Poker Face

The waitress was scraping plates sadly into the bin. She seemed bored as she had no customers to attend to, for her it was going to be a long night.

A petite girl with tiny eyes and sharp features began to devour her basket of food, occasionally looking up from her phone she was immersed in. At another four-person table, one individual was sat with a sour look on his face, he wasn't alone though, two large burgers were there to keep him company.

The windows were fogged with steam and breath. After seeing a mediocre film, we were sharing a cosy fondue.

''I'm using this app where you like or dislike different users, and can chat with them, then, if you both match,'' I said.

Her eyes popped. "I actually know this one!"

She pointed at me. "Bidder!”

"What?" I asked.

"It's called Bidder, the one where you swipe and make a bid for people."

"Sort of. You're close. But it's actually called..."

"Don't tell me," she pondered for a few more seconds, moving her lips, though I think she was just reciting 'Bidder'.

"Okay, go on, then. What's it called?"

"Tinder," I retorted.

"No," she shook her head. "I preferred my one. Your name for it actually just doesn't make sense."


Eurotrip

It started, as ever, with a kiss.

It always starts with a kiss.

It never starts with four pints of lager, a worse for wear laptop, tatty Penneys pajamas and an overflowing ashtray, does it? That just doesn't sound romantic enough. It isn't a good enough story to recount at your imaginary promotion dinner, fancied wedding reception or to your theoretical grandchildren.

Except that's, exactly, where this story begins.

The room was illuminated by two small screens and orchestrated by the sound of eight tiny fingers tapping away.

I opened a fresh can. My Debit card was settled neatly and trophy-like on the armrest in full peripheral view.

Book! Book! Book! Book! Book!(!!!)


25

I wrote this post as a series of microsections, chronicling random experiences up to now. Some could argue that the format mirrors my unstructured days and lack of direction. 
                                              ___________________________________________


At six, my first class teacher suggests that I go and see a Speech and Language Therapist. "He needs help pronouncing his Rs and INGs," she explains at the school-gate one day pityingly. My appointment is every Thursday evening at half-five in Galway city, and it quickly becomes an idyllic little date night between my mother and I. We always go shopping together beforehand and get in for early bird specials in cheap restaurants. We study our paper-menu place-mats in silence, ultimately ordering the same thing we've had before. It's heavenly, I discover a new quality in her - a friend. I have a special folder filled with games and activities teaching me how to move my tongue in a certain way to create and digest basic sounds I have not yet mastered. I tirelessly practice them at home with my siblings. "Listen to me say Wobber, Dad!" I demand, perched like a King, triumphantly upright at the head of the dining room table, tooting my own horn. On the fifth or sixth visit I tell the HSE professional I love her, whilst simultaneously handing over a drawing I sketched of a camel smiling. The work-of-art is a dazzling emblem of our relationship. A keepsake of our colourful time together. She smiles and tells me she'll frame it. After that episode I never have to go back again. "His speech impediment is miraculously cured," she cheers gloriously down the phone. Go figure.



Learning

I arrived at five to nine, checked in with reception, and took my seat.

I plonked myself down, edged tentatively, and started rifling through old trashy mags from the early noughties. I'm sure Paris Hilton would be pleased to know that in this cosmetic surgery's waiting room, she was still front cover material.

It was scant solace to see other people there. I heaved a sigh of relief. I considered it reassuring, in a way, knowing that I wasn't fully alone, mentally and physically. Camaraderie of sorts, strength in numbers, and whatnot.

The room was eerily quiet. After I was done nosing on heyday Paris, I watched in silence for a bit. I found the awkward atmosphere comforting. It allowed the seriousness of my whereabouts to properly sink in, no distractions to allay my fears. Everyone was equally ill at ease in the environment, familiar or unfamiliar, regulars or first-timers, it didn't hold any significance, they were all still unsettled by the surroundings. This wasn't a sea of smiling faces, thrills were scarce in this hostile space.



Anxiety Attacks

It starts with a pitter-patter innocently tapping on my shoulders, I hope and pray that this time it might be different, easier, more-forgiving. 

This is not some must-have fashion accessory.

I quickly realise it's not soft, sodden, kind drops I'm sensing and everything is about to unfurl dramatically. This is a shrieking, keening omen of the carnage to follow. 

The sky darkens into gravel-grey, large clouds form, hailstones descend. The force intensifies and falls down heavily. I'm left with no shelter from the huffing wind and being swept away in a mighty flood. It's all whipping up into a frenzy of mass destruction. 

This is not a 'quirk', or something you want.




It's not you, It's me

We were in a crowded bar.

He cleared his throat with a little cough, then began a speech that he'd no doubt delivered many times before.

Our eyes met with uncanny precision.

I felt my face flush. I knew exactly where he was going, I was like a deer gazing into the barrel of the hunter's gun.

My smile faded and my eyes narrowed.

He let each word out slowly like I was a dumb little kid who needed help understanding, pausing for emphasis.

The clock hand moved slower.

He asked in a kind, compensatory tone, if we could be friends. Because that's something I really needed, another fake friend added to my repertoire. I'm sure there was more to it. He meant well, but the words rang hollow, his voice seemed to trail off into the background. Three dates in, I was a redundant little extra to his world.

I wanted to respond with a clever remark, but I nodded quietly, glumly impassive to his wittering, holding my tongue. It was like he was offering me financial advise or a pre-flight safety demonstration. I tried not to say anything stupid and make things worse. The nonchalance probably exacerbated any remaining air of intimacy.




Leo

"It must be hugely exciting, Varadkar being Taoiseach," my barber raved, mid-way through cutting my hair.

"Right," I answered distantly, bewildered, not wanting to be drawn into conversation.

"It will be great for you, I bet you think it's fab," she added quizzically.

"Yep!" I said uneasily, in the vaguest terms possible, to obscure the fact I know next to nothing about politics.

I offered a supportive half-smile, to discourage further probing.

"He'll do no wrong in your eyes, and many others, he has a lot of back-up," she clarified, making it abundantly clear she was referring to his sexuality, chipping away at some inane identity political theory she had contrived in her head.

I sensed annoyance, probably because I was being incredibly uncooperative in indulging her by being the accomplice to the interview.

I winced in disbelief, and chewed on the inside of my cheek.

"Will you be long more?" I said with more authority than I felt, wanting no further business with Nancy Drew's spawn.

"Two minutes," she replied, craning my head back. 


Mosqidou

Mosqidou is a music production and clothing company calling for the unification of all bloodlines, and the eradication of racism. 
                                              ___________________________________________


Now, here's a funny thing. Imagine you are placed in a group or social setting. A group of different kinds of people. Different backgrounds, genders, ages, and opinions. Try doing this in the Republic of Ireland, or a similar westernised region.

While on this hypothetical tip, avoid surveying your surroundings, or methodically removing overbearing loudmouths and the really irksome from your proximity. You are being systematically unsystematic.

Bear with me?!

Speak, openly, about the topic of religious discrimination.

Go on, do it. Bring it up in spontaneous conversation.

Try it. I dare you.

Express your determination for equal rights for every religious faith living in this country. You're probably going to be greeted with a very harsh reception. You'll encounter outbursts of strong emotion and outpourings of discontent.



Thinking Bout You

"My hair is going to be just like hers," she squealed with delight.
"Greedy will slay, it's an anthem," I interjected. We'd been talking over each other all evening, eager, our conversations, that night, were like a bad game of tennis, fast paced and refusing to take turns. 

"I still don't know how we are not the support act," she smirked.

I shot her a withering look.

And then we both erupted into laughter. Adrenaline coursing through our veins. Vibrating with excitement.

We were beaming.

Everyone was beaming.

Over fourteen thousand hearts, outside Dublin's 3Arena, were swelling with glee.


Hello Apparel

Hello Apparel are an independent company set up as an outlet for artists to manufacture and sell merchandise online without giving up their rights by signing major label-style merch' contracts. They carefully maintain personal relationships ensuring no one ever feels abandoned. 
                                    ___________________________________________


The cactus is looked at as a plant with lots of symbolic meanings. Native to arid regions, it adapts to extremely hot and dry environments, thriving in its harsh conditions. Many assign perseverance as its most remarkable trait, because even in tough times it lives frugally and endures all things no matter how painful or difficult they may be.

Can you relate?

It's pretty awe-inspiring.

Except it isn't.

Because we're not cacti, and we don't have thistles to protect ourselves.

#Bummer



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