since I could see the real life goings on of dozens of people in Smithfield.

My thoughts returned to the present and I noticed the rain had eased off. The square remained quiet. The gang of junkies no longer occupied their doorway, more than likely moved on by the Gardaí. A large number of people poured out of the cinema behind me without warning, reminding me why I was in Smithfield. I glanced about for Marcus. I was curious about what jacket he might wear. I had opted for a black leather-jacket and in doing so had assessed the possibility that he might also wear his. The last time this happened, I compared us to Posh & Beck’s matching leather jumpsuits at the MTV awards. I saw Marcus in the distance. Yes, he wore his black leather jacket.

“Hi,” he said cheerily on his approach. We shared our usual half hug, half kiss on the cheek.

“I see we have once again opted for our matching black leather-jacket look.  Morto!”

“Did we?”

Once in the foyer of the cinema, far removed from the gloom of the dreary evening, Marcus unzipped his jacket.

“No way,” I gasped in disbelief.

“What’s up?” he asked.

“You are wearing a black leather-jacket, jeans, red runners and a red shirt. I am wearing a black leather-jacket, jeans, purple runners and a purple T-shirt.”

“Oh yeah. How funny?” This didn’t bother him whereas it genuinely upset me.

“How messed up do we look?”

“What’s the problem, Stephen?” Marcus clearly failed to see reason for concern.

“We look like some weird, overly colour co-ordinated, gay faction of a biker gang.”

Marcus sighed. “Really, Stephen, could you just not think of it as affirmation of our equally good fashion sense?” This was put dismissively. Marcus turned and walked on ahead of me.

I considered this for a moment. “I suppose,” I replied loud enough for him to catch in the distance he had put between us. I toddled after him, secretly grateful we would soon be viewing a movie from the comfort of a dimly lit auditorium. 

Farewell Friends

Today, Channel 4 announced its decision to no longer air reruns of the popular television show, Friends. Channel 4’s press release put a positive spin on their decision, saying they were proud of the fact they were the British Channel to air the series. The press release admitted time had come to stop showing the series after fifteen years. Channel 4 claims they are taking Friends off air to make room for new features and free up scheduling.  Securing the rights of the show seems to have drained resources.

I was a loyal viewer of Channel 4 for many years. If you had an appetite for controversial, edgy programming, it was to be found there. In the last five years, I lost touch with the channel. I thought it was due to my progressing maturity, but following today’s press release, I think differently. Channel Four’s management were lazy running Friends for fifteen years. Ten years of Big Brother is another example of complacence. Long departed are the days of So Graham Norton, Spaced and Street Mate.

Clearly Channel 4 was affected by digital television age, which has done nothing for the quality of programming. Channels such as Dave, UKTV and the likes show nothing more than reruns of Will & Grace, Frasier and America’s Next Top Model. Rather than beat them, Channel 4 joined them.  Today’s press release may mark the return of Channel 4 to its previous tendencies to challenge convention, social norms and rules.  Here’s watching!

Ignore the Sender

The coat stand in the office collapsed on a colleague for the third time. At the department meeting that week some person with initiative suggested we email the Facilities Department and request a new coat stand. Yes, I am jealous of her ability to give a shit.

“It’s dangerous,” said the colleague with initiative. “It nearly fell on the person.”

Perhaps we should leave it in place, I thought. It might result in one less colleague to bother me. I was in one of those moods when everyone was annoying me.

I piped up. My department looked towards me in unison.“I emailed them last week and requested a new coat stand. I didn’t receive a reply.”

Colleague with Initiative looked surprised. “I wonder why they didn’t reply …”

I thought nothing of the lack of response from the Facilities Department. I put it down to bad manners or lack of efficiency. One evening, while regaling a friend on the drama of the coat stand, my friend asked me if I email Facilities often.

“I’ve emailed them a few times, yes.”

Later that evening I thought on the emails I have sent Facilities during my year and a half with my current employer. Since my start date, I have sent emails on the following matters:

  • There is no washing up liquid in the kitchen
  • There is no hand soap in the bathroom
  • There is no hot water in the showers
  • There is a funny smell in the office
  • The air con is not cooling enough
  • The air con is too cold
  • The changing room smells
  • We need a new coat stand
  • We need a new scrubbing brush in the kitchenette
  • There is a leak in the kitchen
  • The composting bin smells

Is it really any surprise they didn’t reply to my email?

Fiesta Fiasco

I was home in Athlone last weekend. On Saturday morning, my brother, new born Jack and Jack’s Mum called out to the house. We sat around the kitchen, chatting over tea and biscuits. The conversation was plentiful. The atmosphere was relaxed.

“You’ll never guess what happened to me yesterday after work!” said Mum, holding back a laugh.

“What happened?” asked Bro, smiling.

“Last night, I left work around six o’clock. I left the building and walked towards my car. I stared at the back of the car; something was wrong. The registration plate was damaged. I got down behind the car and examined the number plate.”

“What happened to it?” I asked, naively thinking someone attempted stealing Mum’s registration plate.

“It had been pulled away from the car with force,” explained Mum. “I examined it closely and suddenly it dawned on me that this car registration was not mine. This car was three years older than mine. It wasn’t my car. I stood up and then noticed a woman sitting at the wheel of the car.”

We all laughed.

“I wonder what she thought you were doing inspecting her licence plate,” I said, giggling.

Laughter echoed throughout the kitchen. Mum was visibly embarrassed while recounting the tale.

“What did you do?” enquired Bro.

“Well, I went over to the driver’s side of the car. I tapped on the window. The woman lowered the window. I was very embarrassed. ‘Sorry,’ I said to the woman. ‘I have the exact same car in the same colour. I could have sworn this was my car’.”

The mental image of this scene was hilarious.

“What did the woman in the car say to you?”  I said, choking back laughter.

“She was understanding,” recalled Mum. “She said, ‘oh don’t worry about it. I spent almost ten minutes trying to get into your car.”

This sent us over the edge.

God bless my mother.

Tidy Up Time

I work for a US multinational that can be anally retentive at the best of times. The toilet-brush incident is an example of this. Lots went down since the toilet-brush fiasco that I’ve failed to notice; I’ve become desensitised. Nothing caught my attention until last week.

Last week the facilities department sent an email that read something along as follows:

Tidy Up Friday

Next week, we have VIPs arriving. We need to make a special effort to keep our working areas clean and tidy. Employees are reminded of the tidy desk policy.

To add incentive we have decided to award a prize to most tidy desk. The winner of most tidy desk will be announced next week.

This email sent me into a nostalgic state. I remembered the evenings I collected my brother from his nursery school. If I collected him early enough I witnessed “Tidy Up Time!”

Tidy Up Time involved the minders of children encouraging the young kids to gather up paper strewn across tables, collect markers and crayons and put away Duplo blocks.

“Tidy Up Time,” the minders gently encouraged the children.

“Tidy Up Time” answered the children. The children repeated this over and over as a song.

It seemed my employer intended encouraging an adult equivalent of Tidy Up Time. This was scheduled for Friday afternoon. I laughed and thought no more of it.

Thursday, pre-Tidy Up Time day, arrived.  Our team lead sent an email, gently reminding our department that the level of tidiness was going to be reviewed. He encouraged us to make a “special effort”.

No one really bothered making any effort to tidy until 15.30 on Friday evening.  By then the shredding bin over flowed with paper. The clutter on desks was shoved into drawers.

I pulled open my large drawer to unexpectedly find three pairs of shoes. I threw two pairs in the bin and replaced the other in the drawer. I carried a large pile of paper to the shredding bin.

Minutes later, I returned to find my department talking amongst themselves in hushed tones. I sensed unhappiness.

“Who expected them to come around and check before 16.00?” one colleague enquired.

“We only started cleaning a few minutes ago,” replied another colleague.

“What happened?” I questioned.

“The Tidy Desk Committee just came around to do an inspection. They declared this the worst part of the building.” She seemed a little fazed by events.

“You mean there’s a Tidy Desk Committee?” I asked in disbelief.

“Yes, there is and they think we have the worst area in the building,” replied my colleague again.

I did nothing to hide my laughter at the fact a committee had been appointed.

The Tidy Desk Committee did another round of inspection today. Despite the fact we did a thorough tidy, they are still not happy.

I won’t pretend to not be disappointed. I thought “Winner of Tidiest Desk 2009” might make a good addition to my CV.

What Lurks Beneath

CNN recently publicised a list of the Most Annoying Facebook Users. I read through them and find myself guilty of one or two traits. I am definitely a “Lurker”. A hybrid, internet lurker is someone who observes more than contributes. Most Annoying Facebook Users describe Lurkers as overly cautious and perhaps too lazy to post; they prefer to remain in the background and observe. In my case this is not true. I’ll take a good snoop at someone’s Bebo/Facebook profile. I’ll even let the owner know.

A social creature like me regularly meets people at weddings, nights out, house parties etc. I or the newly established acquirer of acquaintance-status might link up on Facebook. Do you think the person – who doesn’t really know me all that well – would be creeped to know I’m likely to look at their photos? I will investigate who they are friends with and have a general snoop around. Generally, there’s nothing interesting, but now and again I come across the occasional gem.

When I reveal this to friends they seldom believe it. They probably doubt I concern myself with anyone but me. Despite the fact the world revolves around me, I do pay attention to other people. Some evenings I sit at home with the laptop in the living room. Boyfriend watches TV and donates a minimal fraction of his concentration span to me. I make a point of interrupting. I turn the laptop screen to face him.

“Wow. Doesn’t Jason look really well?” I ask in surprise.

“Who is Jason?” he asks, momentarily turning from some non-descript documentary.

“He is Sarah’s Boyfriend’s friend’s brother that went to college with her. Hasn’t he lost so much weight?”

“Where did you meet him?”

“I met him in passing about five years ago.”

“Why are you snooping around his Facebook profile?”

“Why not? Does it matter? He looks very happy.”

Boyfriend turns back to the television. He sighs dismissively. I turn the laptop screen back to face me.

“Look who Brian is going out with!”

Boyfriend closes his eyes, calling to God for patience. He knows what follows.

“You know many Brians. What Brian?”

“Sean’s friend Bryan with a Y. We met him at that birthday party a few years ago.”

“OK. Who is Bryan-with-a-Y dating?”

“He is going out with Declan. Look!” I clicked the mouse to show him some more photos.

“Who is Declan?”

“I met Declan in a takeaway at about 3.30AM after a night in the Dragon sometime last year. He works for a magazine and writes a male-beauty column. I would never have put the two of them together. They look good.”

“Do you realise how creepy it is that you know about these people you’ve only met once?”

“Excuse me for taking an interest!”

With that I did not share any more of the information I gleaned from Facebook that evening, but for one or two funny remarks some of his colleagues had posted over the course of the week.

My Lurker-behaviour was not recently acquired. I’ve been doing it for a while. Friends and I have used it to investigate exes and snoop on friends with whom we had issues. Eons ago, when I was on Bebo, we called this “Bebo Stalking”. I recall one day when a particular friend wanted to show me her Boyfriend’s ex.

“It will take a minute or two to get to her profile page. Bear with me!” she said over the phone one slow afternoon in work.

I responded to her orders. She took a deep breath.

“Go to Jane’s profile” my friend directed me. “Click on her friend Sarah’s profile picture. Do you see the most recent comment on her page? Click on the poster of that comment. Now go to number two friend on the list. That’s her there. Take a look at her in her wedding photos. The state of her! Can you believe she of all people spoke to me like that at the party?”

Do Boyfriend and the rest of the world not realise there are individuals worse than I that Lurk beneath the surface. Lurkers scroll the internet for hours absorbing every piece of text on the public domain. Chances are I will forget an internet titbit unless it is a meaty one, but there are other people that store everything up there. You probably even personally know a Lurker. Next time you post a status update or comment on an unfortunate photo you’ve been tagged in, take a moment to note that I and many others are probably watching too.