Conversations with Family Members (and the Bits In Between).

 

 

The mother (i)

 

My mother calls while I’m in the middle of editing a piece that’s to run in a tabloid.

I pick up, because she’ll keep calling until I do.

‘Hey, Mam. I’m kind of busy.’

‘I know, you’re always busy, can you just do something for me for a sec?’

‘What’s that?’

‘I can’t get into the Facebook.’

Sigh.

‘Why can’t you get into your Facebook?’

‘It’s asking for my password. What’s my password?’

‘I don’t know; it’s your password.’

Silence.

‘But, is it my email?’

‘Is what your email?’

‘Is my password my email?’

‘Is it your email address?’

‘Is what my email address?’

Frustrated deep breath and closing of eyes.

‘Are you asking me if the password for your Facebook is your email address?’

Silence.

‘No, is the password for the Facebook the one I use for the email?’

‘I don’t know, Ma. I told you to write down all your passwords in the notepad I gave you after I helped you set them up.’

‘I did!’

‘Well, where’s the notepad?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Okay.’

‘It says,’ she begins again. ‘Beside the box for the password it says. . . email or phone. If I press phone will that put me through to a helpline?’

‘No, Mam, that’s your username.’

‘What’s my username?’

‘Your email address or phone number.’

‘Oh.’

Audible exhale on my part.

‘Can you ring Aaron? I really need to get this done and sent before ten.’

‘Okay. Are you working on something?’

‘Yes.’

‘Is it good?’

‘I think so.’

‘What’s it about?’

‘How the sexuality of men can be shaped by the toys they had as kids.’

‘Oh. . . That sounds interesting. Will that be in the paper?’

‘Yes, I’ll pick up the paper for you.’

‘Your dad used to play with your granny’s clothes when he was a boy. It makes sense, I suppose.’

‘Mam, I didn’t need to hear that.’

‘And you used to play with Barbie with Amy across the road.’

‘No, I didn’t.’

‘You did.’

‘Did I?’

‘You did, and your brother played with anything he could get his hands on.’

Smile on my part and think about that one.

‘Mam, I really have to get this done-’

‘Can you try blog-in on your computer?’

‘Blog?’

‘Yeah, can you get in to the Facebook for me on your computer?’

‘Mam, I can’t get into your Facebook if I don’t have the password. Did you click on forgot account? I told you this before.’

‘Where’s that?’

‘It’s below the box where you enter your password.’

Silence.

‘But I don’t know my password.’

‘Okay, bye.’

‘Oh, you’re always so impatient, I’m only asking!’

‘Bye, Mam.’

 

The brother (i)

 

My brother calls an hour later as I put the final touches on the article.

‘Hey bro, I’m in the middle of-’

‘Did you tell Ma to call me about her Facebook account?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Dickhead.’

‘Hello?… Aaron?’

 

The piece I’m editing is something of a throwaway article on a recent study about how men’s sex lives are fundamentally shaped by their childhood toys – Stretch Armstrong and cable ties featured prominently from ages six through eleven so I’m not entirely sure what that would indicate for me, but anyway, I tell myself it’s okay that I’m writing a frivolous article because these additional jobs pay for the additional expenses, i.e. fun things like drinking (fun apart from the hangover) and films (fun apart from the bad ones and the cost of a cinema ticket and food) and gym (fun apart from the big men who look at themselves in the mirror psychotically, and who release audible exhales and loud groans similar to those of a Game of Thrones character being disembowelled, and with whom I’m afraid to make eye contact).

The Closest We’ve Been

 

We were, the two of us, parked on a rock each, looking

out at Galway Bay on a mild August night.

Drunk and merry, drunk and pensive,

but in those few hours happy. Strolled along,

or staggered, after winning a score on the slots

(or was it fifty?) and our girlfriends were left behind

to talk about us.

 

It was his way when he’d had a few –

“forget about them,” he’d say, and he’d wrap his arm

around my shoulder and we were brothers.

We sat there looking out at the lights passing

slowly, slowly along the horizon. The two of

us reminiscing like we were old men.

School was a recent memory.

 

Before we knew it the sea had surrounded us,

and we were islands, stranded together

but content and conversational, still.

We’d accepted our fate — now we were separate

from their land, kings of our own.

No laws here, just sedentary positions

and good feeling.

 

No religion or creed, no drugs, no speed.

Here there were no politics, and no need

for foreign embassies. No protests,

no austerity. We governed with grace, our land

in awe of the sea. “I wonder where they are,”

I said. “Who cares?” was his response.

And truly, who did?

 

But it wasn’t long before they beckoned us home,

like mothers spoiling the fun when children

are given the key to the day.

And so we tried to tackle our Everest, the blood

still thinned, and soon to be adorning our shins:

the jagged rocks didn’t take kindly to the abandoning

of our land.

 

Now I look down and see these memories on my skin,

and wonder where the shoes I borrowed from my

brother washed up. These scars are stories —

We shared beds and bathtubs, parents and plates,

days and nights. And so it was Fate who determined

that it wasn’t only shoes that drifted

out to sea.