Hang Like a Man
Of all the clichés I hate, the image of the character staring up at the sky and seeing elaborate shapesin the clouds is the one that irks me the most, and if I happen to come across it in a book or a DVD or on a toilet cubicle wall I tear the page out, return the DVD or take my business to another cubicle.
Strange, then, that only a minute ago I was lying on the kids’ trampoline – freed from my child-rearing duties by Tania, heavily dulled by the first giant glass of wine, cooled by the evening breeze, covered in pork crackle pieces, neglectful of the many household chores that lay waiting inside, rocked to sleep by our growing backyard menagerie, which now amounts to two dogs, five chickens and two guinea pigs named Misty and Nugget – when the sudden sound of a bouncing ball caused me to flex at the hip and sit up rigid. I found myself pointing at a cloud, screaming, ‘Holy shit, that looks like a fucking Marlboro-smoking llama using a vending machine!’
Recovering my bearings, I turn left and right in a panic, hoping that I haven’t been seen or heard, but I see Jack – the young boy who lives next door – peering over the fence at me.
‘Could you get my ball?’ he asks.
Flustered, I fall awkwardly from the trampoline, collect his basketball, attempt twice to bounce it between my legs, hitting my foot both times. ‘Hey Jack . . . did you just hear that crazy . . . thing . . . that someone crazy . . . must have yelled from . . . close by here?’ I say.
With his ball tucked safely under one arm, he narrows his vision and stares at me, unconvinced. I offer an awkward, friendly smile.
‘You’re the funny man who hangs washing like a lady,’ he says and disappears behind the fence.
Even though I walk back to the trampoline, in my mind I claw my way there on my stomach, dragging my legs – actually two bloody stumps – behind me. I have now been wounded by a young boy, and even though it’s not the first time, it is the first time that the child has not belonged to me.
As I lie back on the trampoline, looking at the darkening sky and trying not to see shapes in the clouds – like the one that looks like twelve Maori dancers doing the haka, or the one that looks like a whale spanking a baby hippo with a walking stick – I see a cloud that I just can’t ignore, a cloud that looks like a bottle of my favourite shower gel, Radox for Men, complete with the raindrop-like, aesthetically pleasing shape and Pipeline wave image that adorns the easy-to-handle bottle.
As my mind drifts like a cloud to thoughts of Radox – the combination of sea minerals and herbal extracts that providea refreshing yet masculine fragrance – it occurs to me that my little friend next door might consider the use of a body wash – even one that has been dermatologically tested to deliver a skin-friendly, PH-balanced, soap-free wash – to also be more appropriate for a lady.
Hearing that Jack is still bouncing the ball around in his backyard, I decide that I need to nip this old-fashioned, backward, socially limiting belief system in the bud.
‘Hey Jack,’ I say, climbing to the top of the fence. He stops bouncing and eyes me warily. ‘Lots of men use skincare products these days, you know, even football players, truckies. I know a bloke named Daniel who’s a powerlifter – benches like 250kg – and he uses a skin exfoliator that helps him maintain his youthful complexion. And there’s a builder I know, Rohan, who uses a cleansing exfoliator by L’Oreal Paris. I mean, this guy built his own house for Christ’s sake. The point is, Jack, the world is a large and varied place, and your opinion on skincare produ–’
Another cloud – a cloud of dread – passes over me as I realise that I have just been talking to a child about a conversation that only ever occurred inside my head. As the humiliation reaches its crescendo and I watch him edging away towards his back door, a strange sense of calm washes over me and I say with authority, ‘I don’t hang washing like a lady, Jack. I hang it like a man.’
Jack disappears inside his house and as the slamming door echoes out into the night and the moon takes over from the sun to bathe my face in its silvery glow, I look up at her and say, ‘Like a man, Moon. I hang like a man,’ confident in the knowledge that I am part of a growing movement of men – a revolution – who are making the world a better place, a fairer place, by tearing away at the established order, one old-fashioned opinion at a time.
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‘If David Sedaris had got married and had kids, he would have been Reservoir Dad. Fall-on-the-floor funny, sharp, witty and just a little bit sexy.’ ~ Kerri Sackville, Best Australian Blog 2013 judge
A sharply funny, fresh and irreverent chronicler of real life in today’s parenting trenches, Reservoir Dad is a stay-at-home dad whose award-winning blog has already won hearts and minds all over Australia and beyond for telling it like it is and making us laugh out loud – and sometimes cry, but in a good way.