Today’s funny story…

by EJ

This morning, I was waiting for my student. Irish Joe was in the classroom next to me. My student didn’t come but Irish Joe’s turned up. I listened in. “Why’re you late?” he asked in mock seriousness. She tells him her cat is sick so they had to go to the vet this morning. They discuss the cat’s age for a while, which turns out to be 600 or something, so clearly it’s knocking on heaven’s door. I’d glanced up at some point and immediately noticed that the student was looking terribly mopey, all puffy-eyed and red faced, her recent tears barely dry. Joe had apparently not noticed these tell tale signs, as he enthusiastically embarked upon a heart warming anecdote from his youth, with the opening lines “I had a cat once. It lived for a week!” I rolled my eyes.
Now I don’t know about you but where I’m from a dimpled chin and quivering lower lip means no matter what the situation, tears are imminent. Judging from I.J’s persistence, in Ireland it must mean “Please continue with you dreadful story,” as that’s exactly what he does (much to my glee).

He recounted the ghoulish apologue of his young kitten; small, defenseless and naturally adorable. “It was a week old” he starts. “My dad says, Let’s put it outside to explore it’s new territory, which we did.” Unfortunately, at some point, according to Joe’s testimony, it was set upon and mauled to death by a bigger, stronger and uterly more terrifying feline. (I don’t know for sure, but I guess they left the poor bugger out there all night, or something infinitely masculine in its wisdom like that). “After that,” concluded the beaming Joe, “I got a goldfish! Much easier to look after.”
I’m not sure how long it was exactly, but it seemed an eternity before the silence was finally broken by a gentle, stifled sobbing as the traumatised student wept into her hankerchief, head hung low, eyes clenched tightly shut. A second eternity passed before Irish Joe, the beam frozen on his face, asks “Are you ok?” To which she managed to blub out a breathless “Yes.” I wasn’t convinced. Well, after that happy little opener, there were only another 37 minutes left to kill with a lesson on cigarettes, alcohol and customs regulations. Joy!