Category Archives: memory

All Signs Point to …

I have been talking about relocating to a new city for a while.

Over pints, with a red, flushed face, did I all too often, dramatically announce, “I’m leaving! Remember this face! I am gone! I am sick of Dublin. Sick of it. There are too many ghosts in this city.”

Eyes were often thrown to heaven. “Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard this before”. Sometimes I even received, “what do you expect to get from London that you can’t get in Dublin?”

A month ago, Best Friend proposed he and I spend some time looking for jobs in London using the internet. We did an in-depth, intricate search on Google, using scant terms such as “London VAT jobs”. We received a few matches.

Best Friend  perused one particular job spec. “I think this job would suit you.”

I read the detail on the screen. I shook my head. “Oh, no, this sounds very technical. No, no, this is not for me at all.”

We came across similar jobs. I shooed the notion of them away.

A day or so later, I pondered the job spec. The more I thought on it, the more I realised this job was for me. I could do this. I could be good at this. This is my job! I called the recruitment agent. We chatted about my experience and interest in the role. He forwarded my CV to the recruiters, who instantly expressed interest in my profile.

Faraway, in another land, removed from flights of fancy of living the London Life, Best Friend and I addressed our living situation. The duration of the lease on the apartment, slowly wasted away; to extend the lease or not.

“I could just quit my job – for the first time in my life, throw caution to the wind and leave! Oh wait, no, I have no savings. This won’t work.”

Best Friend disagreed. “You need a job before you move. We’ll look at the matter of the lease, when the need arises.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere, away from employment opportunities and living arrangements, did I happen to meet a handsome, English man – London Bloke – in Dublin for a business trip. We arranged a date. The date went well. In fact, it went very well. I like him very much. I am lazy in romance and for what is a rare occasion, I made the first move on our date.

Roughly one week later, events progressed nicely. Before I knew it, I was required to go to London for a second interview.  London Bloke and I had been in contact prior to the interview. We arranged a second date, deciding to meet in Soho.

I arrived late, having spent fifteen minutes wandering around Soho in search of Compton Street. I walked into the darkness of the bar and looked around for London Bloke. I spotted him within seconds. He looked good. I awkwardly greeted him. I was nervous. Do I shake his hand or kiss him on the mouth?  What is the etiquette for a second date? I opted for a kiss on the cheek.

“It’s really nice to see you again,” he said.

My head spun. Wow, Irish men never say stuff like that. Well, the Irish men I’ve known never would. “It’s nice to see you too,” I replied somewhat coyly, looking to the floor.

“You’re in my city this time. Let me buy you a pint.”

We moved to a nook of the bar. Conversation and laughter radiated from that corner.

London Bloke supped his pint of ale. “So, how did the interview go?”

“It went OK. My head was completely fried afterwards. It was two hours long. I spoke for two hours! I am naturally talkative, but even I found that challenging.”

“When will you know the results?”

I hesitated. “Thing is … I already know the results …”

He raised his eyebrows in expectation. “Oh?”

“I got the job.”

A sexy smile crept across his face. “I am so happy for you. And, I am happy for me too.”

I was stunned. I’m sure my smile beamed. “Thanks.” I felt very strange right then, unaccustomed to the sensation of shyness.

I returned to Dublin the next day, slowly and gradually communicating my news to friends. Events were slowly settling in my own head. Since then, I have handed in my notice at work. I am due to finish my job 15th July; the same day the lease ends on the apartment.

I fancy the arse off London Bloke. As sad – or hopeful – as it sounds, I have not felt like this about anyone in years. I no longer feel dead from the waist down.

I never subscribed to the “whatever is meant for you won’t pass you by” train of thought. In my opinion, our lives are what we make them. Recent events have caused me to wonder if sometimes, now and again, things just go right and fall tidily into place.

It’s really quite nice when this happens.

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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.

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.

The Fooleries of Fairview

When anyone asks how long I’ve lived in Dublin, I automatically respond, “six years”. I forget it’s actually ten.

I’ve lived mostly on the Northside of Dublin except in third year of college, when I lived in Crumlin, which let’s face it, may as well be the Northside.

A couple of weeks ago, Johanne collected me from the City Centre to drive me to her place for a chilled out evening. En route to her apartment in Clontarf we passed through Fairview. Fairview might not be the most pleasant place in Dublin, but I retain a fondness for it, having lived there for two years during my college years. I liked Fairview for the fact I could walk into town in twenty minutes. The rent was relatively cheaper than City Centre. As a student it suited me.

Despite the fact Best-Friend and I routinely swore/swear not to live together, we have shared (and continue to share) flats and apartments. Fairview was one such location for our shared home. Our first place in Fairview was miniscule; there wasn’t room to swing a kitten. Despite this, I have great memories of Best-Friend and I sitting up until the wee hours, chatting and watching music channels. We were happy in our hovel. During my car journey with Johanne, as her car took a de tour down memory lane, I experienced a flashback that reminded me of the splendorous flat in Fairview.

The story centres on a bar of chocolate. For some reason any time Best-Friend and I live together there is always an abundance of chocolate. Best-Friend tended to buy large bars of Lindt when he returned from his travels. It was a good relationship we had; he bought chocolate and I ate it.

One evening we happened to meet one another at the door to the flat. I returned from my evening shift at the cinema. He had just finished college. I went straight to my room to throw my coat and excess clothing on the floor in my usual haphazard manner. I entered the living room to find an irked Best-Friend.

“Why did you eat the chocolate? I was going to give that to Johanne.”

His sharpness caught me off guard. “I didn’t eat the chocolate.” Or did I? I thought. With two steps I was half way across the tiny living room, next to the table where he stood.

“Look at the corners of the chocolate,” he said, pointing to the large bar of Lindt.

The chocolate bar sat in the centre of the table, presented in a fashion that made it ready for the filming of an advertisement. However, the scene was not picture perfect. The foil at two corners of the bar was torn. Small chunks were removed. Crumbs were scattered around the crime scene.

I examined the scene. “So …,” I said, “you think if I were to eat your chocolate, I would chew on the corners of your bar and hope you didn’t notice?”

Best-Friend did not respond. He knew I was going somewhere.

“And if I were to chew on the corners of your bar, do you think I would leave small shits on the table too?”

“Shit? What are you talking about? There’s no shit! ” He was most dismissive of me.

“Look!” I pointed to the small black dots that happened not to be chocolate. “That is mouse shit. We have a mouse. That is unless you think I went to an elaborate plan to dupe you out of the corners of your chocolate and sprinkled mouse shit on the table.”

“Oh right. Sorry.”

Never Meet your Heroes

Over Christmas, Fiona invited me to her home for a gathering of friends and family. The evening was relaxed. Red wine flowed. By around eight o’clock, the attendants formed small pockets in the various rooms on the ground floor. A group of us intimately huddled on sofas in a quiet corner next to the Christmas tree, discussing subjects that varied from water shortages to previous relationships. During the course of the evening, I attentively received a story. I will attempt the tale as confidently told by Naidi. Please forgive inaccuracies, lack of detail and embellishments in certain areas.

“My friend completed a masters in some college in the UK, maybe about twenty years ago. One of her professors, an eccentric lady in her fifties, had a PhD in women’s’ rights or something like that. Despite the professor’s age, she remained unmarried, spending most of her life campaigning for women’s rights in the workplace. The female students of the college loved her.” Naidi lifted her goblet-like glass and sipped her red wine.

“Following a lecture with this professor, my friend remained behind in the lecture hall. She loitered, while other students vacated the room. She nervously approached the revered professor, who sat at a large, oak desk, packing papers and books into a satchel. For a number of weeks, she had wanted to speak with the professor. She drew breath and put the question to her. ‘Looking back on your life, if you could give a young woman one piece of advice what would it be?’ The professor remained seated, consumed in thought, while my friend stood. ‘My advice to a young woman of today is to always moisturise your neck and chest.’”

Naidi shook her head. “My friend was furious. This professor, who was held in high esteem for her research and efforts on women’s rights, could only offer advice on skin care régime. My friend expected so much more from that answer. Needless to say, she was disappointed and lost all respect for the professor.”

The story was momentarily interrupted by a discussion between Naidi and Fiona on the benefits of moisturising one’s neck and chest. Naidi finished the story.

“My friend, who is now in her late forties, told me this story last year, twenty years on from the completion of her masters. I decided to ask the same question of her. ‘Considering the advice of the professor that enraged you, and hindsight on your life, if you were asked the same question, what wisdom you would impart for a young woman today?’”

“‘If I could give advice to a girl today’, my friend said, ‘it would be to always moisturise your neck and chest.’”

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.

Gullibility is …

My inability to lie developed in my late teens. It came around the time I just got sick of the bullshit popularity in school, longed for college and promised to always say what I thought. To me, honesty is one of the best qualities in a person. A liar is someone who cannot account for their truths.

In appreciating honesty, I often expect truth and in doing so, I am incredibly gullible. Now and again, friends feed me false information, which I rarely question. Later, when I think it through clearly, I realise it is horse shit.

About three years ago, in one of my many jobs, I decided to take a basic ECDL course to demonstrate my proficiency in Microsoft. Each week, I attended a class or two with view to completing an exam. Needless to say, the exams were simple and I passed all modules. One day after work, over tea and scones in Bewley’s, I told Brian that I was doing basic ECDL.

“Is it not boring?” Brian enquired, lifting the tea cup to his mouth.

“Nah, there is good craic in the class. And I get a certificate at the end of it.”

“Do you know that ECDL was invented by the same people who created the Special Olympics?”

“No, it wasn’t.” I scrunched my face, digesting this odd, titbit of information.

Brian nodded energetically. “Think about it. It makes sense.”

The conversation quickly moved on. I thought no more on his claim.

One week later, I sat in the training room behind an antiquated PC. The ECDL tutor and ten other students awaited the tea trolley. We usually chatted for ten minutes or so before starting a class. A knock on the door, followed by the comforting clink of tea cups, signified the arrival of refreshments. We jumped to our feet and gathered around the customary offering of fancy biscuits. Only when biscuits were placed next to full, steaming cups, did we return to our seats. The subject matter of our conversations was always inoffensive. We chatted about current affairs, weather or television, injecting a good dose of humour when possible. As per usual, I was the chattiest.

I piped up once my dunked biscuit was swallowed. “Is it true the ECDL was invented by the Special Olympics?” I directed my question at the tutor.

“Excuse me?” said the tutor. I noted an element of surprise in her voice.

I repeated my question.

She stuttered momentarily. “I don’t think so,” she said. She looked around the room at the other faces in the class.

“A mate of mine told me ECDL was invented by Special Olympics. If you think about it, it makes sense. I mean it was probably created to encourage disabled persons into the workplace by promoting their IT literacy.”

“I never heard that before.” The tutor’s eyes were wide. “Are you sure your friend isn’t feeding you misinformation?”

“No, he’s not like that. I’ll try a Google search and see what I get.”

I ran “Special Olympics ECDL” through Google and received irrelevant matches. “I got no matches,” I announced to the class.

Another student Deirdre joined the chat. “Stephen, I think your friend might be taking the piss.”

“He’s not like that,” I assured. “Why would he do that?”

The tutor picked up the ECDL manual. Tea break was over. “I’ll ask in the office, but I honestly don’t think your friend’s claim is right.” She commenced the class.

While she gave us instructions on how to set up our computers for the upcoming class, I picked up my phone and texted Brian.

“Brian, I am in my ECDL course at the moment. Where did you hear about it being invented by the Special Olympics?”

Brian replied within minutes. “It was a joke.”

“OMG I just told my entire ECDL course it was invented by the Special Olympics people.”

“You muppet! I cannot stop laughing.”

I sat back in my chair taken aback by the fact I had absorbed Brian’s misinformation on the creation of ECDL. It was clearly ridiculous. Not only had I not questioned whether it was truthful, I obviously thought on it enough to embellish it for my “encourage disabled persons into the workplace” spiel. An all too rare embarrassment came down over me. I blushed. I kept my realisation to myself and prayed the tutor would not follow up on my query with her colleagues later that day.

Blinded by Bresy

One evening at a party, I got a call from Sarah, asking if I’d come to Oxegen the next day. “I have an extra press pass,” she screamed. “You have to come!”

I never considered myself a festival goer, often preferring to sit at home in comfort with a glass of wine and CD. In my living room there is no moshing or boisterous behaviour. Sarah advised I wouldn’t have to rough it; the press pass guaranteed access to a clean bathroom and luxurious bar. After initial hesitance, I agreed to go. My imagination, and verbal accounts from friends, created an Oxegen full of hundreds of people sloshing about in mud. I remembered the location of my Wellington boots.

On arrival the thud of heavy tempo, somewhere in the distance, registered in my ears. Surprisingly, the day was dry, even sunny at times. My pale skin took a scorching. Unexpectedly, there was no muck; dry, bark chippings littered the ground. My heart raced as we passed the burly security men at the Press Entrance with eight cans of Budweiser in tow.

Sarah instantly recognised people in the Press Area. She schmoozed while her boyfriend Ross and I made chat.

A random girl, packing away a microphone, piped up. “Who are you excited about?” she asked me from behind a large, untrendy pair of glasses.

I was caught off guard. “Eh, Kate Nash. I like Kate Nash.” I hoped this would satisfy her.

“MGMT are on in ten minutes. We are going there now. Do you want to come?”

“Who are MGMT?” I asked.

“Eh, only one of the hottest groups playing today”.  She turned and was gone.

Sarah continued chatting as the numbers in the Press Area, affected by the allure of MGMT, dwindled. Sarah’s boyfriend Ross nudged me now and again to point out an occasional celebrity here and there. I recognised few. I really was a fish out of water.

Moments later, Sarah announced we were to leave. We left the small enclosure of the Press Area and made our way across a type of allotment towards  more oversized security guards.

“Hang on a moment,” instructed Ross. “There’s Bresy!”

I turned to Sarah. “Who is Bresy?” She didn’t hear me.

“Hi Bresy!” called Ross enthusiastically to a tall man about ten or fifteen feet away.

“Hey,” answered Bresy in a friendly tone. Bresy moved towards us.

Sarah and I stood next to Ross. She beamed at Bresy. I assumed he was a friend. I stood there awaiting an introduction. I passed the time by analysing Bresy. He had nice hair, beautiful eyes, good height and a muscular frame. I realised Bresy was in fact very attractive. I drank in the sight of him.

“I heard the new album,” said Ross. “It sounds pretty good. Are you happy with the result?”

“Yeah, we are,” Bresy answered. “It’s about as good as anyone from Mullingar could come up with.”

Why is Ross asking about an album? Who is this guy? I asked myself. I cleared my throat. “I’m from Athlone,” I announced, staring into Bresy’s beautiful eyes.

He looked surprised. “Are you? Oh right.”

Bresy and Ross chatted for a few more minutes. Bresy said goodbye and strolled in the direction of a heavily attended Performer’s Area.

“Who was that?” I asked, a little peeved I received no introduction.

“That’s Niall Breslin,” answered Ross, as we shuffled towards the main concert area.

“Who is he?”

“He’s the lead singer of the Blizzards.”

“The Blizzards? Oh I know them. Oh right. So I randomly informed the lead singer of the Blizzards I am from Athlone?”

“Yep, you did.”

“Fuck, he’s hot though, isn’t he?”

Ross said nothing. Sarah laughed and put her arm around my waist.

 

Niall "Bresy" Breslin

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.”

Whoopsie Daisy

Early one Sunday night, a few friends and I had beers outside the Ocean Bar. This was two weekends ago. The weather had been glorious. We gathered on the jetty of Grand Canal Dock. The evening slowly cooled but not so much that an eclectic group of people sat by the waterfront. Plenty of sun scorched, red flesh was on display. The eye candy was top notch. A friend and I returned from the off licence bearing beers. We strolled towards the waterfront, absorbing  the many sights.

In front of the marina hangs a chain not of exceptional height. The lowest part reaches my knees. This obstacle separated us from our friends. I lifted my leg to what I presumed was an adequate height. My toes caught the chain. I tripped and fell forward. My trip swung the chain, causing my companion to also tumble. I quickly apologised. Pain ran through my shin. It throbbed and stang sharply. It was then I realised dozens of people potentially had witnessed my awkwardness. Surprisingly, there was no cheer. I limped away agonisingly.

We arrived at our patch on the marina; I recounted the incident to my friends.

Jeni corrected me. “No, Stephen! You fell! You fell on your own and took me down with you. Miraculously, neither of us dropped one beer.”

This is not the first time I have tripped over a railing. A few years ago, on a beautiful, sunny day on the canal near Baggott Street, a significant number of people sat with their food on the adjacent grassy bank. I left work for lunch,  intending to cross the canal. A similar obstacle awaited me; a chain railing. I attempted an elaborate run and jump. Following a quick dash, I sailed gracefully through the air. The toe on my – perhaps too – pointy shoe clipped the chain. I landed flat on my face with my arms outstretched before me. I lay face down on the grass for a nanosecond, momentarily, coming to terms with the incident. A loud cheer erupted from the many diners. I was mortified. I dusted myself down and vacated the area speedily. Later, returning to the office via the same route, I prayed I would not be recognised. There was no more applause.

I recall other clumsy events in addition to my inability to scale knee high railings: A few months ago, I walked into a filing cabinet at work. This filing cabinet has been in the same place for months. One particular day, my spatial awareness took a vacation. I walked straight into it. Then there was the time I walked into the row of desks; extremely painful. So hard was my collision that the entire row of desks shook. The occupants looked puzzled. I attempted to mask my limp. I whined under my breath with each painful step. There are occasions I’ve bungled basic things like walking. I have walked into the gate outside my house, missed a kerb on Parnell Street, missed another kerb on the Navan Road and tore the knee out of an expensive suit when I fell running for a bus.

Last night I visted Boots on Grafton Street to look for a toothbrush. On a typically, disorganised aisle, I lowered to my hunkers to examine the shelf. I balanced my weight on my right leg. A man walked by. I caught him in the corner of my eye. It was then I fell over on my side. He jumped out of the way. My considerable mass avoided him. I sat flat on my ass, looked up and apologised. We both laughed. He was genuinely tickled by the incident. About ten minutes later I met him at the cash point. He giggled as soon as he saw me. My clumsiness brought a smile to someone’s face.

I frequently discover purple and yellow bruises when in the shower. More than often I cannot pinpoint the cause. At the moment my left shin is yellow from the remnants of a bruise. My right knee is scabbed from the chain railing. This pain has prompted me to read around the subject of clumsiness. There are many theories to why people are clumsy. Common causes are imbalance, fatigue, lack of spatial awareness, bad eyesight and insomnia. I discussed this at lunch today. Some colleagues advised I should invest in a bracelet containing magnets to correct what ever imbalance I have in my magnetic fields. I dismissed this as hooey.

I don’t need magic, magnetic bracelets. What I need is a colossal amount of padding to reduce the impact for when I ultimately collide with stationary objects.