I didn’t advertise it in these pages beforehand. It was purely for safety reasons. Given my celebrity – playing football with Paul McGrath and Someone From Fair City, exchanging pleasantries with Trappatoni’s interpreter and so on – we were afraid the ceremony would be mobbed by crowds of well-wishers. Well-wishers are all very… er … well, but security could have been a problem. As one of Ireland’s most eligible bachelors (drives a Corolla, no fillings in my teeth) there was a concern that hordes of grieving women, their eyes blackened with kohl – would attempt to disrupt the wedding when they realised I was about to become forever forbidden fruit.
The Gardaí also advised discretion. They had received a tip-off that ultra-conservatives would protest at the wedding with nasty banners saying “This Marriage Is Against Nature” when news got out that I was marrying someone from outside the county.
During the previous week I had become a weather fanatic. I watched RTE weatherwoman Jean Byrne with trepidation as she described Arctic Winds streaming down from the snowy northern wastes. Actually, some of the trepidation I felt was wondering what Jean Byrne would be wearing when she delivered the forecast. Jean is well known for her eclectic choice of clothes. As the weather got harsher, Jean’s outfits got more and more outré. By Thursday there were showers of hail and she appeared to be dressed as some sort of meteorological dominatrix. “And later on tonight, the forecast is for a spell of pain with some golden showers…”
On May 15th, we got married. Married – the word has a nice ring to it. A couple of rings, actually. And it was a wonderful day. The sun shone down. Herself was radiant, stunning. The phrase “He’s punching well above his weight there” was bandied about. People ask me now what it’s like being married. Apart from the knowledge that I’ve completely landed on my feet, there are other benefits.
For a start, I much prefer using the word wife rather than fiancée. I never liked the word fiancé(e). A male fiancé evokes an image of a foppish dandy, his cuffs made of frilly chiffon, who constantly irritates his future father-in-law with his outlandish ways and his frequent duelling.
Fiancée feels like a woman who is constantly on the edge of tears as Fate conspires to prevent her from realising every single detail of the wedding she deserves; “What do you mean we cannot make our entrance on a diamond-studded pony? This is an outrage! I will not be humiliated in this way. The wedding is off! Papa, take me home this instant. Algernon is being beastly to me.”
And the word girlfriend obviously wasn’t enough. It didn’t capture the essence of our relationship, the depth of intertwinement in our lives. That sense of togetherness that can only come from repeated use of Her toothbrush because you were too lazy to look for your own.
No, the word wife is much better. It sounds more grown-up. In the past couple of days I’ve been practising it on call-centre staff when I ring up with fruitless complaints; “Hello? I believe my wife was talking to one of your colleagues earlier…”
It’s far more authoritative. It’s as if I’m saying to the person on the other end of the phone: “She and I have made a commitment to one another. The least you could do is give us a free wireless router.”
An obvious physical manifestation of that commitment is of, course, the ring. There was a faint air of disappointment in the church when my Best Man did not lose the rings. (That air was swiftly replaced by an air of Gigglement during the vows as a large group of our friends found out for the first time that my middle name was Pius.)
I’m still getting used to wearing a ring. I’m not normally blinged up. Some years ago I did make an ill-advised foray into earrings. A thick silver ‘sleeper’ also coincided with a similarly unfortunate and straggly goatee. Both were swiftly dispatched, though photos of those days have since brought sniggery joy to many. This is my first ring. People tell you it will feel odd for the first while. What they don’t mention is just how much FIDDLING you do with it ALL THE TIME. There are a number of games to play. The first one is: Will the ring fall off if you waggle your hand about? It does. Inside a radiator in a restaurant. And then a man has to come along with a screwdriver.
Once you’ve exhausted the possibilities of Flappy-Hand, the next step is to try the wedding ring on other fingers. Which leads to the following internal dialog.
I’ll try the baby finger first – of course it’s too small. How about the thumbs?
No they’re way too big.
I know! How about the ring finger on my right hand?
Let’s just see, here we go, it seems to go on okay. Bit tight. Hope I can get it off.
In fact, I can’t. It’s stuck. So now I’m either Greek Orthodox or gay.
I love being married but I do miss the wedding day. It’s great being the centre of attention. Everyone is congratulating you. You’ve got make-up on your suit from all the female hugs. Men shake your hand, firmly, and say things like “Good Man, Colm, Fair Play“. And in the days after the wedding, our pages on Facebook had never seen so much activity. Everyone was uploading photographs. Other people were commenting on how well we looked. When I changed my status to ‘Married’ a staggering thirty people liked it. I Liked that.
But time passed. The Facebook updates and the texts died down. Ronan Keating had an affair. The euro collapsed and pretty soon we were yesterday’s news. I saw recently that one of our guests had gone to another wedding since. People are unbelievably, cruelly, getting on with their own lives.
So I guess it’s just the two of us now. And I’m looking forward to every minute.