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Remind Me Again Why I Need A Man
The Lovely Girls Club
I work as a deputy producer on a soap opera and often think that if this job came with a catchphrase, it would be, quite simply:
"I hate actors!!!!"
Well . . . I should say more correctly, all actors except my darling friend Jamie French (and honorary Lovely Girl), who I'm meeting later on tonight.
At the moment, while resting between acting jobs, Jamie's working as a waiter at Nosh, a hip, protein-only celebrity restaurant in the heart of Dublin's Temple Bar. Although, according to him, they only call it a celebrity restaurant because Enya once had a coffee there. There was also a rumor that Bono went in once looking for directions, but it turned out to be just a look-alike. Anyway, it's Nosh's first birthday party tonight, and me and the other Lovely Girls are all going along. Now, I use the term girls in the loosest sense, as we're all well into our late thirties, but none of us are quite ready to graduate and start classifying ourselves as "women." At least, not just yet.
Okay. Lovely Girl number one is Caroline, who is easily and effortlessly the loveliest one of the lot of us. (Although, admittedly, there's not much contest there.) Caroline is stunning, she's amazing, she's just fab. When I grow up, I want to be her. She's my oldest and closest pal, ever since we first met at primary school, when we were both cast as angels in the school nativity play. One hundred percent pure typecasting in her case.
Two things about Caroline: (A) She's led little short of a charmed life, and (B) in all the years I'veknown her, she has not once, never, ever been in a bad mood.
Gorgeous (the image of the blond one in Abba) as well as smart, she modeled professionally for a bit after college and then did what we're all supposed to do—got married to her steady, lovely boyfriend Mike (six foot four, a dentist, a rugby player, and a general all-round lovely guy) and became the perfect yummy mummy with her two perfect, straight-out-of-a-Mothercare-catalog babies. They're very rich, outrageously happy, and you couldn't even hold it against them. They're both just too nice.
And then, drum roll, da da daaaaaaaaaa, finally there's Rachel. Or Joan Collins, as we've nicknamed her. The reason being that, although she's the same age as the rest of us, Rachel has already had two husbands. I'm not kidding. Number one was Parisian, a very cool-looking architect she met way back when we were all in college together. They led an über-sophisticated life in a loft apartment on the West Bank, with Rachel point-blank refusing to marry him on the grounds that living together annoyed her mother more.
Now this is where is gets complicated. There's something I need to tell you about our Rachel, a kind of running gag among us, which I should explain.
We call it the lethal Rachel pheromone. It's almost like a chemical she exudes from her pores that says, "I'm not looking for a man, I don't particularly want a man, come any nearer and I'll slit your throat." But the more she gives this off, the more guys chase after her like a Benny Hill movie speeded up. The irony is, there's me dying for a fella I can call my own and they run a mile from me, whereas all Rachel has to do is snarl at a guy and he immediately turns into her slobbering lapdog.
I often wonder, is my desperation and her lack of it something that single men can smell?
So anyway. Back to Paris and husband number one. After years of trying to persuade her that annoying her mother was a really lame excuse for not getting married, he handed her an ultimatum. Either we break up, or get hitched.
I know, I know, normally it's the other way around, women are the ones who are supposed to give men the shit-or-get-off-the-pot ultimatum, but this is Rachel's world, not mine. She didn't particularly want to break up, so, while on holiday in Las Vegas, she impulsively married him Britney Spears style, at the end of an all-night drinking session, with two cleaners for witnesses. And then the unthinkable happened.
She came back to Dublin for a flying visit to break the news to all of us, but ended up having a vicious fight with her mother, who nearly hit the ceiling when she realized that now she'd never get one Jimmy Chooclad foot into a mother-of-the-bride rig-out. So, unexpectedly, Rachel decided to hop on the first flight she could get back home to Paris to surprise her brand-new husband. Big mistake.
Rachel says to this day she can vividly remember racing up all fifteen flights of stairs and breathlessly flinging the door open, to find him in bed with a close mutual friend of theirs. Stunned, she somehow made her way back to Charles de Gaulle Airport, only to realize that she had absolutely no money. Nothing. Not even enough to make a call in those long-ago pre-cell-phone days. So she did what we'd all do in similar circumstances. Sat on her suitcase in the middle of the concourse, cigarette in hand, bawling.
Second big mistake.
It just so happened that there had been a big match on that weekend, and the airport bar was packed to overflowing with fans on their way home. One of them spotted this gorgeous damsel in distress (Rachel looks a bit like a 1920s silent movie star, you know, snow-white skin and dark bobbed hair, kind of like Louise Brooks, except with muscles), and he went to help. He was a big, beefy New Zealander who seemed like the answer to her prayers—i.e., he bought her drinks, paid for her flight home, and offered to rip number one's head off on her behalf. As far as Rachel was concerned, he came along in such a haze of romance, he may as well have been riding on a white charger. Who could resist? Within a year, she had divorced number one, married number two, and then divorced him only a few months later.Remind Me Again Why I Need A Man. Copyright © by Claudia Carroll. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.