Friday, January 16, 2009

August 2008

This was the penultimate column. I have no comment to make on this, I just wanted an excuse to use that word.

August 2008

There are moments in everyone’s life when you realise that you aren’t a child anymore. Obviously, there are lots of giveaways, like when you’re issued an over-60’s bus pass, or when you’re tried as an adult, but the one I’m thinking of is to do with shopping. When I was a kid, and I saw a sale, it meant that I could buy things for cheap. Now, I see sales everywhere and I’m thinking only one thing: ‘ohgodohgodohgodrecessionrecessionrecessionhelphelphelp’. This is not a position that has a great deal of support in the rest of the house. Apparently toys are much cheaper now, and my diminutive financial advisers think that I should invest heavily in fully poseable action figures and Lego. Or some sort of console. They have visitation privileges to a Wii in their grandparents’ house, and applications have been issued for full custody. However, I think that one full-sized couch potato is more than any family needs, so there won’t be any surprises under the tree this Christmas.

So this, in a nutshell, is the latest excuse for not dressing as a grown-up. Apparently, my personal style has erred towards what might charitably be described as ‘studenty’ for some time now, a designation that many actual students would probably experience a coughing fit over. It has been put to me that it might be time to set aside childish things, or at least all my grubby trainers and faded t-shirts in favour of well-tailored trousers, crisp shirts and shoes that I might even polish more than once in my lifetime. The suggestion (Inference? Implication? Threat?) being that many things in my life and relationships might be improved by my not looking like I’ve just finished a shift in Tower Records. I think this is unfair. I could never get a job in that shop.

By doing a reasonable impression of someone who is actually concerned about money and hiding all the coffee shop receipts, I’m able to delude myself and others (okay, just myself) that the buying of adult clothes is not merely indulgent, but fiscally speaking, dangerous, in these choppy economic waters. I find, incidentally, that nautical metaphors and overwrought language is really the only way to go when you’re talking about money and don’t know your arse from your elbow. Another example: ‘ But sweetheart, there’s a tidal wave of credit available from Ireland’s estimable banking industry. I say we haul anchor and sail the good ship Cunningham to the nearest widescreen TV outlet.’

I should stress that the wearing of armbands, swimsuits and naval hats during these conversations is not recommended. One can be too Method.

So, an impasse. I didn’t want to actually go out and buy anything remotely grown-up, and even my three-year old was in two minds about being seen with me. I’m sure everyone who’s still awake can guess what compromise we came to.

No, I wasn’t kicked out of the house.

One day last week I came home to find a bag filled with new clothes, all bought in these panic sales that are dotting the city as retail companies everywhere pretend that they always have half-price sales in the middle of July. All the clothes were ‘adult’ (in the ironed sense, not the PVC one) and fitted well. My first thought was: ‘But I buy my own clothes. I’m not a child. I feel emasculated.’ Then I thought: ‘I didn’t even have to go shopping. This is what people mean when they talk about living the dream.’ Finally, I’m a man, I thought. I wonder, if I get really bad at doing my job, will someone else do it for me too?

Eoin Cunningham.

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Welcome to my blog. I'm a freelance writer/journalist/researcher/editor. I write about education and ideas I've had for the Irish Times. I also research, write and edit for writers, publications and websites. Here I put things that tend not to fit anywhere else. Enjoy.

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