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Bringing Norah To Oklahoma

A column by local journalist Willie McHugh courtesy of The Mayo News


When it comes to romance I wouldn't be in the same league as St.Valentine.

If florists or chocolate manufacturers depended on me for a living the Liquidator would now have come and gone. Val, the poor unfortunate, was beheaded for his antics.

I'm in no risk of suffering a similar fate. Yet I cannot deny no other event in life remains as firmly etched in the memory as the first date.

The lead up to the first date was sheer hell.

There was loss of appetite. Concentration went completely askew. Next the dilemma of what to wear and what to say.

And sleepless night worrying about proper behaviour in the hanky panky department.

Kiss on the first date and you were a presumptuous pervert and she warned all her friends about you. Don't kiss and you were an inexperienced sissy and again she warned all her friends.

I too had moments in life when, along with football, girls were all that mattered.

The House of Music in Cong was my favoured haunt. It was the era of The Freshmen, Gina, Dale Haze and The Champions, The Memories (ah d'ya remember The Memories d'ya) and a little guy in a fairylight suit called Magic. You were encouraged to dance your pants off to Tweed and Big Tom was still the King.

Cong was survival of the fittest.

The girls arrived early and occupied one side of the hall. The fellas arrived much later and stood in a defiant type stance on the opposite side. Everyone waited for someone else to make the first move.

A few girls holding a packet of 20 Silk Cut danced around a handbag thrown on the floor.

If you worked up the courage to approach them you were shunned immediately. They pretended first not to notice. Then one among them might even have the audacity to cast a flirtatious wink in your direction.

And if you could still extradite a girl from that bunch she told you she was Mona from Cornamona when you asked her name.

No girl disclosed her surname. And her village was included in the phone number. It was Clonbur 2, Cong 9, Headford 14 or Finney 11.

Under such working conditions it remains one of life's unsolved mysteries how romance flourished and couples found the route to marriage.  But marry they did and set out about living happily ever after.

But, if truth were told, there isn't a married man or woman alive who doesn't long now and then for the thrill of the first date. I unashamedly admit I too have often hankered for the opportunity to present itself again.

And it did.

I can now exclusively reveal that last Thursday night I relived again the magic of the first date.

For the benefit of this article we will call her Norah (not her real name.)

I have now triggered off the inquisitive nature of Ballinrobe women as they attempt to suss out who Norah is. The phones will be hopping now.  Telecom will be glad of the extra revenue generated.

Both our respective (and respectable) spouses were willing accomplices in this exercise. Actually their enthusiasm and accommodating nature towards our rendezvous was cause for slight trepidation at times.

A first date always demands a very special occasion and they don't come more special than a production of "Oklahoma" by Ballinrobe Musical Society. 

Nothing but the best for Norah.

Numerous phone calls and bush telegraph messages back and forth went into the initial planning.

Then a cooling off period ensued which I used wisely to brush up on proper etiquette.

Gentlemanly traits like opening the passenger door first, letting her walk on the inside of the footpath, the right chocolates, an umbrella at the ready and making sure Norah was seated before I was.

Amazing the little things I had forgotten through lack of practice.

We arranged to meet in Carney's Bar at at 8pm. Norah availed of the oldest prerogative known to woman and was a tad late. There were the few customary giggles and both of us attempting to speak at once.

Norah looked stunning as usual.

She had the hair styled earlier and sported a classy outfit. Hopes we both had of Luke Carney honouring the sanguine occasion with a complimentary drink were without foundation. They'll be again in it.

Eventually we proceeded to Ballinrobe Community School where a suitably attired chap ushered us to our cushioned seats. Joe Acton, although absent, welcomed all present and alerted us to the positioning of the fire exits. How do they do that?

Except for a few disapproving glances cast in our direction we were grand and set about enjoying the show.

And a fine job they did too.

Marvelous singing, excellent choreography, a happy ending (which pleased Jennifer seated next to us) and a few new methods of kissing I hadn't come across before.

I wouldn't mind a cut at "The Oklahoma Kiss" sometime.

I even resisted the urge to exit the building at the interval for a smoke. I introduced Norah as "just a friend" to any acquaintances I encountered during the night.

But enough about the opera. 

You can read Michael Commins's excellent review elsewhere because he availed of the complimentary tickets.

After curtain call we retired to another establishment. The night flew.

Later, much later, it was time to take Norah home but I'll not bore you with the details here. The whole affair was an outstanding success and an experience I would highly recommend.

And why wouldn't it be.

With Norah's brilliant personality, her wonderful sense of humour and dashing good looks accompanied by a McHugh, sure you couldn't go wrong.

And where to from here you may ask.

Betwixt my writing and your reading a coffee tryst is already planned. Norah suggests we should remain as “just good friends” and see how things unfold.

I find that route a bit baffling, as we were good friends before we ever had a date.

Typical woman, she's probably playing hard to get.

I wonder would she consider "the pictures" some night?



2002-2015 GMS Productions

In Loving Memory of Grant Gallagher: Sept. 21, 1990 - Nov. 18, 2006