"What are you doing down there?" asked Laura.
I must have made a ludicrous sight, crawling under the table on my hands and knees, trying to find the one Euro coin that had slipped from my wallet.
"Nothing," I replied. "Just trying to look up your skirt."
"I wish," she said. For a second, I believed her.
We were in the beer garden at Scholars. Scholars being our local, a car crash of a pub, where bad taste meets worse taste in a crazy mishmash that ought not to work, and doesn't.
Back in the day, it was a School. I think it was St Kevin's National School, but being a foreigner, I neither know what a National School means, nor do I really care. Then, as is the way with all old public buildings that fall in to disuse, it was turned in to a pub. They called it Scholars because of the School connection, you see. They're clever like that round our way. They kept most of the structure, the wood panelling, had pictures of old school sports teams on the wall. It was quite dark, and it was quite quaint, and it sold bottles of wine for take out at two in the morning at ridiculously over-inflated prices. It had a food section that didn't serve food, and looked like it hadn't for years. That's how posh it was.
Back in January they closed for refurbishment. When they reopened, everything was cream and beige, the bar had moved, and the beer garden had been expanded. Less of a garden, though, more an ugly patio with a sun-shade and a few hardwired braziers. Televisions everywhere inside so that people can watch sports, ashtrays outside so that people can enjoy the delights of the smoking ban in comfort, although they have to peer inside if they want to see who's thrashing who at the Hurling. Now, after a shaky start where they attracted those poor unfortunate souls who rely on the scent of sawdust to achieve arousal, they are now doing great bsuiness with people who don't have Sky Sports, or funeral parties who want to go for a damn fine knees up.
And we go there too. Because it's local, and because it's sometimes quite quiet, when the local kids stop throwing empty cans up on to the awning and asking us why we're sitting outside when we're not smoking.
So I was down on the ground, trying to pick up this coin while retaining as much dignity as I could with my arse in the air. Mr Twinky and Laura were talking - as usual - about architecture and employment, and for a second, just for a second, I realised that I was looking at the world from a strange angle, seeing shoes and ankles, looking up through the wire mesh of the table top at the braziers and canopies.
Crawling around on the floor is a shit place to be. It's not anywhere that I'd really choose to be, but at that point in my life it was the culmination of every choice that there had been up to that point.
What the hell, I thought, make the most of it. So I tied her shoelaces together.
odd·verse noun (òd-vï¿½rs')
The less conventional of two possible alternatives, cases, or sides: the oddverse of science is, more often than not, pixies.