When I was 26, I was childless and newly single, and no sooner had I listed all of the crazy adventures I was going to do with my friends, than they all went and got bloody engaged. My first week of singledom, and I was on my way out of the travel agents in town clutching a New York city breaks brochure (Number 1 on my bucket list) when I bumped into an old friend *Jenny.
“Oooohh, I just love..love…love New York’, Jenny squeeled at me.
“You do?” I replied, eagerly, feeling excited. “Wanna come?”, I nearly added, but held off.
“Yeah, I love it! You should defo go….I’m going for the 2nd time for New Year’s Eve. With my fiance *John. Can’t wait!”
Oh. Of course. Yep. Sounds amazing….
Three days later, I spotted another old friend *Lisa in town outside the bank. I’d only nipped in to see about getting a mortgage on my own and the next thing, I was about to be introduced to her body-building boyfriend, who’d just proposed to her that weekend. (Apparently, he was just inside the bank, extending something.)
His overdraft, I hoped.
“Oh my God, Mel, you should see it. It’s huge. It’s THIS BIG!’. She boinged her arms out exaggeratedly as if to demonstrate how big it was.
I could only hope she was referring to the size of the diamond because apparently, judging by the width of her current arm-span, it was about the width of a wardrobe. Or a small house. And then suddenly, she thrust her fingers in-front of my face and ‘bling’…
Geez, she wasn’t wrong. Her engagement ring looked like a bloody crystal dog collar wrapped around her hand.
‘Congratulations. Beautiful’, I beamed, somewhat falsely. ‘Made up for you, hun…and er…your boyfriend’.
Just out of curiosity, I craned my neck around the door at the bank to try and catch a glimpse of Mr Bodybuilder himself. I had visions of him emerging through the doors like the incredible hulk himself. Or the Iron man. Or Geoff Capes. (I’m probably showing my age here knowing zilch about the current body building world).
I wasn’t wrong. Crikey, he was huge. Big veins and everything; I bet he properly squashed her in bed. Anyway, he came out of the bank and he shook my hand politely and I tried to think of something interesting to say to him. Did you see the worlds strongest man on telly? Have you ever accidentally strangled someone? Why is your head so small?
‘Congratulations’, I simply said, and I went on my way, feeling very, very delicate and small. ( I couldn’t help but wonder what she might have said if he’d have proposed with a ring that looked like this…
Three days later, I bumped into an old work mate on the retail park, pushing a double-buggy and dragging two toddlers behind her. Her baggy-arsed joggers and scraggy pony-tail weren’t far behind.
‘Can’t stop, Mel, sorry’. She went on to list 30 or so child related/ kiddie programme related/midwife appointment/hide and seeks/laundry mountain reasons why she couldn’t stop.
‘I’m shattered, you know. Well, I guess you wouldn’t know. I mean, look at you, with your hair extensions and your fake tan and….what a skinny Minnie too’.
‘Thanks’, I said, humbly. I’d made the effort, post break-up, like.‘It must feel amazing. To have so much time and so little to do (Cheeky cow!) You never get the chance with kids…you know?’
Well, clearly I didn’t but I found her tone very condescending, as if I had no real inclination of what hard work was.
Ok, I probably didn’t.
I smiled tightly. ‘Well, maybe in future, you should take your pill’, I quipped. She knew it made sense.
‘I know. It’s my fella. He just really wants a son’.
‘I see. Well, good luck with it’ I wished her and Henry VIII well and went about my way.
It was safe to say I felt a tad out of touch. I mean, how come everyone around me seemed to setting the date when I couldn’t even find a decent one? I was 26 – I could barely look after myself, let alone a baby! Urggghh, no thanks.
I mean, I could imagine it one day. In the future. One Christmas morning, I’d be handed a neatly wrapped silver box by the man of my dreams, finished with diamantes, shiny bows and ribbons all curled over with the blunt edge of scissors and I’d pull one end of the gift wrapped parcel and the ribbon would unfurl. I’d flip open the box, and gasp at the pattern of bright, sparkly diamonds glistening back at me like a constellation of stars in a clear, dark sky. “Marry me”, he’ say, and we’d live happily ever after. (In reality, I’d probably get handed something that resembled a brown paper parcel ready to be dispatched from a warehouse production and secured with masking tape), but either way, I still had plenty of time for that, right?
Luckily, plenty of people agreed with me.
‘You’re still young. Enjoy yourself. The right man will come along when you stop looking and you least expect it’.
Er, hang on a minute. Rewind.
Now that one, I didn’t agree with.
Trust me, I’d been on the receiving end of men coming along when I least expected it, mainly when I’d been pissed up after too many wines, and trust me, I barely wanted to spend the rest of my night with them, let alone my life.
So no. I HAD to keep looking. Vetting. Watching. Scrutinising. Assessing. I had to begin the serious search of finding Mr Right. After all, judging by my previous bad luck, the task of finding my perfect man was no doubt going to be an bumpy one.
I was lucky enough to find a single friend to go out with. Luckier still, she had two other friends that were also single, so we became a quartet. We went on ‘THE’ shopping weekend to New York and visited every cocktail bar that the North-west had to offer.
Around this time, our quartet expanded into a small gang of gals and guys from work who resided in and around Lark Lane and had also yet to find significant others or impregnate/become impregnated. Instead, we met up in The Albert and then bar crawled the Lane until the bouncers ordered us out and then ‘the gang’ would all pile back to Mickey’s house (Hi, Mike) as he had his own place on Alexandra Drive.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, one Sunday morning after the night before, I woke up on a settee in Mickey’s house wearing a man’s coat and felt something hairy touch my hand. I froze and the hairy arm groaned. ‘What the…?’
There was a newcomer in town – lying next to me on the sofa.
“Uh…Who are you?” I tried to lift my neck as it felt like it was in a brace.
‘Sean’, he supplied, jerking his head to throw his ruffled hair around. ‘I gave you my coat….…’ he went on, with delicious Celtic tones that floated over my fuzzy head. ‘And then you pulled me into the taxi, sure you did. Put the heart crossways in me, so you did. You looked deadly though, so I could hardly resist, so I couldn’t’. He winked at me and I fell in love.
Oh yes. I remember it well. Sort of. Not really. Basically, I’d kidnapped a cute Irish man at the taxi rank because he and looked sounded delicious.
“Anyone gasping?’ my friend *Hayley was stepping over last nights’ left over pizza crusts on the floor and she threw cans of cokes at us like a sea life keeper throwing out fish to begging sea-lions. “Ahh, sure that’ll be grand’, Irish Sean replied, a millisecond before one landed heavily on his groin.
He picked it up and cracked it open and the coke exploded upwards on him, drenching the whole of his t-shirt.
‘Ahh, ya eejit’, he said (I wasn’t sure if he was talking to himself or Hayley), but next thing I know, Sean began to pull… off… his…. t-shirt…. In…. sloooowwwww motion to reveal a tanned, muscular, naaaaaaked torso (ok, it might not have been in slow-motion but think “diet-coke” advert complete with Etta James soundtrack here) and then, he slowly began to wring out the wet t-shirt, showing off his strong, muscular arms.
Oh –my- God.
I’d found him.
I’d found my future husband.
I knew God had a plan for me. I’d never doubted it.
I was going to marry Sean.
I gave Sean a lift home to his flat on Aigburth Road and he invited me up for a coffee. I glanced around his flat briefly as he chatted to me. I didn’t have a clue what he was saying (he could have been telling to fuck off), but I could have sat and listened to his delicious tones all day.
I snapped myself out of it by asking him if I could use his bathroom.
Twenty seconds later, I was back.
“Um, where’s your toilet?”
“Oh. Haven’t got one. Building works. You can go down and use the communal gardens if you’re desperate, sure you can”. He winked at me at the end of his sentence again. I wasn’t sure if it was an Irish thing or it meant he was joking.
“Errr, oh. No thanks. I’ll wait”.
Eventually, I got too desperate for the loo and I felt that it was time that I should finally stop gawping at him and try to play it cool and leave, and Sean turned to me before I did and said ‘ I enjoyed the craic last night, sure I did. Maybe we could meet up again’.
I nodded, but I didn’t want too sound desperate and say when?
‘When?’ I said, sounding too desperate. ‘Should I ring you in the week?’
‘Ahh sure, that’ll be grand’, he winked at me again, which was pretty much his standard reply to everything.
1 week later.
I think I’d been a bit presumptuous about my impending marriage proposal off the Irish Diet Coke hunk. Especially as didn’t reply to my texts on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.
‘Mel…’, Hayley said in a warning voice when she caught me inching my phone out of my bag to send him one last text, just to let him know that I was on my way out to the Lane if he fancied meeting me there. One last chance?
‘How many times has he even replied?’
‘Loads’, I lied.
And then suddenly, as if my Irish husband –to-be had been reading my mind, my phoned beeped. Soul-mates do that kinds of thing –don’t they?
‘Sox an busty’, it said. It was from Sean.
Yeeeeees! He’d replied!
What he’d replied, I didn’t know (Sox and busty?), but it was communication, which was a start, eh? All good things had to start somewhere.
Like the cloud of gas that started the world.
Or Eve out of Adams rib.
Anyway. I tried to solve the mystery of the autocorrect fail of ‘sox am busty’ and Hayley got in on the game aswell.
Which soon appeared to be a game for the phonetically challenged.
‘Sex and busty?, Hayley chanced. Or ‘Sex and booze?’
‘Maybe its socks and something. ‘Socks and besty’? ‘Sex on a bus?’
‘Okay. What about ‘Sod it busty?’ Or…oh, hang on a minute…I’ve got it….
‘Sod off beast’
Umm. Thanks Hayles.
None the wiser, I dragged poor Hayley down the Lane and we went for a wine. Or 3. I’d been out about 45 minutes feeling increasingly confident that the Hayley might have had a point with ‘Sod off beast’ when in he walked…
‘OMG, he’s here! He’s come to meet me, he really has!’, I squealed. Okay. Okay. Play it cool, Mel. Play. It. Cool.
I tried to play it cool by acting as if I hadn’t seen him for about 20 minutes, before eventually deciding to walk deliberately by in his line of vision on my way to the toilets. Out of my peripheral vision, I could see that he was playing it cool too and acting as if he hadn’t noticed me either. It didn’t matter: I knew we were sending each other secret vibes across the room and watching each other discreetly as if we were under secret surveillance. Back in my chair, I moved myself into a flirtatious position and started twirling my hair and laughing falsely to make myself look more bubbly and fun.
About twenty seconds after that, I noticed, out of my peripheral vision, that he was looking at someone else. Quite intensely. A gorgeous girl standing right beside him, chatting down his ear. ‘Hmmm. Who’s that?, I wondered, feeling slightly agitated. The rational part of my brain tried to tell me it was probably just a friend. Or his cousin. Or his sister. That was probable, right? I mean, the last Irish guy I’d met had 14 sisters or something. And that’s a good thing right? I mean, I liked big families. I’d be married and pregnant with babies in no time with Sean and soon I’d have 11 little Connors playing Gaelic football whilst Shannon and Niamh were off doing their Irish dancing class and we’d live in Dublin and go to Dublin zoo and then go to Temple bar and drink Guinness. Except now, thinking about it, I’m sure he’d said he lived in Donegal. I’d googled it since, and apparently, parts of Donegal can be quite remote. In the sticks. One visitor said it had a beautiful landscape and there were houses with ponies grazing over the fence and a big south facing window that looked out to fields and trees. Nothing for miles but fields and trees. You needed a car just to get to civilisation.
That sounded crap.
Ahh, well, not to worry.
It might be relaxing. Like a retreat.
Anyway. Friend/cousin/sister had disappeared by now. But he still didn’t come over. Hmmmppphhh. Why had he said he wanted to see me again if he didn’t? And how on earth was I ever going to get someone from the male species to ever propose to me when I didn’t understand them at all? Men were weird. End of.
Hayley said we were leaving. She was bored of my weird stalker-ish ways and she wanted to go home. ‘Face it. He’s not interested’, she said, matter of factly, painfully whipping me back to reality.
She dragged me past the bar where I brushed past Sean and his Catholic sister, and not before time, he said hi to me.
‘Oh. Hi’, he said.
He sounded very disappointed to see me.
He also sounded very much a like a Brummie.
He had a perfectly decent explanation for it when he saw my face fold into a very confused frown.
The thing was, he’d meant to tell me, his name wasn’t really Sean and he wasn’t really Irish. His name was Kevin and he was from Birmingham.
‘But…why?’ I seemed to be asking this a lot that night.
There was a simple reason: He liked to pretend to be Irish when he went out because it had never failed to get him the girls. Kevin from Birmingham never got laid; Sean from Ireland did.
So what now then?
For a second or two I thought it was quite endearing. That he’d been avoiding me because he’d realised I’d be a bit crestfallen at the realisation that I wasn’t going to be Mrs Murphy at all but married to someone with a shit accent called Kevin.
But alas, I was wrong again. He just didn’t give a shit, that was all.
Before I’d even had chance to point out that we still might be finely matched ( God loves a trier, doesn’t he) and that I loved Birmingham (I do -especially the Bullring shopping centre and the Christmas Markets)- he declared that he was doing one.
‘I think I’ve left the chip pan on. I’ve got to go. Nice to meet you, er…Mel? Good luck Bye.’
‘Oh. Um, ok’ I replied.’Bye then. KEVIN’
As he left, he accidentally knocked my elbow and it spilt the top of my diet coke over his t-shirt.
‘Oooops. SORRY. KEVIN. Perhaps when you get back to your flat you can change into something more comfortable’. Like a coma!
And so the search for Mr Right continued. WAS I EVER GOING TO FIND A NORMAL, DECENT BOYFRIEND!??
P.S.Oh, and In case you were wondering -the text he’d sent had said ‘Soz I’m busy’.
November 2016 Update: I’m happy to report that I did indeed find a normal decent boyfriend (after an incredibly lengthy search) and I’m now happily married!