Category Archives: nostalgia

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.

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.

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?”

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.

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

Awkwardness is …

getting chatted up by a guy who thinks it clever to engage conversation by observing that your plaid shirt is almost identical to a shirt he wore for his confirmation. The situation is made even more awkward by the fact he hurt his foot that morning playing pretentious tennis; you might feel guilty leaving him stranded. The pinnacle of awkwardness occurs when he opens his mouth, you think he is trying to tell you something, lean in towards him and he “lobs the gob”.

In this situation I recommend informing him you feel “uncomfortable”. Do a runner!

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.

Cleaning Out My Closet

Since Monday, when I decided I was coming home for the weekend, I longed for Friday, the couch and a robust glass of red. I’m back in the Midlands sans le Boyfriend for the first time in a while.

Tonight, on arriving at the house, I walked into my old bedroom. Some random objects were spread on my bed.

“Mum, what is this stuff on my bed?”

She shouted from the kitchen. “I was clearing out some things from your room.”

I get a little defensive when Mum rifles through my belongings. There isn’t much. She has a four bedroom house. I ask if it is too much to expect a few boxes of my personal effects to remain untouched. I refrained from protesting. Instead I examined the contents of some unopened boxes.

The cardboard containers, similar to archive boxes, were full of college notes – marketing, statistical analysis and business policy. They were old and dog-eared. Some notes dated back to eight years ago. Those days are long gone. I emptied the box to the floor.

“I can’t believe I still have these,” I exclaimed.

Mum joined me in my room. She watched with satisfaction.

I opened the wardrobe. In the bottom of my wardrobe were more notes, magazines, bank statements and official documents. Stacks of paper, plastic folders and A4 pads formed a mound in my bedroom. I discovered some gay magazines; Attitude, Gay Times and the now out of print Gay Ireland. The covers were raunchy. I didn’t recall leaving these at home.

I felt around inside the wardrobe and came across yet another magazine. This one was different.

“What the fuck is this?”

“What is what?” asked Mum in supervisory mode.

“This magazine, Irish Wives. It’s a porn magazine. Look at it. Disgusting! Who left that in my room?”

I’m a big fan of porn, but this magazine was just nasty. The images were authentic; these women could only be Irish housewives. A selection of mature ladies posed next to ironing boards. One wife spread her legs akimbo on a kitchen counter. The magazine was creased, giving it a much used look and feel.

“Ewwww!” I threw it to the floor.

“Are you sure it’s not yours?” Mum asked.

“It’s not really my preferred type.”

“It’s not mine either!”

“I should hope it’s not, Mum. That would make for a major lifestyle choice. Do you think it was Dad’s?”

“I don’t know,” she said, leaving the bedroom.

I thought on how the rag mag ended up in my wardrobe. Guests that stay in our house tend to sleep in my room. The magazine could belong to anyone. I speculate my brother once stashed it in my room, thinking Mum would never ransack the room of her then most favoured son.

My brother paid a visit yesterday. When we confronted him, he denied ever seeing the magazine. He was so entertained by the tale of discovering the magazine that I believe him. The mystery on who in our household possessed a penchant for real, household women will forever remain unsolved.

Call me “Cap Boy”

Boyfriend and I went to an engagement party in Howl at the Moon on Saturday night. After sitting alone for two hours we decided it was time for home. Suddenly, we were inundated with people. It seemed everyone wished to talk to us. Boyfriend excused himself for the bathroom and I continued chatting to a small group of girls. Amidst the crowd, completely out of nowhere, appeared a little blonde girl. She approached with momentum comparable to a steam locomotive; she was on a mission. She grabbed my hands and pulled me away from the other girls.

“Oh my God it is so good to see you,” she said in an over-excited screech. “I’ve not seen you since college.”

The look on my face obviously spoke volumes.

“I cannot believe you don’t remember me. I was in your class in college. You honestly don’t remember me?”

After verifying that she did actually do the same degree in college, I apologised. “I’m so sorry; I can’t place your face. Do you definitely know me from college?”

“Of course I do. I cannot believe you don’t remember me. I’m genuinely insulted. I’m Clare. Does that ring a bell?”

“I feel really bad now”. I looked to floor with guilt.

“Let me introduce you to my friends. Maybe you’ll remember them.”

Clare forcefully pulled me towards two other girls who stood at the bar, one of whom was strikingly attractive. By now the group I had been talking to long had disbanded. I introduced myself to Clare’s accomplices.

“Apparently, we were in college together …”

The two girls looked confused.

“Were you in my class in college?” I asked.

“I don’t recognise you,” the dark girl observed. “What is your surname?”

I gave them my surname. It was unfamiliar. Suspicion arose in my mind. I was well known in college. Everyone (whether they liked me or not) knew my name. There were only one hundred and twenty people in my class. Everyone knew everyone. I pressed them on this. The dark haired girl, Helen, let it slip that she graduated in 2004.

“I graduated in 2005,” I admitted. “How could we have been in the same class? You were a year ahead of me!”

The best looking girl of the group was called Sinead. “I think I remember you!” she exclaimed while pointing her finger. “Did you always wear a cap in college?”

My attention was diverted. “No, I didn’t wear a cap. I mean maybe I wore a cap on a particular day, but I didn’t always wear a cap.”

“You did wear a cap. You wore a peaked cap. You were Cap Boy!”

Helen laughed. Meanwhile, Boyfriend had returned from the bathroom. Clare had struck up a conversation with him.

“Does Cap Boy not make me sound like a kid with special needs? Seriously, I did not wear a cap.”

“Oh,” said Sinead. She thought for a moment. “You used to visit the shop in the canteen, didn’t you?”

“Everyone in college visited the fucking shop!” I answered animatedly.

I turned to Clare. She was still engrossed in conversation with Boyfriend. “So you weren’t in my class?” I asked abruptly. She continued talking with Boyfriend without acknowledging me.

I was bamboozled. What was going on? I felt someone was taking the piss. I continued talking to Clare’s friends. We chatted about the various lecturers and people we knew through college. I did some impersonations. Boyfriend was still talking to Clare. As soon as Clare drew breath, I pulled him aside.

“These girls said they were in the same class as me and they were not. One even claimed she was friends with Barry. I don’t think she even knows Barry. What is going on? Why would they lie so much? Is someone taking the piss out of me?”

“Surely, you have it figured out by now?” Boyfriend asked with a bemused look.

“What do you mean?”

“Stephen, these girls are trying to chat you up. Do you really have no idea?”

Boyfriend leaned over to speak to Clare. I did not catch what he said.

She looked over at me. “Are you really gay?”

“Yes, I am gay. This is my Boyfriend.”

All three girls laughed. “You’re not gay,” said Sinead. “If you’re gay, kiss one another.”

With that I planted one on Boyfriend. All three girls looked shocked. They then broke into laughter.

“I can’t believe this,” one said.

“How long are you together?” asked Sinead.

“Around five years,” I responded.

All three were instantly consumed with embarrassment. They could not wait to be away from us. I wished them good evening as they escaped our company.

I turned to Boyfriend. “What the fuck was that about? Can you believe someone would make such an effort to chat someone up?”

“Clare told me they fancied you when you were in college. They had no idea you are gay.”

“Wow, that was four years ago. I suppose it’s flattering. I just can’t believe the great lengths they went to get my attention. I mean the Mad One pretty much dragged me away from the other girls. That wouldn’t ever happen in a gay bar. And ‘Cap Boy’? What the fuck? I never wore hats in college. I don’t even approve of wearing hats in indoors. I am actually offended by the idea that anyone may have referred to me as ‘Cap Boy’.”

“You focus on what matters, hun” said Boyfriend as he patted me in the direction of the exit.

You make one little mistake …

I have learned my employers are a relatively unforgiving bunch.

You may have noticed my lack of blogging. This is because my work load rained down on me over the last few weeks. Initially, a new system was launched and let’s just says I was having trouble with it. I am not amazing with technology. When it comes to number crunching, I am the type of guy that prefers an abacus and chalk board. All this new software, currencies (that come in three versions), reconciliations, processes and responsibilities totally blew my bulb. I floundered to get on top of it. It came to the crunch and I misgauged my priorities. The net effect was a colleague and I staying back for two and a half hours on Friday evening.

On Monday morning, the proverbial pooh hit the fan.

Whoops!

My colleague who was detained that Friday evening was probably the worst person to keep late.

Accusations flew back and forth between she and I. She carried more weight because she does not use abacuses and chalk; she is an accountancy goddess. I received her wrath!

Don’t worry, I did not take it lying down. I bet you’re not surprised.

Now, as a result of these events, I have to sit down with my manager on a weekly basis and go through my list of tasks. I feel like the remedial employee. It’s ironic that I actually found it difficult to draw up a list of tasks since I barely know what I am doing. Unfortunately, blogging can’t go on the checklist. I was tempted to clarify that one.

It is for this reason and this reason alone I have not been able to inform you of the amazing time I had in Budapest over the weekend. I went with a friend form college. I was unable to write about the (literally) shitty club, Cafe Capella, that my mate and I visited. I didn’t have time to describe the holy show I made of myself on the dance floor while he was ‘occupied’. I lacked the time to describe how my shoes tore my feet to pieces. I would have documented the pinnacle of my weekend – drinking with the presenters of that new after hours show on TV3, Play TV. It was such a good night. We ended up in a bar called the Funny Carrot, where we remained until 06.00 on Monday morning. The barman, Lola, was an amazing host:

“You promeez Lola you come back hir veez yar pardner”

Monday in Budapest was spent panicking in the hotel when I learned it was in fact 13.20 and not 10.20. After locating a tram to take me to the park, I lay face down in the grass on Margaret Island for two hours. I eventually sobered up around 17.00 to have my stomach jolted about by a Danish taxi driver, who should not have been on the road. The gobshite even dropped us to the wrong terminal after consulting a list to ensure we were headed to the right one. After that pleasant jaunt in the cab, I became reacquainted with the contents of my stomach in the toilet cubicle of the airport.

Overall a good weekend and a not so good week, but hey, at least I had something to write about.