Saturday Afternoon, 4.30
We’re at the National Non Fiction Writers Festival, and Reservoir Mum’s looking radiant after returning to our complimentary hotel room from a swim in the heated pool.
While she’s been doing laps downstairs I’ve been drinking vodka, watching Foxtel’s music station MAX and watching myself sing in the excellently placed mirror, just like I used to when I was in high school.
I was super-thrilled when I Want Your Sex came on because it made me aware of two things 1) George Michael was a very talented performer and did us all a favour by distancing himself from Wham partner Andrew Ridgeley, and 2) I really want to have sex tonight.
The possibility of sex is extremely high because all four of our gorgeous, sweet, cock- blocking children are staying at Nanny and Gramps’s house tonight which means RM and I can live it up like heathen bug-eyed pigs in a five star mud-pit of tongue-lolling irresponsibility and, far out, the more I drink the better that discription sounds.
When RM disappears into the shower I test the springs on the king-size mattress with a body slam and before the after-bounce has even subsided I have opened the Youtube app of my iPhone to wait for her to return in the knee high boots and silver-studded leather domination suit my imagination is currently dressing her in, and several minutes are lost in resultant awe thanks to that mental image merging with the YouTube clip of Sweet Transvestite.
When RM finally comes out wrapped in a complimentary white towel, drying her hair, I’m watching an interview with Rocky Horror Picture Show legend Tim Curry, circa 1975.
‘Oh my God,’ she says. ‘Are you watching Tim Curry again?’
‘Yes. He was magnificent,’ I say, holding out my phone just as he says, Frank-n-furter was such a strong character. He threatened to take me over really…
‘Pffft, he’s such an artist…’ RM says, her eyes rolling with such force as she says artist that I imagine her as a sexy warm poker machine. ‘And you’re such an artist as well. Why don’t you just admit it?’
‘What? I’ve never hidden that from you…’
‘No, I mean admit it to everyone. Stop hiding behind this country boy, weightlifting pretence and just let everyone know that you’re an artistic soul and you want to save the whales and the trees…’
I start to say, ‘I’m not really into whales…’ but I stop because she wraps her hair in the towel, Quickie-Mart turban style, and then opens the towel covering her torso to deliberately show me her wares. When she covers herself up again I jump to my knees, wide-eyed, wanting more, whimpering like a hungry puppy that just heard a can-opener puncture a tin of dog food.
‘I really want to have sex tonight,’ RM says. ‘But if we wait till after the writers festival party…’
‘That’s what I was thinking,’ I say, pouring myself a vodka as I run to close all the curtains and turn on one of the bedside lamps. ‘We don’t want to risk dampening down sex with alcohol and kebabs.’
RM lays down on the bed and – probably triggered by the bed-side lamp – says, ‘I was impressed you bought new down lights for the hallway at home’ as I grab the remote and turn up the volume on the TV so we can thrash about passionately to some 80s and 90s classics.
‘I didn’t,’ I say.
‘But the light over the piano’s working now.’
‘Yeah,’ I say, slightly distracted by looking into the mirror and piecing together several visual elements that together remind me of the shower scene in Pyscho. ‘Oh… I didn’t buy new lights. I was taking a photo of my underwear under the piano, for a blog post, and needed brighter lighting, so I took one of the globes from the lounge room and put that in the hallway.’
‘So, you’re telling me that we’ve needed a new globe in the hallway for several months, but that it took a blog post for you to do something about it. And that even then you couldn’t find the motivation to buy more globes?’
After taking a photo of myself in the mirror, to catch all those raunchy, serial killer, visual elements, I say. ‘Basically, I had to darken one part of our lives to brighten another.’
‘Oh my God, that is such an artist thing to say,’ RM says, as Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel comes on.
‘There are a lot of things to do as a stay at home parent slash artist,’ I say. ‘Getting globes just seems like so much effort.’ I stop to pour myself another vodka as we watch Michael Jackson and a bunch of male dancers stalking – basically harassing – a single woman in a dark deserted city landscape. ‘Wow, I haven’t seen this clip for a while.’
‘Yeah,’ RM says. ‘It almost seems… creepy.’
‘In an artistic way,’ I say.
When I start removing my shirt RM claps her hands, points at me and says, ‘Strip tease. Yeah baby!’
It’s my turn to roll my eyes. ‘I was always going to do a strip tease,’ I say.
I’m moving my hips and dipping at the knees and turning around to slowly lower my jeans and then I peer at her between my legs to say, ‘I think about the globes we need almost every day but it’s just so… complicated.’ I stop to rocket back to an upright position and put my hands on my hips. As I look over my shoulder at the smiling RM, who’s reducing my worth to a mere sex object, I bounce each buttock, one at a time, to the music. ‘I mean, I’d have to take a globe down and then take it to a Bunnings guy and try to talk to him while Maki and Tyson are singing their usual, Bloody Swearhouse instead of Bunnings Warehouse and… let’s just face it… truth is… I’m not so good at this…’
RM’s eyes are glowering, lips glistening, left hand pulsing beside her as if in search of a large kitchen knife. ‘You’re saying you’re not a good stay at home dad?’
‘Oh I’m good,’ I say, gyrating out of my undies and kicking them at her like a sexy Cuban drug mule and just missing her face. ‘I’m just saying you’d do the stay at home thing better. The reality is – and we both know this – you would be a better stay at home parent, the house would be more organised, all the globes would be firing… and to flip that over… you’re also the better earner.’
‘Now you’re just getting all dramatic again. You know that’s not true…’ she says.
‘Oh, it’s true. This isn’t a man or woman thing here,’ I say, really shaking it now because I’ve had a third of a bottle of vodka – the equivalent of seven standard drinks. ‘This is a me and you thing. In terms of a partnership, I’m filling in the gaps here.’
After all the harassing and stalking and singing and dancing The Way You Make Me Feel ends with the woman approaching Michael Jackson and taking him in an affectionate embrace. ‘Oh, that’s lovely,’ I say, seriously moved, in an intoxicated kind of way.
‘Yeah, she really wanted it after all!’ RM says, with a slow blink. ‘You’re not playing second fiddle. You’re good at being a stay at home Dad. You’re just having one of your moments…’
‘Hey, I’m happy,’ I say. ‘I’m just admitting to being a distracted, unfocussed, practically-challenged artist, like you said I should. This, for me, is a moment of pure happiness.’
When I attempt an awkward Moonwalk to the side of the bed, taking a bit of carpet burn to my big toe, RM grits her teeth and partially unwraps herself again and, dear lord, my mouth hasn’t watered like this since my last chocolate eclair.
‘We wouldn’t be here right now…’ she says, as I wipe my chin, as my teeth seem to elongate and sharpen. ‘… if it wasn’t for your writing. We wouldn’t have new cars turning up in the driveway. That little bit extra cash. Or the fun of not knowing what’s going to happen from one day to the next…’
‘Writing,’ I say. ‘It’s the only thing I do which seems to suggest I… have some talent for something…’
The dark light and unfamiliar room and the strange silence that gives our lust a chance to scream and the unpredictable night with writers and artists ahead is like a throwback to days without constant order and routine, when we collected each other from train stations and spent weekends in bed gritting our teeth and taking whatever we wanted from each other.
This moment is significant enough to turn up in future conversations. This woman is the only person I measure my worth against and the fact that she accepts me wholly and comes so delectably packaged makes me want to weep like a child or shriek like a pterodactyl.
Some people find transcendence under a waterfall, or at the altar of self-sacrifice, or under the influence of their favourite drug, or while closing their eyes and encountering the face of God. I find transcendence in RM; her soul, her soft warm skin, and yes, her boobies. When RM removes her towel completely, we are both together, unbound. I take hold of her right leg and roll her over.
‘What are you doing?’ she whispers.
‘I don’t want us to do this like everyone else,’ I say, as I change my mind, roll her back, and take hold of two pillows and find the thrill of terror in her purposeful sneer. ‘I have a unique vision.’
‘Hurry up then’ she says, raking her nails down my bare thigh. ‘You dirty little artist.’
Sunday Morning, 8.20
When I lift my head from the pillow my gaze falls on the discarded wrapping of a devoured kebab and then to RM, who’s shaking her hair free from the complimentary white towel after a shower. There’s a spasm in the centre of my vision which makes me squint and draw forefinger and thumb across my eyelids to pinch at the bridge of my nose.
Wow. This hangover is significant enough to turn up in future conversations.
When the blur clears RM is smiling at me, amazing.