It’s 8.30PM and we’ve just finished cleaning the house after a long day celebrating Maki’s first birthday. I’m sitting on the couch wearing a pair of green and red chequered pyjama pants and a stylish Rip Curl T-shirt and flicking through some of the party pictures I snapped with my iPhone.
As Channel 9’s House Husbands begins, Reservoir Mum raises her eyebrows and clucks her tongue at me like she’s beckoning a horse over for a feed and it suddenly occurs to me that the Reservoir Dad regulars aren’t the only ones who expect a seduction scene in every one of my reviews.
‘I feel weird tonight,’ I say, as I linger on an image of Maki in front of his birthday cake. ‘You look just as sexy as always but tonight… I think I just want a cuddle.’
RM smiles and says, ‘I’m going to call an ambulance. You must be having a stroke.’
Usually I would jump on that line with a tasteless sex-based joke and include it in tonight’s review but the fact that I just let it slide convinces me Maki’s birthday has given me a libido-smothering attack of the happysads.
‘I can’t believe Maki’s one year old,’ I say, in a choked whisper.
RM considers me carefully and then asks. ‘What are you drinking?’
‘The left over ‘girl drinks’ from the party,’ I tell her, holding up a bottle of Pink Champagne. ‘Your sister-in-law said its good for a quick buzz but I’ve drunk half a bottle and all I want to do is put on some bunny slippers and hear the crinkly sound of foil being torn off a block of chocolate.’
‘Oh dear,’ RM says, shuffling over and leaning against me.
Episode Seven of House Husbands opens at breakfast time in the Oliver Household. Mark and Abi are discussing Harmony Day – an event to be held at Poppy’s school where parents bring a plate of food to class to celebrate Melbourne’s cultural diversity.
‘You should try some Pink,’ I say to RM, expecting a quick refusal. Apart from one night several years ago, after she finished her PhD, RM has never drank alcohol of any sort. So I am super-surprised (and at any other time of the week would be a hot-blooded quivering mess) when she takes my half-full glass and has a sip.
The broken zip on Poppy’s uniform sets the scene for some tension in the relationship between working Mum, Abi and stay at home Dad, Mark. Poppy insists that only Dad can fix it and there’s some believable back and forth and good natured teasing before Dad gets his hand on the zip and gets the job done.
The tension is understated but it’s been rolling along and gathering speed for a few episodes and it’s about to accumulate enough mass to impact on their strong relationship. ‘I’m really upset about this,’ I say to RM. ‘Abi’s struggling to live up to an idea of ‘Mum’ that’s not relevant to her family’s life, and Mark’s being quick-sanded by the old world’s idea of what it means to be a ‘man’. It’s all bullshit. They should just keep focussing on each other and doing what they’re doing…’
RM slips a hand past the waist band of my pyjama pants as Mark is having a meltdown inside a strip joint. He’s convinced one of the strippers actually thinks ‘he’s cute’ and when he rings Abi to gloat, he discovers she has a male colleague over at their house. He’s feeling all stereotypically emasculated and actually screams out ‘WHO AM I?’ in the tradition of great cinematic characters like Spiderman and Derek Zoolander.
Adding to my already fragile and emotional state of mind is the fact that last week’s multiple-episode preview hinted that Mark cheats on Abi. Every one of their scenes is now heavy with the approaching betrayal.
‘I just won’t be able to handle it… if Mark cheats on Abi,’ I say.
‘It’d be weird,’ RM says, just as Kane, Mark and Lewis are being thrown out of The Bullhorn Gentlemen’s Club. ‘The way they’ve written Mark and Abi’s relationship to this point makes it almost unbelievable.’
When I look over at RM I notice my half-full glass of Pink champagne is now empty.
‘Shit, are you feeling a buzz?’ I ask.
She stares at me like I’m an immense blinding spotlight paralysing her corneas. ‘I think so,’ she says, amazed. ‘If you’re going to seduce me tonight… this is the time to do it.’
This is the time to do it! I say to myself, with conviction, but my unrelenting sex drive continues to relent more than I’m used to. RM is leading me through a one-handed-pants-dance and even though it does feel nice it’s more like back-rub nice. I think all I really want is a cuddle.
Minutes pass but, damn-it-all-to-hell, every time RM’s manipulations are on the verge of reawakening my sexual desire, Firass Dirani’s character Justin does something to distract me from the task at hand. I just can’t warm to him. His relationship with his children is on the line and he lies to his current girlfriend, rushes into a strip joint to speak to the woman who was a major factor in the breakdown of his marriage, steals a mobile phone from a man with a violent history and continues to act as if he’s a chromosome away from the feeling level of a real human being.
‘I am just not convinced that Justin really wants custody of his kids,’ I say. ‘I mean, if I had to stop acting like a dickhead to make sure I got to see Archie and Lewis and Tyson and Maki every day I would stop acting like a dickhead almost immediately…’
RM breathes deeply and exhales.
‘Can you believe Maki is one already, RM?’ I say. ‘How did that happen? It went so fast and I can hardly remember any of it… do you think we took enough photos?’
‘This isn’t going to work,’ she says, putting her arms around me and hugging. ‘You’re awash with the wrong hormones. You’re all hot and maternal.’
‘It’s the wrong type of hot,’ I agree, hugging her back.
‘Maybe you should go write your review…’
‘Yeah,’ I say. ‘Do you think I should say anything about Maki’s birthday?’
‘Yep,’ she says. ‘And you should include that photo of you with Poppy (Lily Jones). She was so good tonight.’
*I am related to Lily Jones but this does not change the fact that she is a STAR! (and just a really cool kid)