Husband loves apricots. I’d take a ripe peach over an apricot any day but I love him so I buy apricots.
I heard a radio advert, for a supermarket that’s not on my usual circuit, promising apricots on special offer. It seemed a good idea to drop by and stock up.
I arrived just as the store opened. Other than a few staff bustling around, the place was empty. I rolled my trolley up to the super-saver-six-for-whatever stall and gazed with admiration at the pyramid of fruit. There were, indeed, apricots and they were cheap. My mind wandered off as I calculated the reasonable limits of apricot consumption in small humans and pondered the possibilities of jam or chutney.
The store manager was tidying broccoli on the opposite side of the fruit stand but I wasn’t paying any attention to him until his phone rang.
He answered, as many people do, by giving his name.
I’m not going to tell you his name so let’s just call him Dark O’Handsome.
‘Hello. Dark O’Handsome’, he said.
Whiplash. I looked up, scanned frantically, looked down and drew breath. Could the attractive man three feet away from me be the person I thought he was? There was no guarantee. I’ve discovered over the last twenty-eight years that Dark O’Handsome is a pretty common name in Cork.
I artfully re-arranged the display of apricots and listened while he discussed a delivery of dairy products. It was his voice. There was something in the voice that I could hear singing into my ear.
‘Let it go. Surrender. Dislocate.’
It was him. He was my Dark O’Handsome.
Step back. When I was fifteen, in 1987, I found myself at U2’s Joshua Tree concert in the company of our French au pair, Celine (long story, never mind). After a bit of laid back bopping to the support act (UB40), Celine and I pushed and squeezed ourselves into the throng under the stage. Celine, being French and therefore gorgeous, became immediately entangled in the arms and lips of a stranger. I was overwhelmed. I’d never been in a stadium before. I’d never been to a proper concert before. The only live gig I’d been to was an Up With People show. Worse than all that, I’d never been kissed.
I struggled to keep within arm’s length of Celine and her entanglement. I don’t remember feeling any anxiety. The music was so loud, so all-encompassing, there just wasn’t space for worry.
I knew he was near me for a couple of songs.
He made room for me with his arms, pressed bodies aside and edged us both closer to the front. When Larry Mullen through his drumstick it brushed the tips of our fingers. The guy right behind us caught it. When Bono sang I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Dark O’Handsome’s voice was next to mine. Listen, can your hear us?
We belted it out together, full-throated,
‘…….only to be with you’.
And he kissed me.
It was, without doubt, the best kiss in the history of the world, ever. Mind you, it was the only kiss so the standard was not excessively high.
I was a lucky girl. My first ever concert was U2, The Joshua Tree in Pairc Ui Chaoimh. That was, by anyone’s standard, a legendary concert. It was Edge’s birthday, they were throwing a party. I hardly noticed. Poor Bono was, more or less, ignored as I threw myself into the whole kissing thing. It was bloody fantastic. We talked, you know, shouted in each other’s ears, a bit. He knew people who I knew. (Cork is small. It doesn’t usually get beyond two degrees to place people.) I guess that made me feel safe. We danced, sort of. We bounced up and down. We punched the air through Sunday, Bloody Sunday. We sang. Mostly, we kissed.
The song I remember best is New Year’s Day.
‘I will be with you again’
over and over into my ear.
I guess neither of us expected it would be nearly three decades later at nine on a Tuesday morning in Aldi.
I pushed my trolley around the fruit stand and faced down the aisle where he stood. He was taller and broader than the fifteen year old boy who kissed me. His hair was only slightly sprinkled with grey. He turned to face me and I simultaneously looked in to and remembered those brown eyes. My lips formed the first syllable of his name but I stopped. I couldn’t risk ruining it.
I smiled, maybe I smirked, and I nodded a polite Good Morning. As I walked past his back I wanted to lift my arm and touch his shoulder. I didn’t.
Before I turned the corner at the end of the aisle I risked a final glance. He was standing, just where I left him, staring at me.
If my inner voice could have reached his ear he would have heard,