She checked her phone again. Jerry was now an hour late and they’d only rented the room for two. There were stains on the carpet, stains on the wall and she could hear the couple upstairs fucking. Jesus. They were going at it so hard the light fixture in the ceiling above her was rattling. She went to the window, looking again for Jerry.
There was a loud cracking, then a louder crash. A bed fell through, landing where she’d been standing seconds before. She gasped. She ran from the room, wailing. “Honey,” Jerry cried, “please, I can explain!”
Just as a reminder: I’ve been having a terrible block lately when it comes to writing, so to get myself out of it I asked my friend Keira to make an alphabetical list of topics or words for me to work on to get me writing again.
Dear Mr. Yao of the Red Panda Cookie Company,
On the fifth of February I received one of your “Wise Dragon Deluxe” fortune cookies while dining at the Yum-Yum River Restaurant here in Cork City. I found it to be dry and tasting strangely of red lemonade and cigarettes. I don’t know if this was the taste your company had intended or if there was a mix-up on the production line but, frankly, I don’t care. The taste of your cookies is not what has driven me to pen this letter.
I am, in fact, taking issue with the fortune I received. It read “Nothing happens the way yuo [sic] expect”. At first I was dismayed at the typo but it is the larger consequences of this fortune that have moved me to correspondence. How accurate are these “fortunes” your company distributes in strange tasting savoury snacks? I ask because I am a man prone to meticulous planning. I work in the stationary retail business and am three years into a fifteen year plan designed to elevate me to the coveted position of district manager of a whole chain of stationary retail outlets with special responsibilities in pen and paper deployment. I have my ascension through the ranks carefully plotted, week by week, and until the evening of the fifth of this month I was assured of success. Now, having read the fortune supplied in your cookie, I don’t know what to think! If nothing happens the way I expect it to, I am forced to confront the possibility that I will not achieve the position of “district manager with special responsibilities in pen and paper deployment” in the time I have planned. At my darkest hour, it even occurred to me this may never happen at all, but that is an outcome I have banished from my mind as it makes me physically ill. Who, Mr. Yao of the Red Panda Cookie Company, do you think you are, sending out fortunes into the world that have the power to upset people so? Continue reading
You should probably know that from here on in, Keira’s suggestions for titles become increasingly tenuous. Seriously Keira, ‘Many things I hate’? That’s cheating. But here we go…
- I hate when guys try to make conversation at the urinal. You’re drunk, I know, I’m a little tipsy myself. But you will notice that we are standing in front of a trough, cocks in hand, urinating. It may be different in gay saunas, but here, in the men’s bathroom of a pub, the fact that I’m holding my cock in my hand is not a signal for you to begin a conversation. Oh great, now I can’t anymore. Thanks.
- I hate when people use the word ‘gay’ in reference to something that’s shit, lame or disappointing. Even my friends do it and I hate that I don’t have enough courage to call them on it when they do. The word gay shouldn’t be equated with something that is bad. “But Eoghan,” you’ll say, “words change in meaning all the time. When we use it, we don’t mean something is actually ‘homosexual’.” Yes, but before it meant homosexual, it meant ‘happy’ but when you call things gay, you don’t mean they’re happy. It’s use as a pejorative term stems directly from the attitude that homosexuality itself is bad and whether or not you make that link yourself, using the word ‘gay’ in that way perpetuates the attitude. You wouldn’t use the word ‘queer’, why would you use ‘gay’? Continue reading
When I was three feet shorter and three times wiser, I always hid under tables at family gatherings, weddings and my parents’ dinner parties. I was a ninja and that’s what ninjas do. It’s also what my old cat did and if it was good enough for Spiral, it was good enough for me. Slipping down beneath the table, the world became a forest of legs – both human and wooden – where Spiral and I would listen to adult conversations we couldn’t comprehend. We were useless spies really. Continue reading
Sometimes, I find myself thinking about friendship, about what it is and how it even happens and it begins to seem so strange. It’s like when you say a word over and over until it loses meaning and you’re left with this sound in your mouth that you can’t really understand. I mean, here are these people, that I’ve met at different points in my life and in different ways and even though I didn’t really know them, there was something about them I found attractive. I don’t mean attractive in a physical sense – although I have remarkably beautiful friends – but in the sense that there was something in their personalities that drew me in and made me want to spend more time with them. Some of my closest friends come from my school days and I can’t even remember how I became friends with them. It just feels like they were always there. With certain people, I can remember in a narrative sense how we know each other – the connections that led to our friendship forming. But I can’t remember how those friendships formed; that moment when the person went from being someone of whose existence I was aware to someone who’s existence matters to me on such an emotional level it’s almost scary.
Most of my closest friends have been my friends for the best part of a decade. And then there’s Keira, who came out of nowhere.
“No thanks, I have no interest in any of that,” you say, bashfully, and close the door. You return to your lunch and immediately ask yourself why you didn’t engage them in conversation. One of those intellectually engaging conversations – or maybe the proper word is debate, perhaps even argument – that go round and round and persuade no one to change their minds. Taking a bite of soup-dipped toast, you tell yourself you’re secure enough in your atheism that they’d never have managed to sway you. You would have failed to even dent their fervent belief too, no doubt. Then what would have been the point? Is life not too short to run around in circles like that?
Blowing on a spoonful of soup, you think about their strange sales pitch. The woman – Polish maybe, in her thirties but dressed like she’s in her sixties – held up a copy of their magazine, Watchtower, and asked you to consider an article she was pointing to. Something about God. You weren’t really paying attention; you were distracted by the strangeness of the action. What if you went from door to door with a copy of the Irish TImes, asking people to consider some random article you pointed at? They’d have been as quick closing the door on you as you had been closing the door on those two. The other Witness – a man, in his forties, with a luxuriously bushy mustache - stood to one side, just nodding his head. What he was nodding at, you can’t guess. For a moment, you hope you didn’t offend them by cutting them off so quickly and closing the door. They’d only have been wasting their own time as much as yours, you reason. Anyway, they’re used to that, it’s part of the deal, it’s the challenge of going to these strangers houses and trying to ‘save’ them.