Tag Archives: conversation

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.

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Sweet Nothings

Things I’ve said on dates –

“If you throw that snowball at me, I will will force feed you it!”

“With political views like that, you’d never make it in politics. No one would vote for you. In fact, you’d have to be a dictator to enact ridiculous policies like forcing unemployed people to do public service.”

“I showed your picture to my friend. She thought you were very handsome but had big ears.”

“You have a twin sister? Do you look alike?”

“The sauce in this banoffee is delicious. What is it?”

“Zsa Zsa Gabor had her leg amputated. I heard it on some celebrity gossip show … Wait, maybe I made that up.”

“Yeah, there’s nothing worse than coming across desperate. I’m not desperate. Well, eh … No, no, I am not desperate.”

Awkwardness is …

I have previously written the “Awkwardness is …” series in third person narration, which is  tiresome. I’m changing the format.

So back to the entry.

I live on the eighth floor of an apartment block. Walking down the stairs takes an age, especially when half asleep. Needless to say, I use the lift. The only thing is the lift is small. A journey shared with a perfect stranger is to get to know that person  intimately.

Yesterday morning, my oh so nice neighbour – with whom I have nothing in common – joined me in the lift for the third morning in a row. Sunday’s topic of conversation was the cold weather. Monday’s words were on the uselessness of storage heating. This morning’s exchange was different.

I was already in the lift when I heard his apartment door bang. His keys rattled. He hastened once he saw I held the door open.

“Morning,” he said in his usual cheerful manner. He flashed his good smile.

“Hi, again,” I said. It was 08.15 and I was not in the mood to talk.

He made some general chat. I looked up and cut across him.

“You’ve toothpaste on your face,” I said, pointing to my left cheek in an attempt to guide him.

“Really?” He rubbed his cheek vigorously. “Is it gone?”

“Yes, it is.”

It was only when spoke, I realised my observation may have been out of place. I was grateful when the elevator reached ground floor. I bolted from the confined space. I wished him good day and assessed the weirdness of commenting on a practical stranger having toothpaste on his cheek.

Hey Mumble, Mumble Italiano

Two Fridays ago, I felt the need for a good night out; a few drinks, laughs and a dance. A few texts later, it transpired my friends, Shane and Brian, intended doing the same. I agreed to join them later that night. To offset the calorie value of a night on the beer, I decided to hit the gym before joining my friends. One must watch those sneaky beer-calories, y’know.

Following a brisk workout, I marched home to shower and change. Brian and Shane, already in town, instructed me to join them at my leisure. I showered, shaved and rifled through my wardrobe. I had few clean clothes. I threw on a shirt – too tight for my liking – that I had acquired in a sale for €7. I pulled on my jeans, tucking in the shirt, and fastened my ensemble with a brown studded belt. I ran for the door in untied brown shoes, intending to tie my laces in the lift.

Hogan’s was busy, filled with its usual mish mash of well dressed and funky characters. Shane and Brian were, as usual, in good form. We chatted, howling with laughter regularly. Two “swiftys” later, I crossed the road to the Dragon, to boogie until the wee hours.

Shane and I performed our usual ritual of flamboyant dance moves on a sparsely occupied dance floor. Brian watched and giggled. Now and again, I left the company of Shane and Brian to scope out the talent on offer. While standing on my own near the dance floor, a guy approached from my right and tapped my shoulder. He was average looking. His wrinkled shirt, which he had nicely paired with bad shoes, hung loose over his jeans.

“Hi,” I said in expectation.

“Hi,” he replied loudly, to compensate for the loud music. He moved in front of me, obviously determined to have a deep and meaningful. Despite his close proximity, he continued to shout. He bellowed “where are you from?”

“Ireland,” I replied shyly.

“Ireland?” he responded with obvious surprise. “You look Italian. Your clothes and dark hair make you look Italian.”

“Oh right.”

He attempted to quash my obvious confusion with a compliment. “It’s a good thing.”

I side stepped to the left. Fighting the urge to sprint, I maintained eye contact and smiled. “Grazie mille,” I called as I moved away from him.

I shared the details of this interaction with Shane and Brian. “Why would he think I’m Italian?” I asked.

“It’s the hair,” answered Shane.

Within an hour of my awkward deflection, another man approached me. This fellow was much younger than the last guy. He was tall and gangly, demonstrating a slight stoop as he leaned in to talk. He seemed inebriated. He blasted words into my ear as we made tedious conversation.

“Your English is really good.” He leaned back, smiling, in expectation of some appreciation for his kind words.

“I told you I’m Irish,” I said in an unfriendly tone. “I’m from Dublin.”

“I know, but I don’t believe you.”

We continued to talk for a minute more, before I used a well-practised dismissal. I touched his forearm and smiled warmly. “It was nice talking to you. Have a good evening.”

“Same to you.” He turned and rejoined his friends in the corner.

I remained near the dance floor. What the fuck? I asked myself. Am I giving off some Italiano vibe or wha? I ventured to the bathroom to make sure I hadn’t subconsciously painted the Italian flag to my face. I checked myself in the mirror. My hair, which I had earlier spent seconds spiking, sagged and appeared slicked back. This particular hair product has a habit of making my hair look darker. The ill-fitting, tight shirt, tucked into my jeans compounded my Italian appearance. I shrugged. Meh, what of it? I thought. I returned to my standing place near the dance floor.

Within minutes, another potential suitor, a man in his early thirties, greeted me. I checked him out. His cheeks were flushed and rosy. His hair had no particular style. I knew he was in the club alone. He resembled someone separated from his friends, during a night out in the “Big Shhmoke”, who happened to stumble upon a gay bar. I looked down at his feet, expecting to find wellies.

“Hello,” I said in return of  his greeting.

He leaned in. He shaped his mouth into an “O”, as he over-pronounced his words, loudly, and slowly, in that unmistakeable manner only used by English speakers when addressing foreigners. “Where are you from?” I sighed and thought for a second.

“I am-a frrrrom Rrrroma” I cried enthusiastically in my best Italian accent, ensuring I used stereotyped hand gestures.

“Really?” he asked with raised eye brows.

I rounded my answer with a higher pitch. “Yesss-a.”

“Why are you in Dublin?”

“I am-a ‘ere for learrrrning my English-a.”

“Your English is very good.”

If I genuinely were foreign, I would definitely be insulted by this condescending fucker. I smiled proudly. “Grazie,” I said. “I learn-a my English-a in schooool-a forrrr five-a yearrrs-a”. I held five fingers in front of his face.

“It’s really very good. How long have you been in Dublin for? Are you in college?”

“I ‘ave-a been in Dublino forrrr two months-a. I am-a working ‘ere.”

“Do you work in a restaurant?”

“Yesss-a!” I exclaimed loudly, to stifle a laugh. “I work-a in-a restaurrrrant-a.”

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

I nodded. “Yesss-a, I ‘ave-a an Boyfrrrriend at home-a in Rrrroma.”

“Do you? And do you like Irish men?”

I held myself for a moment to give the impression of a pensive stance. I flicked my hand in front of me with an extended finger. “I like-a Irish men not-a-so-much-a.”

My new friend looked curious. He came closer. “Why is that?”

With my arms stretched both sides of me, as if delivering an operatic finalé,  I proclaimed “they drrrink-a toooo-much-a”.

My companion, with no good bye or parting words, turned and left my side.

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

Nip, Tuck, Straighten and Pluck

I hate my thighs and ass. When I put on weight I develop an ass that would give Beyoncé a run for her money. In my teens, I was tall and slender. Into my twenties, my subconscious prepared for a nuclear Winter by stockpiling lard in my thighs, hips and ass. I would kill for the silhouette of a male model as opposed to my shape, which resembles two or three models huddled together. Three or four years ago, I achieved a body I should have been proud of. I was lean – I had a flat stomach with good definition. My arms, shoulders and pecs filled a T-shirt nicely. My legs and thighs were solid. I obtained this physique by spending roughly ten hours a week in the gym, doing cardio, weight lifting and spinning. I calorie counted on a daily basis. My obsession reached its peak when I used an excel chart to graph my fat, protein and carbohydrate intake. I allowed myself treats now and again, compensating with an extra push during a workout. In my head it was all worthwhile; in my opinion I looked great. My friends disregarded my broad shoulders and bulging biceps, paying attention to my sunken eyes and ashen palor. Only when I regained weight did honest opinions emerge.

“I am putting on weight again,” I moaned to Joanne one day.

“You look great Stephen,” she comforted. “You were too thin!”

“Too thin? I looked great!”

“No, Stephen, you looked sick. You looked ill.” There was an unexpected firmness in her voice.

I was taken aback by Joanne’s comment. I was obsessive with weight loss yet I don’t feel I had an eating disorder. I question the reason for this distorted self-image. Advertising and media are often criticised for bombarding women with unrealistic portrayals of beauty, encouraging eating disorders. The same accusations can be made at male orientated media, perhaps to a lesser extent, since it traditionally did not focus so much on the male physique. Historically, actors such as Marlon Brando and Rock Hudson carried significant influence on the interpretation of male image in the 50s and 60s. Both actors – albeit through their portrayal in movies – appealed equally to men and women alike. Today’s portrayal of male and female beauty has more in common than ever. The portrayal of male beauty centres more on physical body – muscles and weight – than actual “manliness”. This is illustrated in men’s magazines that contain information on achieving the despairingly elusive washboard stomach. Countless men’s magazines boast secrets for the “killer abs”. In reality, a six-pack is achievable only by maintaining a relatively unhealthy body fat, rigorous approach to healthy eating and good genealogy. The facts are ignored by thousands of men who purchase these magazines on a regular basis.

I know many vain men. Gay men after all are perhaps the most narcissistic sub-category on Earth. However, increasing numbers of straight men are following suit in the amount of care paid towards their appearance. The modern portrayal of male beauty can be blamed for the advent of the metrosexual. David Beckham, undoubtedly the most famous metrosexual, was iconic for both his athletic ability and high ranking in the style stakes, during his hay day. His prowess on the football field reinforced his ability to be daring in his choice of attire. He popularised countless hair styles among teenagers around the world. Roll forward ten years and Beckham – and his modern equivalents – are role models for working-class teenagers. Cue the creation of the chav. The male chav, associated dress code and hairstyles, is a massive reinforcement to metrosexuality and an attack on the manly man of old.

As comfortable as I am discussing my own body-issues, I was surprised when one day Best-Friend and I openly discussed our personal hang ups with our appearance. Men – gay or straight – rarely do this. I recall mentioning how happy I am to have pursued orthodontic treatment. The conversation eventually turned to what we would change about our bodies, if we could.

“Once my braces come off, I’m getting laser whitening. Think Donny Osmond!”

Best-Friend admitted an insecurity, again prompting my turn.

“I am going to look into laser hair removal for my monobrow. I pluck so much I’m afraid a chunk of my face will one day come off.”

Following a discussion of cosmetic surgeries, it was revealed neither of us would consider anything more drastic than Botox. Walking through Stephen’s Green, I pointed to my crow’s feet and prominent frown lines on my forehead. I have no issue with age. I can’t wait to go grey. It just seems that for a certain amount of money I can pay to treat an insecurity. My once crooked teeth will be Hollywoodesque within two years. I can rid myself of a monobrow for €130. Should I develop a deep furrow, I can “fill” it, costing €300. For the first time in history cosmetic alteration is available to the public at large. Instead of dealing with insecurity we can simply spend to dispose of it. We do so because we can. Considering the proliferation of cosmetic treatments among the wider public, it’s no surprise increasing numbers of men invest in their appearance. At the height of the recession, Debenhams, London recently reported a doubling in the number of men availing of eyebrow – or “guybrow” – shaping. The Celtic Tiger was partly responsible for the expansion of the Grafton Barber franchise, a styling and grooming service offered in the guise of a traditional barber’s. Despite increasing sales of men’s hair straighteners in Europe, few men openly admit to owning one.  Society has progressed to allow man take pride in his appearance, only if he does so in a “manly” way. If he does it in a “pansy” way, he should keep it to himself.

Number Withheld

Half way through my journey home to Athlone yesterday by bus, my phone rang. The caller display was unpopulated. Number withheld. I questioned whether I should answer it. I chose to. I pressed a button and held the phone to my ear.

“Hello,” I said sheepishly.

A deep, heavily-accented, male voice responded. “Hello.” The accent was Eastern-European.

“Eh, hi.” I could hear nervousness in my voice.

“Who is this?” asked the male voice gruffly.

“I’m Stephen. Who are you?”

“I am Tony.”

“Hi. Where did you get my number from, Tony? I don’t think I know you.”

“You called my phone late on Tuesday night,” said Tony. “Why did you call my phone?”

I stammered. “Eh, I don’t know why I would call your phone. I can only imagine I dialled a wrong number. I am sorry about that, if it is the case.”

“OK,” said Tony.

“Is that it?” I questioned. I felt brave.

“Yes,” said Tony after a slight hesitation.

“Good bye, Tony” I said firmly. I hung up.

I put down my mobile. A chill ran down my spine. Who the fuck was that? The mysterious, deep, accented voice unnerved me. I stared out the window, admiring the eskers of Westmeath. I allowed my brain process recent events. My thoughts were interrupted. My mobile rang again It was an 085 number this time.

I answered. “Hello?”

“This is Tony again.”

“Hello again, Tony.”

“I feel bad about calling you. I have to be honest. I was checking my wife’s mobile and your number was a missed call on Tuesday night.”

“Are you accusing me of having an affair with your wife, Tony?” I asked him.

Tony laughed. “I am a very jealous guy. I found your number and I stressed.”

“Well Tony, if it is any relief to you, I am not the type of guy that would be into your wife. I am on a bus at the moment. I can’t really elaborate on that.”

He laughed again. “I understand.”

“So you weren’t in Angels on Tuesday night?”

“Angels?” It was my turn to laugh. “As I just said, Angels wouldn’t be my type of place. Does your wife work in Angels, Tony?

“Yes, she did until recently.”

“Wow,” I responded.

“I am very sorry for bringing this on you.” He sounded genuinely apologetic.

“Don’t worry about it. Take care of yourself.”

“You too!”

With his parting words I hung up.

I sat on the bus smiling like an ostracised weirdo. That was hilarious. I had just been accused of having an affair with some guy’s wife. Out of curiosity I checked my dialled numbers. I found an unknown number in the directory. I remembered dialling incorrectly Tuesday night. I dialled 087 instead of 086. It was very Sliding Doors.

I texted Tony: “Hi, Tony. I found your wife’s number in my phone. It genuinely was a wrong number. You are very lucky to have such a beautiful wife!”

Tony replied. “How do you know my wife is beautiful?”

“I figure she dances at Angels and receives a lot of male attention to warrant your jealousy. It figures!”

“:-)”

I felt cheeky. “You’re probably hot too. Enjoy your beautiful wife, Tony.”

“Enjoy your life. You are a good person.”

One incorrect digit in a telephone number put me in contact with a lap dancer from Angels. This lap dancer happened to have an insanely jealous husband. I clutched my mobile in my hand, asking myself if the events of the last  ten minutes were real.

Foot in Mouth Disease

I was at Boyfriend’s family home on New Year’s Day. I sat on the couch nursing a woeful hangover. Boyfriend’s Dad Malachy busied himself, tidying one or two things away. While he moved about the room, I noticed how slim he looked.

“Malachy,” I said. “You’ve lost a lot of weight since I saw you last. Have you tips on how I could shed my Christmas Belly?”

Malachy continued to tidy around him. He plumped a cushion and placed it on the couch. He looked up at me. “Have a stroke,” he replied.

I stammered. “Er, no. I meant I think you’ve lost weight since I saw you a few weeks ago, not since your stroke.”

“I’ve lost no weight,” he replied.

I turned to Boyfriend, who sat next to me on the couch. I cringed. He laughed. I knew to let it drop.

Some Just Can’t Say “Good Bye”

I can be dreadfully intolerant of other people’s differences. However, time has taught me tolerance and lessons. There was a moment in canteen last week, when I was able to impart wisdom to a colleague. Colleague complained that a co-worker left our work place for the last time, without giving a proper good bye. I regaled her with a story:

“I once moved in with a friend. We lived together for almost a year. We weren’t the best of mates, but we were close. Circumstances changed for her and she moved to London, intending to rent her house to me and other tenants.”

“I remember the day she was due to move out. It was a week day and she was up earlier than I. I was about to leave for work and remember noticing how little of her belongings were packed. She complained about how much work she had to do. ‘You’ll be fine,’ I comforted her. She said she would see me later that evening. I did not say good bye.”

“I purposely came home straight after work to catch her before she left. Approaching the house from the driveway, it was obvious there was no one home. I turned on the lights and realised how stark the house was with my housemate’s belongings. All her personal effects were gone.”

“It was a little upsetting. I couldn’t believe she wouldn’t make the time to give a proper good bye. Everywhere I looked, I noticed absent items; photos, paintings, books and ornaments. I did my best not to get upset.”

“Weeks later, I told my friend  Angela of the events. ‘Why could she not even make the time to say goodbye?’ I asked her. ‘We lived together for a year. I find it upsetting’.”

“’Sweetie,’ said Angela. ‘Some people just can’t say good bye’”

“My friend left Ireland a few years ago. Since then, I’ve been in situations when this experience has proven valuable.”

“Some people just can’t say ‘good bye’.”

I’m coming out …

My first day of college was daunting; I did not know a soul. Luckily, day one of college involved what can only be termed an “integration exercise” to facilitate students’ getting to know one another. My “integration group” consisted of ten people. Everyone took part in tasks such as learning one another’s name using association games. Hours later we were blind folded and touching one another (often inappropriately), trying to guess the identity of the misfortunate subject. At the start of the day I knew no one. Hours later, I knew the name of my entire group. I even knew some random information about them.

At the end of our get-to-know-each-other-day we hit the pub. By three in the afternoon I was sitting the Hill 16 on Gardiner Street with my group, making banter over a pint of Bud. This was my first day of college. I hoped everyday thereafter would be the same as that day. As the hours creeped in, the numbers dwindled. Eventually, I was left with two red heads – Aoife and Fiona. This was the day I met Fiona, the girl I am good friends with to this very day.

Fiona has been a great friend over the years. We have never lived in one another’s pockets, but always made time for one another throughout college and our working lives. If one of us was blue, the other listened. We have had seriously funny moments in the past and will continue to do so long into the future. Fiona moved to Australia last year. I spoke to her by phone for the first time in a year on Sunday night. Although the line was bad, it was nice to hear from her. I have been thinking of her a lot since then.

She and I often make reference to the time I came out to her. This was around the end of my first academic year. I had worked through countless issues with my sexuality and was gradually revealing myself to one and all. Fiona was someone I wished to tell. The moment came late one night when Fiona and I were on the Mystery Tour*. We had been drinking almost ten hours at this stage. Booze always made the task lof coming out seem less daunting.

Fiona sat at a table with some students from my class. I shimmied in next to her. We attempted conversation over the loud music that blared through Rockin’ Robins, Carrick on Shannon. I stooped as close to her as I could without disturbing her friends.

“Fiona, I have something important to tell you?” I shouted into her ear.

“What, Steve?” Fiona clearly struggled to hear me over the music. She leaned forward, almost falling off her stool.

“I have something to tell you!”

“What?”

“I need to tell you something you probably already know. It’s important for our friendship that I tell you for the sake of it”

Fiona leaned away from me. She looked down and placed her hands on her lap as if contemplating something. “I think I know what you are going to say, Steve.”

“You do?” I asked. I was elated she would make this easier on me.

“I’ve known for a while. I have been meaning to talk to you. I know how you feel and I can honestly say I just don’t feel the same.” She looked at me sympathetically.

Shock coursed through me. “Eh, I’m gay.”

“You’re gay?” she asked in surprise.

“Yes, gay.”

Alcohol deleted my remembrance of her reaction to this news. Since I know Fiona well, I imagine she laughed uncontrollably in the incredibly contagious way she does. She probably even banged the table in front of her.

This was been a defining time in our friendship. I even laugh away to myself as I recall it. When we are alone, and I suggest we do something, Fiona will often respond by saying “sorry Steve, but I just don’t feel the same”. It never fails to induce laughter.

I miss you babe. Look after yourself.

*The Mystery Tour involved setting out around 11AM with the intention of visiting three mystery nightclubs over about fourteen hours. The freakiest moment was dancing in a nightclub in Enfield at 3PM in the afternoon. Some windows had been blacked out with bin liners. We finished up in Rockin’ Robins in Carrick on Shannon. I remember getting home at 6AM the next day. It probably took me a week to recover.