(First Published as ‘Tasty And Licky’ 2009)
It’s 5.30am and the traffic is light and I can’t stop scratching this fricken mosquito bite on the inside of my left thigh and as I head to the gym to smash all my previous ‘personal bests’ I am almost vibrating with excitement and aggression and this is most likely the cause of a white flash of anger that overwhelms me when I see – through the rear vision mirror – that a Red Porche is hammering its way towards me in my 1989 faded red Toyota Corolla .
He’s going way too fast and the fact that he’s doing so is purely an expression of his desire to dominate me and I notice that he is not only speeding but also talking on his mobile phone and the arrogance this displays – and the danger he poses to the average motorist – gives my accelerator foot no choice but to hammer down hard.
Disappointingly, my Toyota Corolla has just reached 65 KPH as the Porche begins to disappear over a rise one hundred meters ahead and so I have to settle with ‘flipping the bird’ to his rear vision mirror but even that lacks oomph because I’m holding a Dictaphone in one hand and an IPod in the other and I am suddenly aware of the fact that I could only really be furious with his mobile phone-compromised driving if I was equipped with three or possibly four arms and so I sheepishly put the Dictaphone down.
Fuck him anyway. I am going to lift 300 kilograms and I’ll be doing it at a place where such a display of useless strength is much more impressive than a useless Porche and a useless suit and a useless pooncy gel-filled hair style.
This frickin mosquito bite itches and the more I itch the closer I get to drawing blood and this reminds me of how badly Archie was bitten last week at a family barbecue and how Lewis escaped unscathed which in turn reminds me of a story that Reservoir Mum told me and in order to remember this story so that I can blog about it later I pick up the Dictaphone again, press the record button and begin to recount the details.
‘Well,’ I say to the Dictaphone, ‘Reservoir Mum was at Nanny and Gramps’ house with the boys…’
I pull up to traffic lights. I suddenly feel like I’m being watched. As I turn to the right I see a middle-aged woman sitting in her car. She looks forward – rat-trap fast – when she realises I’ve caught her spying. I reason that she’s probably a bit freaked out by seeing a bald guy who is dressed in filthy, filthy powerlifting clothes while sitting in an old lady’s car and talking into a dated piece of electronic equipment and I like this very much and so wind down my window and talk loudly in her direction.
‘So, Reservoir Mum told me that Archie licked his fingers and said ‘Mummy I just licked my finger and it was tasty,’ and Reservoir Mum replied, ‘Don’t lick your finger Arch, you never know what’s on it.’
I look down momentarily as I scratch at my insect-inspired welt and see that I have created a rash that is approaching the outskirts of my nether-regions. When I glance to my right again I see that the woman is staring at me and shaking her head and I lose some of my previous confidence and feel just a tad self-aware and so speed off as fast as I can to get in front of her when the lights change. I get to about five kilometers above the speed limit and put some distance between us so that I can continue recounting the story.
‘And after a long pause Archie says…’ I say, to the Dictaphone.
Another red light allows me to go back to scratching around the mozzie bite’s edges, furiously – back and forth, up and down, round and round and damn it all to hell the woman has pulled up beside me again, this time on my left side. To my horror she goes right back to staring at me, with an expression on her face that makes me feel like I am a big pile of poo she’s just stepped in, but despite this I am determined to appear as if I am not intimidated by her and I continue,
‘Archie says, “Oh, I know why mozzies bite me Mum – it’s because I’m cool and mozzies don’t like you to be cool.” And Reservoir Mum says, “Maybe that’s it, Archie…”’
I turn the Dictaphone off and put it on the seat behind me as I once again race forward to get ahead of the staring woman and I’m feeling rattled – here I was psyched and ready to lift 300 kilograms and now after being attacked by the ‘Porche guy’ and the ‘staring woman’ I don’t even know if I have enough energy in the tank to pull 200.
Taking the Dictaphone I do my best to finish the story. ‘Um, then Archie, after licking his finger again, says, “Oh! No! Mum! I know why the mozzies bite me now! It’s because I’m so tasty!” and Lewis, who has remained quiet till this point, almost bursts from his car seat restraints to say, “Yeah! And I’m licky!”’
I am now convinced that hell has opened up and released this she-devil upon me. I am at the traffic light and she is beside me again. Her eyes burn into me and – having just watched Drag Me To Hell – I am approaching a level of fear-induced hysteria. I throw the Dictaphone down, turn to her and mouth, helplessly, the words ‘What do you want from me…’ and then, following her line of vision right down to my groin, I become horribly aware of what furiously itching that area of myself must look like to someone outside my car. I suddenly see that I am not just a bald guy dressed in filthy, filthy powerlifting clothes talking into a dated piece of electronic equipment. To the staring woman I am a bald guy – badly dressed, sitting in a rundown car – who is leering at a middle-aged woman, pleasuring himself and recording the moment for posterity, and that is just filthy filthy filthy.
When the lights change the staring woman takes off and I sit there watching the back of her head as it gets smaller and smaller and I feel just a tad under permanently humiliated.
A few blocks later she finally turns off and I drive on feeling safer, but weak and small, and as capable of a big deadlift as the anti-hero Strawberry Jelly Man – who is not an actual anti-hero but someone I made up just now to represent the drop in my physical power and intellectual esteem.
To prevent myself plummeting further into the realm of insignificance I shuffle through my IPod for something uplifting. The Dictaphone lies beside me like a dead bird. I have forgotten the rest of Reservoir Mum’s story, but she’ll remember, and the fact that I will blog about the funny things my kids say allows me to feel some justification for all the madness I draw into my life. One day they will love to read about the things they said and how I took the time to write about it. That’s what I’m hoping anyway.