‘The best way to not disappoint women, I’ve always found, is to lower their expectations’
SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?” It’s, like, Sorcha who asks the question? And Erika just shifts in her seat. She might be uncomfortable being asked straight out like that. Or it might be the weight of the baby she’s carrying.
I’m there, “I think what Sorcha means is, are you coming home with us – as in, like, home to Ireland?” This is the three of us sitting in the breakfast lounge of the Sandy Lane in Barbados. I’ve just had the omelette with cream cheese and literally caviar. Why the fock not? Hennessy’s supposedly picking up the entire tab for the old man’s wedding.
Erika plays with her steel-cut oatmeal. Anything but answer the question.
“She could stay with us,” Sorcha goes, suddenly looking at me. “We’ve got Honor’s old nursery. The room we turned into, like, a relaxation and spiritual wellness suite?” That’s actually true. I painted the walls aquamarine and stuck up a shelf for her Paulo Coelho books. The shelf is about an inch off being straight as well, which is the main reason Sorcha’s never managed to actually relax in there. Five minutes lying on the bed, then over the sound of Chakra Meditations II will come her voice: “Oh! My God, Ross! How many times have I asked you to fix this shelf?”
Erika’s face is suddenly lit up like Vegas. “Stay with you?” she goes, looking from Sorcha to me, then back to Sorcha again.
“You mean ...” Of course. I keep forgetting. She’s been in Orgentina for nearly a year.
She’s there, “Are you saying you’re back together?”
I’m like, “Meh... kind of.” Which, it turns out, is totally the wrong thing to say? Sorcha’s on it like a bonnet. “What do you mean kind of?” she goes.
And I’m straight away on the back foot. “Well, we said it was, like, a probationary thing, didn’t we? At least I think that’s the word you used.”
“We’re not kind of back together, Ross. We’re actually back together. It’s just we’ve agreed that we’re not going to allow things to progress to the physical until you’ve proven that you can handle the emotional commitment involved in being an actual husband.”
The ties of marriage aren’t slipknots — that was one of Father Fehily’s old sayings.
Erika laughs, except not in a nasty way. “I’m pleased for you,” she goes, then she smiles at Sorcha. “I’m genuinely pleased.” Erika looks amazing with a tan and I’m saying that as her brother.
“Anyway,” Sorcha goes, brushing it off, “let’s not get off the subject. I asked you a question, Erika. Are you coming home with us?”
“My life is here now. My ... horses.”
I actually laugh. Because I just remembered another old saying. South Dublin girls need something to love when they’re too old for dolls and too young for boys – for that reason, God created the horse.
“Erika,” Sorcha goes, “forget about horses! What about actual people? You can’t spend your entire pregnancy working in a coffee shop in Buenos Aires. You can’t have your baby all on your own on the other side of the literally world.”
The story – which I may or may not have filled you in on – is that Jesus Taradella, the father of her baby and the dude she eloped with before Christmas last year, was caught with his brush in someone else’s paintbox. And we all know how that one goes. “I couldn’t face going home,” Erika goes, suddenly all serious.
Sorcha’s there, “You’re worried about what people will think?”
“Well, that’s a first. Because the Erika I’ve admired and been – oh my God – best friends with since we were in, like, primary school together never gave a damn what people thought about her.”
“Maybe I’m not that person anymore.”
“Of course you are! Erika, you’re not the first girl to meet a guy who turned out to be not what you thought he was. So what if people say you were a fool? Do you not think those same people are saying that I was a fool for taking Ross back?” It’s suddenly time for me to throw my two cents in.
“You might still be,” I go.
Sorcha’s like, “What?” I’m there, “A fool. I mean, I haven’t actually proven anything, remember.” The best way to not disappoint women, I’ve always found, is to lower their expectations right from the beginning. That way, everything ends up being a bonus.
Erika laughs. We’re good value, in fairness to us. “Okay,” she goes.
Now it’s Sorcha turn to laugh. “You’re saying you’ll come home with us?”
“Yes, I’ll come home with you.”
Sorcha’s up off the seat like the upholstery’s on fire. She’s like, “Come on, Ross. The iPad’s up in the room. Let’s go and book your sister a seat on that plane.” We get as far as the lobby. We’re actually standing, waiting for the lift slash elevator when we hear a voice behind us suddenly go, “Russ ... Sureeka...”
I’m there, “Just ignore it, Babes.”
Except Sorcha can’t. She has to turn around. And there, standing in front of us, as if nothing ever happened, is Jesus. “Please,” he goes, “I hamust see Herika.” I can’t do the Orgentina accent.
Quick as a flash, I go, “Well, that’s a real pity, Dude. Because she’s already gone back to Ireland.” He turns his head away – the big Jonathan Rhys-Meyers cheekbones on him and the cricket jumper tied around his shoulders. Jesus always thought he was God’s gift. “I find hout she hiss carrying hour beeby,” he goes.
I’m there, “Well, it’s a pity you got caught dipping the wick elsewhere then, isn’t it? And I’m saying that as someone who’s always been a major player himself.” I turn around and stort hitting the button to call the lift again, thinking, ‘What the fock is keeping it?’ And that’s when Sorcha ends up letting me down.
“Erika’s in the breakfast lounge,” she goes. Jesus thanks her, then turns and pretty much sprints in that direction? I’m there, “Why the fock did you tell him?”
She looks at me like I’m the one being unreasonable. “Because I genuinely believe that everyone deserves a hearing,” she goes, “no matter what they’re alleged to have done.” Sorcha was head of the Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Group in Mount Anville, remember. She’s always been a sucker for people. Including – you’d have to say it – me.
“If Erika wants to give him another chance,” she goes, “that’s, like, her decision to make.” We sort of, like, tiptoe our way back across the lobby and stand at the door of the breakfast lounge. And it’s straight away obvious from the way that Erika and Jesus are holding each other that we’re not going to need to book that extra seat home.