Ross O’Carroll- Kelly
“The bridesmaids are like extras from a zombie movie who did their own make- up while standing up on a moving bus”
appened your face?” Ronan goes.
He’s talking about the two black eyes I got from Grievous Bodily Horm, the husband of his bit on the side.
“Yeah, no, nothing,” I go. “It was a bit of rugby banter in Kielys between me and a dude from Gonzaga, which spilled into violence, which then spilled into handshakes, pints all round and an agreement to respect each other’s traditions and way of life. In what other sport would you get that? Jesus, I’ve got goosebumps even thinking about it.”
He just stares at me. Like Frank Sinatra, he’s a bit shooby- dubious. But there’s no time to get into it, because the word spreads through the church that Shadden has arrived and, a few seconds later, the organist strikes up the opening notes to Here Comes the Bride and I can sense Ronan’s entire body tensing. And he’s usually the cool one? I’m like, “Hey, it’s going to be okay,” even though I know down that he’s about as suited to marriage as I am.
He just nods, then he tugs at the collar of his shirt, as if that’s what’s choking him, rather than the prospect of a lifetime of being faithful to one woman.
I’m there, “Ro,” out of the corner of my mouth, “it’s not too late to pull out. If you wanted to peg it out that side door, I’d deal with the fallout.” He just goes, “Have you got the rings?” “Yes, I’ve got the rings.” I think I’ve got the rings. I check. I have got the rings. Thank God. I don’t remember putting them in my pocket. Sorcha must have done it.
Shadden has obviously stepped into the church because all I can hear is gasps and women going, “Lubbly!” and, “She’s oatenly goer- chiss!”
I have a quick look over my shoulder and it turns out they’re right. She looks beautiful. The bridesmaids are a focking disgrace, though, and I hope that doesn’t come across as sexist. They’re like extras from a zombie movie who did their own make- up while standing up on a moving bus.
Then I spot little Rihanna- Brogan, Ronan’s daughter, who’s acting as a flower girl. She’s leading the way – two steps, stop, two steps, stop – just like she practised it. She’s hilarious, my granddaughter. She spent the first two years of her life living with us in Killiney, then the last three living in Finglas and she’s ended up with an accent that’s half Vico Road and half Con Colbert Villas.
“Daddy,” she says to Ronan when she reaches the top of the church, “I, like, want to get maddied.”
Everyone laughs and agrees that she’s a gas young one and it definitely takes some of the tension out of the air.
Shadden, orm- in- orm with her old man, the famous Kennet, finally reaches the altar and only then does Ronan turn and look at her. And he bursts into tears. For a second, I think they’re tears of, like, guilt and I’m looking at his shoes, which haven’t been properly broken in yet, and I’m wondering how fast he could run in those Doc soles.
But then I hear him go, “Ine the luckiest madden in the wurdled, Shadden. Doatunt think I doatunt know,” and I realise that he’s going to definitely go through with it.
They take three or four steps forward, towards the priest, and that’s when I end up slipping into a basically daydream? I’m remembering the first time I met Ronan – just after I found out that I had a seven- year- old son. The long drive out to Dublin 11. Butterflies in my stomach the entire way there. His old dear brought me in. He was sitting backwards on a kitchen chair reading the Racing Post.
“Ine liking the look of Harm’s Way in the 3.30 at Plumpton,” were the first words I ever heard him say. “Baddy Geddity’s riding him.”
And Tina, his old dear, went, “Ronan, this is your fadder.”
He took one look at me and laughed. “This sham?” he went. “Nah, you’re pulling me woyer. It’s anutter soshiddle woorker who’s gonna throy to skeer me straight.”
I turned to Tina and I was like, “Should he actually be smoking?” because he had one of his famous rollies burning between his fingers. Tina went, “He really is your fadder, Ronan.” Ro was like, “The bleaten clowits on him, but! And the accent! What were you thinking, Ma?”
He asked me for 20 snots. And as I peeled two Brodie Jenners off the wad, I could seem him silently kicking himself that he didn’t ask me for 50. Oh, the similarities between us were terrifying.
“The rings!” I hear Ronan. Then I suddenly snap out of it. Everyone in the church is looking at me. I step forward, take them out of my pocket and hand them over. Ro gives me wink.
Then I’m suddenly in a daze again, remembering all the happy unsupervised access days we spent together. It never mattered what we did together, whether it was kicking the coin cascades in Dr Quirkey’s Goodtime Emporium, or some simpler pleasure, like walking down Henry Street to buy him contraband tobacco, we always had fun together.
I was his sidekick. His straight man. His fool. And those butterflies? They never went away. I always felt that way when I was going to see Ro.
I hear someone blubbing and I suddenly realise that it’s me. I feel Sorcha’s hand on my shoulder. I turn around and she hands me a handkerchief, while Honor just – I don’t know – glowers at me and tells me I’m making a focking show of myself.
It’ll be her turn one day – although something tells me that I’ll actually be relieved when some sucker offers to take her off my hands.
“You may kiss the bride,” the priest goes.
And as Ronan does, a roar goes up in the church. Seconds later, I’m shaking his hand and he pulls me in for a hug and he says in my ear, “Thanks, Rosser – for what you did.”
And I’m like, “Hey, I’m just sorry the years went by so quickly.”
And he goes, “I’m talking about Grievous, Rosser. I know you took a baiting for me.”
“Look, marriage is hord,” I go. “As usual, try to learn from the mistakes you’ve seen me make. And if you can’t, just don’t get caught.”