Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Brief History of My Friend-Making Skills

Every now and then, to shield myself from the lonely nights and my own crippling ego, I like to pretend that Work in Prowess is a much bigger deal than it actually is.

The thing that is extremely helpful in this endeavor is the nice comments, emails, facebook messages and tweets I sometimes get from the people I loosely refer to (mostly in my own head, and seldom out loud) as my 'fans'. In this context, the term 'fan' means 'people who click a link when I ask them to'.

I don't respond to most of the feedback I get from people, but only because it feels awkward to. In case you've never attempted to, it's extremely difficult to respond to a compliment in writing without sounding like an utter douchebag.

Dear Reader,

Hey Reader!


Thank you so much for your feedback on Work in Prowess. It's very rewarding for me to see that other people are enjoying my work. 

What the hell is that? It reads like a bank statement, or a reminder about an impending enema.  


Awesome, thank you! That's so nice of you to say! I hope my blog encourages you to start your own!

And I hope this doesn't sound like I'm a child molester trying to groom you. 

What I'm trying to get across here is: it's difficult. There's nothing in the world I enjoy more than nice feedback, but unfortunately I get incredibly sheepish when it comes to replying to it. That's why my favorite kind of feedback - and this might happen once or twice every couple of months - always looks a bit like this.

Hey, Work in Prowess Lady!

Your blog is funny. We should hang out.

Yes! We should hang out! We should always hang out. I love hanging out, and I am always in the market for new friends who are willing to give me compliments. Here are some things I can offer you as a friend.

Unconditional affection. Company on long car rides. Licks on the face.

I will keep you company while you do your thing. I will sit on your couch and make passing commentary on how well you're doing on your video game. I will be hungry when you are hungry. Not hours before, or minutes after.

Here are some things you need to offer me as a friend, in return: All of my needs.

And when I say all of my needs, I really mean all of them. As my friend, you will be responsible for feeding me, driving me to my appointments, and constantly reassuring me that I'm an OK human.

This won't even be the first time this has happened.

Friend: Some old lady that lived on my street.
Time of Friendship: Ages 4-7
Need fulfilled: Shoelaces, occasional snacks

There are some things that, as a kid, took me longer to figure out than others. One of these things was my shoelaces.  I don't know what about them I found so puzzling, but I sense that it was because I lacked the dexterity to handle what is essentially two pieces of string, and the wherewithal to bend down. Was I going to let that stop me from having lone, sad little adventures around my estate? Of course not.

This was where the old lady came in. I would roam the streets like a rabid terrier, notice my shoes were untied and ring this lady's doorbell. She would answer, I would wordlessly stick my shoe through the door. She would tie my shoe, and I would invite myself in for a biscuit and some juice.

I don't know how the old lady felt about my visits, but I like to think that she enjoyed the company.

And now she follows me on Twitter!

Friend: Every person within a four mile radius of our trailer park
Time of Friendship: Ages 6-9
Need fulfilled: Cereal

I grew up in the nineties, when holidays abroad were no longer a luxury, but a given. Eeee-very-mutha-fucka got to go to Spain or France on their holidays. Not us, though. The O'Donoghue version of a holiday was six people in a three bedroom mobile home for three weeks. In Kerry. For my English readers, Kerry is kind of like the Irish version of Cornwall. In that, three days a year, you get this:

The rest of the time, however, you get this:

With age, I have learned to appreciate the beauty of Kerry. But back then, I hated it more than I can possibly hope to convey. The rain kept us inside most of the time, where we brewed a feverish hatred for one another. I dealt with this by wandering into the mobile homes of others, and asking them if they had any children who were about my age. When they said no, I just hung around anyway, and asked if they had any good cereal. A couple of hours later, there would be a knock on the door, and inevitably my mum or dad would be there, apologizing for  me. By now, I would be sitting cross-legged on a strangers floor, eating cereal and watching cartoons.

Friend: Every housemate I've ever had
Time of Friendship: Ages 19-21
Needs Fulfilled: Food, clothing, company.

By now, it has become quite obvious that my life so far is nothing more than me hanging around different peoples houses, patiently awaiting their charity. However, I have also managed to do this in my own home.

I was nineteen when I moved out for the first time, and it was a beautiful time. I was the poorest I've ever been, but that doesn't matter in Cork the same way it matters in London. You can walk everywhere, you could get a bottle of wine for four quid, and you can basically spend your every waking moment drifting from one pleather student sofa to the next. I made some terrible mistakes in that year, and I wouldn't take back a single one of them.

I'd like to say that I 'grew up' in that year, but that would be a lie. I didn't learn to cook. I didn't learn to 'clean' in the real sense, I just learned how to make things look absent of dirt. However, I did learn to utilize the pity of others for my own material gain. I would gaze at Billy as he tried to eat his dinner, until eventually he shoved the plate on to my lap. I would wander into Ryan's room, try on his jumpers and balefully declare that he had 'all the nice things' until his nice things were my nice things. By the end of our year together, I was waking up Billy in the middle of the night because I was bored and wanted to watch puppy movies.

By the time I moved to London, I had utilized the pity of others so much that I managed to stay 'temporarily' in my friend Danny O'Dwyers house for SIX MONTHS.

Friend: Chris Thomas 
Time of Friendship: Ages 21-22
Needs Fulfilled: Misc

I think it's important to note that as I've been writing this, Chris has brought me a pain au chocolat, a cup of tea, and a packet of crisps.

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