I heard a startling statistic from a not-entirely-trustworthy friend a few weeks ago, but one that nonetheless shook me to my very foundations.
Myself and himself were on our way to Bundoran, chatting muck, the unevenness of the road and the hard suspension of his car combining to cause a slight, machine-gun-like vibrato through our conversation.
“Hi, I heard a good one the other day,” he said, out of the blue.
“Oh aye?” I replied.
“Oh aye,” he said, his rattling voice full of glee. “One that I think you’re gonna love.”
“Go on,” I said dryly, knowing rightly that it was not me but him who was about to enjoy whatever was coming.
“Apparently,” he said. “Studies have shown that there are two things women find more unattractive in a man than basically anything else.”
‘What could those be?’ I wondered to myself. Bad breath? A penchant for animal abuse? An inability to refrain from telling dirty jokes to their partner’s parents?
“Oh aye?” I said, leaning in, hoping – vainly – that I did not possess whatever hideous qualities he was about to cite.
“Oh aye,” he said smugly.
“Apparently, according to these studies like, women find nothing less attractive in a man – no, a bigger turn-off, that’s the phrase they used, no bigger turn off – than finding out that a man lives with his parents, or that he can’t drive…”
For a split second, I considered grabbing the wheel and sending his car careering into a ditch. However, I decided against it, realising that to kill him at this moment would have meant allowing him to die doing what he loved; annoying me.
“Is that right,” I said calmly, subtly reaching for the ace I had secreted up my sleeve.
“Well, now that you mention it, I’ve actually got my test coming next week, which, if I pass – not that I need to tell you – will leave the both of us in a remarkably similar position with regards to our desirability to the opposite sex. Won’t it?”
He faltered momentarily.
“Yes,” I said with pride. “If I pass this test, then we’ll both be two fully-licensed, live-at-home losers.”
“Aye, that’s right,” he said, “IF you pass. But you’ve failed it once, chances are you’ll fail it again.”
“Oh, you’ll be the first to know,” I levelled coldly.
The big day came last Wednesday. I have to admit I was nervous, because, as my tube of a friend accurately pointed out, I had in fact failed the test not more than two weeks prior… On account of an incident of gross curb-mounting that I’d prefer not to dwell on.
“Hello Emmet, my name is Amber, and I’ll be taking you for your test today,” began the young, pleasant lady who had presumably been shoved out of the test centre tea room to risk her life with The Curb Mounter McElhatton.
“Well, Amber. I hope you’re going to go easy on me,” I said, half-joking, half-pleading. Amber laughed an inscrutable laugh.
As we rolled back into the centre after the test, the hard part behind us, I felt like the whole thing had went over without incident – but I couldn’t be sure.
“So, Emmet, how do you think you’ve done?” she asked with a devilish smirk.
‘Either I’ve passed’, I thought, ‘or else Amber’s warm name belies her cold heart’.
My eyes begged her for mercy as I gave her that same look that my deceased Jack Russell (RIP Rusty) used to give me before I sent him out the back to do his business on a cold day.
“I am pleased to tell you Emmet…” said Amber, her voice fading into an indistinct blur as the endorphins rushed to my head.
When I came to my senses, I was pleased to find that I had passed my test and that I had not involuntarily kissed Amber in the moment of euphoric rapture that came after she revealed the good news.
I was also slightly surprised, given the effects passing one’s test has on one’s sex appeal, that Amber had restrained herself from planting one on me there and then.
I thanked Amber, exited the car and immediately rang the friend.
“Haaaaaaaa..” I shouted down the phone until my last breath abandoned me. “I passed!”
“No way, lad, congratulations,” he said unusually amicably. “I’ve some good news too.”
“And what’s that?…” I asked.
“I’m only after getting the keys to my new flat. Looks like I’m in the lead again!”
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