The Fielder: Balancing work and play ain't easy unless it's a labour of love
The real adventures of an inter-county footballer
'Mam, where's the big extension lead!?" I shouted, rummaging through the wardrobe.
"It could be in the garage gosson. What do you want it for?" she replied from the kitchen next door.
"I'm hoovering out my car!"
Silence. The mother walked in with a quizzical look on her face.
"You've had that car six years and not once have you cleaned it out. I wouldn't be surprised if there's feckin' mice in it. What's the big occasion?"
"Awh nothing, I'm erm . . . thinking of changing it."
She bought it. Truth was I wasn't selling it. I had a date. Later that evening I got a hostile reception as I went to leave the house.
"What the fuck are them yokes?"
"They're chinos dad!"
He looked at my mother and shook his head. I watched as the cat walked up to me, took a sniff and peeled away in disgust. Perhaps I'd overdone it a bit with the aftershave.
My date was a girl from a few parishes away that I'd got chatting to on Facebook. I knew her through friends and had finally plucked up the courage to ask her out after much hesitation.
As far as I knew she hadn't a clue about football, which suited me down to the ground. I was sick and tired of talking about it.
I pulled up outside her house and sounded the horn, cursing to myself after doing so. I wasn't collecting one of the lads; I needed to be in manners-mode if anything serious was going to happen. It was paramount that I didn't refer to her as budgie, young one, beour, mot or gersha, which would be a challenge in itself. I looked on as she came out the front door. She scrubbed up well in fairness to her and was sporting a nice little black number. So far so good.
I was in high spirits as we sat down in the restaurant. We'd struck up a conversation about some of her friends in the car and had both agreed that we hated the same girl (although I didn't mention that I'd wore the face off her outside the local chipper the month previous). We'd found common ground and as we sat down I decided to dip my toe in the water and take it to the next level.
"You're lookin' quare well tonight in fairness; best I've ever seen ya lookin' anyway!"
She blushed and looked at the floor. This was like fishin' with dynamite. "Sir, Madam; are we ready to order?"
I looked across the table and gestured for her to go ahead.
"I'll have the soup to start please and the lasagne as my main," she uttered.
"And to drink Madam?"
"Oh, sorry. Water will do fine thank you."
Good choice. Cheap and cheerful, I was liking her more and more by the minute.
"I'll get the chicken wings please and the T-bone, medium well with extra onions. Sure we'll have a pint of Heineken too while you're at it."
The extra onions weren't going to do my chances of a goodnight kiss any good, but when in Rome and all that.
"So what do you like to do in your spare time?" I asked, trying to look interested. I was that hungry I would've eaten an oul' wan's arse/mouldy sprouts through a tennis racket.
"Oh, well I'm a bit of a fitness freak. I use the gym a lot."
I nodded. "What sort of exercises would you be doing?"
"Well, mainly running on the treadmill, but I've started doing squats lately..."
As long as I live, I will never know what provoked me to say what I said next.
"Yea, you can tell you're doing squats alright..."
She looked quite taken aback and I could feel my cheeks going bright red.
"What do you mean?" she asked in a sharp tone. What I meant was that she was packing a bit of timber around her thighs but as I wasn't used to this manners malark, I'd forgotten that commenting on a budgie's weight was like waving a red rag at a limousin bull.
"Erm, you . . . no I just mean like, your . . . your legs and arse and that are . . . they're eh . . . grand like . . ."
What a gobshite.
"OH LOOK THERE'S THE FOOD!" thanks be to jaysus for that.
Things were somewhat muted after my squats comment, but improved as the evening wore on.
By the time dessert came around we were sharing a brownie and laughing about me telling her she'd a big arse. I could've sworn she rubbed my leg under the table at one point but then again it could've been the table leg.
I proclaimed to her that the fact the she'd no road frontage and yet I was still talking to her was a good omen. She enjoyed that.
"And c'mere. Would you stand behind the goals and kick the ball back out to me if I wanted to practise my frees?"
She smiled and nodded.
We finished up our meal and I took care of the bill.
As we left the restaurant I held the door open for her. This manners crack was handy.
"You're a real gentleman, you know that."
I chuckled, "You weren't saying that a half an hour ago when I said you'd big legs!"
I pulled up to her house and turned down the radio. It was my time to shine.
We looked into each other's eyes and I leaned forward . . .
"WE'RE THE JOYCE COUNTRY, CÉILí BAND!" my wailing phone killed the moment.
"Hello . . ."
"Gosson, get home quick! Your brother left the gate open! The cattle are everywhere!"
I hung up.
"I have to go I'm sorry. Can we do this again?" I asked with a cheeky grin.
"I'd love to. How does Friday sound?"
"Ah feck, I can't we're training on Friday night, sorry."
She looked confused.
"So just tell your trainer you can't make it??"
I laughed. She had a lot to learn yet.
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