The Next narrative – “In my fathers house there are many bathrooms” –
My dad said she wouldnt make me happy, looked me in the eye, face serious
“Son, she’s not right for you, trust me on this one”
Problem was his timing, , because there we were, first row in the church, standing, waiting for her and the flower girls and the bridesmaids to arrive.
I’m not sure what he expected me to do, turn tail, mumble out some apology to everybody and run, leaving him and mum to cope with 100 sit down dinners, finger buffet for 250 and the Blue Horizons Disco man, so I just stared back, there was a pause and then Celine Dion filled the church and away we went.
That was the problem with my dad really, often good advice, but his timing, it was like hearing a really good joke, but told badly, so you knew it was funny, but the delivery took all the joy away, made it impossible to laugh.
It was like when I wanted to join the army, he saw me running every night, lifting weights, watching what i was eating and then he waited until I got in and then, then, he says
“You won’t like it, you’re not a soldier”
So, of course, I had to prove him wrong, prove to him that I could do it.
2 years, the most miserable 2 years of my life, because he was right, but I had to stay until I could tell him and myself that it was my decision to leave, nothing to do with him.
Even at work, he’d watch me do something, wait until I was 90% through the job and then, then, he’d fix me with his look and tell me what i was doing wrong and sometimes I just wanted to scream
“Why the bloody hell didn’t you tell me earlier?”
So, when he choose 5 minutes before I got married to tell me that she was the wrong girl, I wasn’t that surprised, really and again, I wanted to prove him wrong, wanted to knock that told you so gleam out of his eyes when down the line I got what he was talking about.
I met Justine in a bar, on a Friday night, me and the other guys, just kicking back, settling into the week-end and I saw her, well, me and every other man in that bar saw her, we did that cartoon thing, when the jaw hits the table and the tongue unfolds
“Hbba, hubba hubba”
Because she was something else, tall and slim and more than that, she looked like all those girls in the magazines that my little sisters read and suddenly every guy in the place was sucking in his gut, rolling up sleeves to show off a bicep, making extra journeys to the bar, trying to catch her eye.
Me, yeah, I looked, but I knew the score, 2 years in the Paras, working in my dads’ plumbing business, living at home, out of my league.
So, I got on with my evening, bullshit banter with the lads, some promise of 5 s side footie on sunday morning, the usual debate, kebabs or curry or stay and do after shocks, get drunk, get drunker.
Which was why I was at the bar when she was there and it was heaving and I don’t know why, but I did this weird gentlemanly thing, sort of ushering her with my arm
“After you” I said, just polite, no hitting on, nothing and I guess she could sense it and she got her drinks and she nodded and walked away and it tool me 10 more bloody minutes to get served.
I thought about her more than I should have over the next week, nothing weird, nothing stalker like, I’d just find myself standing staring at a radiator or sitting in the van, waiting for my dad, and I’d see her face and it made me feel good, made me feel, well , excited, as if I had something to look forward to.
So, Friday night comes and there was a big match on, so the plan was into town, watch the match, drink. It wasnt much of a plan, but it seemed good enough and at the back of my mind was the thought that I might see her, might even actually get to speak to her.
It all went wrong of course, the bar was rammed with loonies, we couldn’t get a seat, couldn’t even get served, so we fell back on Plan B, usual bar, drink, banter, curry or kebabs and a bit of me really hoped, well, I’m not sure, now, if I even I knew what I hoped for
I’m reading this back now and Jesus, I sound like such a loser, but it wasnt like that and I’m going to cut to the chase, cos this is not the bit I want to tell you, this is not the important bit at all.
So, shorthand then
She was there.
I rang her
She remembered who I was – bonus
We went out for dinner.
We went out for drinks
We started dating
She met my mates
I met hers [ it’s a test girls make you do – I must have passed]
We were a couple.
And my life changed and yeah, I know exactly how gay that sounds, but it was true, cos there I was with this girl, who’s fit and funny and clever and well yes, classy and when we walked into places, men looked at her and then they looked at me and I just walked taller, felt like a real man.
Which is why, I didn’t take her home to meet my mum and dad for as long as I could get away with, cos i was scared that my dad would do that thing he did , tell me that I’m not good enough for her and he’d be right, cos he pretty much always is, it’s just his timing that’s’ off and then I’d just wait for her to dump me..
It seemed to go ok, my mum liked her, in fairness, my mum likes everybody,
“If you’ve got nothing good to say, then don’t say anything” isn’t just a fridge magnet to my mum – it’s a rule for life.
My sister liked her, they had one of those girl type talks about shoes.
My dad didn’t say anything, anything at all. I waited, waited for the comment, the look, but nothing.
I should have known that he was biding his time, waiting for the worst possible moment and fucks sake, he definitely choose it.
5 minutes before the ” I dos”, but crafty git, he’d planted the seed , the doubt. He knew I’d do the rest myself.
I got married and I waited for the marriage to fall apart, waited for my dad to be right, again.
Our first house, terraced, cosy, central heating and new boiler installed by me and my dad as a wedding present, ikea furniture and the biggest bed we could fit into the front bedroom and i waited for things to go wrong, for her to change.
Part of me was living this life, this new marriage and the other part, that part was standing in the shadows, watching, waiting.
And nothing happened……………you hear me, nothing happened.
Yeah we had rows, I didn’t put the toilet seat down, she talked all through the semi final, I liked getting drunk with the lads on Friday nights, she still spent too much money on shoes and more pairs of black trousers than any women could possibly need , but and but and but
We were happy, normal bimbling along happy and that’s the point of this letter, this story, that I’m going to leave for you, for you to read at your leisure, in your own time, Dad.
Thats’ the point of this, I could write down all the good stuff that’s happened since then, the kids, the bigger house and then the even bigger house – the one with 3 bathrooms you said was jerry built- me taking over the business and guess what, I may be a shite plumber, but I can run a business and the holidays and the simple fact that every night I get into bed with my wife, the one YOU said would never make me happy and we talk and I snore and she kicks me and sometimes, we have sex and it’s all good.
And I was going to write even more down for you, type it all up, but actually, it only needs one sentence, so that’s what I’m going to write
“SOMETIMES DAD – YOU’RE JUST WRONG!”
and that’s the slip of paper I’m going to slide into the pocket of your best suit, before everyone else turns up, before we get on with the rest of the day.