Shane Long, the big push and the rest of my life

I fell in love on Monday.

I was messing about on twitter when I came across the name “Shane Long”.  I had a feeling it was someone who I should know, so I googled him. He’s a soccer player for Southampton and the Republic of Ireland. And he has the most perfect face. And the most perfect body. And I’m in love. In love with his big brown eyes. And his smile. And his dimples. And his everything. I might have gone on to google “Shane Long Naked”. Just in case. And I discovered that I wasn’t his only gay admirer, as I found a (fully-clothed) picture of him here, with the phrase “I want to rim Shane Long’s ass” embossed on it. (Maybe that wasn’t written by a gay. Maybe it was a female football fan who loves to rim.) I watched videos of him talking in a lovely Tipperary accent. I imagined what life would be like in Southampton.

As I continued googling, I discovered two unsavoury facts. Shane is married to a woman. And the tattoo on his lovely chest is a long prayer to Holy Jesus. This made me react in two ways. It turned me off him a bit. But it also made my love for him feel more transgressive and exciting too.

Luckily, I’m fickle and capable of falling in and out of love quickly. Later that day I went to collect my emotionally-abusive car from the garage. They had put in a new “throttle body” (I’m not sure why I put “throttle body” in quotation marks, but it just doesn’t seem like a real thing to me) and had drained the excess oil. Someone had put 5 litres of oil in my engine even though it only has the capacity for 3 litres. It wasn’t me. And it delights me that something that is wrong with my car was someone else’s fault. I had all of this explained to me by the receptionist at John O’Leary’s Motors in Ballincollig. The receptionist was so beautiful that it made me forget completely that I’d ever imagined a wedding to Shane Long. The receptionist was all dressed in black and had a trim little beard. He looked like a cross between Jack Falahee and Harry Styles. He was laddish, but not in a condescending, threatening way. It was the first time ever I was comfortable talking to a car guy. He made things easy for me. Like he didn’t say “oil”. He said “engine oil”, so I wouldn’t think he meant olive oil or gun oil or something. He was bouncy and charming and the perfect combination of sexy and cute, and sigh.

He warned me that the oil had got everywhere and gunged everything up. To be honest, as I drove back from Cork to Longford, the car wasn’t driving any better than it had before and  I’m fairly sure that it will break down again.

Yesterday, I was working in Dublin. I drove there and everything was fine, or at least kind of fine, with my car. I parked in the Setanta Car Park, which is underground. Everything was OK until I was leaving the car park. I paid and I drove to the barrier and put my ticket in the machine. The barrier lifted and I drove through. And then my car stopped. It wouldn’t go up the ramp. I tried and I tried and it wouldn’t go. It didn’t take long for cars to start queueing behind me. The car park attendant came out and stood watching me with three drivers of other cars who were stuck behind me and had got out of their cars to see what was going on. They watched as I started the car, jolted forward three inches, cut out, jumped back three inches and then did the same all over again and again and again. Eventually, the attendant came up to me. I asked him if he could help and he told me he couldn’t drive. I asked the assembled crowd if someone could push me up the ramp. They looked at the ramp and said that only Arnold Schwarzenegger could push me up such a steep incline. They decided that the queue of cars behind me should back up and I would reverse back into the car park. This involved me doing a reverse around a corner manoeuvre with quite a big audience. A white-haired man was shouting at me to turn my wheel this way and that, the car park attendant was yelling at me not to crash into the ticket machine and three other people were giving various other suggestions. Eventually, after a seventeen-point-turn, I was in exactly the same position as I had been at the start, fifteen minutes beforehand. The white-haired man, who looked to be in his late fifties or early sixties, jumped behind my car and just started pushing me up the ramp. I don’t know if you know this car park, but this isn’t a normal ramp. This is a long, steep ramp. And it’s in three sections. You drive straight up and then do a 90-degree turn and then you drive straight up again and then there’s another 90-degree turn and then you have to drive straight up again. When you have a normal car, you don’t notice these things, but I’ll tell you, I noticed it this time, as a senior citizen was pushing the entire weight of a car and a Connor up an almost-vertical ramp in three sections. It was like Cool Runnings, except backwards.

Once I was on the flat street, my car could move again. It cut out a few times when I tried to climb Patrick Street on my way to the quays, but it generally behaved well and it got me home.

I can’t say I really like being an adult today. I somehow seem to be poor even though I’m earning €5000 this month. I don’t know how that works. Everyone is telling me that I have to stop paying garages to repair my car and that I need to give up on it, but I live in the middle of nowhere and don’t think I can afford to get another car. Because of my last break down, I ended up spending five days in Cork instead of two, and that means that i basically had a week of not dieting, because I can’t diet while I’m in my parents’ house. Also, I still haven’t got myself sorted enough to ring my landlord and get my heating fixed.

The next part of this blogpost was supposed to go along the following lines: I was going to say, something like “But today is the Rest-of-my-Life Day, so I can’t be in a bad mood” and then I was going to explain why the 11th of November is the Rest-of-my-Life Day. I wrote about this for two paragraphs and then realised that I’d written it before in one of my favourite blogposts, “Losing My Religion” (linked here). I’ve copied the relevant section from that post below. Happy Rest-of-My-Life Day, everyone!

In November 1997, I had been working there for six months. And I’d become more and more disillusioned with the religious community I was in. And I was more and more sure that I was gay. And that it maybe might be possibly OK to be gay.  On the 11th November, Mary McAleese was being inaugurated President of Ireland. We had a day off school and I went into town. I sat in Garibaldi’s, eating a muffin and drinking a cup of coffee (I thought drinking coffee was supremely adult. I hated the taste of coffee, but had it fairly regularly when I was 16/17). I had decided it was time to tell someone. R_____ was serving downstairs and it was clear to her that something was wrong. I still remember the feeling. I told her I was gay. It was like confessing to a murder. I felt like such a villain. A relieved villain, but a villain. Ever since then I’ve called the 11th November “Rest-of-my-life day”.

R______ was absolutely delighted. She told me she had great gaydar and she’d always had a feeling about me and we could have such fun! It was my first experience of being treated as a novelty toy by straight women. She sent me upstairs to the office to speak to T______, the manager I loved who shared my love of the Beatles. And I told her too. She was surprised, as she’d never thought of me as gay, though she did say that she had thought that I held my cigarette in a gay way. For the next three months, every time I smoked, I waved my cigarette around like I was Bette Davis, delighting in my secret homosexual smoking.

R______ and T______ decided that I should meet G______, a lesbian chef who had worked in Garibaldi’s before. Her job was to teach me how to be gay. She met me the next week, and she was completely unsure what to say to me. We talked and she told me to wear condoms and where Cork’s gay club was. She told me to watch out for myself. I eventually went to Cork’s gay resource centre. They had a youth group, where myself, a 17-year-old lesbian couple and a long-haired lanky 16-year-old gay boy went every Wednesday afternoon for about two months. It was a taste of another universe. On Wednesday nights, two hours after hanging with the gays, I would go to my community meeting and we’d read from the Bible and speak about how this resonated in our lives. The youth group was great. One afternoon, we watched “Beautiful Thing” and we were so moved by the story of a young gay couple and a loving mother that we all hugged and squeezed after. That was the day I realised I loved lesbians. The long-haired gay, who talked a lot about masturbation, decided we should go to Loafer’s, Cork’s oldest gay bar, one afternoon and so my first experience of a gay bar was in my school uniform on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, drinking coffee that I didn’t like, trying to shush a boy talking about his favourite types of porn while the only other patrons of the pub were a group of lesbians playing pool. I never took the opportunities offered by this youth group, and ended up without a gay social group, and I haven’t really had one since.

Garibaldi’s became my life. I told everyone there I was gay. It was like going somewhere that I had a new identity. I would arrive at work hours before I was due to work. I would stay until after the restaurant closed. I got a job there for one of my school friends. School was a distraction from my real, dishwashing, life.

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