Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: ‘We’re going to miss the Easter Bonnet Parade in Dalkey’
Sorcha is distraught because the boys have head lice
Brian, Johnny and Leo are sitting in the back, delighted to have been sent home from school early.
Sorcha is crying in the cor. “How could something like this have happened?” she keeps going – over and over again.
It reminds me of the time, at the height of the recession, when she miscalculated her Brown Thomas reward cord points and ended up losing her platinum status for a year.
“What does this say about me, Ross?”
She said that back in 2011 as well.
I’m there, “It doesn’t say anything about you, Sorcha. Lots of kids get head lice.”
She’s like, “Not kids who go to Little Apples Montessori, Ross!”
“Yes, even kids who go to Little Apples Montessori.”
“What, even though it’s €600 per week, per child?”
“The head lice don’t know that, though. Anyway, they’re not a sign of, like, uncleanliness. They actually only like clean hair?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. That’s just something people say to make you feel better when your children have head lice. Oh my God, can you imagine what the other parents are saying about us right now?”
Brian, Johnny and Leo are sitting in the back, delighted to have been sent home from school early. Leo leans forward between the two front seats and goes, “Me want ice cream!”
And I’m there, “Let’s ask your mother can we go to Dundrum, will we?”
“No,” Sorcha goes, “we are not going to Dundrum. Because we are not running the risk on infecting another family. As a matter of fact, Leo, sit back in your seat. I don’t want to catch them from you.”
“Fock you!” Leo goes.
And Sorcha’s like, “No, Leo, fock you!” which is very out of character for her. She never swears at the children. That’s usually my job.
I’m like, “Sorcha, calm down.”
“How can I calm down?” she goes. “We’re going to miss the Easter Bonnet Parade in Dalkey on Sunday!”
“We won’t have to miss it. They’ll have hats on, Sorcha. Their heads will be covered.”
“Wait a minute,” she goes, suddenly looking at me suspiciously. “How come you know so much about head lice?”
I’m like, “Sorry?”
Listen to Ross
“All that stuff you were saying a minute ago about them only liking clean hair?”
“It’s just a fact I happen to know.”
“Oh my God, you had them, didn’t you? You had head lice!”
There’s no point in lying to the woman. But I give it a go anyway. I’m like, “No”.
“Yes, you did!” she goes. “I can tell from your face!”
“Yeah, no, I had them when I was a kid. I barely even remember it.”
“Oh my God, so that’s where the boys got them!”
“Yeah, they don’t run in families, Sorcha.”
And that’s when I feel it. My head is suddenly itchy. I don’t know whether it’s, like, a genuine itch, or if it’s just paranoia from all this talk of head lice, but my scalp feels like it’s suddenly hopping with the things. I try not to scratch it, but then my eyes stort watering and suddenly I can’t resist the urge. I stick my nails into my head and stort going at it like a crazy person.
Sorcha literally screams? “Oh! My God!” she goes. “That’s it!” and she turns the wheel right and swings the cor across two lanes of traffic, then on to Westminster Road.
I’m like, “Where are you going?”
She’s there, “You’re going to your mother’s and you’re taking the boys with you. You can ring me when you’re all nit-free.”
“I don’t have head lice, Sorcha. I’m just itchy from all this talk about them.”
But she refuses to listen. Sixty seconds later, she’s dumped us outside the old dear’s gaff and driven off in the Nissan Leaf.
“This is some bullshit,” Brian goes – and who am I to contradict him?
Into the gaff the four of us go. I find the old dear in the kitchen. I’m there, “Are you sober?”
She goes, “What kind of way is that to greet your mother? Oh, look at, em, the lovely boys!”
She still can’t remember their names.
I’m there, “Do you remember when I was a kid and I had, like, head lice?”
She goes, “Oh, that saga! I’ll never forget it! The shame! People say they only like clean hair but no one really believes that – especially around here!”
“How did you get rid of them?”
“What happened was, I washed your hair using a rug shampoo that someone recommended. It was Turkish or something. Funnily enough, I found the bottle in the utility room the other day – ”
“Okay,” I go, cutting her off, “pleasantries over. I’ve got work to do. Come on, boys. Let’s leave your grandmother to mix her lunch.”
Brian, Johnny and Leo follow me down to the utility room. It doesn’t take me long to find the bottle with the foreign writing on it. I get the three boys to stand on chairs and lean over the sink, while I wash their heads using the – I don’t know if it’s even racist to actually say the word – but Turkish shampoo.
It builds up quite a lather, it has to be said, but I use the little sink hose to wash all the suds off, while Brian and Leo go, “Pack! Of! Focking! Shite!”
Still, 10 minutes later, I have all their hair washed and I’m pretty delighted with myself. But it’s only when I’m towelling them dry that I discover the problem…
Their hair is falling out. Their hair is falling out in great, big chunks.
I look up and I see the old dear standing in the doorway of the utility room, a mortini in her hand.
I’m like, “What the fock?”
And she goes, “Yes, that’s what happened when I used it on you!”
“You could have told me.”
“I thought you’d remember. You were shedding hair like a German Shepherd.”
Celine Dion. It’s all coming back to me now.
I’m there, “So what did you do in the end?”
She goes, “I had no choice. I had to shave your head. I still have the electric razor upstairs somewhere. Will I go and get it for you?”
I’m like, “Yeah, no, please do.”
I look at the boys. Their faces are all lit up at the thought of having their heads shaved.
“Your old dear is going to go spare,” I go. “I think you’re going to be wearing those Easter bonnets until the summer.”