Sorcha has been withholding certain privileges from me until I can prove to her that I’m capable of being faithful
So I’m sitting in the other night, rewatching the 2012 Ken Cup final – as one does – when there’s suddenly a familiar whiff in my nostrils that I recognise almost instantly as Love Chloe, a perfume that has always done it for me and which Sorcha sometimes throws on when she wants something.
I look over my shoulder and – roysh enough – she’s standing in the doorway with a slightly embarrassed smile on her face and enough perfume on her to anaesthetise a humpback whale ahead of major surgery.
She goes, “Is this an important match?” which I know from my years of exposure to women is Passive Aggressive for, ‘Can you turn the rugby off please?’
“All rugby matches are important,” I go, because it’s a point that should be made. “What’s up?”
She goes, “Nothing. I was just wondering did you fancy an early night?” My jaw is suddenly on the floor.
Just to fill you in on a little bit of back story here, Sorcha and I have been back living together for a few months now? But she’s been, let’s just say, withholding certain privileges from me until I can prove to her that I’m capable of being faithful. I’ve got a set of nuts on me here like Jupiter and Neptune. But it sounds very much to me like I’m being propositioned now.
“What do you mean by an early night?” I go. “As in, what specifically is being put on the table?” Because I don’t want to spend the rest of the night looking at her with her nose stuck in a book, gasping every 15 seconds and telling me she actually feels sorry for people who’ve never read Jonathan Franzen? She smiles and goes, “Do I have to spell it out for you, Ross?” and suddenly she’s walking up the stairs with me trotting stupidly behind her like Simba after Mufasa.
I’m already unbuttoning my chinos when she reaches the top of the stairs and goes, “Although there is something I want you to do for me first,” and, like probably most males, I’m thinking, ‘Shit, that sounds suspiciously like foreplay to me’. But I follow her into the bedroom anyway and that’s when I see the cordboard box on the bed. A cordboard box I recognise. The one that holds my entire collection of romantic comedy DVDs.
I’m like, “Okay, what’s going on?” Sorcha hands me a black bin bag and goes, “I want you to throw all of these movies out.” I’m there, “What the fock?” which, I think, is a natural enough reaction.
She goes, “I know why you have them, Ross. They were part of your seduction routine.” I’m there, “You don’t know what you’re talking about, Babes.” She’s like, “Ross, I’ve heard you refer to this as your toolbox.” She knows exactly what she’s talking about, by the way. You don’t become Ireland’s leading philanderer without having the right equipment – and the contents of this box have been as vital to me in bedding literally thousands of women as my stock of incredible, incredible chat-up lines.
“If you’re serious about being faithful to me,” she goes, “then you’re not going to need these anymore. I want you to leave them out for the bin men tomorrow – as a demonstration of your commitment to me.” I’m like, “Could we not just stick them in the attic, Babes?” Except she doesn’t answer. She just pulls Ghost out of the box and hands it to me. I stare at the cover and a lot of memories come suddenly flooding back to me. You make your move when the ghost of Swayze tells Demi Moore that he loves her and Moore goes, “Ditto.” I drop it into the bag with the sadness of someone saying goodbye to a lifelong friend.
Then she hands me Pretty Woman. Pretty focking Woman! The skeleton key of romcoms. There’s not a lock it’s ever failed to pick for me. Roberts and Gere on the fire exit stairs. Roberts – looking a bit cross-eyed – goes, “She rescues him right back,” and she throws the lips on him. And that’s your cue to do the same. Get in!
“In the bag,” Sorcha suddenly goes. I do as I’m told. I pull the next one out myself. It’s You’ve Got Mail. Jesus Christ! What a movie! The Sleepless in Seattle of the internet age, with Hanks and Ryan at the top of their game. Catnip for women. I have a sudden memory of Suzanne Dardis – who was doing international commerce with Mandarin in UCD – with her hands all over me like a focking spider monkey.
“Ross,” Sorcha goes, “you’re just making it horder for yourself.” She’s actually right? I suddenly ask her to hold the bag open for me. Then I take the box and I tip its entire contents – we’re talking Maid in Manhattan, we’re talking Only You, we’re talking The Notebook (Jesus!) – into it.
Then I bring it downstairs, outside and – like the final scene in my own romcom – I drop it into the black, general refuse bin.
Father Fehily used to say, “Never be afraid of change. Some things come to an end so better things can come to a beginning.” And up there in that bedroom, waiting for me now, is a woman who loves me for all my faults and all my amazing qualities. And I’m going to try to be a good husband to her.
And sure if it doesn’t work out, those movies are all available now on download.
ILLUSTRATION: ALAN CLARKE