I think if I squint my eyes, spray some Elnett and put on a bit of the Immaculate Collection; I can vaguely recall a social life. I have photos to prove it; me in a variety of expensive outfits with beautiful hair and a smiling, line-free face, arms around girlfriends all similarly attired (jeans and a fancy top was the go-to outfit du jour). When I say photos, there aren’t many as this was pre-social media and camera phones (thank christ). Although in 2003 I did purchase a Sharp camera phone. It cost me a fortune (2 weeks wages) and was my pride and joy until one fateful night when it slipped into my vodka in Buck Whaleys. That phone once got me and some friends into Lille’s Bordello when it was nigh on impossible to get in. I flashed it about and made us look “money”. It also took an amazing selfie (I was a trailblazer) at a Counting Crows concert that I’ve included to the left. It’s like one of those magic eye pictures, cross your eyes and you may make it out. People were nudging each other and whispering “look at yer wan and her fancy phone that takes pictures! she must be famous!” In a previous life I worked as an office administrator and earned a decent wage, I lived at home and to my shame barely compensated my parents for that. They had the pleasure of my company and sure what else would my Mam be doing other than making my bed and cooking dinners that I would invariably turn my nose up at? Friday, I got paid and I would withdraw the money from the bank machine and spend half it on that night’s outfit, makeup and pre-drinks. There would always be some thing that had caught my eye in that week’s Sex and the City that i’d be after and I’d walk the length and breadth of town (not the southside..nooooo) in search of a blue liquid eyeliner or a pink blouse (true stories). I would spend hours getting ready, face-mask, cucumber on my eyes, mani-pedi. Friends would call and we’d pour a few vodkas and totter about with wads of cotton wool between our toes, blasting Madonna and lighting candles. My mam was always nervous of the candle situation and would blow them out when passing, probably wise what with the elnett and all. We’d arrive down the stairs in a haze of glitter (hair mascara, remember?), cleavage on show (hello boys) and already a bit tipsy. When my Mam was done critiquing our look (rightly so) she would always say “O to be young again”. I’d look at my friends and roll my eyes “whatevs… drop us into town would ya?” My Mam would keep asking “have you eaten?” on the way “yeah, yeah “ I’d answer as my tummy rumbled… no time for food! We’d hit the bar and make our way through the cocktail menu and normally end up on vodka and red bull with the occasional shot. I’d arrive home Saturday in a state after an all night party; spend the day in bed ordering take away and popping painkillers, only to do it all again on Sunday. I could never quite put my hands on my keys and would ring the door bell till my Dad opened it like Walter White in his Y fronts. I always wondered what if it was the police?
Fifteen years later and I would like to detail a night out now. I harbour thoughts of a new outfit but I’m afraid of what size I might be and can’t deal with finding out. Also Navigating a shop with 3 small kids is near impossible and don’t I have to pay for the boys swimming this month… ? If I do manage to find a precious 20 minutes to zoom around New Look, I’ll end up grabbing a load of black clothes that when I try them on I resemble Jo Brand doing stand up. On a recent night out I decided to rectify the post-baby, chocolate and wine loving belly problem with a pair of control pants. I ended up so uncomfortable during dinner that I had to go to the toilet to remove them. That proved very difficult and I was gone so long my Mam came in to check on me (yes a night out now can sometimes involve Mrs. Kelly). I contemplated asking for a scissors or at least some talc but managed in the end and spent the rest of the night trying to avoid doing a Sharon Stone.
Arranging childcare requires numerous phone calls and some begging. I always promise to have them in bed before I go. I’m afraid the younger ones will figure I’m abandoning them for a few hours so I have to leave getting ready till they’re in bed at 8 and the electric shower is so noisy it would wake them so I may have to clean up with wipes and dry shampoo. Forget nail varnish… odds are someone will definitely need comforting and they’ll smudge. I opt for the Jo Brand ensemble and hunt for some jewellery to jazz it up, realising the kids used my jewellery box as a treasure chest in a game of pirates a few weeks ago. I should wear heels but I’ve been on my feet all day so opt for comfy boots. Red lipstick, perfume and a nice handbag help the self-esteem. No more cleavage showing tops, three breastfed babies destroyed my once proud knockers and I am left with two deflated balloons.
My idea of a great night out is a meal; I’ll have booked ahead for myself and my husband or friend, depending on the night. Fifty-50 is our regular haunt. We will appreciate every second of our precious time and pore over the menu. We’ll listen intently to the waiter’s recitation of the specials, unnerving him with our rapt attention. A bottle of wine will gleefully be ordered and we will remind each other after every glass to take it easy as we’ll have an early start.
Judgement impaired, we will have a nightcap or two in a local pub and then return home to hand over a wad of cash to the babysitter (when did babysitting get so expensive? I’d earn a fiver for an all nighter back in the day). The next morning with 3 kids quite literally bouncing on my head, I’ll be glad we didn’t get those shots. A deal has normally been put into place the night before between myself and my husband on who should do the first shift (he picked rock, I picked scissors). So I arise at 7 and grapple with the baby’s fragrant nappy and I dream a dream of times gone by.