I’ve just stepped out of the shower and I’m drying myself at right angles to the mirror so I can check out my triceps and biceps as they push the towel over my exfoliated skin, which looks radiant under the glow of the IXL Tastic lights.
Look At My Side-Abs!
I’m also squinting because it lifts my eye-bags and makes me look sexier. At the same time it blurs my vision which creates the appearance of definition when I look indirectly at my ‘side-abs’.
Once I drop the towel I breath in until my lungs reach their capacity because this raises my chest and makes me look thicker – like a weathered but manly logger – and I have to acknowledge the role the cool air has played in constricting my still slightly moist nipples, because it has removed the lag in the skin, making my pecs appear more prominent; like two pieces of plate-armour off the back of a stegosaurus.
It’s as I’m squinting directly into my reflection and whispering you look like Robocop to myself – totally impressed – that Reservoir Mum throws the sliding door to the ensuite open and walks in laughing. I drop both arms to my side and then fall to my knees to pretend I’m looking for my pyjamas which turns out to be a poor ploy because my pyjamas are under my pillow in the bedroom, and there are no clothes on the floor at all.
‘Caught you looking at yourself,’ she says.
‘Yes,’ I say, standing up, resigned, and breaking into a double-bicep pose.
‘I just had the funniest conversation with Lewis,’ she says.
‘I was lying in bed with him, saying good night, and he said “Mum, I like cars now” and I said, What, the movie? and he said “No, I like toy cars… because they’ve got wheels… and you can crash them…”.
I laugh because I can imagine him saying that with his serious, contemplative frown.
‘And then he said, “I’m an artist” and when I told him I agreed with him he went through several paintings he’d made recently, then he stopped for a second and said, “Mum, I’m going to be a stay at home Dad”.
‘Really?’ I say, ‘That’s hilarious. He wants to be like me!’
‘I know,’ she laughs. ‘I told him that was a good idea and he looked at me – you know when he gets that frown – and said “why?” and I said because you get to spend lots of time with your kids and have fun with them.’
‘That’s true…’ I say.
I’m standing with my back to the mirror which gives RM a clear view of both the front and back of me but she’s so into the story that she is temporarily able to resist focussing on what is – in all seriousness – a visual feast.
‘But I also told him it can be hard work because you have to control your kids and cook and clean and do the washing.’
‘Also true,’ I say.
‘Then I said, Plus you have to marry a girl who wants to go out and work and he looked really concerned and said, “But how will I know?”.
RM is so enthusiastic in the telling of the story that I forget how good I’m looking and actually slouch a little as she continues.
‘I told him he didn’t have to worry about that right now and then he said… “I wish I was a girl.”
‘Did he?’ I laugh. ‘Why?’
‘He said, “So I don’t have to clean”.
‘Oh my God that’s funny,’ I say, as it occurs to me that this conversation might be better had with pants on.
RM follows me into the bedroom and we’re both still laughing as she tells me how she pled her case. ‘I said girls do so clean! I clean! and he just looked at me and said, “No you don’t”.
‘That’s brilliant,’ I say.
‘I said I put all the clothes away, I clean your rooms sometimes and the bathrooms and he said, “I have never seen you clean”.
I’m stumbling as I’m trying to put my pyjama pants on and because I’m laughing I’m trying to get a casual look at my side-abs to see if they’re contracting but either the angles are all wrong or I’m too fat to have side-abs because there appears to be nothing there. It’s impossible to hide a moment of pouty disappointment because under the IXL Tastic lights I could even see the faintest hint of those much swooned-after hip-lines that run down towards the pubic bones on male models.
‘Please tell me this story has a great punch-line,’ I say. ‘Because I want to record this on the website and I’d love it if it finished with a bang.’
RM is still giggling which is a good sign. ‘So then he started with his usual stalling tactics and asked me if I’d rub his back but I told him that it was time to sleep and that I’d been rubbing his back the whole time we’d been talking and so he sits up, looks at me like he’s an interested colleague and says, “So, how’s work been?” It was like I was talking to an eighteen year old rather than a six year old.’
It is a brilliant finish for RM and me and somewhere down the track it will even entertain Lewis but it may not be enough for the less engaged reader and so as we chat and laugh a little more and I put on a pyjama top – still amazed that RM has barely glanced at my torso the entire time I was topless – and make a mental note to finish the story with a kind of epiphany.
I’ve enjoyed the five minute to and fro between the two us because sharing the stories is one of the great things about parenting young children together and there is nothing more unifying when the laughter or the pride or the amazement captures you both at the same time and in the same way.
But most of all: RM’s story has left me with a bit of a buzz. I may not have the side-abs of a male model but I am male, and with Lewis verbalising the dream to follow in my arty-farty stay-at-home Dad footsteps, I must be modelling something right.