Friday, September 23, 2005

stories worth a thousand words #40



Amsterdam – could well be where my “good” and “bad” crowds come together for my stag weekend next summer

[Before I begin with this chapter, I must apologize if all the editing and name-hiding makes the story less readable - these essays are primarily for my kids' eyes, so they get to see all the actual facts and stuff - besides I don't want any libel cases on my hands!!!]

Written: December 3, 2004

I was always something of a “loner”, and never really allowed anyone, especially males, to get too close. Having said this I can still manage to muster a thousand words on what friends I do have, and I can easily categorize them into my “good crowd” and my “bad crowd”.

The labels to not refer to the quality of friends contained therein, more so to the nature of the activities in which I would indulge when with them. In the past seven days I have had classic experiences with each set which give me perfect stories to describe the nature of the relationships involved.

“Are ya cabbaged yet man? I sure am!”

JH mumbled as we were smoking away at our joints in a coffee bar deep in the red light district in Amsterdam some time last Sunday. I decided to allow myself a few days off the hash wagon to get away from all my responsibilities, even Sandra, and this was the perfect way of doing it. Had JH and myself gone anywhere else our socializing would have been restricted to beer and clubbing which could lead to all sorts of things. This way, we could get legally stoned and worry only about making our flight home on Tuesday morning.

JH (“The Cat”) is obviously part of my “bad crowd”. He is from Castlecomer in Kilkenny and was a security guard in my the sports store when I had my wild drunken Christmas period working there in 1995. The one thing I will always appreciate is the fact that out of all the people I know, including my own family, he was the only one who actually asked me if I was alright when I told him my marriage had failed. Since he knew of my transgression with Molly, he could have been judgemental; instead he offered to go for a pint.

Other principals in the bad crowd include DDw (“Bead”) and AC “Ado”. In case you are wondering, they know me as “Homer” since apparently I do a good rendition of “D’oh!!!”

Bead was always the one going around giving people nicknames. His own apparently came from a hippy phase he went through when he would wear beads on a regular basis. He’s from Rathfarnham and is a salesman by day but is also a very good singer/songwriter in his spare time, and I admire him for finally getting around to publishing his own album “High Time” this year. One other thing we have or at least had in common was a liking for one Sarah Devitt, and my friendship with him was one of the main reasons I didn’t get too involved in that particular love triangle!

AC is also in sales, and this year moved back to his native Mayo. He always calls when he’s going to be in town and we sample the Dublin nightlife. All in all I am glad I have the bad crowd in my life, as they give me the chance to do all the “guy” things while I’m still relatively young.

If the bad crowd’s role is to remind me where I am, the good one serves as a perfect counterbalance as it shows me where I could or perhaps should be. The group centres around four lads; IM, DDu, CW and BE. IM and CW are happily married, BE has a steady girlfriend, and DDu is single but has just moved a further rung up the lucrative Irish property ladder.

IM would be the closest friend of my family since I knew him in school, but we only really started to get to know each other when we were in both Glennon’s and UCD together. I must qualify what I said about JH earlier on, for IM and DDu between them were extremely helpful in offering their cars to help me make the very difficult removal of all my stuff from the house in Clondalkin after my marriage failed. As I was not driving myself at the time, their support was invaluable.

The five of us have an arrangement whereby we meet on the first Thursday of every month, a get-together we have cleverly dubbed “Thirst Fursday”. The venue has been The Stillorgan Orchard for the past year or so. We had one such meeting only last night, and it pretty much went the way all of the others go. DDu couldn’t make it, so the four of us met up around 10pm; each bought a round of drinks, then for once we decided to throw caution to the wind and order a fifth!!! The night’s revelry was as always concluded with the savoury delights of a battered sausage and chips from Aprile’s take-away around the corner.

That leaves me with a few words to describe my main college buddies BM and CS. We all did Psychology, we all deferred our finals, we all graduated; well, except for BM, who when last I heard is living on a farm in Wicklow.

CS, on the other hand, completely changed when he moved north to attend Queens University in Belfast. In my scattered meetings with him since he was best man at my (first) wedding, I have learned that he is a committed Irish republican, he went through a “gay phase”, and he is now married with a child would you believe. We keep in touch by email and I actually visited them once, but still he is very careful not to explain how the above nuggets of information can co-exist for the same person!!!

Come to think of it, I don’t really know much about the real lives of any of them, and that is probably to do with the fact that I tell them precious little about myself. Up to now, being intimate just hasn’t been my thing; maybe publishing this chapter will help change that!!!

© JL Pagano 2004


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