All fine and dandy except I had to put petrol in the car, a tedious job, but quite quick and at least it's not loud like hoovering.
Anyhoo. I was at a garage not a million miles from the Cullenmore hotel. I was standing at the rear of my car, pumping gas, thinking about how much I disliked meetings but how much I enjoyed when they are over and would a breakfast roll really be that disgusting when another car pulled into the forecourt. One of those people carrier thingies. You know, they're like a minibus, but it's a car.
Hey ho I thought, that driver, she looks weirdly familiar. I peered.
For it was she, ex-friend, traitorous gorgon, vile fie, fink, Benedict Arnold!
What's she doing here breathing the same air I breath, inhabiting the very space I inhabited FIRST. Oh stupid Wicklow, first with the mountains and now this.
Short of ducking down-which I was NOT going to do, I had little option but to stand there, being blown about in a squall and watch as she exited her car and rounded it to the pump. She opened her tank, inserted the nozzle and as she filled her car she did what all of us do. Gawked around her.
Her eyes slid right across to me.
It was interesting reading her face. First nothing, then puzzlement, followed by recognition, then some other kind of weird emotion I couldn't work out but I hope was agonising guilt. Or maybe it was trapped wind, who can say.
What to do? We would clearly be in the shop paying for our petrol at the same time, ignore now and then do faux 'why hello theres' in the shop? Or get it over with here and now, then avoid each other in the shop.
Balls, I thought, it's Monday morning. Who needs to make decisions at this hour of the week?
In the end she moved her pawn first.
'Is that you? ' She said
'Hello there. I thought that was you.' I said, lest she think she noticed me first, you didn't, traitor.
'My god! I almost didn't recognise you! Your hair has gone so long.'
Hair grows. I thought, over time, rather like animosity.
'How are you keeping?"
'Oh busy.' What's it to you? I'm fabulous actually. Can't you tell? I'm wearing a suit and a full face of makeup a Las Vegas show girl might baulk at. Don't I fucking ooze 'keeping'?
'Ah sure you know yourself.'
No I don't actually. That' s why I asked. Actually I only asked to be polite and I AM polite. Polite and loyal. You might need to look some of that sentence up.
We pump more gas. I scrabble for neutral ground.
'Country Gay tells me you've moved up to XXXXXXXX?' I say. 'It's lovely up around there.'
'Yeah, it's really beautiful. We needed more room.'
For all the spawn you keep spwaning no doubt.
'You moved yourself I hear.'
I decide I will throttle CG and his friendly bantering ways. What business is it of hers where I move to? For that matter she should just shut up. I don't want to do small talk with this women. It pains me to do it. It makes me very angry indeed. I'm getting a pain in my face from keeping my expression non-murderous.
'And you've had another girl?'
'Yes.' She smiles, and nods her head to the car. I finish pumping my gas, shut off the pump and close up the cap. I come around the car and look through the window at some sleeping sweet faced cherub. She always had nice children.
'Wow, she's very pretty. What age is she?'
'Four months now.'
'You must have your hands full.'
'I know.' She laughs and points to her ensemble, which looks like it's comfortable and like it could do with a wash. 'Look at the cut of me, I never seem to get two seconds to myself these days.'
'You're looking great. How's the running going?'
And suddenly I am FILLED with the over whelming desire to yell, 'What the fuck do you care? I run, end of. Why should I explain anything about my life to you? What does it matter how I'm 'getting on?"
'It's going fine.' I look at my watch, worried my mask is slipping. 'Oh God, I"d better get on. It was good to see you.'
'Yes, you too.'
And then she gives me this big limpid look and I can tell she's going to say something else, something idiotic like I should come down to her new home, or give her a call or she'll call me or SOMETHING that will involve me having to slap her. Don't do it. I warn her mentally. You didn't just burn your bridges with me, you used the A-Team to explode them with TNT. Don't say another word. Fatcats are polite, but don't do it anyway.
'Bye.' I say very firmly and click clack my way across the fore court and into the shop before she makes that error.
I pay for my petrol and don't even get a newspaper, never mind a breakfast roll. I just to be away, away from there, away from her and her beautiful sleeping child and her hesitant smile and her willingness to try.
I do a reasonable attempt at a smile as I climb into my car and put on my belt. She waves. I return it briefly.
In the rear view mirror I can see her cross the forecourt and make her way into the shop.
'You broke my fucking heart you stupid bitch, I'll never forgive you.' I say softly as I pull out into the traffic, bound for Dubin, homeward bound.
Labels: Monday Melodrama.