We call him Pothole. His dad is a property developer. The nickname derives from that fact that Pothole’s personality is so grating, his manner so repugnant, people will go to almost any length to avoid bumping into him. But South William Street is his stomping ground. So when Aidan, Declan and I head for New Year’s pints in Dakota, we know we’re taking our lives – or, at the very least, our afternoons – in our hands.
I’m telling Aidan about Christmas in my house. On Christmas Eve, I picked the turkey up from the butchers but forgot to bring it inside. The bird froze solid in the boot of my car overnight, causing bitter recriminations at breakfast the next morning.
After Mass, we drank wine and argued. By means of creating a diversion, my sister suggested a game of charades, to which my mother bitterly replied, “The whole bloody day has been a charade, I suppose, why stop now?”
Well, we didn’t stop laughing until New Year’s.
Aidan has repaired to the bar when Pothole sidles up. “Happy New Year, you guys,” he says. If you don’t think it’s possible to wish someone a Happy New Year in an annoying way, well, you don’t know old Pothole.
Last time he got in touch, Pothole wanted me to write an article in the newspaper about his glamorous lifestyle. I politely declined that exciting opportunity, although not before Aidan and I pitched each other a few possible headlines. (“Obnoxious Rich Idiot Ponces Around City, Secretly Hated By All…’)
Now that he no longer wants anything, he feels even less compunction to turn on the charm. I inquire about his Christmas. “Skiing in Verbier with the folks,” he sighs. “Met up with two really hot French chicks, got a bit of a threesome going. Y’know yourself…”
He trails off.
“Oh, I know exactly the way,” says Declan.
Pothole senses he’s being mocked, however mildly, and rounds on Declan.
“Fuck off, you cunt,” he says. “I’ve had more women in the last month than you’ll have in a lifetime.”
Aidan accidentally-on-purpose spills about half a pint of Guinness down Pothole’s back.
“You fuckin’ idiot,” barks Pothole. “That’s a fuckin’ Prada shirt, man!”
Aidan smiles apologetically. “Didn’t see you there buddy,” he smiles.
Pothole is furious.
“Watch where you’re going then, you moron. Do you know who my father is?”
Aidan shakes his head.
“Ask your mother,” he suggests. “She might remember.”
Pothole stands there, mouth agape, in mute apoplexy. Then he turns around and flounces away.
“Nice guy,” says Declan.
Oh the salt of the earth…