Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Party: Brian & Sean's Day

"Meet me at Enrico's in fifteen." read the text message that popped up on Brian's screen.
Brian sighed and slid off his beanbag; his legs had gone to sleep sometime during his fifth consecutive hour of Call of Duty so he just crawled across the floor to find some shoes.
As he pulled on his shoes and waited for the feeling to return to his feet he gazed around the room to find a clean t-shirt. He spotted one underneath a stack of science fiction novels and scooted along the wooden floorboards to it. He pulled it free from underneath the pile and sniffed it delicately. It smelled slightly of lynx body spray but mostly of teenager. After a second of thought Brian decided that it was acceptable for a trip to Athlone's second finest Mexican dining experience.
Brian put on the t-shirt and grabbed a bedpost for support as he stood upright. Pins and needles shot through his legs as sensation returned to his extremities.
He grabbed a jacket from its place on the chair and threw it on. A quick glance at the mirror confirmed what he already knew: He was too skinny and had bad skin. But for all that he looked passable, at least by the low, low standards set by Athlone males.

He left the house through the front door and walked around the side to fetch his bike. He pedalled through the dull but pleasant June weather towards "Enrico's Bona Fide Mexican Food".
The restaurant's name occasionally caused him some mild worry. Why would a restaurant want to proclaim it was "Bona Fide"? Was it some sort of trick? Was the food there not really Mexican at all? Did the proprietors really assume that the inhabitants of Athlone were too inbred to have never travelled to Mexico or the southern United States? Mexican menus didn't normally include Irish stew and a half dozen ways of preparing potatoes.
Brian arrived at Enrico's and chained his bike to a pole outside the main entrance. Sean, the sender of the text message, sat inside at a window booth nursing a glass of lemonade. He nodded in greeting to his friend.
Brian entered and made his way over to the booth. Sean was studying the menu like it was the secret to everlasting life.
"What are chimichangas?" asked Sean.
"If they're anything like approximately ninety percent of the menu in this place. I'm going to guess they're some mysterious mixture of meat and veggies wrapped in a tortilla. Possibly featuring cheese."
"Right. Sounds good." said Sean, satisfied with his decision.
"Why are we here? Other than to eat sufficient quantities of meat to get us through Good Friday?" responded Brian.
"Paul's having a party at his place."
"And I care, why?"
"There'll be girls there."
"True, but you know Irish girls." said Brian dismissively. "Haven't I made my feelings about them known across the land?"
"You hook up with one foreign exchange student and suddenly you're Don Juan."
"The foreign ladies are lower maintenance. They have real tans rather than plastering themselves with that bronzing muck."
"Well, can't you lower your standards for one night? I need an accomplished wingman."
"I suppose. What makes you think we'll be able to get in to the party? Paul isn't one of our friends. He thinks we're nerds."
"Jeremy is out buying drinks. I saw him up in the off licence that never checks ID. I confidently predict that they'll be passed out by nine o'clock. Leaving the field open for us to swoop in and claim our prizes."
"And if they're not passed out?"
Sean picked up his messenger bag and opened it. A hard bound book took up most of the space inside: "I guess I'll have to introduce them to the collected works of Arthur C Clarke then, won't I? A couple of slaps to the head with this and those GAA playing runts will be unconscious."
"That's your solution to everything."
"Only because it always works."
"And how exactly will you charm the girls. Arthur C Clarke won't help you there?"
"Prey on their inadequacies. Lisa Reynolds hates her eyebrows; Maura Wright thinks her knees are hideous. I tell them that I love their eyebrows and knees and I'm in.”

"You're like an evil seduction genius. What makes you think that'll work?"
"Maura has unresolved issues regarding Tommy Brennan. She's basically an emotional wreck. One small push and she'll tip over. Do you remember Tommy?"
"I remember him punching me in the face one Christmas when we were twelve or thirteen."
"Oh Yeah, Why was that?" asked Sean.
"I told him Santa didn't exist."
"He was fourteen. He should have known."
"He didn't. Aren't you worried that your single-minded pursuit of any conscious female at this party will blow back on you? We still have to live here after tonight."
"Not for long. We're both off to college in the UK and then we'll probably have to emigrate. What are the chances we'll ever have to deal with these people again?"
"Slim enough, but still..."
"There's nothing keeping me in this hole. I'll be glad to see the back of it." said Sean.
"Athlone's not that bad..." began Brian.
"This place..." interrupted Sean. "This place...I hope it fragging burns down as soon as I leave it. It's a city sized tumour. A scar on this buttock of a nation."
Brian closed his eyes, at this stage in their friendship he was used to Sean's megalomaniacal rants.
The waitress arrived and took their order. Sean got chimichangas and a diet coke. Brian ordered fajitas.
"Anyway. Are you going to be my wingman or not." said Sean, after they had asked for their food.
Brian thought for a moment. Sean would be a complete disaster if he went on his own. Someone would probably try to kill him.
"Yeah. I'll go with you." said Brian, not realising that it would be the biggest mistake he'd ever make.

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