'I'm remembering some of the eye broccoli I ended up with when I was unattached. We're talking serious horse-beasts'
Wearing a hoodie is a bit like sobering up and discovering that you’re having breakfast with a lap dancer. There’s a time of life when it’s both fun and perfectly acceptable. But you eventually reach an age when you end up having to ask yourself, ‘Am I getting too old for this?’ That gets an actual cheer from Christian, Oisinn and JP. They love it when I’m being, I suppose, philosophical?
The thing is, they’re all wearing hoodies and they’ve spent the last, like, hour slagging me about the way I’m dressed (black chinos, white shirt, purple Ralph tied around my shoulders). And the fact that I haven’t been properly out with them in ages. And the fact that there are eight – nine, at a push – very good looking women in Kielys of Donnybrook Town tonight and I haven’t used one of my famous lines on any of them.
“Settled” is the word that JP used.
I prefer “happy”.
“Yeah, no,” Oisinn goes, “that’s what’s actually weird. Where’s the old rage? I mean, Ireland are facing the biggest injury crisis possibly since rugby began and your name hasn’t been thrown into the mix once. What was that thing you said earlier? ‘Goys, Declan Kidney has to call it as he sees it!’ The old Ross would never have said that.”
JP goes, “So has it finally happened, Dude? Has Sorcha finally tamed the beast in you?”
I laugh, knock back a mouthful of Hydrogen – it’s genuinely like something out of a movie – and I go, “It’s called being content. You should try it some time. Now I need to take a WikiLeak,” and there’s a general chorus of, “Yeah, thanks for that information, Ross!” So anyway, roysh, I’m literally 10 yards away from the door of the Josh Ritter when I end up bumping into – as in, literally bumping into? – this girl, who just so happens to be a total stunner. Just to put it in, like, context for you, she’s a ringer for Daniela Moyles.
I’m like, “Oops, sorry,” and then I nod at the door of the jacks and go, “Beer in, beer out!” She actually ends up loving it as a line.
“Beer in, beer out,” she goes, laughing. “That’s really good. Okay, that’s actually really good.”
I’m there, “Do you think so?” I don’t know why I’m surprised.
She shrugs. “I mean, it’s funny, isn’t it?”
I’m there, “Hey, I’ve got loads of those. I could do that shit all night long.”
“I’m Susanne,” she goes, “spelt the German way,” and she offers me her hand.
I’m like, “Hey, it’s nice to meet you,” at the same time having to remind myself that I’m married. “I’m Ross.”
She smiles. “I know who you are.”
“Doesn’t everyone? I remember you playing rugby. Okay, this is – oh my God – so embarrassing, but when I was in, like, Alexandra College, we used to follow you around.”
I’m there, “A lot of girls did.” I know it’s wrong, but I’m suddenly remembering how much I actually enjoyed being single.
“We used to practically stalk you, though. You were a really amazing player.”
“And what I’d say in response to that analysis is that I enjoyed my rugby.”
Her next question comes, like, totally out of left field. “So are you, like, with anyone these days? As in, like, with with?”
It’s weird, roysh. I automatically look over my shoulder for Sorcha, even though she’s at home with Honor. This is the first major test of my, I suppose, commitment to her? My answer here is going to say a lot about my character.
“You seem suddenly interested in my status?” I go, deciding to keep it vague. It’s better than a straight, No, I’m single. I think that shows signs of definite emotional growth.
“I’m just asking,” she goes. “I know you were married, to that girl – was she, like, head girl or deputy head girl in Mount Anville?”
I check over my shoulder again. The survival instinct is strong in me. “Yeah, no, look,” I go, “I’m going to be honest with you, I am still technically married. We did break up but we’ve decided to give it another crack. Sorcha happens to be the girl’s name.”
“Sorcha! That was it. Oh my God, she was a great debater.”
“She still is,” I go. “She still is.”
She laughs again. I’ve always said that sense of humour is a really, really important quality – and she genuinely seems to love mine.
At the same time, roysh, I’m thinking, this is actually typical. I’m remembering some of the eye broccoli I ended up with when I was unattached. We’re talking serious horse-beasts. Now I’m back with my wife and this is what’s coming at me.
“The vibe I’m getting from you,” I go, “is that you’re interested.”
She’s like, “I am. Very.”
“Unfortunately,” I go, “I don’t want to do anything to jeopardise what me and Sorcha have got,” but, after I’ve said it, I can feel my mouth suddenly forming into an O. There’s nothing I can do to stop it. I’m like, “087...” And that’s when I hear the laughter behind me. It’s, like, Oisinn, Christian and JP. I’ve been stitched up in a big time way.
I go, “Did they put you up to this?”
“So all that stuff you said was bullshit. Including the bit about me being an amazing rugby player?”
“Yeah,” she goes. “Sorry.”
There’s, like a burst of laughter. I push the door of the toilet. The thing is, roysh, I’m laughing myself? Because I realise that I possibly haven’t changed after all. And then I realise something else. I go back out. “By the way,” I shout over to the goys, “Declan Kidney doesn’t know what the fock he’s doing!”
ILLUSTRATION: ALAN CLARKE