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A New Englishman in New York Part 8: Long-Haired Lover

by Tom Greaney
22 February 2011 13 Comments

Not only has he got to cope with 'getting to know' his new classmates, but his girlfriend has got a poster of a long-haired rock singer on the bathroom wall who she 'met' in Japan.

I’ve been away for three months. The flat has altered a bit. Without my steady hand at the tiller, the girlfriend has taken a few liberties on the place. She has installed one of them awful magnified mirrors in the bathroom so we “Can see all our pores and wrinkles.”

This isn’t the only problem. As I desperately stare into the bathroom mirror, on the wall opposite there is a poster of a handsome longhaired man who happens to be the lead singer of a band called “Citizen Cope.” It’s awful. I look in the mirror, I see me. But I also see a better-looking man behind me. It’s depressing on a daily scale. I’ve complained but the thing is nailed into the wall. It’s like a before and after plastic surgery shot.

The next night, we are out having a drink. Halfway through the night my girlfriend starts nodding her head to some music and starts smiling.

“Tom, this is ‘Citizen Cope’ you know that band on the bathroom wall.”

“Yeah. They sound rubbish. Where did you get that poster anyway?”

“In Japan. At a concert. I made out with the lead singer afterwards…”

She looks panicked. She’s revealed more than she meant to.

“You…made out…what? You’re telling me that the guy on the poster has tongued you?”

“Tongued? What’s tongued? We just kissed.”

So if seeing a superior man in the background of my mirror image everyday wasn’t bad enough. I have to look at a more handsome and successful man who kissed my girlfriend before I had even met her. Every single day.


It’s my first day at Uni. I’m now one of them older graduate students. Like all people in the world I resent anyone younger than me. This is as true as my disdain for toddlers when I was at primary school as it is now for fresh-faced undergraduate students. I wade through their grinning mass and head to class.

I look at him raise my eyebrows as if to encourage him to do a gag about it. He just looks back at me. Glum. Unsmiling. No reaction to the madness that just happened.

It’s the first class of the year so it’s the classic “Get to know you.” You have to introduce yourself to everyone. They start on the other side of the room but all I’m thinking about is what I’m going to say. Just say the basics, get out, job done. This bloody accent is gonna be my downfall. It’s going to provoke further questioning.

They go through the class. All standard. It’s a mixed group of people. Having lived in China for a number of years and everyone there having black hair I still get shocked by the amazing multi cultural nature of New York. All sorts. This particular class has a large number of Jewish students.

Closer to my go, I start regulating my swallowing so I have a clear throat for my turn. They reach a chap near me. He introduces his self and tells everyone he is a “Professional stand up comedian.”

The teacher seems impressed. “So you will be keeping us all laughing with your jokes?”

The stand up comedian, unsmiling, nods and says, “I hope so.”

They move onto a girl. She says her name. Says when she intends to graduate. She is currently a teacher. Then she says wants to leave education because she “Can’t deal with all the little brats.”

It’s a bold opening gambit isn’t it? Child hate. It is not something that lends itself to positive first impressions.

The professor quizzically repeats “Little Brats.” Jots down some writing and it seems over and I’m next. Right. Swallow. Cough. Clear Throat…

But the girl continues. “Yeah, rich little Jewish kids don’t get me started.”

Silence. A few people look around. Baffled. Did that just happen?

But the Professor didn’t seem to hear it.

More silence. A few of the Jewish lads look at each other as if to say “Here we go again.”

Someone has to say something don’t they? The teacher isn’t going to. I’m not gonna throw myself into the middle of a race war. A few others and myself look towards the “Stand Up comedian.” Surely he can save us from this awkward moment? I look at him raise my eyebrows as if to encourage him to do a gag about it. He just looks back at me. Glum. Unsmiling. No reaction to the madness that just happened.

(There have been 3 classes since and the “stand up comedian” has yet to smile or even do one joke.)

“Next” Says the professor.

It’s me. Swallow. Introduce myself. Normal. I explain I want to work in education when I graduate.

The professor says “Oh you’re like this girl then? Stay away from the little brats huh? You two should start a society”

Laughter. At me. Great. Clubbed in with the anti-Semites on day one.

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Asbury 8:03 am, 22-Feb-2011

glad you made it back Mr. Greaney! good luck on the course. looking forward to more stories!

Joe 8:45 am, 22-Feb-2011

I checked out 'citizen cope' on's pretty bare, maybe you could spruce up some of the 'personal history' section? 'While in Japan inapproriately tongued my girlfriend' would probably have to find out what year it happened to get it approved I guess.

Dan 9:35 am, 22-Feb-2011

Clearly the solution is to put up a picture in the bathroom of some girl that you once got off with. You might not have ever pulled a semi-famous musician before, but with Facebook around, even the non-famous have an accessible picture library.

Phil 9:39 am, 22-Feb-2011

Oh Tom I feel your pain on the introductions! The amount of times I have wanted the ground to swallow me up. Everything I think before hand comes out wrong and end up looking like a muppet. Good read as always!!!!

Geoff Capes 10:47 am, 22-Feb-2011

I feel a bit sorry for you reading these articles, I want to give you a hug, then tell you to stop being wet and sort it out. And smash up that picture.

Daniel 12:48 pm, 22-Feb-2011

I've seen you have worse seminars mate. Although I would save the Sheffield University Philosophy reproduction debate for the xmas book.

Al McQueen 7:32 pm, 22-Feb-2011


Tom 9:19 pm, 22-Feb-2011

Another quality instalment Tom. Great first name too.

David L 9:39 pm, 22-Feb-2011

Having done the Google Images thing with Mr. Citizen Cope, I wouldn't feel too threatened by him. He looks a bit of a wazzock, to be honest. And far, far too many photos of him looking moody whilst sat on a flight of stairs. A bloke I knew from college who's still clinging on to the whole musician thing has a website full of the same sort of publicity shots: moody, sat on a flight of stairs, in a shaft of light, etc. All well and good pursuing your fading dreams of rock'n'roll glory but, in the meantime, what if someone comes down those stairs and trips over you, maybe breaks their wrist or something, you nonce?

James 11:59 pm, 23-Feb-2011

That picture is not Citzen Cope. Citizen Cope has never been to Japan.

Cerri Owen 3:02 pm, 25-Feb-2011

Another great instalment. Hope the course is going well and the 'stand up comedian' cracks some jokes soon. Is the poster still up in the bathroom??

sylvia holtzman 10:19 pm, 26-Feb-2011

Funny. Girlfriend really runs the roost. Take hold ,you pay rent too..Maybe your comic is the silent kind.

Ross 2:05 am, 6-Mar-2011

Love your work Tom.

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