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Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: I’m the father of a 15-year-old girl. I think, by this stage, I’ve earned the right to embarrass her?

This Joshua goy is way out of Honor’s league. I should put the serious frighteners on him now just to save her the hortache in the long run

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Ross O'Carroll-Kelly. Illustration: Alan Clarke.

There’s some randomer in the gorden – a dude I’ve never seen before in my life. He’s, like, standing right in front of the gaff, staring at his phone. I throw open the front door and I’m like, “Whatever you’re selling, fock off before I call the Feds,” which would be pretty much por for the course in these ports?

He goes, “Yeah, no, I’m actually looking for, like, Honor. I just, like, texted her?”

I’m like, “You texted her?”

“Yeah,” he goes, “just to tell her I’m here.”


I’m there, “Well, in this port of the world, we ring the focking doorbell.”

He’s like, “I wouldn’t be a doorbell kind of goy.”

I can sympathise. I was the same when I was the kid’s age – mainly because parents never really warmed to my act. Yeah, no, I used to throw gravel up at bedroom windows, which I suppose is a sort of, like, early version of texting.

But that’s me being deep again.

I’m there, “Well, we’re doorbell people in this house. Who the fock are you anyway?”

He goes, “Er, I’m, like, Joshua?”

I laugh.

I’m like, “Ah, the famous Joshua!”

“That’s right,” he goes.

I’m like, “She’s mentioned you. I’m Ross – as in, Honor’s old man?”

“Oh, er, right,” he goes, then he shrugs, as if to say, “This affects me how?”

He’s a ring for Harry Styles, I can’t help but notice – we’re talking way out of my daughter’s league. I’m thinking maybe I should put the serious frighteners on him now just to save her the hortache in the long run.

I’m there, “So how the hell are you?” and I say it in a sort of, like, threatening tone.

“Yeah, no, I’m fine,” he goes, “Is Honor home? I can’t get an actual signal here.”

I’m there, “Yeah, no, it comes and goes. Anyway, what’s your rush? We should get to know each other. Or at least I should get to know whoever this total randomer is who’s suddenly calling to my front door. So let me ask you a question–”

“Wesley College,” he goes.

I actually laugh.

I’m there, “Dude, I’m not one of those shallow South Dublin dads who thinks that kind of s**t is important. I was going to ask you do you play rugby?”

He’s like, “Er, no. I’ve no interest in the game.”

“Well,” I go, “probably for the best. Wesley College are never to win a Leinster Schools Senior Cup – you’re sparing yourself a lot of disappointment.”

“Dude,” he goes, trying to see over my shoulder, “can you go and get Honor for me?”

I’m thinking, when did it suddenly happen that kids who don’t play rugby developed this unbelievable self-confidence? In my day, I’d have already given this dude a wedgy and right now he’d be trying to retrieve his boxer shorts from that tree over there. Is bullying not even a thing any more?

I’m there, “Whoa, horsey! Not so fast! I want to find out a bit about this non-rugby-playing dude who’s stolen my daughter’s hort.”

All of a sudden, behind me, I hear Honor go, “Oh my God, I can’t believe you’re embarrassing me!”

Hey, I’m the father of a 15-year-old girl. I think, by this stage, I’ve earned the right to embarrass her?

I’m there, “Hey, I was just shooting the s**t with Joshua. With the Big J. With J-Dog.”

She’s like, “Oh my God, Joshua, I am so sorry,” a word I have literally never heard the girl use before.

See, this is what happens when you go out with someone who’s way too good for you looks-wise? You stort turning into a different person just to please them.

“Come upstairs to my room,” Honor all of a sudden goes.

Of course, cool dad or not, I put my foot down with a firm hand. I’m like, “Oh, no, you don’t, Honor – oh, no, you do not!”

Honor’s like, “Er, why?” and we’re talking, like, word for word here?

I’m there, “Because you’re 15 years old, Honor, and I don’t know anything about Harry focking Styles here – aport from the fact that he has zero interest in the beautiful game.”

I whip out my vape pen.

I’m there, “So when you say you don’t like rugby, do you mean you won’t even watch Leinster versus Toulouse this Saturday?”

I catch him suddenly staring at me like I’m a toenail in his cappuccino froth.

He goes, “You don’t vape, do you?”

And I’m like, “Er, yeah? What’s the biggie?”

He’s there, “What’s the biggie? I did my Young Scientist of the Year project on vaping. It’s very bad for you, you know?”

I’m there, “Not as bad as smoking,” because I’ve done my own research. Well, Honor told me.

He’s there, “You’re not taking in tor or corbon monoxide, but you’re still breathing in hormful chemicals. It can cause lung scorring and other organ damage.”

I don’t appreciate being upstaged by a teenager like this, so I look at Honor and I go, “Yeah, no, but it’s very, very cool – isn’t that right, Honor?” because that was how she sold it to me.

Before she can say a word, he goes, “Well, actually, it’s not? Vaping is, like, so 2021. It’s actually considered lame now?”

I’m there, “Is it?” and – again – I stare at my daughter, who got me storted on these things in the first place.

She goes, “Yeah, Dad – so, so lame!”

I’m there, “Er, you were the one who–”

But she gives me a tight little shake of her head and a look to go with it, as if to say, “Please don’t let me down here!”

So I go, “Yeah, no, I didn’t know it was no longer in?”

Honor goes, “Joshua, come up to my room.”

I take a puff off my vape pen, at the same time trying to look cool. Joshua goes, “Ross, do yourself a favour – try to get off those things,” and then the dude – I s**t you not – morches straight past me, into the gaff and up the stairs to my daughter’s bedroom.

“I’m sorry about him,” I hear Honor go. “He’s, like, a walking embarrassment?”

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly

Ross O’Carroll-Kelly was captain of the Castlerock College team that won the Leinster Schools Senior Cup in 1999. It’s rare that a day goes by when he doesn’t mention it