Anna's Odyssey



        I wish Nuala weren't taking this wedding business so seriously. I mean itís not like she's going to be a bridesmaid or anything, so why is she going to all this trouble. After all, Eddie and Assumpta are to be the lucky wenches who'll have the fun of dressing up without the responsibility.

        I think somewhere along the line Connor must have mentioned to Nuala that sheíd be nice with long hair, and when Nuala asked for Grace's advice she suggested hair extensions--seeing as theyíre all the rage in Dublin at the moment. I had a suspicious feeling that Grace was planning to use Nuala as a guinea pig to try out the hair extensions because, since the birth of her son Leo, her own hair had thinned considerably. But I know that hair extensions look ridiculous unless youíre so rich and famous you can afford human hair 'cos at the bottom range of the market you have to make do with horse hair.

        A part of me, the 98% get back at Nuala part was secretly delighted she had decided to change from her perfect bob to the hair extensions a cheval. Now it could have also been the wind that blew up from the Sahara that week that tipped Nuala over the edge and made her take Graceís advice and actually spend money doing it.

        I was to meet the two sisters in Bewleys cos thatís where Nuala always has to go when she comes to stay in Dublin. Seeing as I was early I ordered an expresso and sat down to wait for them. I donít know if my shock registered the moment Nuala came through the door or whether it intensified as she walked closer to the table. Whoever left her out of a hair salon looking like this deserved to be shot, er congratulated. Grace following in pursuit all the while was enthusing about how fabulous Nuala looked. Iím sure she was doing this to cover her back cos this was her fault and of course Connor who put the crazy notion into Nualaís head that long hair would suit her.

        The truth was my sister Nuala was tragic. Her head all of a sudden seemed to be taking up too much room in relation to her scrawny body. The hair extensions rather than creating volume had created height. My sister was a walking Frankenstein. We ordered some lunch and chatted about the wedding and my dress fitting arranged for the following week. I was conscious of the fact that I kept staring at Nualaís hair but the joke had gone on for too long. If I looked like Nuala with my hair all puffed out and the long hair dragging my face to the ground Iíd have wanted someone to tell me the truth.

        However the truth in our family isnít always welcome. Nuala went ballistic

        "Do you know how much they cost Anna? £400. And for what? For your wedding," she spat.

        "I never asked you to spend £400 on hair extensions. Donít use me as an excuse. Itís not even you Nuala. Itís Grace, sheís the one who brainwashed you into having them done so donít blame me, blame her," I retorted.

        Grace just sat there as she is wont to do looking perfectly innocent saying nothing while I continued to rant and rave. But there were two of them pitted against me and seeing as they closed ranks I was made out to be the big bad wolf ruining Nualaís day shopping in Dublin.The difference between having sisters and friends is that sisters can dig up past indiscretions and throw them in your face unmercifully and you rise to the bait and retaliate. Battles between sisters take place in the Gaza strip so you can imagine how vicious they become.

        Nuala was going on about how insensitive I was to her feelings, how horrible I was in general and how she didnít know what the hell Connor saw in me. She brought up the time when I tried to set fire to her hair and when I crashed her car (I paid for all the damages). According to her I had a personal vendetta against her and I didnít respect her fiance Nigel (Theyíve been engaged for over three years). And it wasnít that I didnít respect him itís the fact that I once told her he looked like a duck, which he does. She went on and on so much that I thought Iíd personally pull off her hair extensions in temper so it was time to go.

        I could only begin to imagine the character assassination after I left and how everything I had said would be recorded and replayed to mother once she returned home. Nuala had been so much nicer to me since I met Connor but in one sweep we were back to square one hating each other.

        My mother always says that I shouldnít hate my sister, that we must all love each other as we have the same blood. But right now I feel like having a blood transfusion to wipe out any link I have to that mean spirited creature who always manages to bring out the worst in me. Every wrong thing I do she recalls and regurgitates whenever we have a fight. I fucking hate the cow and I also hope she keeps the hair extensions. See what happened when I told the truth, although I guess I could have been a bit more tactful than telling her that she looked like Marge from the Simpsons.

        I wandered around the shops for a while trying to cool down. I usually have to talk myself out of a rage and then I Ďm fine. I donít hold grudges unlike that horrible sister of mine. I try to think loving forgiving thoughts of Nuala but even that makes me feel depressed. Thereís a lot more energy and life to rage.

        I ring Elliot to see whatís planned for tonight cos Assumpta, Elliot and I are going out on the town to celebrate my engagement. Come to think of it Iíve had about ten celebrations so far but this is going to be the king of them all. I told Elliot about Nuala and he told me to imagine drowning her in a bucket of water and you know what it worked. I wiped her out of my mind and thought about tonight instead and what I was going to wear and drink and Ö Thatís the thing with Elliot, he knows what to say to shut me up. To cheer myself up some retail therapy. Besides I donít need hair extensions. I have beautiful hair.

        My mobile phone rings. Its Connor berating me for having upset Nuala after her going to all the trouble to make herself nice for the wedding. I told him she looked a holy show and then I cut him off. The magic of the mobile phone. If you donít like what you hear you can delete with the press of a button. Suddenly I hated Connor for liking Nuala and taking her side against mine. Yes I know it was three days countdown to go before my period but he was a bastard trying to soft soap my family and trying to keep in with everyone.

        Within minutes it rang again with my mother and her best lecturing voice. I had to put the phone back into my bag and let my mother speak to its muffled interior. I wanted to jump up and down on the phone but Grafton street was a bit too public for this behaviour. Every so often I took it out and said yes. There was no point defending myself. Nuala should be in politics the way she gets everyone on her side. We obviously had some dreadful karmic relationship.

        I had to drown her in a second bucket of water before I could move on and enjoy my day, in fact if truth be known my mother and Connor were put in there also. Murderous deed done for the day I was free. Inner rage turned outwards and damage from now on will be transferred to credit card.

        I love Monsoon and the floating feminine dresses with crazy colours and designs but the one I want they havenít in my size. I try on another three dresses but theyíre too frumpy. Look amazing on the rails but inside in the dressing room floating dress becomes a parachute that I try to flatten against my thighs. No luck but at least the dressing rooms here are dark and you donít go into cardiac failure when you see your thighs in the mirror.

        I want a sexy little number for tonight. I want to feel sexual and desirable and go back to the fun Anna, maybe bit immature Anna. I wander into this amazing boutique "Nova", looks more like a cave than a shop. All these skinny teenagers working as shop assistants hover around the clothes racks discussing how little they eat? Are people really made that way today or do they have to starve to death? I bet theyíre probably like Kate Moss and eat their heads off all day and it just runs through them without registering calories. My cells are like about to be hibernating squirrels gobbling storing up their hoards, imprisoning them in webs of adipose tissue.

        Iím told I have a womanly figure which is a kind expression for humongous hips. I much prefer my top half so itís easier to find something to wear in the top section of the shop. Amazing tops here. Will I go glittery for tonight? Mmmm. I ask skinny minute assistant for advise on what is the rage for the club scene these days.

        Skinny assistant turns out to be a right olí sweetheart very helpful as she seeks out clothes for me as I holler from the waiting room. I wonder if Iíd get away without a bra tonight? Too saggy? Too Nipply? I couldnít tell from assistants expression if what I was trying on actually suited me cos she spoke in a bland voice saying everything was nice with lips that scarcely moved. Which left me basically up to my own devises so I choose a pink glittery boob tube and a black leathery corset style boob tube. After all I had only a few months three to be exact, before Iíd be a respectable married woman.

        It took me a half an hour to buy the tops and three hours to find something to match them. I couldnít choose so I bought black leather effect pants and a pair of navy flairs that I began to hate on the way home on the bus.

        After Iíve showered, shaved and exfoliated I begin to feel human again. I must have spent over £350 pounds on what I bought. Maybe went a bit overboard in Boots buying three types of body lotion cos I couldnít choose one of them when I liked them all and a camera for tonight. Also bought a strapless bra which as I try on sticks out in the back so sod that. Iíll just have to cellotape my nipples back.

        I lavish on the coconut body cream and then feel a bit sickly with the smell so have to shower again and then try the lemon fragrance. Looking in the mirror I actually have positive feedback for a change. I am a sexy woman. How many women can say that? Nuala canít. She has no sex appeal, too drab, too repressed.

        Fully attired and smelling like a lemon garden I felt more alive than I had done for months. Truth be known I hadnít felt sexy like this for a very long time. I guess I felt I couldnít trust myself so I played that part of me down, buried it a bit. But itís not good for your energy levels. Sex is pure raw energy so no wonder I was feeling tired all the time lately. Be different when Iím married, when itís like all legal and I can be more myself.

        Assumpta had ordered pizzas with garlic bread for tonight. While she rustled up some salad and jacket potatoes in the kitchen Elliot and I had drinks in front of the fire. Elliot makes these amazing fires with like one firelighter. I have to almost use an entire box and even then the coals refuse to alight. I very often have to use vegetable oil to create a blaze but I dare not tell Assumpta. I love the way she can just rustle up things. I could never use that word rustle, more like wrestle where Iím concerned. Anyway while she busied herself rustling Elliot and I played fire games

        "I can see a beheaded mummy chasing a tomb robber down a crevice and heís getting away..."

        "There, canít you see a dragon spitting fire into the abyss."

        We laughed at what we imagined we saw, trying to outdo each other in our attempts to see the most ridiculous. Elliot said he saw Cecil polishing his little nobs with a white sock. We laughed so much that I thought one of the strings of my boob tube popped but it had just come undone which made me laugh even more.

        "Good to see youíre being yourself tonight Moran. Being sensible all the time is boring."

        "Iím not boring. How could I be boring?"

        "Well you are when youíre trying so hard not to be you. I propose a toast to Anna, welcome home!"

        I hate that about Elliot the way he can read me like a book. He hasnít told me yet if he likes Connor but the two of them chat away whenever Connor comes over to see me. I like that all my friends and Connor getting along like one big happy family.

        I love my friends loving me, buying me drinks, telling me how lucky I am, wanting to know all about wedding dress and what presents did I want. I think in fact as the night wore on I seemed to be picking up more and more friends, some of them becoming my best friends after a while. Adore being part of this giant over extended adolescent pool. Love to dance, arms flaying everywhere, head shaking like a head banger, loving the music, becoming the music. Twirling. Swirling> Mingling. Donít think boob tubes are the best when youíre as dance expressive as me. My left boob keeps trying to escape, very naughty boob. Fuck off you pervert speaking to left boob.

        At one stage I find myself in the toilet in Lily Bordellos, sitting on the loo knickers down my legs having heated discussions with whoever would listen to me going on about love and passion. One gorgeous girl with a Moore street accent said sure wouldnít any fella be passionate after a few drinks. I asked her if she thought I was sexy and attractive and if she were a fella would she want to shag me immediately and she said why yes of course she would. After I figured out how to pull up my knickers she very kindly did my hair up in a high Jeannie in the bottle type hairstyle. All I was short now was the loop earrings.

        Elliot wanted to know why I spent half an hour in the toilet and told me I was a fucking disgrace and did I want to dance for the last slow set of the night. I think it was more of a question of being propped up than dancing but Elliot is the best and most fabulous propper upper. I have never been as close as this to Elliot. Love my best friend Elliot. Love him especially cos he dumped Zoe when he found out she was a cheating scheming bitch who was only using him for his body. I want someone to use me for my body again. I want Connor my fiance to use my body and for me to feel some passion. I love the spinning room sensation before I get sick. Ceiling on floor. Floor on ceiling. Aaaah move Elliot I have to fall down flat on the floor to stop the room from going too quickly.

        Suddenly there was like a blank space between the night club and finding myself back in the house as in manner of tele transportation?

        Assumpta seemingly had gone on to a house party with some Italian businessmen so Elliot must have brought me home by taxi.

        Itís amazing how quickly I can sober up once I get sick so back in the house I was no longer as loud and disgraceful. On no the after effects of puckage is the need to stock up on the missing calories. Great I open the fridge and find two slices of cheese and a mini quiche, one of Cecils. For afters some pecan pie and cream. Elliot stands in one corner of the kitchen and I can sense him watching me. I donít care. He always sees me eat like this after drink. I sit slumped over the kitchen table and shovel the food into my mouth. Get down Homer. This is all mine.

        A bite of cheese and a bite of pecan pie and some quiche and cream. So what! It all gets mixed in together in the stomach anyway. Honestly it was the most amazing food Iíd had in a long time. Yummy. Yummy. I tell Elliot to fuck off and stop staring and then suddenly in between mouthfuls of food I get overcome by this huge wave of nostalgia, thinking this part of my life was soon to be over. I would leave this house and my lovely friends and great big tears roll down my eyes and into my mouth and then I start singing my usual refrain that I want to die. Hell I canít even cry dainty feminine tears, only great big wallops of tears that mix with snot and the cream so much so that I can scarcely breathe.

        Elliot comes over and tells me that everythingís going to work out as long as Iím happy with my choices (when am I ever ) and then he puts his arms around me and gives me a brotherly hug only I Anna of the primitive limbic system respond as if itís something more than that. I wipe my face onto the tea towel (forgive me Assumpta) and turn to face him. I look into his eyes, beautiful brown slightly slanted eyes and I swear he kisses me with those same eyes. Can eyes kiss? I want lips. Love Elliotís perfectly shaped lips. I close my eyes and my lips brush up against his. His lips are moist and yielding and soft and perfectly kissable. I want to stay here awhile and feel him, want him, need him. Elliot responds but then he grabs both my hands and tells me Iím being silly, that Iím engaged to Connor and that Iím upset.

        Upset? Upset is too small a word for the way I feel right now. More like suicidal. I had kissed my best friend only he rejected me. No wonder Connor isnít all that eager to jump into the sack. Iím ugly and horrible and I seriously need to be removed from life into some nerveless limbo. But if I could contaminate the living Iíd probably pollute the dead. Aaaah. I wonder how long it takes to drown in the toilet?