Opinion

Love is... changing those Wranglers you’ve been wearing the last three months

Fabien McQuillan

Fabien McQuillan

Fabien McQuillan writes a weekly diary about getting to grips with his new life in rural Tyrone

Young fashion man's legs in jeans and boots on wooden floor
Mans legs in jeans and boots leaning on a white wall Genghis hadn't changed his jeans for three months (eranicle/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Tyrone is springing awake again and all those shoots of new life have motivated my wife to find Genghis a woman.

“Who in their right mind would want to get involved with that psycho?” I wondered aloud.

Fionnuala smiled, her lip curling slightly. “Uncle Brian has a lot going for him, Fabien. A single woman in his age group could do a lot worse.”

I laughed. “Holy God. For a start, he doesn’t even talk – so how is he going to ask someone out? Telepathy? And his hair; his smoking and drinking; his jeans that he wears for three months straight. Some catch.”

But Fionnuala didn’t rise to the bait. Never even looked up from the chess game she was playing on her phone.

I remember when Genghis – real name Brian McCann, but known to all as Genghis – had the health scare a while back, and I was effectively his chauffeur for a month. He never said thanks. Not once.

I would drop him off at the pub in town and pick him up afterwards, but as he got out of my car back at his house, he’d slam the door shut as I was saying goodnight. I never got used to it. The absolute pig ignorance. I moaned and gurned to Fionnuala until she lost the bap with me one evening.



“You have no grace, Fabien. You said you would help Brian and now you spoil it by complaining. Either do the favour or don’t.”

“Are you for real? As if I could say no. It’s one thing driving the man about but I’m not his bagman. He just tells me where to go and what time to pick him up and stares in silence. Apart from dirty looks about my driving. Am I losing my mind or is everyone in your family frigging mental?”

But I had only made things worse and Fionnuala shook her head sadly. I felt like screaming, like Homer Simpson when Bart does something terrible. Howling to the moon. It was The Fabien Show again. The whole of Japan were transfixed.

Fionnuala had left me stung. She was probably right. If I had said no, I’m not going to drive Genghis about, get someone else to do it, there would not have been another word said. I might be paranoid, thinking everyone was looking down on me, but on the other hand, they might well have admired my Gallic shrug. Naw, not for me lads. No can do.

But how was I to know? It was impossible to read people here in Tyrone and I was left floundering in a broiling black sea; a guessing game that I could never win.

Then the glum mood around the house improved because Fionnuala had found a potential match for Genghis. It was action stations. She was an American woman who had come over a few years ago to marry her fiancé. A local man she had met in Chicago. He died. No children. Good looking.

I sniggered. “Has she seen Genghis? Even a photo?”

“No, she hasn’t, and he hasn’t seen her. It’s a blind date. They are meeting at the pizza place in town on Friday evening.”

“Oh, boy, I would love to see her face when she spies those Wranglers.”

“Well, the good news is you will, because we’re having pizza with them.”

Fionnuala had found a potential match for Genghis. She was an American woman who had come over a few years ago to marry her fiancé. He died. No children. Good looking

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry but it didn’t matter. We were there before either of them and Fionnuala was showing signs of nerves, necking her glass of wine and twisting on her chair like a dervish.

Then the American woman walked in – and just as she walked towards our table, the door opened and Genghis was there. We all looked at him. In fact, the whole restaurant looked at him as he stood in the doorway, easy and cool.

Navy chinos, a pale blue oxford shirt and tan brogues, he walked straight to the American and kissed her on the cheek and held the chair out for her at our table.

And as he sat down, he winked at me.