Learning to Love Soup
I hate soup but it’s the dish RM’s requested, and while I’m doing my best to be enthusiastic about making it I’m far too conscious of the fact that I’m really just trying to turn water into a meal, even though I’m wealthy enough to buy real food. RM is standing by the sink expressing milk with an electric pump, watching me. I suggest that we could try eating some nicely grilled grass-fed cow and then drink a glass of water afterwards but she won’t have it.
I can’t hide the fact that I’m annoyed. ‘Soup is Nana food,’ I tell her. ‘After I’ve finished cooking I’ll knit myself a nice blankie to hide my incontinence pad and keep my legs warm.’
I glance at her for a response but I get nothing and my gaze is drawn, predictably, to her boobs. They are being savagely handled by the electric breast pump and I am suddenly conscious of the fact that they have received a lifetime’s worth of attention at the hands of milk-sucking machines and children. I feel anxious as I wonder if I will be allowed any access at all when it’s finally my turn to handle them again.
As I begin to peel carrots I am taken over by a nightmarish image of myself waiting in line to sit on Santa’s lap. There are thousands of kids and machines ahead of me. I can’t take my eyes off his rosy-red cheeks and all I want to do is get close enough to squeeze them but as the hours and days pass and the line shortens and it’s finally my turn, Santa – who is just totally over all the attention – tells everyone that he’s going for a quick cigarette behind the carousel and we never see his rosy-red cheeks again.
I realise that to ensure RM doesn’t one day disappear behind a carousel I will have to hold her interest in me by maintaining my current level of sexiness for eternity, and as the dirty peel falls from the carrot and reveals the more appealing orange flesh beneath, I consider removing my shirt or perhaps even cooking in the nude to titillate the good lady wife.
As well as doing this I may also need to stop complaining about making soup as I’ve heard that constant complaining and sooky-ness can be a turn-off to some women. Also, I read an article that said sexiness to a woman is as much mental as it is physical, so I must remember to tell her how sexy I am, on an hourly basis, which will prove to be doubly effective because – yes – women are mental but they also like to talk a lot.
After removing my shirt I turn to her and say, ‘My abs are visible all the time now.’
I’m overwhelmed when she says, ‘I’ve noticed.’
‘Yes,’ I tell her, ‘it’s like I’m wearing armour.’
Wow. Turning on women seems effortless and I’m more than chuffed. I remove my pants to combine the visual with the mental and deliver the killer punch. I’m so pleased with myself that my imagination runs away from me and I see myself standing shoulder to shoulder with all the other Dads at the Northern Dads’ Group. We are dressed in leopard print loincloths and sexy young women are marching up and down, inspecting us carefully in order to bed the one they find most attractive. Again and again they choose me.
‘You know,’ I say to RM, ‘I’m certain, that if the whole Northern Dads’ Group was standing in a line wearing nothing but loincloths that most women would choose me as the most attractive.’
I am just about to put the carrot down when RM says, ‘I don’t know . . . Jack’s fairly good-looking.’
I suddenly feel cold. Jack is good-looking. He’s also very smart and – who the fuck knows? – he probably loves soup. Suddenly I see myself one back in the order of most attractive, and before I know it I’m comparing myself to each Dad individually. Simon is an artist and a teacher with a full head of hair. Dan helps the underprivileged and has a sexy English accent. Joe builds houses and lives in a nice leafy suburb. Kelvin is a librarian and knows a lot about books.
Tony is very exotic and champions women’s rights.
My confidence wanes as I realise that while I may outmuscle them all, and even break even with several of them when it comes to having things like a nicely shaped head or semi-dreamy eyes, I have to be honest with myself – I am being slaughtered when it comes to the mental side of sexy. Simon’s art and Dan’s sensitivity and Joe’s vision and Kelvin’s cataloguing genius and Tony’s awareness of female issues versus my blogging which, in all honesty, does nothing more than highlight my growing insanity and my constant desire to talk about myself.
I imagine that I am part of RM’s harem and all the other Dads are eating grapes in the bathing lounge and waiting to be summoned while I mop the hallways and try not to annoy everyone with my constant limping.
When I look down at the cutting board I see that I have absent-mindedly peeled the carrot into a thousand transparent slivers and fold my arms across my bare chest. I feel vulnerable and afraid.
As I pull on my clothes I consider the fact that being mentally sexy means not complaining about making soup and so I make the effort to stop this, immediately, but I try to be subtle about it by making up a story. ‘You know, when I was a boy a school bully poured soup on my crotch while I was sitting in the middle of the quadrangle and everyone called me soupy-pants for an entire year. Making this soup today has been hard but I feel that it has been necessary for me to let the incident go. I think I am ready to enjoy soup again.’
When I turn to her I see that she’s staring at me intently, and after a moment of deep reflection she says, ‘I think you’re mental.’
Bingo. I feel as if I am on the road to being sexy on multiple levels and have this confirmed when she reaches over, squeezes my butt and whispers, ‘I liked it better when you cooked naked.’
I watch her walk out the door minutes later and I can’t help but feel that, despite my obvious shortcomings, the world continues to turn just for me. I am inspired to clean harder and cook more creatively, and even start a regular time each week when we can eat takeaway and watch romantic comedies and have sex with each other.
In a rush of creative stimulation I make a pact with myself to write a manifesto on the differences between men and women and how a man can adjust to his domestic surroundings to ensure a passionate and joyful relationship.
I stare triumphantly at the water as it cooks in a big pot with the real food, and it’s as if the manifesto writes itself.
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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.