A Date For Lar Gibbons
(Issue 11, Date of Publication July 2005)
When Lar Gibbons walked into town as a young adult he always passed this man in Lower Salthill who would be leaning over his low gate with his belly hanging out. And Lar would wonder “Who is this man leaning over his low gate with his belly hanging out?”. One day, many years later, Lar was looking out his upstairs window, and he lent over and his belly popped out. And at that very moment he thought of the man. The man leaning over his low gate with his belly hanging out. And Lar realised he was now that man. This is what he’d become. Just that man. Looking out. Watching the world go by. With his belly hanging out.
He decided he needed to change. He didn’t want to be just another anonymous fat guy looking out an upstairs window. He didn’t want to be Robert Mitchum, who had once said- “People think I have an interesting walk – hell, I’m just trying to hold my gut in.” He didn’t want to be girth-bogglingly obese with all that accumulated visceral fat leading to a possible premature expiry date. He had to look after his health. Get into shape. That is when he met Janine.
He first asked Janine out at her place of work. She worked as a colonic hydro-therapist in Healthy Matter, a colonic hydrotherapy clinic on Fr. Griffin Road.
Lar had talked on the phone to an Emily at the clinic a few weeks earlier and had been asked to follow a detox diet for seven days before his maiden colonic. The porridge, vegetable soup and fish or chicken menu with brown rice was no problem. It was the stuff he was asked to do without that was the problem. No coffee. No dairy. No alcohol.
Emily also suggested he keep a Food Log. Another log, he thought. He already kept a Headache Log. Backache Log. Mood Log. Heartburn Log. Sleep Log. And of course the Log that caused him to contact the clinic in the first place, his facetiously titled Bog Log , which he had started the previous summer after experiencing some ‘air traffic control problems.’ Just as well he had loads of time on his hands. There was some benefit, after all, in having little purpose in life.
Janine had just stuck her surgically-gloved finger up his rectum and told him his prostate was fine. She was now proceeding to gently flood his colon with some warm water via a delicately placed tube up his anus to help banish all residual toxins and faecal materials – the impacted waste as they call it on their brochure – when the date idea surfaced in his head. If ever there was a correct time to ask a woman out he felt, this was it. If she said no it wouldn’t be a source of disappointment. He had already been utterly humiliated and degraded in her company. And she did seem so nice. Sweetly supportive as he felt that over-powering feeling of fullness in his stomach and started evacuating a particularly gushing bowel movement.
He turned his head towards her.
“A new restaurant is opening on Abbeygate Street. This might not seem the correct time to discuss food, or possible romance, but I have two complimentary tickets for the launch of The Hunger Strike, a post-modern slightly offensive name, you may agree, on Thursday night, would you like to accompany me?”
She paused. He evacuated some more.
“I don’t usually date clients.”
With the aplomb of an artist, Janine then removed the tube and wiped Lar clean. Lar sought clarity.
“So that’s a no, then.”
But Lar persisted. During the spring he had four more colonic cleansing sessions. Each time he went to Healthy Matter he asked Janine for a date. Finally, she acquiesced. She agreed to meet him. The Event: Local sculptor Malachy Mullarkey’s quietly humorous peat figurines of some well-known national characters. The Time: 6.30 p.m. Thursday the 12th. The Location: The Galway Arts Centre, Dominick Street. It was his first date for three years. What would he bring her? He remembered reading quite a positive review of a book in the New York Times best-seller list a few years back by Syracuse- based Dr. Nathan Bandello called The Turd Man-Memoirs of a Colonic Hydro-therapist.
The book chronicled Nathan’s passion for his particular occupation after both his parents had died of colon cancer before he was twenty and how he vowed to make colonic irrigation his life’s work to help prevent the onset of this potentially fatal disease in as many people as possible. He did this because he did not want to have other families experience what he and his younger sister Amy – now a successful media lawyer in San Diego – had gone through. Tragically after the book’s outstanding success Nathan had unfortunately succumbed to colon cancer himself. Lar was determined to buy an earlier edition of the book so Janine would not find out about Nathan’s untimely demise in the updated blurb.
That is, if he decided to actually go ahead and buy the book. Would Janine really be interested in this book? Surely, given her line of work she’d like a bit of escapism and adventure rather than a forensic analysis of the workings of the large intestine. Possibly the last thing she wants to read. Anyway, maybe she has the book already. Got it as a Christmas present or birthday present one year. How many books are out there about colonic hydro-therapists? But then again, colonic hydro-therapy has brought them together, in a roundabout way, so maybe she would find his gesture romantic and touching. He decided to have a look at the book and make a decision about purchasing on the spur of the moment.
The afternoon before the rendezvous he went to Eason’s on Shop Street. No sign of the book on the shelves, in the Mind&Body and Health Section.
“Do you have a book called The Turd Man- Memoirs of a Colonic Hydro-therapist, by a Dr. Nathan Bandello? It was a big hit in the States a few years back.”
The name tag said Maisie. The orange hair, green eyes and nose stud screamed crazy. From behind the counter she stared at him. Then blinked.
“The one with Orson Welles, is it? We don’t do DVD’s here. Go across the road to Zhivago Music. ”
Lar decided to buy Janine flowers instead.
But he had a more pressing problem. Over the years, Lar had realised that if premature ejaculation was an Olympic sport he’d be a gold medallist. The four- second man. How come he’s good at stuff that never gets recognised?
Now there were other reasons Lorraine had left him after only three years of marriage in late 2001 for that new-age ski-pants wearing reflexologist Lothario, Mario, and Lorraine had made that quite clear.
“It’s not that. It’s all the other stuff. As well.”
“What other stuff?”
“The not talking. The sighing. The pacing. The drinking. The griping. About the country. About your work. About the weather. The not turning up when you are supposed to. The turning up when you are not supposed to. The not listening to me when I talk. The snoring. The storming out and not having an argument when we are all set to have an argument. The need to be praised when you wash the dishes once in six months. The need to be praised when you cook a meal once in six years and the never ever ever wanting to go out.”
Lorraine had been right. Lar never liked going out. But that’s just the way he was. All his life he was surrounded by people who went out in the evening and did things while he stayed in. His parents, people who liked to go out in the evening and do things while he stayed in. Later, in the few flats he lived in, his flatmates were always interested in going out in the evening and doing things while he stayed in. Then he met Lorraine. She liked going out in the evening and doing things while he stayed in. But what is so wrong with staying in?
His biggest thrill in life was to be invited to a dinner party, accept the invitation reluctantly, only at the last minute for the hostess to cancel. There was no greater joy in the life of Lar Gibbons than a surprise night in!
Lar didn’t presume that himself and Janine would end up in bed after the first date but on the off-chance the situation arose – so to speak – he’d have to be ready. He decided to undertake some research. The wonders of the web. There were two techniques constantly referred to, to help alleviate his, er, timing issue. The stop/start technique. And the stop/squeeze technique. They both basically entailed prolonged bouts of masturbation with delay of orgasm for as long as possible. Since being laid off, spare time was something Lar had an abundance of and he embraced these exercises with a rare enthusiasm. After a three day intensive work-out , he had shown small signs of improvement by managing 35 seconds from erection to ejaculation with the stop/start exercise and 41 seconds from erection to ejaculation with the stop/squeeze exercise. Not bad. But could do better.
He wanted to have all the angles covered on this date with Janine. How could he ensure the conversation side of the evening went well? He undertook some more research by consulting some websites on tips for dating. One website claimed that if you go on a date and you agree with everything your date says – she will not be impressed. If you disagree with every thing she says – she will not be impressed either. However if you disagree with her on the first half of the date and then gradually start to agree with her over the second half – then she will start to like you – and this is the coup de grace – the later you delay the change from disagreeing to agreeing, the more successful you will be.
He was mulling over possible topics to initially disagree about before gradually changing his mind……alternative medicine, a need for better street lighting in Lower Salthill, peat figurines…when he received a text. It was from Janine. Something unexpected had come up. She had to cancel at the last minute.
For Lar Gibbons it was another surprise night in.
Karl MacDermott is an Irish-born comedy writer. He has written jokes no one has laughed at, radio plays no one has listened to, a television series no one watched and a novel no one read. He should be a very depressed and morose individual but he is not because he is deeply passionate about facilitating his delusions. He is currently writer-in-residence at his home in Dublin and “A Date For Lar Gibbons” is an extract from his recently epublished second novel Ireland’s Favourite Failure-A Slim Volume of Endless Hilarity. You can watch the hilarious trailer for this novel on YouTube, by clicking here.
–Art by Zak Milofsky