Tag Archives: hilarious

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.

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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.