So, I am happy to announce that some of the better columns you have been reading here have been picked up by a publisher and will be made into a book that I’ll be calling This Is Your Brain on Shamrocks sometime in February!

In reading over some of the edited essays, I was troubled by how many words were devoted to my poor self-image.

That’s it! Your lard arse is going to the gym once and for all, I thought to myself. 

Since then, I have been a dervish of activity in the cause of my own health!  All egg whites and portion controlled proteins and greens for me, thank you very much!

I squeezed every drop out of the Indian summer we had over the weekend.  I suited up the sneakers and even got myself to a gym most days. Twelve pounds have come off in a short period of time, but it isn’t fast enough for my liking.

To speed the process up some and to capitalize on this self-loathing, I did the unthinkable: I took a blade to my chin and shaved off the goatee I have been wearing for the last 13 years. It was hiding an inauthenticity about the bib o’chub, and I literally couldn’t stare it in the face any longer!

But that wasn’t even the most radical thing I did!  I loaded a yoga mat into the back trunk and joined my wife for a class in an attempt to tone up for the book tour.

After an hour of pretzel contortions while mechanical birds chirped in the loudspeaker, I put in a workout more severe than anything a drill sergeant could dish out. Hey, if it worked for Sting, it would work for me!

So, I set off on a brilliantly sunny day last Friday to do publicity shots and book jacket photos because the artwork was due on Monday. I posted the pictures on my Facebook account and even took the before and after shots to the pub for the lads to help decide which look to go with.

Remind me to never do that again, please!

“It’s f***in’ facial hair, for the love of God,” said one paddy, rolling his eyes to the heavens as his short block fingers teased his widow’s peak.

He placed the pictures on the bar, careful to dip them into the ring of moisture left by his pint glass, and motioned to the bartender.

“’Can you get ‘Michele’ over here a whiskey please? She’s a bit parched after going to her yoga class. Put some Pogues on the jukebox while yer at it -- her poor head is probably still ringing with that Enya nonsense.”

“Yeh better make that a pint of water,”  shouted Seamus as he grabbed the pictures. “Yeh might as well put a tinkle of vinegar into the glass as well, in case yer man over here needs a douche!”

I didn’t take a bit of notice of this and took it for what it was: -- a jealous, curt comment from a friend of mine who hides a desire to be a comedian and actor behind the brick walls he builds around Tarrytown.

With his bleached long hair, translucent eyes and bushy eyebrows that seem to brush in any hint of mayhem into his thick skull, this native Dubliner just might hit the stage sooner rather than later!

“Yerra, I’m still not sure I like the clean-shaven look,” he sighed dramatically. “Why did you cut it off again?”
“I was tired of hiding behind it,” says I. “I realized the goatee was hiding the double chins and all of the bad health and poor lifestyle choices that went with it over the years, and I am turning over a new leaf.”

“Good onya, boyo,” he replied, rubbing my shoulders with ham hands and a vice grip.  “Mind yeh, I think the whole goatee of yours was like puttin’ a f***ing rosebush in front of a wall of graffiti -- I mean, who we kiddin’ here?”

American Idol contestants have it easy compared to the judges I have to put up with in my watering hole. Perhaps I might want to hang with my yoga gals a bit more; they’re too kind to judge me, even in my spandex.