"Why won't the bloody thing go in for me?"
David Kelleher cut a very lonely figure as he stood in the toilets at the Temple Bar pub in Hersonnisos on the sunny island of Crete.
Not that he was actually on his own in there, of course. It was 2am on a Sunday morning, which as far as Dave and everyone around him was concerned was still Saturday night. One could hardly expect a bathroom in a bar to be empty at this hour, particularly one aimed at the Irish.
What made Dave stand out was that unlike the others, he was not relieving his body of fluids to make way for yet more bottles of Heineken to see out the night. Instead, he was furiously trying to jam a €2 coin into a slot that was clearly designed for smaller denominations.
Up to now, this had been a trip about rules - breaking as many of them as possible, that is. From the moment he met his seven mates from school at the airport, Dave had shamelessly flouted every directive that was put before him.
Sure why should I be following rules, he thought, haven't I just finished school! After twelve years of being told what I can and can't do, I'm all grown up now, and I can make my own decisions!
Please be sure and remove all change from your pockets before walking through the barrier.
BEEP goes the barrier.
"Ah, sure, I didn't think that included the forty cents in me back pocket!"
Please try not to consume too much alcohol immediately prior to boarding the plane as this may cause a dangerous rush for the toilets around takeoff time.
"Aw, come on, lads, let's get another two beers in, sure we've another twenty minutes at least till we board!"
Please remain seated when the pilot has lit the 'fasten seatbelts' sign.
"Hey, Davy, go on up the front there and get a loan of Anto's iPod, will ya?"
Please be sure and wear helmets at all times when riding rented motorbikes on the island.
"In this heat? Are ya mad? Sure who's gonna stop me anyway?"
Please try to respect others at an early hour by conducting yourself in a quiet, orderly fashion.
"Come on lads, altogether now!!!! LOW... LIE... THE FIELDS... OF ATHENRY... WHERE ONCE..."
And so on, and so on.
There was one area, however, where Dave was determined to play by the book. Two days before he set off he was given a graphic description via email of a nasty wart his older brother had picked up while in the Canaries five years earlier.
And so, delighted and all as he was that yer one with the pigtails and the pink skirt was willing to leave the pub and go back to his villa, and drunk and all as he was on a gagillion bottles of Heino not to mention the odd slurp of a cool new sugar-loaded alco-pop-fest called a Fish Bowl, he was determined to get himself protection.
Why didn't he have any with him? More words of wisdom from his brother in New York...
Whatever you do, don't bring them with you - it's bad luck and virtually guarantees you won't score...
With Pigtails waiting for him outside the pub, Dave was glad he had followed his brother's advice, though right now he wished he had also heeded the rest of it...
...and another thing, make sure you remember to buy them in a chemist during the day, cos the machines in the toilets never work!
And so here he was, physically banging a coin against a clearly-too-small slot on a condom machine, when all the while he was mentally banging his head against a brick wall for not being better prepared.
Pigtails had slurped a good few more of those Fish Bowls herself, he realized, so the longer this mission took him, the longer she had to either change her mind or simply pass out altogether!
If you are wondering why he didn't ask one of his more organized travelling buddies to sort him out, you obviously don't know them. As the Cretan bars open till 5am, Dave was hoping to take full advantage of this window between now and closing time before the lads who hadn't 'scored' arrived home to make life hell for those who had.
His frustration was understandably growing by the second.
Suddenly, he worked out the constant tapping on his shoulder was actually someone trying to get his attention.
He turned around, and towering over him was a heavy-set dark-haired man mumbling something to him. Partially due to Dave's drunkeness - well, ok, totally due to his drunkeness, he could neither make out the man's face, nor what he was saying.
He did thankfully have enough of his wits about him to see the man was holding out two single euro coins, and that an exchange could very well get him what he wanted.
After a muffled thank you, he then began the task of putting the new coins into the machine. The good news was, they fit perfectly; the bad, they both proceeded directly to the coin return slot.
By the time the stranger had completed his bathroom business, he saw that Dave was now continuously putting the coins through with one hand, while banging the side of the unit with the other.
Again, Dave felt a tap on his shoulder.
Again, he knew the same guy was talking to him.
Again, he could see he was being offered something.
This time, the man was holding out an extra condom he had in his wallet, and as realization of the gesture hit him, Dave could just about discern the words 'Knock yourself out, buddy.'
Were the kind stranger not twice his size, Dave would have kissed him. In fact, he started to, but quickly realized by the man's dismissive reaction (something like "Whoa! No need to go there!") that this was far, far from necessary - what he was better off doing was to say another quick thank you and head straight for the front door of the pub.
"Jaysis, did ya make the bloody thing yourself?", is more or less what Pigtails said when the young couple were eventually reunited.
Meanwhile, the kind stranger returned to his fiancée who was seated at the bar, and as he related the story of his good deed for the evening, the thought occurred to him this could very well be a good tale to post on his blog when he returned home to Dublin.
One can only assume Dave and Pigtails went on to live happily ever after.