*Continued from Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone
The pick up from the airport is several kinds of madness starting with the wrapped-in-a-straight-jacket-talking-to-the-wall kind because the traffic is intense and Maki fell asleep as I did the one minute pick-up area on loop, several times, before finally spotting RM and Tyson.
Tyson is so red-eye-tired and laughing so outrageously as I swing open the door of the Tarago that I suggest to RM that we drive him straight to rehab as a subtle way of asking her if the Sydney way of life has turned him into an ice addict.
After plead-threatening with Lewis to hold off on reclaiming his role as the wick-lighter to the Tyson bomb for just thirty more minutes we hit the highway and head back home and RM and I spend several minutes doing our best to focus on Tyson. I’m using my most engaging voice to ask him all about his fun trip with Mum – the Sydney Zoo, the Ferry ride, the night time light show – while RM is simultaneously feeding him a whole packet of plain rice crackers to distract him from waking Maki but it’s clear once he starts yelling out and squeals a few times that his attention span is just about fritzed out and so I tune in my iPhone to the Tarago’s entertainment system and attempt to serenade him with one of his favourite songs (and mine) Hot Stuff by Donna Summers.
It seems to be working because he’s pumping a fist in the air and opening and closing his jaw to the beat in such a way that I can’t help but nod along with him for a moment and think, seriously, that I love his SPD spurred behaviour in some way.
‘He was so good for most of the weekend,’ she says. ‘But then he just started to spiral out of control from about lunch time today, when we were at the beach, and by the time we got to the airport to come home he was doing that oppositional defiance stuff and everything was a fight or a meltdown and… he really needs a good sleep.
‘Yeah,’ I say. ‘Think of the sensory overload…the flight to and from Sydney, the Zoo, the day at the beach… he was always going to struggle at some stage.’
We pull into the driveway and the familiar swoosh of the Tarago doors swinging open acts like a starter gun and we’re transporting Maki to bed and whisper-walking the boys inside and the bed time ritual is on rapid-fire as we order Archie and Lewis to the kitchen for last meals and talk Tyson into his pyjamas and there are Nerf Guns being confiscated in the bathroom and skateboards being turfed into the hallway as we supervise teeth-cleaning and all the while Tyson is throwing in sleepy-slurred randomness like, ‘I went for a ride on the fairy’ or referring to his cousin by saying, ‘I love Amelia… we played Minecraft’ and all of a sudden RM and I are in Tyson’s bed, and as the muffled sounds of Lewis and Archie fighting over a game of Uno reaches across the hall through two closed doors, RM holds up her phone to show me some photos of her and Tyson in Sydney and it’s only then that I remember the 70s love ballad I mimed for her.
I’m so enthused by the potential it has to lift her after the tough ride home from Sydney that I sit up with the snap of a mouse trap and say, ‘Hey, did you like the video I made for you?’
‘What video?’ she says.
‘You didn’t see it?’ I say. ‘With the ukulele? I shared it on my Reservoir Dad Facebook Page. I think it’s pretty good. It got some really positive comments. It might even get some awards…’
‘You should tag me in when you do that,’ she says, as she opens Facebook on her phone and brings up my page.
‘I wanna see it, Dad!’ Tyson yells, loud enough to make Maki stir in the bed beside us.
‘There it is,’ I say, as RM, Tyson and I stare at an image of me wearing a David Boundy approved beanie. My eyes are closed and my mouth is open, mid croon, and the first thing that comes to mind is that I look, well, drunk, and a lot greener then I expected, kinda like a homeless Kermit the Frog.
‘Oh dear’ RM says, eyes wide with fear, as she hits play on the video I stayed up till 1.30 in the morning, and used every ounce of love in my body to make for her.
‘We’re not even one sentence into my moving intro before RM says, ‘Oh my God you sound so drunk?!’
‘Well I was drunk,’ I say, as I watch myself singing the first lines to the classic Bill Withers classic Ain’t No Sunshine. ‘I was feeling pretty relaxed and had a few vodkas while watching Zoolander with Archie and Lewis and, you know, one thing led to another and I then I got to the boys to bed and started listening to music and had a few more vodkas and… possibly a few more after that…’
‘HAHAHA!’ Tyson laughs as we watch the pure effort and raw emotion I put into the lyrics, It’s not warm when she’s away.
‘… and then I just, you know, was thinking of you,’ I say, continuing with my explanation. ‘And decided to tape myself singing for you… a little bit…’
‘HAHAHA,’ Tyson laughs.
‘I don’t think that’s such a good look, is it?’ she says, smiling and frowning and looking like she wants to run away all at the same time. ‘People will think you’re just a regular… drunk…’
‘Well I do get drunk… sometimes,’ I say, a little defiant. ‘And not in a regular way either. I do it spectacularly. It’s not such a big deal is it?’
‘Daddy!’ Tysons yells, as the video shows me miming, This house just ain’t no home. ‘HAHAHAHA!’
‘I mean, God, is it so unusual to get drunk by yourself on a Saturday night and to record yourself miming songs for your wife and to share it on your Facebook page so that everyone can see it before you’ve even have a chance to reconsider the idea soberly?
‘Well,’ RM says. ‘I’ve never done it.’
‘Yeah and I’ve noticed,’ I say. ‘Would it hurt every now and again if you grabbed a bottle of vodka and a Ukulele and told Facebook how you feel about me?’
RM laughs a little at that one and Tyson’s smiling with his eyes closed now, on the verge of exhaustion, and so I lower my voice to a whisper just as we watch me string several I know’s together skilfully, and say, ‘I mean, you have to admit… I mime pretty well.’
RM tilts her head and purses her lips and says, ‘You’ve missed a few words…’ and it’s her harsh critique of my performance the stings so much – over and above the public humiliation of appearing drunk and love struck in public – that leads me to pick up my iPhone to delete the video from my Facebook feed.
‘There,’ I say. ‘I’ve eradicated some of my art. I’ve been censored. Silenced. Rendered mute and unoriginal. One stop closer to being another passable dispensable pawn for a society that favours, I don’t know… Bran over… Fruit Loops…’
The rage in my rant is diffused somewhat when RM says, ‘You’re pretty good at miming…’
‘Did you like the video?’ I whisper.
‘Thanks,’ I say. ‘I know I was a little bit slurry, a little bit David Hasslehoff eating hamburger off the floor, but I still thought you’d think it was… sweet. I mean, even while I was drunk, sitting by myself in the computer room, listening to some 70’s classics, fake-playing a ukulele, actually having a really really great time, I was still thinking of you.’
‘It was a good song choice,’ RM says, as she climbs over me and heads out to start Archie and Lewis on the road to Slumberville while I stay to ensure Tyson is well and truly asleep. ‘But maybe you should run your love videos by me before you share them on the Facebook from now on.’
‘Maybe,’ I say.
Just as I’m getting a little forlorn at the prospect of hiding one of my obvious skills from the world RM stops before pulling the door shut and whispers, ‘It was your intro, when you were speaking into the camera, that you sounded most drunk,’ and a thrill courses through me because I can only take her comment as permission to publish my crooning love song on my website – for mass appreciation, for eternity – as long as I edit out the David-Hasselhoff-like intro.
And after laying beside Tyson, rubbing my hand over his back for another minute, wondering if his SPD just means he’s more likely than most to be a rock star or an artist or an obsessive world class gymnast, I decide that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
But before you marvel at my passionate performance, listen to the love in the deleted intro…
Hello thish’sh for my wife. RM. Love you. I can’t shing like you can and I can’t play any guitarsh… I can’t play any instrumentsh at all but I can just sing along to some of the greatsh in the world, jush like bashillions of othersh. And just becaush you’re away from me thish weekend and I really mish you… thish’s my song for you… ready?