In a Word . . . Perfect

He had told the woman on the train he intended proposing to her sister when Mayo won the All-Ireland last September . . .

 

It is not possible to improve on perfection. So I remind myself every morning while shaving. In foolish youth I decided it might be worth a try and grew a beard. To my shock and awe it was brightest red. This clashed violently with my fair-headed boy appearance up to then. I shaved it off, pronto.

But such impossibility does not stop people trying. Like the young woman on a train some months ago. From the moment we left Galway until arrival at Heuston she spent the journey across Ireland adjusting her make-up before a hand -held mirror.

In turn heightening and lightening the tone, sharpening the eye-liner and making edges disappear. Even as outside the rain was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves.

Clearly, hers was a problem of relativism. No sooner was she satisfied with the tone of a cheek than she spotted a shine on her nose where none had been before or felt either/both clashed with the dark shade of her eyeliner, making further adjustment imperative.

So it continued for 150 minutes, 150 minutes with the length of 150 long winters for a distracted observer who only wished to say “relax, young woman. You’re gorgeous. Leave yourself alone” but was held back by #metoo.

Not I, Lord!

So compulsive was her ongoing makeover that I considered moving to another carriage, which seemed ridiculous. Or change seats. But I like to face in the direction a train is travelling. “Do I dare . . . ?”, I asked myself. “. . . move my seat? Eat a peach?” I didn’t, as she blithely painted on.

Had I moved, I would have missed a jewel of conversation between two women behind me. One was explaining how her younger sister was living with a partner in Drogheda and what the younger sister didn’t know was that her partner had planned to propose to her last year.

In top secret he had told the woman on the train he intended proposing to her sister when Mayo won the All-Ireland last September. They didn’t.

Both women hooted when she said this. “. . . and he hasn’t proposed since?” asked the second women. “No,” said the first, both now in hysterics.

“Perfect”, I thought to myself, stifling the laughter.

Perfect from Latin perfectus, ‘completed, excellent, accomplished, exquisite.’

inaword@irishtimes.com

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