An Insult

I use an external CPU for a paper weight.

I remember it quite clearly, it was in Year 8 or 9 (Well, maybe not so clearly) and we were all in the canteen at one of the tables, no one as far as I remember was sitting down. We all stood around, preparing to move at any moment, merely letting our bags rest on the table to relieve our backs.
Scott had obtained a copy of the latest Artemis Fowl book, it may have been his Birthday come to think of it. I did not know of the existence of a new Artemis Fowl book and expressed my interest.
In the same way that memories are made memorable by strong emotions, they can also become corrupt and vague.
At my expression of interest, or shortly after, Scott remarked “You don’t seem like the sort of person who reads a lot of books” or “You don’t come across as reading a lot of books” or something to that effect. I wish I could recall the exact wording.
I was so incredulously offended by this statement that I broke down into hysterical, disbelieving laughter. I kept repeating myself as I didn’t know how to respond or how to put into words that which I wanted to say. I said things like “What? You’ve hurt me Scott” and “That is the most offensive thing I’ve ever been told” all while wearing a mad grin, a crazy expression and losing my breath to laughter.
Scott wore that innocent, confused, amused, slightly slack-jawed look which came to him so naturally in those days. Probably because he didn’t know how to react to my ignorance of how to respond.
He may have asked “Have you taken your pills today Herlihy?” or maybe someone else did, I vaguely remember Ranga coming and watching another hilarious show of Herlihy Hysterics, Ba doing his eyebrow equivalent of a joking facepalm, the bell going, everyone moving off, and me just standing there feeling as if I had suffered an acid trip.
I was so offended, no-one had hurt me that much for a long time, if ever. At the time I was incredulous that such a thing could be said to me, as I look back I am incredulous that I responded to such an insult in the way that I did.
Perhaps it was because I was struck more by disbelief than rage. Even then I had a well developed sense of absurdity, and was quite immune to personal insults.
The world is a comedy for those who think, and a tragedy for those who feel. Mum always said I have no heart, and I always hated and ignored her words. But looking back, I can heartily accept that she was right the whole time.

Alex Herlihy – 2010

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