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”

The Irish Times Magazine - - NEWS -

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.”

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