Exams and Norn Iron

It’s exam time. And it’s very noticeable, both in college and in Hall. Students’ behaviour changes in three ways that I have noticed.

1. Everyone everywhere starts drinking energy drinks. The air is beginning to smell sugary and some students’ eyes have glazed over. If I stood in college’s Front Square, with a sign saying that my arms contained taurine or caffeine, I have no doubt that a Law student would start licking my elbow and a BESS student would devour my bicep.

2. Everyone everywhere starts smoking. Innocent young men and women, who’ve never been at a party where there are drugs and who’ve never had sex with the lights on, are suddenly leaning against walls, puffing away like they’re The Fonz.

3. Everyone everywhere rediscovers a passion for fitness. Suddenly every open space is filled with “lads” throwing rugby balls around. Today I interrupted a game of doubles badminton. And I keep seeing students of various degrees of fitness panting into the courtyard having been out for a run. And everyone abandons their skinny jeans and other Dublinified clothing in favour of tracksuits and shorts. Or In some cases, 24-hour pyjamas. And hundreds of 19-year-olds wandering around in tracksuits and GAA shorts obviously has no effect on my libido. For I am a Professional.  With Boundaries.

Yay for exams.

Speaking of Connor’s libido, last week, I went on the gayest road trip since Priscilla became Queen of the Desert.

One of my PhD friends (I haven’t given anyone a name in ages. Let’s call him Prospero) had a voucher for a room in a hotel on the Giant’s Causeway. He was looking after the accommodation and I was looking after the transport. I found a hire car for €27 on the internet. This was going to be cheap. Except, of course, it wasn’t.

We arrived at the car hire place and the lady behind the counter tapped what appeared to be the entire text of Moby Dick into her computer. She told me she was adding €100 of insurance to my bill. I asked if that was the only option. She said that my only other choice would be to leave a thousand euro cash deposit with her. I know I exaggerate a lot, but she actually said that. A THOUSAND EURO DEPOSIT. Like I had that. I let her add the €100 to my bill. Then she asked us, all casual, where were going. Prospero happily told the lady that we were going to the Giant’s Causeway. I could have killed him. She told us that as we were going to Northern Ireland there was an extra one-off charge for leaving the jurisdiction. Then she told us, smile plastered across her face that we’d only have to pay this one-off charge once, no matter how often we left the jurisdiction. What a bargain. The €27 bill now stood at €200, and Prospero and I left as quickly as we could, even though the care hire lady had tried very hard to get us to take a BMW instead of the little Renault I had opted for.

It’s been nine months since my sister took her car back, but thankfully, I remembered how to drive. I asked Prospero if he knew the way to the Giant’s Causeway. Neither of us had thought of this. We’re both relatively impractical gay men. I promptly christened the trip “Bottoms on Tour”, declaring that we needed a big, strong, practical top to lead the way. Prospero took on the role of navigator, taking the hire car map, and getting distracted by the photo of the handsome Irishman on the cover of the map wearing an aran jumper. We were lost within seconds and were still in Dublin an hour after having taken the car. Eventually we got on the right road.

At first, we were cultured and listened to the classical music station that had been on when we got into the car, but after a while all the culture got too much for us and we found some pop music.  And then, something magical happened. Katy Perry came on the radio and Prospero cheered and turned the volume up. No one in my life ever turns up the volume for Katy Perry. It is so nice to have a proper gay friend who does proper gay things like turn up the radio for Katy Perry. And I know this shouldn’t be meaningful to me, but it is. I really do love having gay friends.

After driving forever, we finally got to the hotel, where we were surprised to discover that we’d booked a double bed to share. OOPSIE!

We went for a walk along the causeway. In school, we learn about these magical rock formations and they look exactly like they do in the photos in the school books. Except they don’t. Because they’re tiny. Teeny tiny. Giant’s Causeway? More like “Causeway for a person of entirely average build and stature.”

Still, it was a beautiful day, and Prospero, who is distressingly handsome, insisted we take photos. A lot of photos. I think there were over a hundred. Of me. And of the rocks. But mainly of Prospero. We had Prospero with a rock. And Prospero with the sea. Prospero laughing. Prospero brooding sexily. Prospero being cutesy. I felt like Ringo Starr. Sure, I was in the photos. But I wasn’t in the photos, if you know what I mean.

We had dinner in the hotel, talking mainly about men. In fact, we basically spent 24 hours talking about men, about what they’ve done to us, and what we’d like them to do to us, and how we’d like them to do it to us and for how long and how many times. It is amazing how many permutations of this conversation you can have. I really do love having gay friends.

Eventually, it was bed-time. I took a shower before bed and emerged in nothing but my underpants. I usually sleep naked and it was a concession to modesty for me to wear a pair of undies. Prospero, on the other hand, was in his pyjamas. He had pyjama bottoms, full-length, and a pyjama top, with full-length arms and a high neck. He also had a pair of socks. I think he’s the best-looking person I know, but he wasn’t bringing the sexy to bed. He was fully sealed-in, like a turkey ready to be cooked in its own juices. I, on the other hand let my juices flow free.

We talked for a long time, mainly me mocking him for wearing so many clothes to bed. Neither of us slept well. I snore loudly. I’ve heard that cavewomen and children were grateful if their caveman snored because the noise would frighten off any oncoming predators. When Prospero politely told me that I had been snoring the next morning, I shared this fact with him. He replied that every wolf and bear in Northern Ireland would have been able to find our cave the previous night, given the volume of my snores.

I don’t do stealth. Even in my sleep.

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