“Just go” she said. “You’ll enjoy it”
I looked at her cautiously. The cynicism in me deducting that she just wanted a night in on her own with the Telly and a glass of wine. In the end I went.
You know how they say you should always go with your gut instinct? Well I should have. I was bored. Seeing guys you last saw with acne now lauded with beer bellies and no hair was the only eye-opener. When the guy with the nickname skinny was now built like a whale or vice versa when the tubby guy in class was now a fitness instructor, well these were the highlights.
In a way it was an insight into the human mind or moreso the male mind. I mean four or five guys huddled in a pack laughing at what the English teacher said when people were slagging his wig. Men acting as if they were still juveniles except this time with beer.
The funny part of the evening was a moment I spent in a one on one conversation not with a guy I used pal around with but a guy I hardly knew in school. He was not in my class but rather in the same year. In fairness he was quite affable and approached me smiling. He introduced himself, ( although I knew his name already) and the conversation opened with the usual pleasantries.
It was here that things got difficult. We had used up the usual, ‘it’s good to see you’ and ‘isn’t it funny seeing the faces again’ and there were now pregnant pauses until the final nail in the coffin came for me.
With inspiration from nowhere he asked:
“So what are you doing with yourself?”
“I’m in computers.” I replied.
“Ah very good...Where?”
“In town...just down on the quays.”
The pause came again. The awkwardness. I looked over at the Benjamin Button gang with envy. They were still laughing. Someone had obviously thrown a piece of paper at the teacher.
I blew out and decided to reciprocate the conversation.
“So what about yourself? Are you working?” I asked. Pleased to have overcome my self- consciousness.
“I am yeh.”
I took a sip from my drink, pleased in the knowledge that this would ensure another question and eat into this already soul destroying evening by another few minutes. With a bit of luck I could catch Vincent Brown at eleven.
“Great what do you do?”
“I’m a roofer.”
I didn’t really know what to say next and wondered how this conversation would go. If he had have said a heart surgeon or a Garda at least we could have opened up on certain cases and opinions.
Again I shuffled my feet, him staring at me and me back to him. Then it came to me. I would ask him what he had asked me. Great idea. Show an interest in his job. It was only after I had asked that I blamed myself for the stupid question.
“Ah very good. Where?”
His reply came in three words.
“On the roofs!”
I came home to see the empty wine glass on the table...