Tag Archives: Sick

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.



A cough developed in a couple of hours. This was followed by high fever, chills, nausea, headaches and fatigue. I went to the doctor this morning. It’s official; I have swine flu.


Monday’s Weirdo

Why on Earth do the weirdoes of Dublin just feel compelled to talk to me? If I am on a bus and a stinking, wobbly drunk gets on, chances are he’ll sit next to me. When I am on a crowded street, I am always the person who is be approached by odd balls. Most people do not engage. I am not most people.

Today’s weirdo stopped me outside my office. I was walking to Tesco to buy lunch (that turned out to be awful). This strange fellow looked a little like an unwashed, unkempt and toothless Kenny G. He wore a khaki fisherman type hat. He stopped me in my tracks, raised his cane and pointed in the direction of my workplace.

“Excuse me; do you know if there is a phone mast on top of your building?”

I looked along his cane and followed the direction it pointed. “I don’t know,” I stuttered. “Why do you ask?” In my naivety I thought he might be a cooky telecoms engineer that might suggest we put a telephone mast on our three storey office block. Alternatively, I thought he might have been angry that his mobile had very bad coverage. “Perhaps, he is canvassing for a telephone mast to be located on the roof of my office”, I said in my inner-voice.

“I thought there might be a mast on your building. I live in this area and some of my neighbours and I are continually sick with colds and flu. I saw a television programme that implied that long-term proximity to telephone masts can cause illness. I wondered if there was one on your building.”

As daft as I can be at times, I did not dare tell him my desk was not located on the roof of my building. Nor did I think it appropriate to tell him that the building has only been there a few years; it’s highly unlikely he has been subjected to the ‘effects’ of a telephone mast for much time. I definitely did not mention there was no scientific evidence to suggest that long-term exposure to electro-magnetic waves has any form of effect on human health.

Instead of an exchange of views, I backed away in the direction of Tesco.

“Perhaps, you should call the management of the building. Sorry, I don’t know their name.”

“Thanks, I will do that” he called after me.

Conversation from Lunch

This is a conversation from lunch time in our noisy staff canteen:

MyopicPsychotic (MP): “The doctor told me to eat more fruit and veg for my stomach”.

Colleague: “Who told you to eat more veg?”

MP: “The doc”

Colleague: “What did you just say about Gok?”

MP: “No! I did not flash my cock. Why would I do that?”

Purple Puke

I was so sick on Saturday morning. We were in Boyfriend’s parents’ house. I had been out with him and the clan the night before and awoke early Saturday morning with heaving stomach cramps. I am now familiar with the discomfort of child labour. Boyfriend and his parents speculated on the cause of the illness. Majority leaned towards the fuck off onion rings I had devoured on the way back from the pub a few hours earlier. They were huge; I’d never seen so much batter on anything. I begged Boyfriend to drive me home. During the drive home he and I fought.

“Oh my fucking God,” he roared while the electric window wound open. “That smell is unearthly. What the fuck?”

“Fuck you,” I roared back at him. “I can hardly do anything about the smell of my farts when I am so sick”.

“Don’t roar at me like that,” he protested angrily.

“Don’t complain about my bodily functions, while I am extremely ill.”

I seethed with anger. Neither of us spoke for a few minutes until we apologised to one another. The remainder of the drive was probably one of the longest journeys ever. I felt every bump and turn in the road. Stomach cramps washed over me every few seconds. Sweat covered my brow and back. I was suffering from a chill and felt so cold. Boyfriend’s parents had recommended a concoction of brandy and port to settle my stomach. The home remedy sloshed idly in my stomach. I felt increasingly nauseous.

The car eventually rolled up the driveway of our house. “Do you want to get out?” Boyfriend asked before switching the engine off. I was already out of the car. I scrambled to the hall door and fumbled around for the key. It was then I foresaw what would happen. I leaned forward on the wheelie bin and threw up purple bile all over the driveway of our house in broad daylight. I turned towards the car and looked pleadingly towards Boyfriend, who sat in the driver’s side of the car open mouthed and in shock. I turned away and puked again. I regained my composure quickly. Boyfriend drew my attention from within the car.

“Go inside,” he mouthed from within the car as he pointed to the hall door.

I tried to open the door again before heaving another amount of discoloured stomach fluid. Boyfriend joined me in the kitchen to fetch boiling and bleach to remove the street art from his driveway. “Tell your parents that I am grateful for their home remedy, but I don’t think it was useful in this case”. I set off in the direction of bed. I lay under two duvets and waited for my pain to pass.

A Trip to the Pharmacy

One bank holiday last year, I was very, very sick. I had a bad fever, stomach cramps, achy joints and diarrhoea. I was in agony. I couldn’t eat and couldn’t sleep. I had been knocked down with a bout of the most horrendous viral infection, Gastric Flu. I called my wise mother and asked for a remedy. She advised me to visit the pharmacy. The HSE instructs us to use our local pharmacy as an outlet for medical advice to not to clutter up the A&E waiting rooms. From my experience, Pharmacy employees love questions from their customers. I visited pharmacists a many to learn how I could combat my ailment. After entering a countless number of pharmacies, I was at a loss. I was told to just “ride it out”. I would be better in a few days. I expected to come upon a (much needed) nugget in one of the many shops I visited. I was getting rather impatient and the stomach cramps were intensifying. At my final stop I remembered I needed something to relieve my pain.


This is pretty much how the conversation went:


Stephen – Hello, can I please have some sachets of Dioralyte?

Girl behind the counter – What flavour would you like?

Stephen – Whatever. It doesn’t really matter …

Girl behind the counter – There you go (she places sachets on the counter)

Stephen – Thanks! Might you have any moist wipes?

Girl behind the counter – Moist wipes?

Stephen – Yes, moist wipes.

Girl behind the counter – For your hands?

Stephen – No, not for my hands?

Girl behind the counter – For your face?

Stephen – No, not for my face.

Momentary pause between Stephen and the Girl behind the counter. She appears confused

Stephen – (in a slightly raised voice) I don’t mean to be crude, but … I have DIARRHOEA.

Girl behind the counter – laughs to herself