Michael Harding: When even a ram trying to have sex ends in disappointment

Disappointment is everywhere and is not helped by listening to negativity on the airwaves

A few sheep stood on a frosted slope in the far distance, and I noticed two rams moving among them and then taking a run at one of the lady sheep. Which didn’t work out so well.

A few sheep stood on a frosted slope in the far distance, and I noticed two rams moving among them and then taking a run at one of the lady sheep. Which didn’t work out so well.

 

My therapist says it’s not such a good idea to be driving around the country listening to political arguments on the car radio. “There’s too much negativity on the airwaves,” she says. “It makes people feel that life is endlessly disappointing.”

Although my guru says that disappointment is okay. “Disappointment,” he says, “is the mother of detachment.”

I tried to explain this to a swimmer in Cavan one day before Christmas. She was standing in the car park of the Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Hotel, scolding her dog because he had wet the back seat of her Toyota while she was swimming.

“I’m very disappointed with you,” she said, wagging her finger.

I suppose she was hoping to impress me.

“He’s usually a lovely little dog,” she said. “And well behaved. He stretches himself on the back seat of the car and he loves a scratch on his belly.”

When I saw him, a little plump bull terrier with a gigantic head, a tiny body and enormous jaws, I held me tongue.

“Ah sure he’s just gorgeous,” I declared eventually. But she was still scolding him. And he was panting like an old man, and she walked him around the car park like a merciless nurse until she was sure he wouldn’t wet anything else. And then she got friendly with him again.

“Doesn’t he look like a seal?” she said, when she had dried the back seat with a towel and he was sitting up with a nervous look on his face. I said he looked more like Winston Churchill. In fact it was herself I thought looked like a seal.

That was three days before Christmas and I had gone to Cavan for a swim in the splendid open-air pool at the luxurious spa hotel. A few sheep stood on a frosted slope in the far distance, and I noticed two rams moving among them and then taking a run at one of the lady sheep.

Which didn’t work out so well. They collided in mid-air and began butting each other until one of them withdrew to a distance with a sore head.

The other fellow addressed the lady sheep from the rear, and I was standing upright in the swimming pool to watch the shenanigans.

The sheep had taken a haughty view of the ram and no matter what gymnastics he tried it was to no avail. She shook him off violently, every time he tried to push his forelegs around her waist, and eventually he got fed up.

I was still standing in the pool, with water up to my chin, watching the sheep when the woman appeared. She emerged from the water beside me in a rubber cap and a black swimsuit, and as the water spilled off her body she reminded me of a seal.

“What are you staring at?” she wondered.

“My God,” I exclaimed, “is it yourself?”

I didn’t want to say I was staring at a ram trying to have sex on the far drumlin so I ignored the question and said, “How is your little dog.”

“He’s in the car,” she said.

Then she slipped beneath the surface of the water and re-emerged half way down the pool in a cloud of steam that was rising off the surface and which the slanting sun of mid-winter was cutting through like the blade of an archangel’s sword.

So that’s why I walked her to the car afterwards; she thought I wanted to see the dog. She presumed I was a dog lover. I said nothing to dissuade her of the fact, and when she opened the back door and found the seat was all wet, she was so disappointed that she began to shake.

“I’m so disappointed in you,” she said, and the little dog looked up at her with sorry bulging eyes, because I think he knew she was disappointed. He was probably just as disappointed himself. And so was I. Not about the dog, but about everything in general.

Which is when I mentioned what my guru had said about disappointment: it can lead us towards detachment. So it’s okay.

“It’s not okay for him to wet my car,” she replied. “And he’s going to know about it when I get home.”

And I could see that she loved the car just slightly more than the dog. And that really disappointed me. So I turned on the radio as I drove away and listened to John Kelly’s music programme on Lyric FM. Because he has never disappointed me. At least not yet.

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