Category Archives: Humour

Estranging Arranging

The financial software industry is a volatile environment. The market shifts overnight; a small,  boutique competitor (previously unworthy of concern) secures significant investment from a venture capitalist, or three separate – but personally connected – individuals quit their employment to develop a rival product. Such news travels quickly, allowing for rapid, reactionary measures. Think of a game of chess in fast-forward and you have it; a constant state of flux in which some colleagues thrive, and others, unfortunately perish.

The sales department are perfectly honed to deal with this pace. The sales floor bustles with a ceaseless hum of friendly voices, dialing out to prospects. Office space serves as a political forum for airing grievances and seeking solutions. Meeting rooms are used only for customer calls and HR issues that – for now – require discretion.  These interactions, whizzing over the heads of nonparticipants, often make for entertaining ear fodder. One such example took place between Veronica and Keira, arranging to meet a partner firm.

Veronica is a no-shit, up front, efficient worker. A fixer – work with her or be shoved aside. On a bad day, she bangs her keyboard and cusses aplenty. On a good day, she engages in banter, elevating inappropriateness to unforeseen limits with a wicked cackle. Keira is her polar opposite, exploiting her feminine wiles to schmooze and charm, employing a pastiche, girly-girl persona. She partakes in office hi jinx, expediently extracting herself, when it veers towards questionable.

“Are you coming to that meeting, Veronica? Did you see that email?” This question was delivered from fifteen feet away.

“Yes, I’ll be at the meeting,” answered Veronica sharpishly, tapping heavily on her keyboard. She didn’t look up from her screen.

“There is no mention of dates in the email. 2pm. What day?”

“So you’re coming? It’s next Tuesday. Great! I’ll see you there.”

“Er, no, Keira … I’ll see YOU next Tuesday.”

“Pardon me? What did you say?” Keira’s tone was loaded with disbelief. “Did she just …?” Keira’s voice trailed off, smothered by chuckles from surrounding colleauges.

Veronica ducked behind her partition, out of Keira’s sight with a distinct look of concern.

“Fuck, I’ve been spending too much time at home with that builder who is working on my conservatory.”

Advertisements

Brace & Lace

While home for Christmas, I organised a few drinks for Stephen’s Night. I craved a night out, following days spent cooped up over Christmas. The night proved to be messy. We had a few (too many) before we left for town, where we had a few more.

By the time we were in the club, I was drunk. I was in the company of my brother and his girlfriend, Melissa. I nudged Melissa and suggested we go for a dance. In my drunken state, I fancied myself some kind of Patrick Swayze.

“Another go,” I declared. “I’ll catch you better this time.”

Melissa took a few steps away from me and ran. I caught her clumsily. Patrick Swayze would turn in his grave at the idea of such an ungraceful tribute. Melissa collapsed on me. I lifted my head and felt unexpected resistance. I suddenly realised my face was stuck to Melissa’s arm. What the fuck? I thought.

Melissa wore a red dress with red lace sleeves. It seemed my braces had become entangled in the intricate patterned lace. I placed Melissa on the ground. She was in conversation with a bouncer who discouraged our Dirty Dancing performance. How the hell am I to disentangle myself?  While Melissa assured the bouncer we would vacate the dancefloor, my face was buried into her arm. I panicked. I gave Melissa’s sleeve a hard tug and broke free. We left the dancefloor.

“Eh, what were you two doing down there?” My brother asked. “People were laughing at you.”

Melissa laughed. I joined. I noticed a hole in the arm of her dress. I guessed it unlikely she’d notice since we were all pissed. I’ll save this story for tomorrow, I thought.

Babies Say the Cutest Things

My nephew Jack is speaking endlessly. He has been talking a while but only lately has he demonstrated a repertoire of words. He now forms sentences and seeks to learn new words at every opportunity. He points at items and calls their name. “Dada,” he shouts, pointing to my brother. “Dog”. “TeeVee,” is one of his favourites, which he enjoys following a request for “toast”.

On one of his customary rambles about the kitchen, he randomly stopped and pointed above the door. “Cock,” he cried. He resumed his stroll.

A day or two later, he visited his grandparents. In his usual independent manner, he got out of the car, walked up the driveway and waited for the halldoor to open. He walked into the kitchen, expecting the usual fuss he is guaranteed to receive from his grandparents.

He pointed towards the clock on the wall. “Grandad’s cock.”

Fun Timez

Type a few of the following leads to questions into Google. It returns the most popular searches.

Debits & Credits

The cost of relocating to London has caused me manys a sleepless night. Before I even set foot in the office of my new employer, I owe a couple of grand. This unnerves me. To ease the pain of cash flow issues, I decided to apply for a loan from Ulster Bank whom I’ve banked with – but never bank on – for the last six years. I made an early appointment in the Athlone branch one Monday morning.

Helen, the lovely customer advisor, and I sat in her cubby-hole office, equipped with printer and photocopier. I clutched a large coffee and marvelled at the blandness of her small space. Numerous sheets of paper churned through the spool of the printer. Helen highlighted and narrated the legal jargon on each form. I confirmed my personal details and she responded, clicking and tapping on her keyboard, throwing a cursory glance my way.

She paused. “Hmmm, that’s strange,” she said.

I sat up in my chair. “What is?” I asked. Paranoia was evident.

“The system has instantly declined your application”. Line by line, she scrutinised the information on screen. She clicked again. And again. “Have you any financial issues you’d like to tell me?”

Blood rushed up my neck. My cheeks glowed. “I may have missed the odd credit card payment here and there.”

Helen thought for a moment. “That’s not serious. It shouldn’t prompt an instant decline. There must be something wrong with the system.” She shrugged it off. She pulled a glossy blue and white application form from her drawer and reached for a biro. She completed the form on my behalf. “Have you any shares? Have you a car? Do you own any property?”

I answered each question negatively.

Completed form in hand, Helen turned to her computer. “Ah,” she said. “It is as I guessed. The reason you are getting an instant decline is because the system doesn’t like you.”

“What do you mean?”

“It doesn’t like your details. In the interest of being open and upfront, I will talk you through it. Stephen, you are twenty eight years old. You earn quite a good salary. You’ve exceeded your overdraft limit twice in the last six months. You have no savings! Where is your preparation for the long-term? Have you no interest in owning a property?”

I sighed. “Sorry if this offends you, but you now sound like my mother.”

“I often hear this. Your mother is right. What do you have to show for all this expenditure?”

“Helen, I live quite a good life.”

“I bet you do, Stephen.” She laughed. “It’s reflected in your bank balance. You could turn your position around in three months. Set some money aside each month and start saving!”

I endured the remainder of Helen’s lecture before leaving her cubby-hole disheartened. I have never been good with money. I have an amazing ability to rid myself of debt, but like the typical Irish person of the Good Times of Old, I fail to appreciate a bank account with a credit balance; why debit when you can credit? I need to redress my views on finances. Helen’s words echoed through my mind for days. It was, while sorting through clothes for the move, did I come face to face with my problem. Hanging in my wardrobe were jackets and coats, ranging in price from half to a full month’s rent. I felt anger.

Screw you coats and jackets. It’s your fault! Helen is right! I have nothing to show for all that money I spent. I have nothing, but a wardrobe of coats. Exactly how many coats do I need? Who am I, Johnny Fucking Forty Coats?

I left my bedroom sickened by the sight of those tributes to thoughtless frivolity. I visited the kitchen for a glass of water to quench the hot, fiery anger in my belly. Within seconds, I was back in my bedroom.

Sorry, coats and jackets. I caressed their sleeves fondly. I really didn’t mean it. Helen is wrong. She is very wrong. No matter what happens we will always have one another.

Dressing for Success

I’m unsure where I heard it, but there’s a joke that television newsreaders only concern themselves with their clothing from the waist upwards, since they sit behind desks, when presenting the news. I recently had an experience that made me feel akin to a news reporter, when I had to do an interview using Skype. Only now, that I have resigned from my current job, do I have opportunity to tell this faux pas.

“I have a Skype interview tomorrow,” I told one friend excitedly. “It is for a job in Luxembourg.”

“You have an interview with Skype? They are based in Luxembourg? How cool is that!?”

“No, the interview is not with Skype, it’s on Skype, as opposed to a telephone.”

“Fancy,” said the friend.

“What will I wear? Should I wear a suit?”

The question of what to wear bugged me. It felt pointless to wear a suit on my day off, when I’d be sitting at home. The interview was a few days away. I put the matter to the back of mind, hoping my subconscious would push a solution forward at some stage.

The day of the interview arrived. I didn’t wear a suit or a tie. I did my hair nice, ensured I was clean-shaven and wore a blue shirt. Half an hour before the scheduled call, I even did a screen test to make sure I looked my prettiest. All was well. This was no telephone interview; visuals were important.

At 10.30, the call came through on Skype as scheduled. I switched my camera on and wished the callers good morning. No response. On the screen I could see a man and a woman sitting behind a desk, appearing as if they were about to deliver their country’s Eurovision ratings. They talked, but I could hear nothing.

“Sorry,” I said. “Nothing is coming through. You can hear me, yes? There seems to be a problem with the audio on your end.”

This routine continued for minutes more, until I determinedly said we should resort to a regular telephone interview, like they used to in the good old days. I stood up to locate the house phone. Just then, did something strike me with the force of a bus. They, the interviewers, may have seen me from the waist down. Stupidly, I had neglected to address my lower half. I wore pyjama bottoms.They were not regular grey or navy pyjamas. They were baggy, purple, chequered ones. I wonder if they saw them? Mortification, I thought. I returned to the PC. The interviewers appeared busy trying to figure the reason for their muteness. I hunched onto the seat so as not to give them another flash of my négligé. I showed them the phone and IM’d them my telephone number.

My performance in the interview was not my best. The recruiters gave me good feedback and said they would be in contact within a few days. Three days later, I received a sparsely worded email, informing me that my experience did not match the profile of the role they recruited for. I was disappointed. Rejection is rejection in whatever form. My ego was bruised.

I told my brother the news. “I didn’t get the job in Luxembourg. I am disappointed.”

He paused. “I am sorry to hear that. Sure there will be more jobs, no?”

“I suppose,” I replied, glumly.

“What did they say to you about your interview?”

“I just received an email saying I wasn’t suited to the role. There wasn’t much to the email.”

“Sure Stephen, you can’t be that surprised you didn’t get the job, can you?”

“What do you mean?” I asked him this, expecting some insider information on my performance.

“They saw you in your pyjamas! No matter how good the interview went, you wore your pyjamas.”

“I had forgotten that.”

My brother and I laughed in unison for some time.

Newsreaders may very well only dress from the waist up, but in times of technical faults on set, it is most unlikely they’ll be required to stand up and resolve the issue.

Lesson learned.

How to Give a Good Nose Job

My favourite gay club night was Spice, when it was held in SPY night club, South William Street. The plush interior of SPY, three rooms of amazing music and the crème de la crème of the gay scene made these nights memorable. The hay day of Spice coincided with the time I broke up with my boyfriend of three years. I spent many a night at Spice, dancing energetically to nostalgic tunes, attempting to convince myself I was happy as a singleton. Denial aside, I did have fun. Spice will forever be my Studio 54.

Later the same year, Boyfriend and I reconciled. We made another go of it on the basis we attempt remedy the issues that caused us to break up. Both of us felt we needed to socialise more as a couple. We injected a healthy dose of “coupley” outings into our relationship. One such outing was a visit to my favourite club night. On this particular evening, we encountered some of Boyfriend’s friends he made during our six months apart. One friend, Mike, was what you might term a ‘celebrity’ gay; a Eurovision song writer with an on-off-even-more-celebrity-gay boyfriend. He was – and always is – groomed and well dressed. He sported an air of self-importance and a tight t-shirt, showing his fine arms and pecs. I should chat with him and make an effort, I thought. He and I stood side by side in the nightclub. Dance music pounded from the massive speakers under the DJ’s decks. Strobes flashed in time with the music. I leaned in to deliver some small talk. I spoke loudly over the music.

“I love Spice. I’ve had more fun here than I have in any other night club.”

“The music makes it. I love it,” he agreed, nodding energetically.

I withdrew from his ear. What could we talk about next? Still thinking, I turned to survey the room, checking out the eye candy. I can only say I intended to talk to him again; I turned my head right, while looking to my left, absorbing the visuals on offer. As my head pivoted, my peripheral vision detected my companion’s head was much closer to me than expected. He was clearly doing the same as I, turning his head towards me, with no knowledge of where I was. It’s hard to describe the exact dynamics, but our heads collided at such a warped angle, just as I was about to speak, that Mike’s nose entered my mouth. It did not just graze or slightly poke my mouth; it went right in, withdrawing a coating of saliva as it exited. I was mortified.

“Eh, I am so sorry.”

He wiped his nose dry. “Don’t worry about it.”

The small talk continued, Meanwhile, I awkwardly remained next to him, praying we would leave his company. My face was red with embarrassment. I just sucked this guy’s nose, was all I could think. I just sucked this guy’s nose!

Weeks later, Boyfriend invited me to attend dinner with his friends one Saturday night. He noted my hesitance to respond.

“You really don’t like them, do you?” His tone was accusatory.

“No, they’re OK,” I said. I looked down at the floor. “I am a little embarrassed about seeing Mike.”

“Why on Earth would you be embarrassed about seeing him? Mike specifically asked me to bring you.”

I told Boyfriend the story of sucking off Mike’s nose. I can’t recall him ever laughing so hard as he did.

I never made the dinner in the end but I did provide a topic for conversation; Boyfriend repeated the Nose Story to the ten or so people in attendance. Apparently, the gathering, including Mike who had no memory of the incident, burst into convulsions at the tale.

One Door Opens, Another Closes

Over Christmas, my one year old nephew was at my family home, doing his usual routine of exploring the kitchen under the watchful eye of his parents. He wobbled towards the kitchen door, placed his weight on it and wailed loudly; making it obvious he wished to leave our company. I followed him towards the door.

“Let me teach you something, Jack.”

I picked the little man up in my arms, placed his right hand on the door handle and pulled him downwards. I held onto him, stepped back, knowing well he would not let go of the door handle. The door swung open.

“And that, Jack, is how we open doors.”

Some time later, Jack again wanted to leave the room. He placed both hands on the door. I watched, expecting him to scream for us to open the door. He made no noise. He stood on his tip toes to grab the door handle. He pulled it down. The door popped open. My brother, Dáire, watched in disbelief.

“Did he just open the door? Did you see that? Did you teach him that, Stephen? Fuck ya!”

“This is my Christmas gift to you. Enjoy!” I roared with laughter. “I’ll be in Dublin if you need me.”

Three months on, Jack’s ability to open doors has developed into a recreation activity. If anyone enters the room, Jack is sure to close the door behind them. Jack passes lengthy durations of time opening and closing doors as he pleases. He leaves a room and closes the door behind him, regularly falling on his ass as he does. He toddles down the corridor towards the bedrooms, taking great enjoyment of the seven doors on his journey.

During my last visit home, Jack and his parents arrived at the house around mid afternoon on Saturday following an excursion. I welcomed them at the hall door.

“How was your day?”

“We went to the park to feed the ducks,” answered my brother. “We brought Jack to the playground.”

“Does he like the playground? Did you put him in the swing or bring him down the slide?”

“No, he didn’t really enjoy the playground so much …” Dáire shook his head. “But he did enjoy opening and closing the gate to the playground.”

The Olives of Wrath

Sitting in Café des Irlandais last weekend, Johanne and I sat over a shared starter of foie gras served with chocolate shavings and croissant. The dish was cohesive: the croissant complimented foie gras; the chocolate drew out the paté’s flavours. A number of olives were scattered on the plate. I avoided these. I eat olives, but they aren’t my favourite food.

I decided to brave an olive. I took a small piece of the croissant, patted the foie gras onto it and pricked the olive with a fork. The moistness of the olive added to the taste experience. The olives tasted sweet.

“These olives are delicious, Johanne. Try one!”

Johanne grimaced slightly. “I’m not a big fan of olives. I find them bitter.”

“These taste sweet, as if they were soaked in something.”

“I’ll try one.” Johanne leaned forward and pierced an olive with a fork. She bit into it and nodded her head. “Mmmm, you’re right, they are nice.”

“See, I told you.”

“I can see what you mean about them being sweet. But that’s not really a surprise since they are not olives. They’re grapes.”

He who shall remain “…”

I was dropping some pretty dodgy shapes on the dance floor on Friday night in the Dragon, when a a guy approached me from nowhere. He was about five eight or so and dark in complexion. He wore a red t-shirt with faded denim jeans, also indicative of origins from a foreign shore. I guessed he was Brazilian. So determined was his approach, I felt obliged to cease my dancing and engage him in chat.

He leaned in close.”Hi.” He said no more.

It was clearly my turn to respond. “Hello,” I replied.

“What is your name?”

I wasn’t interested in him and felt peeved by his bold interruption of my boogie. “My name? I am Nameless.”

He leaned in closer, claiming even more of my personal space. His face was strained. He spoke louder. “You are Nomless?” This name was exotic; strange to his foreign tongue.

“Nameless!” He failed to comprehend. “I have no name! I am nameless!”

It clicked. He wasn’t amused. “Ah, Nomless. Well enjoy your night, Nomless.”  He placed emphasis on my new name. He turned and was gone, consumed by the darkness, flashing lights and gyrating bodies of the  dance floor. I resumed my dancing.

Later that night, I stood with my coat on, chatting to Niall before I made for home. The Brazilian approached us in the same steely manner I had earlier witnessed. He ignored me and talked with Niall. It was obvious their exchange was lost in translation, since the Brazilian appeared frustrated  having to repeat himself. I failed to overhear. The Brazilian, satisfied with saying his piece, abruptly left our side. Niall appeared confused.

“Well, that was random …” Niall threw his eyes to heaven.

“What did he say to you?” I half expected he had insulted me.

“He said, ‘I see you are friends with Nomless’. I didn’t understand. “Who the Hell is Nomless?”