Now that she has finally left me to be, I can tell you about Twenty Quid.
In the dating spree of 2006, during the World Cup, I got in contact with a girl from County Kildare.
She was good craic.
OK, scratch that, she was a nurse, a lover of shit music and a chickenhead clucking about Home And Away, but she was friendly and a bit of a looker on her profile.
We swapped numbers and texts, she an LOLer, me frowning at the beep. Still, still, she was persistent and wanted to meet me. After watching one of the England games in County Lucan, I grabbed a lift from Owen into town.
I was already a bit drunk, I'd call it 'tipsy' if that was suitable to a man of my drinkage. She was on time. She was chatty. We got on well, went to The Bank, had some food, a kiss and a taxi back to mine. So far, so 'I can't wait to text the lads.'
We clicked well in the morning time and agreed to meet again. She said she had no money to get home so I put my hand in my pocket and gave her twenty euro. In the passing of the cash it occurred to me that she hadn't paid for a thing the entire time, but she assured me she'd get me back. I told her it was grand, being a gentleman, and we did seem to hit it off.
She went on her way.
I was excited about this one, my earlier impressions had been shot by her winning personality. I texted her the next day, feeling I'd played the politics and the odds perfectly, but got nothing back.
"She probably has no credit." The rationale of a horny man.
I left it another couple of days and texted her again. I suggested doing something that weekend, a week after our initial date.
I left it there, I was never one to scurry.
Months passed, a few more bad dates, but nothing to match the buzz of our meeting.
Still, I put her down for a loss and went about days unencumbered. That was until she popped up on my MSN one random afternoon in October.
Remember, it had been June since I'd heard a peep, and she'd had the cheek to invade my wallet without so much as an apology in the meantime. Twenty quid is twenty quid, like, I was never over-monied.
Anyway, she popped up with something like 'Aw honey, so sorry I never got back to you. Have had a really hard time.' A quick 'Go fuck yourself' would have been called for, but I was a sad, soft bastard back then and started my textual counselling, saying I understood and hoped she was ok. She wanted to meet me again and I, like a fool, agreed. I was to go to Malahide that very night.
I met her outside some pub or other, she was smoking on my arrival. I went inside to get a couple of drinks in and she started wittering on about her life's woes.
Without the tankful of booze in me, without the post-coital giddiness of the previous summer, with utmost sense of my surroundings I judged her to be a proper fucking twat.
Three rounds, again all me. No mention of the score she owed me. Then she came out with...
"So where are you bringing me for dinner?"
What did I do? I fucking went. I walked with her to the nearby Italian restaurant. I went like a... I went.
Three courses, she'd cost me well over a tonne at this stage. She was shiteing on about coming back to mine, how she was going to "rock my world." She spoke about her ex and how I was a proper man compared to him, how he'd treated her like shit. I thought of how I'd like to get his number, buy the man a pint for his troubles.
We left the restaurant. I told her it was nice to see her again but that I was going to get a taxi back to my sister's (where I was staying at the time).
"I'm giving you a lift," she said.
"No you're grand, I'll just..."
"JUST GET IN THE FUCKING CAR."
I got in. I formulated a plan. Even though Anne was living in Baldoyle, I'd get her to drive me elsewhere and I'd get a taxi back.
No fucking way was I going to sleep with her. Pride was a long time coming, but it came.
We got to Fairview and I told her she could drop me at the park. I'd walk the rest of the way. She was not having this at all. The girl was out for rode, no mistaking it. She was not having this.
I confessed that my sister lived in Baldoyle but that I'd forgotten the directions, but that I'd be grand in a taxi and she should be on her way.
"I'M FUCKING DROPPING YOU HOME."
She was driving faster and faster, talking wildly and loudly, like a plump Cameron Diaz in Vanilla Sky, and I was shit scared, cursing myself for ever being such a fucking chump.
After an hour we found the house. She asked to come in for coffee. I ran. I just ran. No explanation. I ran inside, turned off the lights, and prayed for the psychotic wonderslag to finally give up and drive off, and she did.
Two years passed, two years of ribbing by the lads. There were many more dates and a four-month romance, but still Twenty Quid remained the stuff of lore.
One drunken evening Johnny promised me 500 euro and a crate of Stella if he could hide in the wardrobe while I sired her, one more time. The next day he told me he was serious, that if the chance ever came he'd give me five-fold what I'd spent on her, and some lovely beer into the bargain.
This was all moot, I didn't have her number anyway, long since deleted. Then, a couple of months ago, she popped up on my screen once more. She said I'd treated her so well, how she understood why I'd run screaming from her terror-car, how she was newly single and how she wanted to meet me.
"Oh right, well, let me think," I responded. "OK, well, do one."
And that was the last of Twenty Quid, reminder of my greatest shame as a man. Happily for Johnny, there isn't enough money in the world...