Joanne McNally on . . . men vs s’mores
I could suddenly see a future where I’m washing my husband in the sink and aeroplane feeding him mash
Joanne McNally: I was reminded of several times I had endeavored to “improve” a man by ignoring all the words coming out of his mouth
Note: All names have been changed to protect my personal safety and profanities have been replaced with the word ‘dog’.
It was Saturday afternoon and I was taking a whiskey sour with my good friends “Queen Sheeba” and “Vienetta”. I was wearing stark white dungarees, which I had purchased under duress from the sales assistant who had threatened to spontaneously die if I left the shop without them. “They’re amazing!”she said. “Buy them or I’ll die!”
Queen Sheeba suggested that this girl’s blood on my hands would be less detrimental to my reputation than the reality I was now faced with: sitting in a cocktail bar dressed as a toddler from a Persil ad.
“Whatever. How’s silent Bob?”
I was talking about Vienetta’s boyfriend Ignatius Waterhousen. Ignatius had always been less than forthcoming with his social skills; you’d be forgiven for thinking he was actually dead inside but Vienetta assured us that behind closed doors he was the life and soul of her kitchen, constantly cracking jokes and offering Ferrero Rocher to the cat.
“I hate that side of him!” She was digging a pistachio nut out of her tooth. “He’s such a doggy selfish bastard. I bend over backwards for that dogger and he can’t even suck up his weird social bullsh*t for one doggy weekend.”
I’d known Vienetta since school, she was one of my oldest and dearest desserts so I was free to patronise her.
“But he was always like this! Why would he change?”
“Because, I assumed he would change FOR ME!”
“Well, you know what they say, don’t you?” Queen Sheeba was scrolling through her phone, half listening, half trolling pro-lifers.
We stared, waiting.
“Men marry women hoping they’ll stay the same and women marry men hoping they’ll change – invariably both are disappointed. Einstein said it. He was basically the Oscar Wilde of the science world.”
Vienetta was annoyed now. She was melting. “For dog’s sake it’s not like I’m trying to rub out his testicles and replace them with two pearl earrings. I’m only trying to make him a better person – I’m doggin’ improoooooving him!’
This seemed fair. I was reminded of several times I had endeavored to “improve” a man by ignoring all the words coming out of his mouth. There was the time I sat staring at “Tayto” while he told me in no uncertain terms he did not want a relationship. I smiled at him curiously, wondering why he was talking about doing a relay race on a ship, but was pleased he was suggesting more time together at sea.
Then there was the time I sat with my new boyfriend “Mikado” while he told me he found monogamy “very difficult”. Yes but this was special, he’d soon be enlightened and then we’d both be happyhoooooold on a second! Who the DOG owns those tights wrapped around the leg of your chaise longue MIKADO!?!
Why don’t I believe them? Why is it that when a man presents himself to me and I see their current personality as a light suggestion of something in its early stages? I’m convinced that the things they say they don’t want just haven’t been packaged to them in the right way and I’m the woman to roll it all into something more digestible.
We’re like panel beaters. Vienetta was trying to tap out a social stubbornness and tap in a love of couple’s jiu-jitsu. I was like a demented Timmy Mallet, standing over Tayto trying to tap out his honesty and tap in a deep cavity of commitment into a rust bucket begging to be scrapped.
We ordered up more sour flavoured thingamajigs and googled this burning desire to “improve”. The re-occuring theme was that we’re exercising our mothering muscles, as in we’re built to nurture and develop and so without an actual child to pour that into, our boyfriends/ girlfriends/miniature dogs become the victims of that misspent energy.
I could suddenly see a future where I’m washing my husband in the sink and aeroplane feeding him mash. Vienetta looked scared. She pulled out a pair of pool socks she’d bought for Ignatius to help him avoid the verucca epidemic in his local gym. “But I’m good for him,” she said. I smacked the socks out of her hand and reminded her that she’s a woman, not a multivitamin.
It was a sobering moment. I looked down at my outfit which now had a cherry smashed into the leg and realised I’m not ready to raise a man. Like, I electrocuted myself last week, on purpose, to win a s’more. I couldn’t take on someone else. Dog that!
The waiter arrived with our drinks. He was hot but small, with broken English and an unkempt man bun. But there was something about him…
All three of us sat watching him unload his tray, mentally conditioning his hair and enrolling him in a language school. The mind is an incredibly curious instrument.
Joanne McNally’s one-woman show, Bite Me, is at Project Arts centre from September 21st to 24th. Tickets €16.