Tag Archives: Men

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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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.

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.

Rating Speed Dating

Speed dating was created in Beverly Hills in 1998. Since then it has soared in popularity. The official match-making service was popularised in its portrayal in Sex and the City. I heard about speed dating years ago and always wanted to try it. The opportunity came when Romeo, Romeo – Juliette, Juliette targeted a speed dating service at the gay community. Six weeks ago, I bit the bullet and signed up. My attempt to bring mates failed; I ventured alone. To describe myself as nervous on the night is a massive understatement. Outside the venue, BrasserieSixty6, I centred myself with deep breaths. I eventually mustered some courage and entered the restaurant. The atmosphere, enhanced by the hosts, was welcoming and friendly. Tables with large, flickering candles lined one side of the room. Nibbly bits were on offer. Before the kick off, I chatted with many guys, assisted by a generous glass of white wine. It wasn’t long before I was at ease.

The (good looking) host, Anthony Nolan gave me my name badge and number before explaining the mechanics. “When you take your seat, write down the name and number of your date. Following your date, mark the box next to their name that indicates whether you are or are not interested in seeing them again. If you’re interested, you can opt to meet them either as a friend or date.”

Speed dating is an overwhelming experience that evicts anyone from their comfort zone. Chatting to fourteen men I never met before did my confidence much good. While I might not have met the love of my life, I did meet numerous guys with whom I would like to pursue friendship; Anthony Nolan explained how difficult it is for gay men to meet people Dublin when they might prefer not to socialise in bars and clubs.

My first date sat at table fourteen. I introduced myself and asked questions, lots of questions. On reflection, I pretty much put the same questions to every guy. Now and again, good conversation struck up, allowing me to deviate from my scripted interrogation. During one date, I asked a guy where he was from since he looked like a girl I knew. He laughed. I guess he declined to meet me again.

Looking back on the evening, I am unsure why I was nervous. Everyone was there for the same reason – to meet new people. Speed dating is without a doubt a good way to make new friends, which in today’s age is challenging. I give it my recommendation. Why would a singleton avoid it, when all it does is provide mates and dates?

Brace Yourself

I am a twenty seven year old, braces wearing adult. This is hard to embrace sometimes. My mates and I have shared many a giggle in my attempt to cope with my mouth-paraphernalia through humour. Over the past six weeks of having braces, I have encountered numerous highs and lows along the route that will lead to a perfect smile. Here is a list of some peaks and troughs:

Dribble; for the first week or two, I had problems with excess saliva. I dribbled on myself numerous times. I was like a stroke victim. Most mornings I continue to wake up in a pillow full of drool. I worry about staining the pillow cases of my friends when I stay over. Dribbling gets particularly bad when I am hungry. My mouth gushes with spittle in the anticipation of nourishment.

Mouth Ulcers; this is by far the worst aspect of having braces. For the first few weeks, ulcers formed on my cheeks and tongue. I thought they’d never subside. Talking and eating was so difficult it impacted my mood. Ulcers are no longer a problem since my discovery of miracle product Aloclair. The creator of this product should be sainted in my opinion. I have set up a shrine to this person.

Speech; the dual effects of ulcers and excess saliva had a severe impact on my speech. Notable moments include asking for “two thoffees” in a café. During a conversation, I once referred to London and New York as “big sissies”. Luckily, over a month or so, I have adapted. I now over-pronounce words like a dodgy Shakespearian actor. I continue to have bad days when hung-over or tired.

Food; eating was so difficult that I gave it up for a few weeks. Food stuff just kept getting tangled. I shed a significant amount of weight. I’m unable to bite into things since my front teeth are sensitive. Foods like chips, rice and lettuce are avoided. I’ve brushed my teeth in a posh restaurant bathroom. Once, during a run, a small piece of ginger dislodged somewhere from my brace. It made for an unpleasant surprise.

Men; I reckon I am more conscious of my braces than other people are. On the rare occasion I am chatted up, I fear the guy might notice my train tracks and do a U-turn. A guy like this is obviously not worth knowing. I should think of it as a screening process. Should I meet Mr Nice, I have a mental image of him leaning in for a kiss and getting his tongue getting caught in my metallic finish. This is clearly ridiculous, but it has crossed my mind.

Overall, I know braces are not forever. I am gradually getting used to them. Part of my treatment requires me wearing a jaw expander for five months. I’ve posted a picture of this below. When the orthodontist presented this to me, I stared in disbelief, gawping at its considerable size. Within minutes he lodged it into my gob. I reckon this piece of equipment could convert a guy to Judaism within a few seconds.

 

 

 

Another Fashion Obsession

So if you know me, you’ll know I can be obsessive at times. It seems my obsession has latched onto jackets. Since the Diesel one below, the herringbone one with the hood that I wasn’t entirely sure of, is sold out, I now like this one. I’d hate to be disappointed. The detail and shape is very me. I wouldn’t be complete without it.

Just Dessert

This evening, I decided to take a trip into town to absorb the atmosphere that was Arthur’s Day. Before leaving my office, I shed my brown shoes and replaced them with white Adidas runners. My suit jacket was swapped for a baggy, brown Abercrombie hoodie. I’ve not shaved in two or three days. I looked rough. I had an hour to spare before meeting Joanne. I dropped into Brown Thomas.

I strolled around the men’s section of the store. A few items caught my attention. I bee lined to the shoe section. There I found a brown pair of Canali boots for a steal at €365. Unfortunately, my appearance drew no dirty looks from snobby Brown Thomas staff. I left the store disappointed. I was doubly saddened to learn no security guards followed me to the door. Maybe next time.

I met Joanne at Bewley’s for our usual salad in Café Bar Deli. She appeared from nowhere among the busy Grafton Street crowd. She looked as funky as ever in fitted jeans, blazer and a scarf. We entered the restaurant. While queuing to be seated, a vision in the form of a waiter appeared. Joanne’s eyes sparkled. The waiter noticed her gawp. He said hello. Joanne’s mouth hung open.

“Oh my God is he not the hottest thing ever?”

“I definitely would,” I agreed.

“Will you get his number for me?” she asked with contagious excitement.

“You should ask him yourself. I am not asking any more men for their number.”

“Please,” she begged.

“We’ll see,” I trailed off as a waitress approached to seat us.

On the walk to our table Jo and I noticed an unusually high number of good looking waiters. The restaurant was exceptionally busy. Not one of the handsome waiters had a second to spare. One whizzed by every second. We sat down, placed our order and sat tight for our food, which took nearly forty minutes. The selection of choice meats on offer did nothing to whet our appetites (for food). We were starved.

A handsome Puerto Rican waiter walked by the table. He was dark with black hair and large brown eyes. His black T-shirt clung to his muscular physique, complimenting his large biceps.

“I don’t like him,” Joanne said as she watched him from the corner of her eye.

“Why not?” I asked. My attention span waned due to hunger.

“He won’t acknowledge me. Do you think he is?”

“One of my friends? It’s hard to tell, Jo.”

“I bet all the staff in here are sleeping with one another. They’re all at it.”

“Listen to yourself,” I said. “You so need a shag.”

“True.”

The food eventually arrived. We cleared our plates in no time. I wanted something sweet and was pleased Jo agreed to share a brownie and ice-cream.  I thought she was exceptionally excited about dessert until I realised why her face was alight with joy. Her favourite waiter was on the approach. She caught his attention.

“Hi! Can we order dessert, please?” She said this with her best smile.

The handsome waiter was caught off guard.

“Yes, no problem. Let me clear your plates and get you menus.”

He was Spanish and even more attractive up close. Joanne and I watched him wide-eyed.

The waiter cleared the table and returned with two menus. He handed them to us.

“You can take it from here,” Joanne said as she closed the menu.

“Can I please get a brownie … Oh and can my friend give you her number?”

The waiter paused for a moment as if asking himself had I in fact said what I did. Joanne exploded into laughter. She assessed his face for a reaction. He looked at her and laughed nervously. He grabbed the menus and retreated rapidly.

“Are we going to get our brownie?” I asked. “Did we scare him away?”

“Oh my God, I can’t believe you just did that,” said Jo in disbelief.

“You asked me to ask him for his number.”

“Yeah, but I thought you would be a little more subtle than that. I am so embarrassed. I can never come in here again. Look! He’s telling one of the other waiters about me.”

“You told me to ‘take it from here’.”

“I meant for you to order dessert!”

“Oh. Sorry about that. Did I really embarrass you that much?” I asked with genuine concern.

“No. Don’t worry about it. I’ll get over it.” She laughed as she spoke.

Joanne and I laughed long and hard. The poor waiter came nowhere near our section of the restaurant. Joanne could see him in the distance as he kept us at bay. A waitress came to our table to see if we wanted dessert. I felt like suggesting she check on the welfare of her colleague. Instead, I requested she ensure a brownie was ordered for our table.

We waited for dessert in silence. Every time we looked at one another we just erupted into laughter. At one stage Joanne wiped a tear from her eye. She was paranoid that her favourite waiter was telling his colleagues of my request for his number.

She leaned in towards me. “You do realise he probably thinks we want a threesome.”

I laughed at this.

On the way out of the restaurant Joanne left my side while I paid.

“Where did you get to?” I asked on her return.

“I went to the waiter to apologise for your behaviour. I told him you like to embarrass me.”

“Did you get his number?”

“No, I didn’t.”

I shook my head.

Extreme Male Beauty

The first in a series of Channel 4’s documentary “Extreme Male Beauty” aired last night. The show is presented by controversial broadcaster Tim Shaw. Last night’s show followed Tim investigating cosmetic surgery for penile enhancement. During the hour long documentary, a tangent was introduced in the form of a man who required removal of excess skin, following dramatic weight loss. The focus of the show jumped back and forth between penile enlargements and life changing surgery for the previously obese gentleman. It was random to say the least.

I found the most interesting part of the show to be a discussion between a group of men, including Tim, discussing body issues. I was surprised to witness men openly reveal the size of their penis (on television). One individual admitted to having a penis of ten inches in length. Tim asked one man, who was black, the size of his penis. He sought to clarify whether it was true that black men have larger penises than white men. A discussion among the men showed they had little concern for the size, but all would opt for larger were the (unlikely) opportunity to arise.

Just in case one’s pallet was not wetted sufficiently, there was another element to the show. Tim researched home remedies and products that promised a longer penis. He bought a pump, a stretching device and researched techniques on the internet. I was appalled to see Tim actively use these devices on television. “Extreme Male Beauty”, which was one hour long, contained at least ten shots of Tim Shaw’s penis. Tim is by no means attractive. I certainly did not want to see that much of him. He seemed to live out a personal fantasy “by getting it out” on television. Frankly, I was sickened by it.

Another thing that really bugged me about the show was Tim’s use of terms like “winky”, “tackle”, “cock” and other assortments in place of the word “penis”. I found it a little pathetic when he discussed the surgical procedure for penile enhancement and referred to a needle being inserted into his “winky”. The only surgical procedure I would recommend to Tim Shaw is the removal of his “winky” for the safety of the public. I never, ever want to witness the atrocious sight of his “winky” on television again. I’ll personally remove it, if I have to.

Weathering Irish Weather

Yesterday evening, at around five o’clock, I took a bench in Stephen’s Green, a park in Dublin’s city centre. In the diminishing evening sunlight, I enjoyed eyeing passersby; a mixture of shoppers and workers journeying home.  The sun descended beneath the low-rise buildings, blanketing the world in a warm neon glow. A chill gradually set in. After a long, cold winter, a warm evening acts as a formal reception for the oncoming summer months. From my bench, I relished it. Just as Jetset said in her entry on “Thoughts from the Edge” yesterday, Irish people are funny about the weather. Not only do we Irish talk about the weather incessantly, but at the first sight of sunshine, we remove layers of clothing as a snake sheds layers of skin.

Bad weather generally doesn’t bother me to the extent it does most Irish people. Irish people endlessly complain about the weather. They take the Goldilocks approach; it’s either too cold or too wet, but never just right. My mother is a prime culprit. When it rains, she takes up a position by the window overlooking the field next to our house. From this location the overhanging grey sky and sheets of rain are most visible. She folds her arms in a standoffish manner, frowns heavily and curses the rain as if it were an unreliable best-friend. “We can’t do anything in this feckin’ weather. It’s terrible!” she’d proclaim, her frustration clearly evident. Chances are, if it the weather was dry, her and I would sit on the couch flicking through Sky Digital, complaining about the hundred channels of nothing to watch.

Recently, my overly extroverted friend, Joanne, and I recalled last year’s summer. She longed for the approaching summer months and spoke of it with fondness.  

“I can’t wait for the summer” she announced in her contagious, cheery tone. “We can hang out in Stephen’s Green like we used to. Remember how we rate people and their outfits?”

I laughed a little condescendingly. “If that is as exciting as our summer gets, we’ve a few quiet months ahead of us.”

This evening reminded me that we did in fact spend many a summer day and evening hanging out in Stephen’s Green. I recalled one such day in June when Joanne and I lay on a grassy patch, soaking up the sunshine, sprawled among an eclectic mix of people. A homeless man, familiar to Joanne, plonked himself down on the grass and nestled down for a sleep. Joanne volunteered to buy him a coffee, chocolate bar and muffin. Returning from the shop, she approached him. She gave him her charitable donation. The homeless man thanked her and requested that she place the generous offering on the ground next to him. Joanne returned to my side and observed him as he appeared to disregard her donation by returning to his slumber. She complained at his apparent snub towards her offering. I explained that he wasn’t obliged to eat her gift just because he is homeless.

I owe Joanne an apology for dismissing her accurate remembrance of our fondness for Stephen’s Green. She’s right. I can’t wait to reconvene on the Green as soon as the weather permits. I should acknowledge Jetset’s discovery of the gene she has branded “Irishness”. I embrace my Irishness. I, too, can’t wait to cast off my excessive layers of clothing. Deep down, I desire to act out some form of faux-Paganist summer worship by dancing naked in Stephen’s Green. Perhaps, Joanne might join me. Certain parties, such as the police and park wardens, probably won’t be so keen to witness this ritual. On second thoughts, the entire idea could be a little risky. I’ll just commit myself to spending time on the same bench as I did today. The prospects of ogling the scantily clad men playing soccer are all too appealing. A warm dry summer would be most welcome. If not for the sake of my pale, blue-veiny skin, let it be to spare me the incessant moans of my fellow Irish.

 

Stephen's Green on a March evening

Stephen's Green on a March evening