I am in Sligo, where life has transposed itself, like it always does, into a scene from ‘The Edwardian Farm’.
All morning we’ve been making jam, with big red faces in front of the stove. But we’ve also, while about it, come over all strong-willed Dolly Levi and been match-making. Because the fact is, we’d like to see our sister settled. “With a nice, wholesome lesbian”, as my mother puts it, especially now that she’s taken against online dating.
“So, we’re looking for someone who’s clean, maybe even borderline OCD, around the house but also relaxed and funny,” my sister says, chopping her ginger.
“Ideally, someone living in a city but also someone who likes a bit of country now and again,” I say, chopping mine.
“She’d have to be super-kind, love children, and be into stupid gadgets.”
“Solvent, punctual, a foodie, clever...”
“...who likes going out but likes staying in more. And believes in monogamy.”
“She’s out there somewhere, we just have to find her,” my sister says, “quick lunch before we go?” and opens the larder. “Christ,” she exclaims, quite as if the barren interior is an oversight on the larder’s part, “we’ll just have to rustle something up from the poly-tunnel,” and vanishes outside, returning five minutes later, carrying a hedge.
“We’re meeting Clint at the spa in 15 minutes,” she says. “He’s lovely. From Chicago. Camp as Christmas. Angie’s bringing him. You’ll go potty when you meet him. You’ll love him.”
I’m halfway through eating my hedge.
“Hurry up,” she says, “I thought you were starving.”
1pm. By means of a Kilronan Spa gift card that my sister’s friends gave her for her birthday, we’re able to swap life on the Edwardian Farm for a bit of luxury; my sister and I are sitting on loungers in soft towelling robes, waiting for Angie and her American friend Clint to arrive. There are four business types lying back on loungers with their eyes closed.
“I don’t think we have the right personalities for spas,” my sister says. “Come to think of it, neither does Angie — and as for Clint...I mean four massive chatters in a quiet room, trying not to chat. We should have just met for a coffee in town.”
The business types ping open their eyes; I fear they agree.
1.15pm. I go potty when I meet Clint. I love him. A warm, handsome bear of a man, he tells me a story about an altercation he had with Homeland Security officials on his flight over.
“So I gave it to them straight,” he concludes with such theatricality as to make the business types’ eyes ping wide open again. “I said, ‘Man, you are f***ing with the wrong faggot.’”
“Our other sister would love that story,” my sister sighs, “she’s not to be messed with in airports either.”
“You’re a match made in heaven,” I sigh and my sister and I come over all Dolly Levi again.
“Are you single?” I say.
“I’m single,” he says.
“We’re looking for someone just like you for our sister,” I continue, “someone clean, maybe even borderline OCD around the house but also relaxed and funny.”
“Tick!” says Angie.
“Tick!” says Clint, getting into the spirit of things.
“Ideally, someone who lives in a city but also likes a bit of country now and again?”
“Tick,” says Angie breathlessly, coming over all Dolly Levi too.
“Someone super-kind, who loves children, and is into gadgets?”
“He works in IT,” Angie exclaims, “and my children adore him!”
“Solvent, punctual, a foodie, clever. Likes going out but staying in more?”
“Tick, tick, tick and tick!” shouts Angie.
“This is too good to be true,” I say.
“Wait!” my sister says, “we forgot about monogamous.”
“I believe in monogamy,” Clint shouts.
We all look at each other blankly for a second.
I point at Clint. “He’s gay,” I say, slowly, as if doing long-division, “Our sister’s gay. How would monogamy apply itself in this situation, exactly?”
And the business types close their eyes.
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