Home > Rachel's Holiday (Walsh Family #2)(9)

Rachel's Holiday (Walsh Family #2)(9)
Marian Keyes

And as for the aforementioned occasional splash of leather, well… thereby hangs a tale. What happened was that after we had observed and laughed at the lads for many months, Brigit and I slowly became aware of something strange. Whenever they were out en masse only one of them was wearing his leather trousers. How do they organize that, we wondered? Do you think they ring each other up before they go out? And ask each other what they’re wearing, the way girls do ?

Over the months we tried to see if there was a pattern to it. Did they have a rota system going, we puzzled? With Joey being allowed to wear his pair every Wednesday, Gaz every Thursday, something like that? And what would happen if two of them turned up both wearing theirs ?

But one night we noticed something even stranger than their foolproof rota. The back pocket on Gaz’s pair was ripped. Nothing remarkable there. Except that when we had seen Shake the previous weekend, his pair had had a rip in exactly the same place. Interesting, we mused, very interesting.

Two days later when we saw them at the Lively Bullock, Joey’s pair had an identical rip.

Open-mouthed from the wonder of it all, we resolved to withhold judgement until it had happened to a fourth one. (Oh ye, of little faith…) And sure enough, not long after that we saw Johnno in the Cute Hoor. Except he was sitting down for hours and we thought he would never stand up and show us his bum. How we eked out that one beer between the two of us! We didn’t have a bean, but we would have gone demented stuck in the apartment all evening. Eventually, several hours later, when our beer had nearly evaporated, Johnno of the camel like bladder finally got up. As Brigit and I clutched each other and held our breath, he slowly turned around and there it was! The rip! The identical rip on the identical pocket!

We both let out a shriek of laughter and triumph. So it was true!

Through my convulsions I vaguely heard someone complain in an Irish accent, ‘Christ ALMIGHTY! Is there a banshee on the premises?’

As we rolled around the place, tears pouring down our cheeks, we were watched by the rest of the pub which had fallen completely silent.

‘Oh God,’ gasped Brigit. ‘And we thought they all had a… a… a…’ She couldn’t really speak she was laughing so much.

‘Pair!’ she finally snorted at last.

‘We thought… we thought…’ I heaved with shaking shoulders. ‘That only one of them was allowed to wear their pair at… at…’ I had to put my head down on the table and pound with my fist for a while, ‘at any one time.’

‘No wonder only one ever turned up wearing his pair…’ I croaked.

‘Because,’ convulsed Brigit, her face bright red. ‘Because… because… there was only one pair to WEAR!!!’

‘Stop,’ I begged. ‘I’m going to puke.’

‘Come on, girls,’ a man’s voice exhorted. ‘Share the joke.’

We were suddenly very popular. There were thousands of men in the bar who were over from Mayo for a conference on beef. They had thought mistakenly that, because the bar was called the Cute Hoor, they’d have a night of singing ‘Four Green Fields’ and holding forth on Irish politics ahead of them. They hadn’t enjoyed being sniggered at and snubbed by New York’s finest and trendiest. They hadn’t liked it at all. After all, they were very important men in Ballina or Westport or wherever it was they hailed from.

So when Brigit and I had our convulsions they thought it was a breath of fresh air. Every single one of them wanted to buy us a drink and find out what was so funny. But, while we accepted the jars, after all a free drink is a free drink, we couldn’t possibly tell them what we were laughing at.

We managed to calm down slightly. Except now and again, Brigit would grab my arm and almost unable to speak, would manage ‘Imagine owning a… a… a timeshare in a pair of trousers!’ And we’d be gone for the next ten minutes, twitching and convulsing, tears pouring down our red, shiny faces. While the circle of Mayo men watched us in bemusement.

Or I’d say ‘You can only be in their gang if you have the right waist and leg measurements!’ And we’d be off again.

Actually, it was a great night. All the trendy people upped sticks en masse as a protest against the hick Mayo men. So Brigit and I were able to let our hair down and enjoy ourselves without the fear of being thought uncool.

We were there until at least three and, God, we were pissed. So pissed that we even joined in with the mandatory, misty-eyed singsong. Isn’t it funny the way Irish people, whenever they go away from home, even if it’s only a daytrip to Holyhead for the duty-free, end up singing sorrowful, poignant songs about the leaving of the Emerald Isle and how they wished they were back there?

Even though the Mayo men were only in New York for four days, we had ‘From Clare to Here’, ‘The Mountains of Mourne’, ‘The Hills of Donegal’, Ireland’s Eurovision entry and – unusual choice this – Oasis’s ‘Wonderwall’. And we had an ill-advised and very, very drunken attempt at dancing the Walls of Limerick. Which the proprietor put a stop to. (‘Come on lads, settle down, let ye, or ye can all feck off back to Westport for yeerselves.’) After two of the men nearly came to blows over the number of times you meet and go back before you cross over. Apparently one of them was confusing the Walls of Limerick with the Siege of Ennis, the way you do…

5

All in all, the idea of sleeping with Luke or any of his pals was laughable. Unimaginable, really. Little did I know…

The night in question was about a month after the Great Mirth with the Mayo men in the Cute Hoor. Brigit and I were going to – well crashing, if I’m honest – a party at the Rickshaw Rooms. We had tried very hard to look sexy because we hoped, as we did wherever we went, that there might be some attractive and, more importantly, available lads there.

New York was a poor hunting ground for boyfriends. You couldn’t get one for love nor money. (Naturally, I was prepared to offer both.) Reports from a friend in Australia and a friend in Dublin indicated that pickings were slim everywhere, but New York just took the biscuit. Not only were there a billion women to every straight man, but every one of the billion women was heart-stoppingly beautiful. I’m talking exquisite. And the explanation of such incredible beauty usually went something like ‘Oh, her mother’s half Swedish, half Australian Aboriginal and her father is half Burmese, quarter Eskimo and quarter Italian.’

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