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Freak Of Nature’s Call

TP Smiths

10 Jervis Street, Dublin 1

It's jervis street. It's Saturday afternoon. There are no shopping bags at this table. TP Smiths at the weekend is where you go when you thought you wanted to shop, but it turned out all you wanted was a pint of lager and a chicken fajita. It's airy and comfy. Sure where else would you be?

Now if straight men and gay women have one thing in common, it's that we both detest shopping. (Well, no. If straight men and gay women have one thing in common... it's something else entirely. But if we have two things in common, the second is that we both hate shopping.)

Eleanor is an old friend. She introduces me to her girlfriend Karen. They ask me to join them and I accept. You know me, where there's breeze, I'll shoot it. Where there's fat, I'll chew it.

Eleanor tells her girlfriend that I am completely indifferent to nature and the great outdoors. Karen refuses to believe it.

"Oh, come on," she says. "Weren't you a member of the kayak club or the hill-walking society when you were in college?"

I shake my head.

"Let's just say," I tell her. "Your student experience may have been a little different from mine."

Eleanor laughs. When it comes to my neuroses, we've barely scratched the surface. "Tell her about your toilet roll phobia," she suggests.

"I can't buy toilet paper," I confess.

"Tell her why," Eleanor barks.

"I'm afraid I'll bump into an attractive girl, and she'll see me with it and have a mental image of me using it."

"So what do you use?" asks Karen.

"Kitchen roll." The two of them look at each other and then back at me -- as if I were some weird creature in a zoo.

"Hey, you're lesbians," I counter. "You could at least be tolerant here!"

"Uh-uh," says Karen. "Toilet roll is where I draw the line. You're a freak!"

I concede the point, but Eleanor then tells Karen that my niece is eight months old, and I refuse to speak to her in baby talk.

"The child dropped her teddy on the floor and started screaming, right? He just looked at her and told her..."

"I told her I felt her reaction was a little disproportionate to what had just occurred. Come on, how else is she going to learn vocabulary!"

"What do you do if she won't stop crying?" asks Karen.

"Usually, I ignore her," I reply. "But if there's no one else around, I might occasionally sing her the Barney theme song. You know, 'I love you, you love me...'"

Karen looks utterly bemused. "How do you even know the words to the Barney song?"

I smile broadly.

"Well, let's just say," I repeat, "that my student experience may have been a little different from yours."

Catch up with Eoin's escapades on www.eoinbutler.com; eoinbutler@gmail.com