So we’re at a dinner in the famous Rochestown Lodge in – let’s be honest here – Sallynoggin, to raise money for the Seapoint Rugby Club U-8s Trip to Biarritz: Leave No Child Behind.
I’m throwing the wine into me while Lauren – my best friend Christian’s ex-wife – is trying to show us photographs of their eldest, Ross Junior, in other words, my godson? Sorcha’s making all the right noises, going, “Oh my God, look how tall he is!”
I’m chasing a little bundle of asparagus around a puddle of beef juice and pretending to show an interest. I’m there, “He must be, what, nine or 10 now?”
“He’s 14,” Lauren goes. “Not that I’d expect you to know – his supposably godfather.”
I’m there, “You said that with a tone, Lauren,” because she wouldn’t be a major fan of mine.
Lauren clocks my reaction and goes, ‘Oh, you thought Valeriy was going to be a woman, didn’t you?’
She’s like, “Too focking right I said it with a tone. He hasn’t seen hide nor hair of you since he told you he was giving up rugby.”
Yeah, no, not that he’s any great loss to the future of the game. It’s his little brother Oliver – a brilliant out-half in the making – who’s the stor of the Seapoint U-8s. His godfather is some randomer mate of Lauren’s who has zero interest in rugby, which is why I suggested maybe swapping with the dude and becoming Oliver’s godfather instead?
That went down like a strippogram at a funeral.
“Oh my God,” Sorcha goes, still looking through her photos, “this is the Ukrainian family you’re hosting.”
Lauren’s like, “Yeah, no, we took them to Center Porcs during the Easter holidays.”
Sorcha’s there, “Ross, do you want to see these photographs?”
And I’m like, “No, not really,” because I find other people’s lives a bit boring.
“Oh my God, you are so right, Lauren,” Sorcha goes, “Valeriy is gorgeous.”
Suddenly, I’m looking over her shoulder, going, “Let me see,” except it turns out that Valeriy is the actual dude’s name? The wife’s name is, I don’t know, something else.
Lauren clocks my reaction and goes, “Oh, you thought Valeriy was going to be a woman, didn’t you?”
I’m there, “Er, no.”
“You totally wanted to check her out.”
“Nothing could have been further from my mind, Lauren – literally.”
She goes, “Bullshit – I can read you like a book.”
Sorcha tries to take the heat off me. She’s there, “You are – oh my God – so good to do it.”
And Lauren goes, “I can’t understand why you’re not – hosting a family, I mean.”
Sorcha’s like, “Us?” because she doesn’t have an answer ready. “Erm –”
Lauren’s there, “I mean, you’ve got that huge house in Killiney. We’re living in, like, a basic four-bedroom in Booterstown.”
Cords on the table here – there is no college fund. I never got around to setting up the direct debit
Sorcha goes, “Hmmm,” which isn’t really an answer.
“By the way,” Lauren goes, “I wanted to talk to you about my son’s college fund.”
I’m there, “His which?”
“His college fund?” she goes. “The bank account that you set up for Ross when he was, like, born?”
I’m there, “Hmmm.”
“Well,” she goes, “Christian and I have decided to let him do a bit of travelling instead of doing Transition Year. We thought it would be nice for him to see a bit of the world. I’ve got a friend who’s a ski instructor in Verbier and Christian has a cousin who owns a bor not in Vilamoura but very near it?”
Which poses an instant dilemma for me because – cords on the table here – there is no college fund. I never got around to setting up the direct debit and – like I said – the kid has turned out to be a major disappointment with the whole no-interest-in-rugby thing, for which, I suppose, I must shoulder at least some of the blame?
I’m there, “I don’t know, Lauren. I set the account up just in case he possibly went to college one day. It’s not for gallivanting around the world.”
I was blown away when Christian asked me to be Ross Junior’s godfather. Yes, I said I was going to set up a college fund for him but I didn’t mean it, like, literally
But Sorcha lets me down in a major way then. She goes, “Ross, it’s Ross Junior’s money. If that’s how he wishes to spend it, then that’s how he should spend it.”
I’m there, “No, no – I’m afraid I’m going to have to put my foot down here. You know what a big, big believer I am in education.”
Lauren is suddenly just staring at me across the table. Yeah, no, I’ve over-egged the tagliatelle and I know it.
She goes, “There’s no college fund, is there?”
I’m like, “Not as such, no.”
She’s there, “But you said you were going to set one up,” trying to, like, guilt trip me now?
I go, “That’s just something you say, isn’t it? Look, I was blown away when Christian asked me to be Ross Junior’s godfather. Yes, I said I was going to set up a college fund for him but I didn’t mean it, like, literally.”
She goes, “You absolute –” and she’s, like, shaking her head, trying to think of the word for me. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be wanker.
I’m there, “I still feel like I got the wrong kid, Lauren. I’d much prefer to be Oliver’s godfather if you were prepared to revisit the whole swap deal idea.”
“– wanker,” she goes.
Sorcha’s there, “Hang on, Ross, no – there is a college fund? Do you remember the day after the Christening, we put 10 grand into a bank account for him.”
Yeah, no, I think I was still a bit pissed from the night before.
“It’s, em, gone,” I go.
Sorcha’s like, “Gone? Gone where, Ross?”
I’m there, “Yeah, no, do you remember I took Christian to Vegas after him and Lauren broke up?”
The two of them are just, like, staring at me like this is the worst thing I’ve ever done. It’s not even in the top 10, by the way. I could remind them of some of my greatest hits, although I don’t think it’d help my case.
Lauren goes, “I want you to leave.”
Sorcha’s there, “Quite right, Lauren.”
But Lauren’s like, “Both of you.”
Sorcha goes, “But we haven’t had our – oh my God – desserts yet. Jesus, Lauren, we have raffle tickets.”
“I don’t want you at my table,” Lauren goes. “Just fock off.”
So we end up doing just that.
On the way out the door – the walk of literally shame – Sorcha goes, “Are we bad people, Ross?”
But I’m there, “Please let’s not go down that road,” because I know from bitter experience where that can lead. “We’re the best kind of people, Sorcha. The best in the world.”