With all my errands like laundry, rubbish, tidying, groceries and the like done on Saturdays, I had nothing at all to do on Sundays but to think myself into depression. Well, that was usually the case but today Sammy’s boyfriend, Alan, was away on a stag party and Noreen’s fiancé chosen church on this particular Sunday was the office so lucky for me I had my girls, for once, to spent couples day with.
As soon as I was up, washed and dressed I flaked out of the apartment and skipped down
Winthrop Street towards Scoozi’s restaurant for Sunday brunch.
“Here she is, the stranger” the girls were already seated and sipping.
“Hi girls, sorry I’m late again and excuse me but I take insult at the ‘stranger’ comment” I joyfully sat down and took a quick gawp at the menu, I had been here so many times by now I almost knew it off by heart. “How is everyone?”
“Very good, my picture is on one of the Sunday papers today” Sammy gleamed.
“John is working twelve hours today, twelve hours like. I know I shouldn’t complain but still it’s not like he gets the overtime pay.”
Post college our career paths went in different directions. Noreen was a fully qualified accountant earning what I considered to be a fortune. Sammy was already the young co-owner of a PR company called Daisy Flower PR and Event Management and then there was little ol’me who has had six meagre ‘no degree necessary’ jobs since graduating.
My mistake was that when I graduated six years ago with my honours degree the Celtic tiger was roaring loudly and that was when I should have gone after the €30,000 plus salary job but I wanted time to soul- search ( #firstworldproblem) so I took a job as a dogsbody in my brother’s engineering company (now in liquidation) where I gained crucial experience in photocopying, stapling and making pots of coffee. A crippling fear that my paper cut hands would need to be eventually amputated forced me to move on but by this time the thing with Leman Brothers ( if I had paid more attention in college I might have understood this financial crash better ) had happened, the Celtic tiger was dead and buried and the job market was like a bloodbath so all I managed to get was an administrator role in an investment bank, then after six months of that I became bored and moved on to an IT support role, once I started saying ‘turn it off and turn it back on’ in my sleep I moved to GEI Motor Insurance a couple of months ago. ( I must have been considered a success to have moved to so many jobs in a time when there were no jobs and unlike some of my peers have avoided that dreaded dole queue so far (quickly touches wood)).
“I am sure you will make up for his twelve hour Sunday shift later on” Sammy winked. “Besides, when we are done here you can pop into him and give him a Sunday surprise. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.”
Noreen took a sip of her mineral water and furrowed her brows.
“What’s wrong hon?” I asked. Noreen had been acting peculiar ever since that monstrosity of an engagement ring had been slipped on her finger.
“Noreen I was only joking” Sammy back-peddled.
“No guys it’s fine. Honestly. Let’s order” She smiled at the waiter and he approached.
“Guess who I met yesterday?” Sammy was giddy with excitement as soon as the waiter had taken our order.
Sammy’s job involved organising a constant array of launches, fashion shows and promotions. This meant her face often ended up in the ‘uncorked’ pages of the Evening Echo and she was also a recurring face in the social pages of VIP magazine. She was constantly meeting a host of xpose worthy celebrities.
“Louis Walsh” she clapped excitably. Sammy was exquisitely beautiful, ridiculously beautiful even, think Cheryl Cole like beauty. There was never a strand out of place in her long flowing glossy auburn mane. She had an envious figure, one she worked hard to maintain. Her gym membership was recently replaced by sit-ups during ad-breaks of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ and using Bachelor bean cans as weights. Her personal trainer had also been replaced by anybody who was willing to go jogging with her. For a recession busting babe she still looked stunning in her wrap around royal blue dress.
She was like a human equivalent of Heat magazine. Name a celebrity and Sammy Johnston could tell who they were dating, shagging, marrying and subsequently divorcing.
“Did you ask him if Jedward are available on the 28th July, John and I still haven’t picked a band and as we are getting married during peak season we really need to find one soon.”
Noreen wasn’t only leaps ahead of me in her career. She was rocketing ahead of me in general adultness. She had taking the ultimate grown up by buying a house with John. She and him were together as long as a president’s term now. They were the most solid couple I knew. Collectively they were what I aspired to be one day, if I could find it in me to fall in love with a man that was actually available.
John was a final year finance student when we were freshers and now he and Noreen worked in the same company which he was a partner of, cue the killer hours. I always believed no couple could work and live together but Noreen and John had discounted that belief to be a myth.
“I will actually work on having someone really good play at your wedding” Sammy promised.
“Barry could do it” I suggested.
“He’s so in love with you” both girls gushed.
“Shut up, he is not. He’s just a friend.”
I tried to decipher the eyebrow semaphore that passed between them.
“Actually girls I am seeing someone at the moment. We’re not girlfriend / boyfriend or anything but we have been on quite a number of dates” I hadn’t exactly planned on telling them about Dave at that precise time but I had to do something to stop them from going down the dead end of Barry.
“Who is he?”
“What does he do?”
“Where did you meet him?”
“Do you really like him?”
“Girls, stop with the questions.”
“What kind of stuff are ye doing? Dinner, drinks, movies what?” Noreen ignored my request.
“His name is Dave and I will tell you more if it works out.”
“Oh my gosh, I am so excited about you having a man” at least my love life was more exciting than Louis Walsh to Sammy. Her second job over the last couple of years had been ‘matchmaker’, I had lost count of the number of men she had introduced me to as ‘my future husband’, she would have thrown me on a priest if it meant hooking me up with somebody. “I was thinking that I would have to buy you a vibrator for your next birthday unless you found someone.”
“Sammy, shut-up” Noreen hissed as she saw the waiter appear with our food.
“This looks savage” I dug into my pizza immediately. Noreen sat and stared at hers.
“Are you okay Noreen?”
“If I tell ye something, will you promise it stays between us.”
“Of course” I promised.
“Is it about the proposal again? Seriously Noreen you are just nit-picking” Sammy groaned.
Noreen was the type of woman that had always espoused a traditional view on commitment and marriage. From the day she started going out with John, she has been deafening our ears with plans of her dream wedding. We had her bridal dress memorized before John and she even celebrated their second anniversary, a romantic plush dress complimented with a lace corset, a tulle skirt and lots of luxurious fabric.
However her wedding dream was slightly dashed when John took the opportunity when she was cleaning the toilet to pop the question.
She had always told us that she couldn’t decide if she wanted to be asked under the twinkling lights of the
Eiffel Tower, or on the Brooklyn Bridge at Midnight with the lights of promising them a dream-come true lifestyle for the rest of their days. New York City
The only thing
about the proposal was the baggy ‘I ♥ NY’ t-shirt she was wearing. New York
‘It was me that was on my knees for Gods sake’ she first complained about the proposal we were at the Alexandra Burke concert in the Marquee.
“Well, cleaning seems to be the only thing you do these days, John probably couldn’t find a moment when you weren’t scrubbing something or other” Sammy responded.
Since Noreen bought her dream home with John over a year ago she had become an OCD cleanaholic, everything in the house had to be perfect and in place. Even the remote control was polished in Noreen’s house.
Noreen later bemoaned to me how she believed Sammy had been very dismissive about the whole thing; I sensed there was still something stirring under the surface between them over it.
“This isn’t about the proposal Sammy” Noreen chided.
“Sorry, go on” Sammy encouraged.
Noreen leant forward and hindered for us to do the same.
“John and I are not having sex.”
“Oh” I sympathised.
“That’s normal though isn’t it when we have been together for so long?”
“Sammy?” I turned my shocked gaze to my shell stoned friend.
“What do you mean you don’t have sex?”