It’s closing time on Monday night and Aidan and I are sitting in front of at a pair of empty glasses. For the last five minutes, he has been engaged in a freewheeling mobile phone conversation with I’m not sure who.
“Ah, not a lot now” he’s saying. “Myself and Butler are finishin’ a pint in Grogans. Just scratching our balls to be honest. Probably head home after and see if herself is feeling frisky…”
Then person on the other end says something and Aidan makes a face.
“Sorry, who am I speaking to?” he inquires.
In a few minutes, I’m going to walk home and be faced with a blank computer screen. I’m stuck for material this week and I’m hoping Aidan might have a few suggestions.
“You write for the papers, do you?” he says, when he gets off. “Jeez, I always thought you worked for the bank.”
No, I inform him (for the hundredth time). I’m a journalist. I have a column in the Herald in which I recount funny stories that happen in bars. If he could say something quotable, I tell him, it’d be a big help.
He mulls it over for a minute or two.
“‘The only thing we have to fear” he says, finally, “is fear itself.”
“That’s not quite what I meant…”
“Here’s one for you then… You know Paul Newman, who just died. He was married to the same woman for fifty years, right? So one day some fella says to him, ‘Excuse me there, Paul. I’m not gay or anything, but, seriously, you’re one fine lookin’ fella there. How come you never played the field?’ And you know what Newman says?”
“He says, ‘Why go out for a hamburger, when you can have steak at home?’”
We mull that one over in silence together for a second.
“Is that why you’re faithful to Linda then? Is Linda steak?”
“To be fair to Linda,” he says. “She would be more of an Irish stew.”
We both laugh.
“Nothing wrong with that,” I offer.
“Indeed and there isn’t!” he says, throwing on his jacket. “Indeed and there is not.”