…a person who is high-spirited and over excited and just a bit too happy; also used of something which has reached boiling point
“Do you know what?” Oscar asked, his face stretched into a smile brought on by the three pints of Guinness he had drunk in quick succession or by some sense of relief he felt deep down at being fired earlier that day.
“Yes. I know,” Henry wearily replied – weary despite having consumed the same number of alcoholic beverages Oscar had just consumed – weary despite gin and tonics giving you more lift, as he always asserted. “You have it all worked out?”
“I guess I do.”
“You’re going to write a novel about it?”
“You know. I should.”
“This is just what you needed?”
“A kick up the ass.”
“The first step in…”
“All right! All right! Don’t get carried away.” Oscar was momentarily in danger of going off the boil and loosing his recently acquired, carefully tended and assiduously massaged good humour.
Henry was therefore sent off to buy his round, and maybe at the bar he would think about his role in this evening, the evening of the day in which Oscar had lost his only source of income and his only tenuous link with the hectic world of other people who strive, who work, who hunt, who gather, who go about the business of living, who are up to their necks in the shit and piss of life.
Look at them, Oscar thought. Just look at them. And look at them he did. Wasn’t it the job, no – the vocation of a writer, because that’s what he was, what he is – he’s a writer, I’m a writer, a writer down of all the twists and turns of this mortal coil – a thought which he just then jotted down on the beer mat whilst congratulating himself on coming up with such an original and insightful expression… and beautiful, it was a beautiful expression, and wasn’t beauty his business too – the beauty inherent in language – my god, Oscar thought, isn’t it grand to be alive.
Although, he was forced to think again on viewing the group of people which had gathered at the next table. But then, it was his task to render the mundane and grotesque beautiful, to unearth in that particularly ugly man who was rolling a cigarette, an activity which occupied the whole of his attention, something of significance – perhaps he could be a symbol of the matter of life, its grainy substance, its meat and two veg – an ugly man with a rather large boil in the centre of his forehead and a rather inflated and grotesque nose who is wholly absorbed in the problem of applying his course and clumsy fingers in the delicate task of rolling a wafer thin cigarette paper around a roll of damp tobacco – a symbol of life’s matter, the stuff of life.
But Oscar’s attention was soon elsewhere and his thoughts were loosing their coherence and one faint and ill-formed idea flowed seamlessly into the next such that soon they weren’t ideas at all, they were merely collections of sights and other indefinable sensations.
The sight of a slightly disgruntled Henry walking across the dirty carpet was enough to raise his spirits to a new height.
“I don’t see why you insist on drinking here.” Henry was far from pleased about something.
“It’s my local.”
“Well maybe you should move.”
And then Oscar started off on one of his tangents about the common people, the grittiness of real life, the beauty of the ordinary, the stuff of reality and the sharp smell of fag ash and vomit.
After about ten minutes of Oscar’s soliloquising, enter stage left a pair of girls who had been standing at the bar, both smiling, both beaming, both covered in a thick layer of brown makeup with a distinctly red tinge, both seeming to be on the verge of bursting into childish giggles, both seeming to be on the verge of doing something awfully funny, both standing waiting to obtain the full attentions of Henry and Oscar.
“Is anyone sitting here?” the uglier of the two said.
In the pause which followed quite a lot happened. Glances were exchanged between all of the parties concerned, each glance meaning very different things – Henry’s glance being loaded with disgust, Oscar’s with wry amusement, the girls with little more than the joy of life and the blurring effect of one too many fizzy and brightly coloured alcoholic drinks. The prettier of the two, a rather buxom girl bent forward rather too far in order to provide a full view of her copious breasts. The uglier of the two giggled. Oscar beamed. Henry began a coughing fit which was to last for the next twenty seconds and which ensured that he would play no part in the following exchange, an exchange which ensured the girls a seat at their table and a drink of whatever they fancied and the sudden departure of Oscar to secure those drinks.
Nothing was said until Oscar’s return, though the girls did try their best through catching Henry’s eye, smiling, giggling and by suggestively touching their necks, breasts, hair and faces.
“There you go ladies. Get them down your necks.”
The exchanges between all four, though Henry took little part in them beyond the odd grunt of begrudging assent to one statement or another, could be summarised into a few comments such as Oscar’s “You’re a grand pair of ladies.”, the girls saying in unison “Your friend doesn’t say much, does he?”, and then there was Oscar’s ironic “What’s a pair of ladies like yourselves doing in a place like this?”, his usual “Well I’m a writer.” and his unusual “…he’s a professional tight-rope walker.”, his profound “I write about life.”, his dismissive “Nothing you’d have read.”, his diplomatic “No offence.”, his offended “I don’t write porn or comic books.”, his honest “I haven’t actually finished a book.”, his drunken “Metaphysically speaking, I find you’re breasts fascinating.” and his highly offensive “Do I have to buy you girls another drink or do I pay afterwards.”
“Why did I have to endure that?” Henry asked on the short walk back to number twenty-five.
“Jesus Christ Henry, you’re such a snob,” replied Oscar, without the least hint of bitterness, as he lunged around a lamp post and ran, staggered, laughed and fell the final few yards home.