ROSS O’CAR­ROLL- KELLY

‘ I’m with The Girls – and, it has to be said, we’re get­ting along like dough­nuts and Blan­chard­stown’

The Irish Times Magazine - - COVER STORY -

Iget the cof­fees in. We’re talk­ing one grande mac­chi­ato, one tall mac­chi­ato, four skinny cap­puc­ci­nos, two skinny lat­tes, one skinny vanilla latte, one ristretto and one flat white. Yeah, no, I’m in Cin­na­mon in Ranelagh with, I can’t believe I’m even say­ing this, but The Girls – and, it has to be said, we’re get­ting along like dough­nuts and Blan­chard­stown. “I was think­ing of get­ting In­visalign braces,” Gráinne Less­ing – as in, Hester Less­ing’s old dear – goes. “Oh my God, I hate my teeth!”

I’m just like, “Yeah, you’re the last per­son in the world who needs those things.”

“What do you mean?”

“Er, you look like Rachel McA­dams when you smile. And that’s not me com­ing on to you. I thought it the first time I saw you.”

She’s de­lighted. She flashes her up­per and lower sets at me. I’ve got a def­i­nite way with peo­ple.

I’m there, “You should maybe get them bleached – but that’s about it. Did you not see those two builders check­ing you out as we were com­ing in? Here, there’s your cof­fee – bet­ter latte than never!”

All the other Mount Anville moms laugh like it’s the fun­ni­est line they’ve ever heard. Sor­cha al­ways rolls her eyes when I say it, but they’re all go­ing, “Did you hear what he said? Bet­ter latte than never!” quot­ing me back to each other, then go­ing, “So, so clever.”

I get a text from Oisinn. I for­got I’m sup­posed to be play­ing golf with him in Mill­town to­day and he’s wait­ing for me in the club­house. I de­cide to just ig­nore it.

Rachel Lynch – as in, Epo­nine Lynch’s old dear – goes, “Okay, Ross, I want to get a male per­spec­tive on some­thing. So we’re, like, hav­ing a porty to cel­e­brate my mom and dad’s 50th wed­ding an­niver­sary and I’m hav­ing a hord time choos­ing the right table­cloths for it. I can’t de­cide be­tween baby- pow­der white and corn­silk. When I asked Trev, my hus­band, for an opin­ion, he said he didn’t mind ei­ther way.”

“And what part of that are you not un­der­stand­ing?”

“Well, which do you think he’s lean­ing more to­wards? At first, I thought it was corn­silk. But then, from the way he said he didn’t mind, I was think­ing maybe his hort is set on Orc­tic snow and he doesn’t want to hurt my feel­ings by say­ing it.”

“Look, Rachel, when Trev says he doesn’t mind, what he means is that he gen­uinely doesn’t care. Was he watch­ing some­thing when this con­ver­sa­tion took place?”

“The Walk­ing Dead.”

“See, the thing to al­ways bear in mind about men is that there’s a hell of a lot less to us than meets the eye.”

Or­laith Sta­ple­ton – as in Liesel Sta­ple­ton’s old dear – goes, “That’s amaz­ing!”

And I’m like, “No, I’ll tell you what’s amaz­ing – those pump­kin cin­na­mon cook­ies you made for me the last day!”

“You liked them?”

“Liked them?” I go, drum­ming my hands off my belly, “I horsed the lot in the cor on the way home!”

She’s like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe you liked my cook­ies! I’ll make more!”

“Yeah, no, def­i­nitely do.”

My phone all of a sud­den rings. I just pre­sume it’s Oisinn and I end up an­swer­ing it with­out even look­ing at the screen. I’m like, “Dude, go ahead with­out me. I’m out with The Girls.”

But it ends up not be­ing Oisinn at all. It ends up be­ing Sor­cha.

“The Girls?” she goes.

I de­cide to step away from them.

I’m like, “Er, hey, Sor­cha. Yeah, no, I’m talk­ing about some of the moms in the Mount Anville What­sApp group.”

She goes, “You’re hav­ing cof­fee with them?” “Yeah, no, they do it ev­ery Tues­day and Thurs­day and they some­times drag me along. I’m try­ing to work out if you sound jeal­ous.”

“Oh, I’m not jeal­ous, Ross. Have you used your ‘ bet­ter latte than never’ joke on them?”

“No.”

“Be­cause it’s not as funny as you think it is. I’m just let­ting you know.”

“Well, they all laughed.”

“They’re prob­a­bly just pa­tro­n­is­ing you. You’re still a nov­elty to them.”

“Is there a rea­son for this call, Sor­cha? Be­cause they’re re­ally help­ing to build my con­fi­dence up and you’re knock­ing it down again.”

“I’m ring­ing to ask, have you checked your daugh­ter’s lap­top lately?”

“You know my at­ti­tude, Sor­cha. What Honor does on the in­ter­net is her own busi­ness. You heard what Hen­nessy said: the less we know, the fewer lies we’ll have to tell when the Feds in­evita- bly call to the door.”

“She’s set up a web­site…”

“Sor­cha, if you try to ex­plain it to me, I’m just go­ing to put my hands over my ears and shout, ‘ Bah, bah, bah, bah, bah…’ over the sound of your voice.”

All of a sud­den, Gráinne Less­ing shouts over to me, “Ross, I’m get­ting a muf­fin – do you want one?”

I’m there, “Yeah, no, blue­berry, thanks, Gráinne.”

Sor­cha goes, “Is that Gráinne Less­ing – with the crooked teeth?”

I’m like, “I just think they need to be whitened.” “Oh, she would def­i­nitely be in­ter­ested in this new web­site that your daugh­ter has set up.” “Se­ri­ously, I don’t want to know.”

“It’s a re­view site, Ross – called Rate My Play­date.”

“Ex­cuse me?”

“It in­vites young peo­ple to post anony­mous re­views about other young peo­ple they’ve been on play­dates with. Have a lis­ten to this: Hester Less­ing pre­tends to be a nice per­son but she’s ac­tu­ally a two- faced cow. And she’s to­tally self- ob­sessed – like her mother.”

I look across at Gráinne. She’s go­ing, “Ross, they don’t have blue­berry! Do you want cran­berry in­stead?”

I just nod sadly, then un­der­neath my breath I go, “Poor Gráinne.”

Sor­cha’s there, “There’s al­ready dozens re­lat­ing to Mount Anville. Lis­ten to this one:

Epo­nine Lynch came to my house for a play­date and af­ter­wards my Pan­dora bracelet was miss­ing. The next time I saw her, she was wear­ing the ex­act same one. My mum said it was no sur­prise given that Epo­nine’s dad bor­rowed ¤ 18 mil­lion from the bank and never paid back a sin­gle penny and they’re still liv­ing in the same house and go­ing on three hol­i­days a year.”

I look across at Rachel. She’s lick­ing cap­puc­cino froth off the back of her spoon, know­ing none of this.

And Sor­cha goes, “I won­der will The Girls still love you when they find out who’s be­hind this web­site, Ross?”

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