Last night I was out and about. Having finished a particularly hard day of most tedious work, I was busily downing the nectar that is rum with some delightful company, Country gay, my good friend Tara and my brother, who also was good enough to come out of a Thursday and play pool and sup pints...
Half way through the night, while the booze was flowing, insults flying and the pool tables full of scars and scuffs, my brother receives a phone call on his mobile.
His good lady wife I thought, chalking my cue and offering to shove it where the sun don't shine to a laughing Tara.
'Yeah, she's here.' He says, before pulling a puzzled face and handing me his phone.
Terror folks, terror filled me. Why would someone track me down unless something was wrong?
'You've got to get- '
The terror increased.'Etheline?'
'-a fucking mobile. Where are you?'
'Ranelagh, playing pool-'
'Meet me in Rath....'
'Rathmines! I need to talk to you.'
'Etheline, I'm in the middle of a game.'
Yikes. That floored me.
'What's going on? Where in Rathmines?'
'Meet me in Toast.'
She had hung up on me, the preppy gee bag. I hate when people do that too.
'She okay?' My brother asked.
'How would I know?'I said helpfully.
'Are you okay?'
Then, like a common News of the World "journalist" with a 450 a night hooker, I made my excuses and left.
I walked to Rathmines, grumpily yanking the heads off flowers as I did so and refusing to give way to couples walking the opposite direction. I entered said bar bar and found Etheline viciously guarding a whole table, alone.
'You came.' She said, eyeing me, weeply, mistily, pisstily.
'Of course I bloody came.' I plonked down in the seat beside her. 'What's up?'
'I can't do it Cat, I can't do it.'
'You can't do what?'
'I don't understand. What's happened? Did you have a fight?'
'He brushes his teeth funny.'
'He does what?'
'Brushes his teeth funny. You should see it sckikkkkskkikkis scrikkk, siiiiirrkk skiiiirjk.'
'Etheline stop doing hand actions.' I say dragging her hand away. People are looking.
Man, my sister is plastered.
'I can't live with that forever.' She looks at me wild eyes, 'I'll go crazy.'
'OK.....ay.' Go crazy I'm trying to think.
'Whatcha wanna drink?'She waves at the floor girl who has walked past twice now without making any eye contact.
'Nothing I'm fine.'
'Okay, rum then, Havana.'
She finally orders two rum and cokes.
We talk some more. It appears it's not just the teeth brushing -not that I thought it was. She has been worried about marriage for some time, then I had lunch with my mother and in a disgusting attempt to stop my mother from asking about me and the paramour, I set my mother on Etheline. Etheline deserved it a the time, but my mother has been going on about 'setting a date' like some kind of rabid lavender wearing pitbull, thus pushing my hardly stable at the best of times sister clean over the edge.
'It's your fault,' she says, spilling rum on me.
'Probably' I say. 'Etheline, lets go home. You can stay in my house tonight.'
'Lets get chips!'
Man, she is drunk. Etheline probably hasn't eaten chips since...I don't know actually.
We go to Burdocks and get chips. We walk the 2k back to my apartment.
By the time we get home she is tired AND drunk AND full.
I make up the spare room.
'Good night daring, don't worry, everything will be okay.' I say, for I do love her, desperately. I want her to be happy, she doesn't look happy tonight.
Twenty minutes after she falls asleep my brother calls. He is downstairs.
'I just wanted to check that you were okay.'
'Come on up.'
He comes up, we crack open a bottle of wine. I tell him everything Etheline has said, well, not everything, some things are not for others, right?
'Is she serious?'
'I don't know.' I say tickling Puddy's pink belly with my toes. The bigger of the cats is lying sprawled on my brother's lap, the old attention seeking whore.
And it's true, I don't know. Nobody ever knows with Etheline.
'What are you thinking?' He asks.
'I'm hoping I get to be the one to tell Mam.'
'I know, I'm a bad person.'
'It's not that, I'm thinking how she's going to react.'
We pull identical faces and hastily pour more wine.
So here I am this morning, confused and twitchy. Etheline was up and gone long before I opened an eye. But she left me a note saying thanks and ordering me not tell anyone about last night. I have called my brother and sworn him to silence.
What does it all mean? What's going on? Was she serious? Will she change her mind? Should I have toast or Wheatabix? Too many questions too early on a Friday.