I’m as open a book as I possibly can be but there are some things in life I disguise all the same. You’ve got to have some pride in yourself, right? Not me. Here are my top five hang ups for the world to see.
1. Buying toilet paper
I don’t know why but for me buying toilet paper is like buying condoms (yes I can remember back that far). Everyone knows it is necessary but you’d rather they didn’t catch you in the act – with your pants down, some might say. For some reason my local supermarket love putting special offers on toilet paper: six rolls free, twelve rolls of Andrex only €5.49. Sometimes an entire aisle is dedicated to the art of ass-wiping. Just incase you didn’t get the point they have replaced the chocolate at the check-outs with single rolls of toilet paper. “Go on, you know you’re gonna need some later,” it seems to say to me, winking knowingly in that way that toilet paper probably does. If you can imagine such a thing.
But when I’m feeling at my most vulnerable regarding my toilet paper habits I simply log on to www.toiletpaperworld.com and check out the smiling and proud face of Kenn Fischburg (left), the Toilet Paper Encyclopedia President. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.
And if that’s not enough how about you check out the history of toilet paper or learn how to change a roll of toilet paper. Perhaps print them out and have a good read next time you are sitting on the ceramic throne.
2. Driving a car
It’s true that I don’t drive now but that’s because I didn’t like it when I did. There is just so much to do when driving: reversing, moving the stick thing while pressing your foot down, turning the wheel, looking in mirrors (usually my favourite passtime) and having to know where you are going. The thing I like about public transport is that you don’t need to do any of that. They reverse (well actually they don’t reverse do they?) … ok, so they do all the gear-changing, mirror-looking and wheel turning for you. They also know where you are going which is of course key for public transport. It does take the unpredictability out of travel though. Just once I’d like to hear: “This is the Number 28 bus to Carrickmines. Today, for a change, we’ve decided to take you to Donnycarney as Carrickmines is a bit rubbish.”
It’s not just driving a car that wrecks my head but being a front-seat passenger too. No matter who I’m in a car with I always think I’m in a better position than them to evaluate the various risks. Coming up to a red light, if I feel that my driver is going too fast, I’ll “apply the break” myself. By this I mean I will pointlessly push my foot to the floor and stare at their foot – which is actually on the break – in the vain hope that this will telepathically exert the correct pressure and subsequently save our lives.
3. My hair
There’s no doubt that I’m the vainest man on the planet. Think Hasselhoff and multiply it ten-fold. Then add water. I’m telling you, no shiny surface is safe from my reflection. My hair is my worst addiction. Even when I was a pre-pubescent young ragamuffin (some might say puberty is still pending), I’d spend ages toying with my shock of wiry red hair (“strawberry blond” as my euphamistic-friendly mother used to suggest calling it) making sure that my pseduo-eighties bouffant sat perfectly symmetrically on my head.
The less area my hair takes up on my head through my advancing years, the more time I spend on it. Any night out will be preceeded by a run-through with the GHD – got to eliminate the curls, I’m not Brian May – followed by a debate with myself over what way to wear it. Usually this will involve sticking my head out the window to judge wind velocity and direction. Precipitation will also be evaluated. Should the results of this analysis come back negative then I am likely to wear it “up” so as to avoid frizz. Frizz can be hard to address once you are out of the house even if I bring my trusty “mini brush” with me (can be used secretly in a cubicle).
Unless it’s about 80F with less wind than a jellyfish convention, I won’t leave the house without covering up the head completely. A wool hat will cover the top part with the rest of hair shoved down behind my collar. To the average observer I’m a short haired guy at that point. I love this effect because once I get in to a building and “de-robe” I can release my follicles and shake my hair like Andie MacDowell. This of course causes most people to look at me momentarily before returning to their pint to say “what a twat”.
4. Eating junk food
I’m not really in to the fast food scene. I surprised someone recently by telling them I hadn’t had a McDonalds since 2002 which, as far as I can recall, is accurate. But in Ireland our culture is more closely associated with the traditional Italian-run fish and chip shops. While Chinese and Indian take aways have been growing in popularity in recent years, the top destination of anyone on their way home from the pub is their local Borza, Marsellas, Macaris or Silvios.
My favourite one locally is Macaris and – conveniently – my night bus home from the city stops right across the road from it. The only problem for me is that I’m one of these irritating people who constantly harps on about healthy eating and all that. So indulging in something dripping with more fat than Lardy McLard from Lardsville is a real case of do as I say not as I do.
Because I don’t do it all that often – but mostly because I’m usually plastered – I tend to make the most of a visit to the chipper. The snack box is my first port of call – this consists of two pieces of deep-fried chicken and a sizable number of deep-fried potatoes cut in to rectangular shapes known as “chips” (or “fries” to the North Americans). This would be enough for most people but not me. Oh no. I’m not gonna be here for weeks so I’m throwing something else in with it you can be sure.
Because the above is universally recognised as a meal-for-one, I then have to use gestures that indicate I’m ordering for two so as the guy behind the counter doesn’t think I’m a greedy bastard. Usually that involves the following conversation.
Chipper man (usually Italian): Yes?
Me (drunk but desperately trying to appear far more together than those around me): Yes, hi. Can I have a….
[momentarily considers ordering the three-piece dinner box rather than the snack box]
Me: … snack box please.
Chipper man: Snack box.
Me: Oh…and…em…what was it…
[looks towards the ceiling as if trying to recall an order from someone back at the house]
Me: …a battered burger as well please. Yep.
Chipper man: Battered burger.
I know, I’m fooling no one except myself.
I think it was Christmas Night 1990 when myself and my brother switched on the TV and found a wrestling program on. Now I had heard the guys in school talk about wrestling but just like I did when they talked about “Airwolf”, I feigned interest. Now we watched with interest. It was a re-run of Wrestlemania 6 featuring such illuminaries as The Hart Foundation, The Rockers, The Million Dollar Man and the big match between the Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan. I had no idea who any of them were with the exception of the Hulkster who was a household name already.
From that day on though we began to watch the Friday night WWF Wrestling Challenge show as muscular men with silly names battled complete no-hopers called Tom Stone and The Invader. It was such silly entertainment. We looked on horrified as Earthquake squashed Jake “The Snake” Roberts terrapin (just kidding, he squashed his snake), we cried out in dismay as Shawn Michaels put Marty Jannetty’s head through the barber shop window (ironic they were in a barber shop considering the state of their mullets) and sat in stony silence when The Undertaker sent another soul to hell.
So as we grew up, like all adults, we did of course stop watching wrestling…erm…
Come on guys, I know the truth. You still watch it – maybe not religiously – but you still watch it. When you are in a group and wrestling comes up in conversation, don’t say something like “Kurt Angle? Oh, yeah…think I know him…” or “Yeah, the Undertaker…is he still around?”. You know, you know.
Just like right now we all know that the 23rd Wrestlemania is coming up and that wrestler-cum-fillm-star John Cena is fighting the mullet-less Shawn Michaels and that “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is set to make an appearance as a Special Guest Referee where no doubt he will drink a lot of beer, give everyone the finger and the Stone Cold Stunner.
I know, you know and they know that we know. So stop with the pretence and admit that you never really grew up. After all, what’s the point?