IT was our fourth wedding anniversary yesterday and we went out for the whole day. By ourselves. AT NIGHT.
I did look around in the cinema for the lift to carry the buggy before realising that I had no buggy with me, and I did lean over and cut my husband’s steak up into bite sized pieces at dinner, but apart from that I behaved normally.
We thrun The Beast into his Nana’s and skipped off into town for a wander around the shops, an afternoon at the flicks (Insurgent, was good) and then dinner in a very adult restaurant.
There were no buggies here let me tell you, no high chairs either and the only noise was the buzz of the blender as the barman made cocktails for the table next to us. It. Was. Fucking. Bliss.
After dinner then we hopped on the Luas and went to the Point for a gig. Sting and Paul Simon were playing and as Yer Man is a huge fan it was the perfect way to end the day.
Laughing, we jostled and bumped our way onto the tram and stood closely together, delighted with ourselves. Young, free and in love, what could go wrong?
“I can’t wait for this now,” sez Yer Man. “Last time I saw Paul Simon I was only 19 and the rest of the audience were oul lads. Probably 40!”
I could almost see the thought process churning behind his eyes before he arrived, skidding, to the conclusion.
“Oh Jesus,” he gasped, horrified. “Now WE’RE forty!”
He was right. Not quite forty, but not far off.
Nervously we looked around the tram. There were some people there older than us, in their 50s and 60s, but quite a lot younger than us. Like, DECADES younger than us.
We’re no longer the youngest people at anything. We certainly weren’t the youngest at this concert. They were all there, with their hipster beards and their iPhones; drinking copiously and enjoying themselves.
When did that happen? When did I stop being a young wan and start being middle-aged? I know it’s all about how you feel, I know that, but seriously, to the young ones on the tram yesterday, I was middle-aged. Past it. I mean, I still type www into the address bar for God’s sake. It’s true, I’m getting old.
HOW did that happen?
Once the realisation hit me I couldn’t relax. Even though rationally I knew that being close to 40 is not old at all, I could almost physically feel myself ageing as I sat there.
Jealously I looked at the couple in front of me, barely in their twenties, cuddling and enjoying themselves. Bet she doesn’t know what it feels like to pee every time you sneeze, I thought bitterly.
I’ll bet that lad over there doesn’t obsess over keeping the grass cut and making sure the house insurance is up to date, I mused, hysterically.
Shake it off, I told myself, relax. Think about Yer Man. He’s a bit younger than you and he has a really young-looking face. A baby face actually, nobody could think he was middle-aged.
I looked over and took in his unlined smiling cherub face, his sparkling eyes, his full head of hair and felt my blood pressure start to drop.
Then I looked again.
He was Dad dancing.
That’s right, up on his feet awkwardly shaking his hips and clapping along to the music, like a drunk Dad at a wedding.
Ah Jaysis! In a way there’s a part of me that doesn’t mind getting, and certainly looking, older but I comforted myself with the knowledge that at least I have a young husband.
Not any more, apparently. At least he was enjoying himself though; shuffling away, raising his hands above his head and whooping along with the young fellas.
After the concert we slunk off home for a mug of Horlicks, before putting on our nightcaps and sliding into our separate twin beds. Well, not really. But we did go home cos we were wrecked and couldn’t face trying to beat our way to the bar in a crowded pub.
So it’s pretty official now. I’m a young wan no longer. But I suppose at least I have an oul fella to keep me company. Still crazy (about him) after all these years.
“IS it the same as you remembered?” the kindly dress shop lady asked me, ushering me into the changing room where my wedding dress hung in the corner.
I gulped and risked a glance.
Yup, that was it alright.
Only, I was sure it was bigger than that.
In my dreams it was a big tent like dress.
Sure it was boned and corseted, no need to diet, it’s a massive dress, it’ll definitely fit.
But there it was on the hanger, glowing in the early afternoon sunlight.
With seams, and buttons and fasteners, that suddenly looked awfully tight.
I stripped down to my M&S sucky-in knickers and strapless bra, both crackling with newness, and held my breath as the dress was slipped over my head.
The kindly shop lady spun me around to the mirror and briskly started lacing me up, ignoring the fact that I had my eyes squeezed tightly shut.
“You can look now,” she said with a smile in her voice and, I’m sure, a mental roll of her eyes.
The bloody thing fit.
I let my breath out in a rush and couldn’t stop a huge grin creeping slowly across my face.
The Dress was every bit as beautiful as I remembered. The material even more luxurious and soft, the fit even more perfect.
I felt like Jessica Rabbit, although I’m easily ten sizes bigger than her and two foot shorter. But I went in and out at the right places.
I snapped suddenly to attention feeling a pair of hands moving expertly over my bosom.
“This won’t do at all,” the kindly shop lady said, her mouth full of pins.
“Look at this,” she said “it’s far too big at the bust. It needs to be taken in a good two inches on either side and under the arms here too.”
“IT NEEDS TO BE TAKEN IN! TAKEN BLOODY IN!” I screamed over the changing room curtain to my sister and mother sitting waiting outside.
“Jaysus,” the kindly shop lady said, taking a step back and holding her ears in agony “give me a bit of warning next time, will ya?”
Bosom pinned into submission, to be properly altered later, I swept out of the changing room to gasps of admiration from my family.
“Amn’t I gorgeous,” I beamed at them, admiring myself in the mirror, turning slowly this way and that, basking in my own beauty. To hell with modesty, I’m a BRIDE now.
I marched up and down the shop, pausing now and again to look at myself in any reflective surface, grinning like a loon.
Just when I thought I was about to burst with happiness, the kindly shop lady tilted her head to one side and zeroed in on a seam at my hip.
I felt the day darken.
“That seam there,” she started slowly, approaching me like one would approach a mad dog “that seam there at the hip might sit the tiniest bit better if I just…let…it…out.”
She said the last three words gently, pleading with me not to lose the head, walking towards me with her hand held out placatingly.
“Let it out?” I gulped feeling my earlier bubble burst.
“Just a tiny bit, the tiniest bit,” she assured me, legging it over with her measuring tape while the going was good. “Lookit, just a quarter of an inch, that’s all. It’ll sit better, I promise.”
I breathed in through my nose trying to see the positive. IN at the bust but OUT at the hip. I guess you win some, you lose some, eh? And at least I can say it’s a custom-made dress, made especially for my measurements. My big hipped measurements.
After twirling around some more in the dress, and admiring myself about 800 more times, I reluctantly trailed back to the changing room to take it off so the alterations could be done.
Before I took it off for good, the kindly shop lady showed my sister how to lace it up at the back properly, so I’d get the same Jessica Rabbit shape on the Big Day.
“Do you think you’ll be able to do it ok,” I asked my sister fearfully as she paid close attention.
Her eyes met mine in the mirror.
“Don’t worry,” she said, patting my shoulder “I’ll put my back into it.”
SATURDAY saw another foray into the dizzying world of wedding dress shopping but this time Best Friend and I took a road trip to the wilds of Kildare in search of a bridal shop there.
And the wilds of Kildare it was. Ruben Bridal is in Calverstown, officially the world’s smallest village featuring a single pub, a single shop (called ‘Newsagents’) a church and the bridal shop.
The Tom Tom lady told us that after 300 metres we had reached our destination but naturally we didn’t believe her.
“This couldn’t be it,” I scoffed “sure there’s just this pub and all these houses and a sign here. What does that sign say?”
You are now leaving Calverstown.
A quick u-turn at the bottom of someone’s driveway later and we were parked in front of the pub looking at each other thinking that obviously we were indeed in Calverstown but where was the bloody shop?
Behind the pub apparently. Where it had been all along. God bless my good-enough-even-without-my-glasses eyesight.
Up the stairs we climbed, emerging into a beautifully decorated sunlit flooded room featuring two huge mirrors and racks of dresses and were greeted by two ladies.
“Pick a couple there to get started,” they encouraged stepping hastily back as we nearly knocked them over in our rush to get to the gowns.
Ooooh we’ll try this one and this one…and OH this one!
Dress Number One: V-neck, a-line skirt, huge underskirts, think Cinderella. Beautiful on the hanger. On me? Not so much. Best Friend gave me her patented ‘I’m being polite cos we’re in company, but get that RAG off you’ look. Next!
Dress Number Two: V-neck, satin with an incredible lacy overlay, studded with sparkling crystals and delicate silver thread. A corset gave a cinched in waist and it fit almost perfectly. Oh my. I could see myself in this. Best Friend approved. A definite maybe.
Dress Number Three: Strapless, diamond and bead encrusted bodice, netting and taffeta skirt scattered with crystals. Not something I would have thought would look good but I gave it a bash in the name of research. A corset again gave a waist and a shape and it swished becomingly when I moved. The diamonds and beads were already cutting and scratching under my arms though and while it was beautiful I wasn’t 100 per cent convinced. A maybe maybe.
Dress Number Four: Strapless, sweetheart neckline, diamante beading detail at the hip, gathered in a ruching kind of way sweeping across the body, falling into a straight, yet swishy, skirt with a small train. Silky/satin/taffeta material, so light to wear yet heavy enough to give good drape, in a warm ivory colour. I looked in the mirror and fell head over heels in love. It was amazing, my figure was pure hourglass, my skin creamy – the pasty, fat, red-faced girl of a minute ago disappeared and a bride replaced her. Looking at myself, I felt guilty. What about ‘the dress’ from last week, the first one I tried on, the one I also fell in love with? If I’m honest, this new dress blew it right out of the water. Best Friend gasped when she saw it. Good enough for me! It’s in the ‘this could be it’ pile.
Reluctantly I let the assistant shoehorn me out of the dress and back into my civvies and then it was Best Friend’s turn.
Dress Number One: Halter neck, detail on the bust, a-line skirt that had a lift at the front revealing lovely netting/lace underskirts. Gorgeous on, really made the most of Best Friend’s lovely little figure – but a heavy dress with a long train and lots of underskirts, not practical for a Canadian wedding in 30 degree heat. Next!
Dress Number Two: Strapless, with a stunning band of crystals around the bust, falling to a beautiful swishy skirt with a short train. Simple, elegant, the luxurious soft material moulded itself to her, accentuating waist and bust. “I like it!” she announced sounding surprised. So did I, it was stunning. A definite front runner.
Dress Number Three: Chiffon, strapless, with a sparkling diamante cross across the bust falling to a straight chiffon skirt. Simple, elegant, beautiful. Exactly the type of material she had been looking for and really pretty, it looked beautiful. But perhaps a little too simple? A maybe maybe.
Dress Number Four: The same Dress Number Four as I tried on above! Just as beautiful on her as it was on me, though she thought it looked better on me. She’s too polite for her own good! I think she’s kindly marked it off her list as she saw how much I loved it. Aw!
Heads full of dresses we stumbled back out into the sunlight and bade Calverstown goodbye. For now.
The hunt continues.
THIS is the post where I should be waxing lyrical about my fantastic weekend telling you all about the fun I had. The wedding I was due to go to on Friday, the wedding dress shopping jaunt I had planned with Best Friend for Saturday, the chilled out barbecue I was toying with for Sunday.
But it was not to be.
Reader, I have been struck down with food poisoning. A rogue prawn has inveigled its way into my system and fecked me up royally, I’m in tatters so I am. I’m just barely back on the solid food now and the past few days have been a total bust.
I’m raging, RAGING, to have missed the wedding last Friday. Yer Man’s cousin it was and he and his now-wife are little dotes and I would have LOVED to have been there. Not least, obviously, to steal some of their lovely ideas for my own wedding next year.
What? It’s a year away, everyone from that wedding would have forgotten where they saw the lovely ideas first time around!
I was up for HOURS on Thursday night prepping myself, trying on a variety of outfits that I had dry cleaned, wrestling myself into tights, squeezing my lard into sucky-in knickers – the good kind, the industrial kind – turning this way and that in the mirror before finally deciding on two outfits and hanging them up carefully, ready for the final decision the following morning.
I washed myself, I exfoliated myself, I plucked, primped, shaved and moisturised myself, my hair was scrubbed, conditioned, hot-oiled, blow-dried and straightened to within an inch of its life, raring to go first thing the next morning. I spent a full hour doing my nails, an almost unheard of activity, including base coats and top coats and endless hanging around waiting for the damn things to dry, waving my hands about like a half eejit.
Eventually at about, oh, 2am I struggled into bed, sure the six hours of preening would mean I’d look half presentable the next day and fell almost instantly asleep.
Until 5am. When something woke me. I lay for a moment in the darkness wondering what it was before finally realising it was my stomach. Speaking most urgently to me.
I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
Needless to say, several sweaty hours later it became clear I wasn’t going to make the wedding. I could barely stand upright and had taken to curling up into a ball, keening softly to myself, in between bathroom runs, to try to ease the pain.
Go on without me, I urged Yer Man. Save yourself. I’m no good to man nor beast today. Go. Dance. Have fun. I said the last bit bitterly, secretly hoping that he wouldn’t, that he’d be too overwrought with worry about me that he wouldn’t be able to enjoy himself for a minute. I know, I’m a right bitch.
Didn’t work though, the fecker rolled in at 2am full of the joys of spring. Though he did bring home cake. I’ll have to give him credit for that.
Throughout the afternoon it became clear I wasn’t going to be up for the dress shopping on Saturday with Best Friend either, so I was forced to bail on that as well. Thankfully Best Friend being a paragon of understanding loveliness didn’t mind a bit and was happy to postpone until next weekend.
I called the dress shop croaking ‘I have food poisoning’ down the phone pathetically, hoping for some sympathy but receiving only a cheery ‘no problem if you want to postpone’ in return. Pah! I was sick. And alone! I wanted sympathy goddammit!
And I was so looking forward to the dress shopping. Ireland’s only exclusively plus size bridal shop it is apparently. We had booked a private appointment so loads of time to look around, acres of space to try on dresses in, everything would fit, everything would look good.
No rushing, no squeezing into dresses four sizes too small and ‘imagining’ what it would look like in the right size. No hordes of girls waiting in the shop for their turn in the dressing room. No sidelong glances from skinny brides, smirking because I had the audacity to be fat in a bridal shop. It was going to be mighty.
But it was not to be.
Even on Sunday then, my half-formed idea to drag out our beautiful garden furniture that we’ve sat on precisely twice since last June and barbecue us up some dinner went by the wayside. I just couldn’t, I barely managed to drag myself out of the bed and into the shower before collapsing on the sofa again for another six hours of solid wallowing. It was all I was fit for.
So the weekend has been a disaster, all my plans went out the window and I have nothing to report at all.
Now, how are all of you?
LIKE most brides before their wedding I’ve decided to lose a bit of weight so that I don’t have to be greased up like a hog to get into The Dress on the big day.
So far it’s going… well, it’s going straight for the fridge if the truth be told.
I like my food, in fact I love it and I despair of cutting out any of it, even the tiniest morsel. But it has to be done. My wardrobe tells me it has to be done, the mirror tells me it has to be done, my doctor tells me it has to be done. Even my fellow passengers on the bus who have to shift an extra couple of inches to the left to allow me to sit next to them of a morning tell me it has to be done.
And because we live together, my Say No to Lard campaign also includes Yer Man. He’s resigned to it now. He can’t cook and knows that if he doesn’t eat what’s put in front of him he’ll starve. Actually starve to death. So he’s in on it too.
As a kickstart, about four months ago the pair of us gave up drinking Coke and fizzy drinks. Mainly Coke. We were mad for the Coke so we were, literally litres of the stuff we guzzled daily, barely getting up out of the leaba in the morning before we’d have an ice-cold pint inside us. We worked it out one day that we were easily drinking a two litre bottle EACH every day of the week, 14 litres a week, and that only included the Coke we drank at home, not anything we had while at work or out and about.
“Jaysis, 14 litres each, that’s…”
“28 a week between the two of us,” Yer Man got in ahead of me, showing off his superior maths skills. The big swot.
It had to go. We gave up almost cold turkey. No Coke during the week, but a can or two at the weekend was acceptable. And surprisingly we’ve stuck to it, the key was to just not buy it in the supermarket, no matter how much we wanted to, so it’s never in the house. We switched to sugar free cordial, diluted with pints of water.
That’s not to say it was easy. It wasn’t. Hand on heart, it was horrific. I had horrible withdrawal symptoms at first, a couple of weeks of them. The shakes, night sweats, numbing headaches, irritability…
“Are you putting in about the mood swings?” Yer Man interrupts, looking over my shoulder as I type.
… mood swings, restlessness, insomnia. But then it stopped. I started to sleep better, feel better, I didn’t constantly obsess about fizzy drinks. And I finally think I might be free of Coke. I still love it, I still want it, but I don’t feel the need to drink 28 litres of it every week.
Life is good.
Except, I’m still fat.
So something else has to be done.
It’s time to pay real attention to our diet and to concentrate on eating proper, nutritious, whole foods. Lots more fruit and vegetables, much more fibre, piles more protein, quarter the fat, quarter the salt, less meat, you get the idea.
“I’ve been thinking,” I started confidently, ignoring Yer Man’s muffled groan from inside on the sofa “how would you feel about perhaps cutting down on red meat and turning vegetarian for two days a week? Just to see how we get on? Just to try new meals and recipes even?”
I don’t blame him for being reluctant, he doesn’t need a diet at all, he’s wonderfully fit and in shape. I’ve already taken away his beloved Coke and now I want to take away his meat? Is he the man of the house or what?
He gave in, as I knew he would, because he knows if he doesn’t do it, neither will I and he wants the best for me.
So the diet is on, full throttle.
I give us a week.