It was the fashion that summer for puppy ears – the long floppy kind. Like cocker spaniels, basset hounds or even afghans. Short floppy ears, salukis and the like, were definitely out. Way out. I had saved up a bit of cash selling moonstones and tiger-eyes on a friend’s stall at the Saturday market and was one of the first people I know to get the implant. I can’t explain how great I felt walking out of the clinic wearing them, three hundred euros poorer but right there at the very edge of street fashion. Great is a totally inadequate word for how good I felt just then.
Admittedly as the Xylocaine wore off my head felt pretty sore, like someone had ripped my ears off and then sewn them back on again, which they pretty much had, but I still felt cool. The very next day I went to hang around the town centre with my buddies Tim and Alphonse, walking around from café to café, drinking skinny lattes, enjoying the feel of those fabulously floppy ears hanging down on my shoulders, basking in the looks everyone gave me. Hardcore bio-freaks, festooned with the weirdest of implants and grafts, gave me grudging nods of respect.
Everyday folk just stared at me of course, but that is what they always do. There’d be something wrong if they didn’t. Even the winos gave me a second look as I went by. Good looking women, the kind that never normally even acknowledge my existence, looked at me with frank curiosity. One or two even smiled at me. This was making my day, I can tell you. Money well spent. A bunch of school girls came up to me, giggling, and asked if they could stroke my ears. I said no, the graft hadn’t properly taken yet, and they went away, laughing more then ever.
The sun was out and it was a fine summers’ day. I was in buoyant form. I’d never felt better, in fact – laughing, joking, enjoying the craic, exchanging banter with passers-by. Thinking about what I’d get done next when I had the cash. I could get a skin-job – chlorophyll implants were never out of style. As I walked down the street, sunshine washing down, I shook my head slowly from side to side, my floppy puppy-ears whizzing around my head like mad-looking furry helicopter blades.
Then the bad thing happened. The face of Smiling Michael, my spiritual guidance counsellor, suddenly appeared in front of me, only this time he wasn’t smiling but smirking. Michael had nerdy-looking glasses, bleached white hair that stood out in tufts, and a bunch of those real old-fashioned face studs. “Heya dogsbreath,” he chortled, “Them’s not puppy ears you’re wearing, them’s ass’s ears. They ripped you off, they saw you coming…”
He broke off to laugh at this point, finding it difficult on this account to continue with his witticisms. Eventually he managed it, “Those people are laughing at you, not with you. They think you’re knob-head. They don’t just think it, they know you are a knob-head…” He broke off laughing again. “Maybe that’s the next graft you should save up for…”
His expression changed then, he stopped smirking and instead looked at me pityingly. “Stop being such a fucking dick-head, Nick. You’re pushing sixty now and you shouldn’t be such a shallow, self-absorbed twat. You need to grow up a bit…” Ignoring the fact that there were people all around me in the street I screamed at the top of my voice, “FUCK OFF MICHAEL YOU CUNT! I’M UNSUBSCRIBING TO YOU!” Something he’d said had obviously touched a nerve – I was screaming like a total deranged out-of-control psycho.
The contact broke off then and Michael’s face was gone. People were staring at me and I suddenly felt uncool. I knew was uncool. The day had shifted gears on me and now I just wanted to run away and hide. Somehow I never really got back on form after that, my good buzz never came back. It was gone for good – that total twat Michael had succeeded in completely fucking up my day.