You will be Bogart and I will be Bacall

A few of my favourite pairings….

Sarah and Sean*. Sarah and I met over a string of work inspired expletives fired from our bellies landing headlong into a plan of action; which I think was dinner in theirs where we overtook all small-talk and parallel parked in to a stare into space over the unbearable likeliness of ending up in the Midlands forever. Munch screams all round. She was just shy of 25 but had already pounded a fair few streets of the globe with her spittle speckled angst before meeting Sean and trying to calm the fuck down. Sean is three-quarters at ease with himself, remembers how you take your coffee, greets you like an old friend, and shares his thoughts freely and humourously. On their wedding day, he stood up, this man of hers, and declared her his rock and best friend with a tear in his eye that threatened to put one in mine. But I pulled myself together for the sake of the children. We all derive a laugh from disclosures about our respective suspected mental health instabilities. You can’t ask for much more than that except another coffee.

Orla and Ben. More friends of a friend but we’ve hatched and grown and watered our own stalk down the years. Their fridge is purple. They had 56 children by their early 30s. They invite people over to help them decorate their Christmas tree in their little house where you leave your clouds at the door and raise a chipped cup to whatever chat is going on, if you don’t have to wash it first. She’s a regular Dub who teaches children how to paint glass and cackles from beneath a head of screaming red hair. He’s a rugby-mad toff who’d shame his double-barrel family with his profanity laden humour. They have their ups and downs but they’re solid, inclusive, and welcoming. Life and its shite is very matter of fact, and they bounce off each other in ways that measure up to double what I figured I’d like with someone given half the chance.

Siobhan and Mark. I had forgotten about them until now – an indication of the seismic shift in mate tectonics. Slipping away from great friends. It’s like the harsh lesson that heady romantic love is not enough, that compatibility depends on so much more. No-one tells you the dynamics between friends will shift or contort themselves in ways that shove a sand dune between you made from ground-down time and distance from the lives you’ve been chipping away at. I couldn’t have wished for a better person than him for her. He sang in a choir when they met and could turn his chat to anything. And I knew he was her one when she held court in the pub, weaving a 360 degree wide-eyed drunken slow motion turn to the Specials’ Ghost Town, while he quietly sipped her in, beaming at her every jerk. Because he gets her, and buzzes off her being herself. Now there are two to visit and another little two to tickle. Yay.

Paul and Brendan. Just when you thought I’d caved into mush and drowned in a silly sea of sentimentality, there’s always these two with a withering quip to knock it out of me. They’ve been together for 10 years. I’ve been friends with Paul for twice that. My fellow list-maker. He helps keep the music fanatic in me resuscitated and doesn’t realise I’m not the fully fledged one I was till a few years back. Everyone finds them difficult. Unconventional. Aloof. Socially awkward. Eccentric. Dry witted to the point of absorbing all the oxygen in the room. Precisely the very reasons I like them.

And finally, my Ma and Da. Not a template for the traditionally happy relationship, and a walking instruction leaflet in how to get a lot wrong; but of all the couples in all the books, in all the stories, in all the films, in all the gin joints, in all the daydreams…the rare tenderness exchanged between these two will kill me most every time.

bogart and bacall

“You won’t forget to put the bins out tonight, will you?”

*Names have been changed to protect the guilty 

Who are your favourite couples? Fictional, friends, or family – take it away there like good blogging brethren…

7 thoughts on “You will be Bogart and I will be Bacall

  1. Well this was a good one to trip over. You should self-publish. My favourite couples of course do include Bogie and Bacall. In fact I’m hard put to think of any real-life couples I could portray the way you’ve portrayed your friends. I don’t think I do coupley friendship as well as you do. There are couples we are friends with as a couple, but strangely enough, most of my closest female friends are either single, separated from their exes, or have only just embarked on a new relationship and I haven’t met the guy yet. I have a married friend much younger than myself (she’s 30!), and their relationship is spirited and affectionate and supportive, and that navigates them through some really interesting differences in their upbringings and values – it’s lovely. I don’t really hang out with them as a couple often though, I mostly hear about it, and him, from her. The couple we are closest to is my brother and his wife, and they are very sweet – well it’s very sweet, to me, anyway, to see my “rough-around-the-edges,” tattoo-covered brother being gentle and patient and affectionate to his wife.

    • Aww. Love the sound of your young mate. What does your brother’s tattoos say? (I’m worried about that spelling of tattooes. tattoos. tatt..)We don’t really do coupley mates either. Those ones I’ve picked up through the early years mostly & unfortunately they’re far flung in various places. So I’m condemned to smiling inanely at wimmin folk of my bloke’s mates. Trying to fit in is exhausting but the thrill of provoking social awkwardness is always fun.

      • Hmm, I don’t know what his tatts (safe plural) say, he has them all over his legs and arms, and the earliest ones were done when, due to his young age and use of illegal substances, his judgement of what would make a great tattoo to have for the rest of your life may have been impaired. He had tatts before it became so de rigour for everyone to have a “sleeve”. He’s a welder, & we’ve joked that when he writes his memoirs they’ll be titled “The Cultured Welder.”

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