I want to preface this story, which is true to the best of my knowledge, by explaining the forces that were clearly at work during the events I will be recounting. All who have had calamity in their life; mishaps at the worst possible moment in the worst possible way are familiar with Murphy’s Law. It is not an ordinance passed by the local governance of Dublin, Ireland, or the rules to a drinking game played in everybody’s’ favorite pub. It is a universal law that influences the daily existence of every person in the world.
Murphy’s Law states that if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong, and in the worst possible way. It affects things on the most basic level. A newspaper in Norwalk, Ohio printed a verse in 1841 to illustrate this premise. “I never had a slice of bread, particularly large and wide, that did not fall upon the floor, and always on the buttered side.” I rest my case and will now porceed. Story wouldn’t be the correct term because it implies some degree of embellishment. This will be a description of events as I saw them.
My name is Sean O'Rourke, and I am the oldest of four brothers. No stereotypical assumptions are intended, but may appear. We live in Manhattan and manage somehow to sustain a moderate living. The order of birth, as I have indicated, starts with me, next the twins Joseph and Patrick, followed by the youngest Ryan. The twins are three years younger than me. Ryan, mom’s birthday surprise is ten years younger. She calls it her birthday surprise because he was conceived after her and dad came home from a birthday party at O’Malley’s, and in the morning she was surprised her diaphragm wasn’t in.
We are a close family, but have issues like most families do. The twins and I have many shared experiences because of our closeness in age. Ryan, on the other hand, has had a much different experience. Mom and dad had more time for him, and the financial circumstances of the family had improved significantly. As a result, Ryan was spoiled. The twins are very different in appearance and demeanor, with Pat being more outgoing. He also provides an unnatural attraction for women. As Pat would say, it’s “like bees to honey,” with Pat being the honey.
Joe, on the other hand, is quiet, sensitive and introspective. He is also the only family member with a nickname. Ryan always wanted to tag along with us, but circumstances and our mother prohibited it. Joe and Ryan are particularly close because Joe has become somewhat of a mentor to Ryan. When Ryan was young and demanding something he wanted, his authority came from Joe. He repeatedly said, “Joe say, Joe say,” as in Joe says I can. Only he said it very fast and it sounded like Jose. So everybody in the family and close friends usual refer to Joe as Jose. Oddly enough, he answers.
People not in on the joke actually think his given name is Jose and often ask how my brother ended up as Jose O’Rourke. Over the years we have all developed our own plausible explanation as to how this occurred.
Mine goes some thing like this, “Well my dad is a longshoreman and works the docks. The year Joe was born, work was slow and times were hard. Dad went down to the union hall, and after the meeting, held a raffle to raise some money. The deal was ten dollars got you a chance to name the baby. With things being the way they were his sympatric union brothers kicked in $340 and Jose was the winner. The listener usually has a bewildered look on their face and just nods their head.”
I am the manager of arguably the most popular pub in Manhattan, Duffy’s. It is always busy and I work long hours, but I love every minute of it. Pat works as a longshoreman with dad and Joe is one of New York’s finest, a member of the New York City Police Department. Ryan is the only member to graduate from college, and teaches science at a private high school in midtown. As luck would have it, there is a lovely young lady at the high school that also teaches science. The chemistry between them soon became more than academic and they were engaged last Saturday.
Mom said, “Of all the candles I struck a match to in church, one prayer was finally answered.” Her frustration is fueled by the fact that none of us are married.
Joe and I are in both in committed, long-term relationships, but have so far been able to forestall matrimony.
As for Mr. Honey, Pat says, “Mom, I haven’t met anybody I want to spend the rest of my life with.”
Mom responded with indignation “The rest of your life? I would be happy if they were around long enough for me to remember their names.” Mom often refers to Pat as a “male bimbo.”
Ryan’s engagement will provide a brief respite from mom over the issue of getting married. However, I have warned Pat and Joe, “Mom will be coming back at us like a club boxer looking for a five-hundred-dollar knockout.”
Because Pat is the primary target of mom’s dissatisfaction with the three of us not being married, Joe, the deep thinker of the family, made a suggestion. “Pat, let mom know you need to talk to her about a serious personal issue. When you get mom alone tell her that you are Gay and all the women are just a cover. That should put an end to her giving you a hard time about getting married.”
Pat smirked and said “As usual Joe you are a day late and a dollar short. I told mom that last summer at Karen’s wedding. A week later she tired to fix me up with her hair dresser’s son.”
All of us were very happy for Ryan and his fiancée, Ashley, and wanted to help anyway we could. Thinking back to mom’s declaration of a prayer being answered, I believe it is a marriage made in heaven. Ashley’s mother welcomed our mom with open arms and has involved her in every aspect of the planning. Mom owns a small floral shop and knows most of the business owners in the area. A good friend just happens to be a jeweler, so mom sent Ryan to see him about an engagement ring and matching wedding band.
Mr. Hays, the jeweler, agreed to make a one-of-a kind engagement ring and matching wedding band for Ashley. The ring is gold with beautiful sliver inlaid roses wrapped around it, and a two karat diamond.
Ryan gave Ashley the ring when he proposed. Mr. Hays called mom and said the wedding band was ready. Mom asked Joe to pick it up because he had the day off from work. Joe had the wedding band with him when he showed up at Duffy’s. Pat was already there and they decided to have a drink or two. Three hours later, they were both feeling no pain when they took a cab to Pat’s apartment.
Once they arrived at Pat’s place, the story gets a little vague. Mom and Ryan planned to met Joe and Pat for dinner and get the wedding band. This meant the boys had time to kill with no adult supervision. They continued to drink and Pat says, “Hey Joe, let me see the ring.” So Joe takes the ring out and hands it to Pat.
Joe is in his bedroom getting changed and Pat yells “This ring is real small; I bet it wouldn’t even fit on my little toe.”
Allegedly Joe yells back, “Yes it would, it’s not that small.”
Joe comes out of the bedroom and tells Pat, “Give me the ring before you lose it.” Joe is looking at Pat with his hand out and again says, “Pat, give me the ring back.”
Pat is not responding, and has a very odd look on his face. Joe, now somewhat anxious, screams, “Oh my god Pat, if you lost that ring mom will kill us.”
“I didn’t lose the ring, Joe.” “Ok, then give it back to me before you do lose it.”
This is another priceless family moment. “I can’t give it back to you right now, Joe.”
“What are you talking about? Why not Pat?” “Well you remember how you said it would fit on my little toe? I can’t give it back because I got it stuck on my little toe.”
Joe, a decorated New York cop, became frantic over the possibility of trying to explain this to mom. “No way Pat, you are not going make me responsible for getting that ring stuck on your toe.”
“Shut up Joe and let me think. You’re not getting off that easy. Mom will say she just told you to pick the ring up and you had no business even taking it out of the box.” A convincing argument if I must say so.
Joe knew he would share the responsibility with Pat. There was a court of appeals, our dad. However, with something like this, the old man wouldn’t have any part of it. The only way out of it was to get the ring off Pat’s toe and back in the box.
Getting back to Murphy’s Law, it certainly comes in to play here, not for what happened to my brothers, because that was plain stupidity, but for my mom. Mom was going to have lunch with Ashley and her mother tomorrow and show them the ring. My mother did not suffer foolishness gladly and my brothers knew this very well, particularly Pat the ring barer.
Pat usually isn’t affected directly by Murphy’s Law, but he is a carrier. It is my observation that when Pat is around, anything that can go wrong, and I mean anything, will go wrong, and in the worst possible way. In fairness, I have to say Pat is a good brother, and to all who know him, a loyal friend.
So now Pat and ‘Jose’ have to think fast if they ever want to eat another free meal at our parent’s house. If they ever want to have free flowers sent to some young lady. The moment my mother has been waiting for since we were born, is a wedding. But more than that, saints be praised, a daughter-in-law, and they screwed it up. You get the picture now. They tried all the obvious remedies; cooking oil, soap, pulling and yanking. No progress was made and the clock was running.
Joe was brain storming on over drive, and saw a glimmer of light. He has a good friend who works for Emergency Services, New York’s first responders for emergencies. Joe called Tony’s cell phone and asked him to come over to Pat’s apartment. Tony agreed. It was a slow night and within his assigned area, but Tony wondered why Joe was being so evasive. Tony arrived at Pat’s apartment with his partner and they weren’t sure what to expect. Tony told me, a few days later, when Joe explained their predicament, he and his partner laughed uncontrollably. Tony told Pat that technically he was now engaged to Ryan. Joe and Pat failed to see the humor in their situation. Tony said, “You can’t make up something like this.” Both guys are Emergency Medical Technicians with many years of experience.
“Ok, Pat, let’s see your ring toe,” Tony said, as he snickered. Pat complied and lifted up his foot and placed it on the coffee table.
Joe was pacing back and forth and asked, “Well, can you get it off?”
Tony replied, “Probably. If we can’t, the ring will have to be cut off.”
Pat and Joe looked at each other and then Tony. Joe told Tony, “That’s not an option. I don’t care what you have to do, just get it off.”
Pat snapped at Joe and said “Stop talking about me like I’m not here.”
Tony explained, “We are going to give Pat a mild muscle relaxant, elevate his foot and pack it in ice to bring down the swelling.” Thirty minutes passed and Tony checked out Pat’s toe.
“It looks like the swelling went down. Let’s see if we can get the ring off now.” Tony removed the ice bag and twisted the ring back and forth slowly, pulling up as he did. All of a sudden, the ring came off. To say Pat and Joe were relieved would be an understatement. Another disaster avoided, and money in the bank for me. I could use this incident to blackmail both of my brothers for months.