Today’s news was as exciting as any I’ve ever received because after two months of negotiations with Random House Australia, Truce Films have acquired the rights to my book Reservoir Dad, and they’re going to adapt it into a feature length film.
The contract has been written up and is awaiting my signature and I’ve been celebrating since picking the boys up from school, having a drink while adorning the clothes horse, having a drink while making dinner, having a drink through a riotous dinner-time of dropped forks and food refusals and cross the table cock-fighting that almost gave me a stroke, and yet another drink after Reservoir Mum got home from work as we high-fived and corralled the boys through showers and baths and into their pyjamas.
It was as I was taking some sopping towels to the laundry that I shouted out, ‘Right, bed and teeth… I mean… teeth and bed’ and it was only when RM shouted, ‘It’s only six thirty’ that I said, ‘Wow,’ surprised to be ahead of schedule despite the whoop and holler of our news.
When I caught RM on the way back down the hall and said, ‘Hey, I haven’t had a shower in two days, do you mind if I have thirty minutes of me-time?’, RM smacked me on the cracker and said, ‘Sure.’
The producers of Truce Films, Michael Ciccone and Jim Wright, and the director Nicholas Clifford came to our house several weeks ago and we got along well and I’m wrapped that they want me to be involved in the treatment stage of the process and that’s why I just spent ten minutes more on the toilet than I needed to, having another drink and listening to music, distracted by my own book, wondering what scenes will be pulled out for the film, what will be adapted, what will be left out, what I still might have to contribute to fill in gaps in the story.
Right now I’m staring at myself in the mirror wondering why my reflection makes me feel like there’s someone else in the ensuite with me and settling on the fact that it’s either because I’m drunker than I thought, or because I haven’t been alone in a bathroom since our first born wailed into the world over ten years ago.
As if the Universe is trying to prove my point, Lewis – our second born – throws open the ensuite door just as I’m stripping down for the shower listening to Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ and says, ‘Haha. Daddy’s willy.’
‘If Michael Jackson wasn’t dead,’ I say. ‘I reckon he would be the perfect person to play you in the movie.’
Lewis looks at me for a full second of stunned silence before pulling some futuristic dance moves that are seriously way before his time and then runs off saying, ‘I’ll go tell Mum!’
Once I’ve closed the door again I turn back to the mirror and do my best to pull the same moves but it’s hopeless because, you know… kids these days Snapchatting and chroming in their baggy pants… and anyway I don’t want to rain on my eight year olds parade by making him look like an amateur and so I bang out five seconds of the Cabbage Patch before taking a few steps towards the mirror, until I’m almost touching noses with my reflection, and say, ‘Hey, RD, what the fuck is going on?’
My reflection holds my gaze, with such intensity that I almost look away, and says, ‘They’re making a movie about your life. That’s some crazy shit. But what did you expect?’
‘That is some crazy shit,’ I say, as the door’s thrown open again and Tyson and Maki rush in.
‘Daddy,’ Tyson says. ‘Who’s me in the movie?’
‘Ummm, someone loud and full-on like… Chris Farley… oh shit, he’s dead as well… bummer… okay… how about Adam Sandler?’
Even though Tyson has no idea who Adam Sandler is he claps his hands together several times in a way that makes me wince. ‘Okay Dad!’
‘And me, Daddy?’ three year old Maki says, jumping on the spot as I reach into the shower and turn on the hot tap full bore.
‘Christina Applegate,’ I say, suddenly aware – but nowhere near surprised – that my alone time has had three of my four children in it already. ‘Or Al Pacino. Or… well you’ve got a huge head like your Gramps… so maybe Bert Newton… or, hey, how about one of the Octonauts?’
‘Okay,’ Maki says, loudly, clapping to be like his slightly older brother before peeking around my thigh to get a better look at what I’ve got going on downstairs. ‘When I get big… I get a big willy too?’
‘You will get a big willy,’ I say.
‘And when Daddy gets little he gets a little willy,’ he says, like he’s explaining basic math to someone who already understands basic math, as he follows Tyson out of the bathroom.
I’m sliding under that hot stream of water like it’s a cone of silence promising me just a few more minutes of swirling in semi-drunk amazement about the movie thing but just as I lean back so that the sweet scorching water-fingers start trailing behind my ears and down my neck and over my shoulders, Reservoir Mum walks in, drops the toilet seats down noisily, looks at my willy and says, ‘Hey, how you doin?’
‘Wow,’ I say. ‘Instead of trying to decide what actors are going to play each of us in the movie, we should start working our who’s going to play my penis. He seems to be the main character in this story.’
‘Gonzo from The Muppets?’ RM says.
‘Shut up,’ I say, laughing.
When I say ‘How about Mike Myers… dressed as Dr Evil?’ I realise I’ve set myself up for a punch line but in my panic I just can’t mouth the name I’m after before RM smiles triumphantly and says, ‘More like Mini Me.’
‘Haha! Ouch. Yep. Okay. Can somebody get Maki back in here,’ I say. ‘But seriously, Hugh Jackman would do a pretty good Reservoir Dad I reckon.’
‘Might stretch the budget a bit,’ RM says, as I lather my bald head with her shampoo just so I can stare at her like she’s tucked twenty bucks into my G-string. ‘But,’ she continues. ‘It’s more likely to be someone more… affordable, like Shane Jacobson from that movie… um… Kenny… about cleaning toilets… or Rhys Muldoon.’
‘Can’t possibly be Kenny,’ I say, gyrating my hips a little as I put my head right under the water, trying to hid the fact that the shampoo is stinging the hell out of my eyeballs right now. ‘He’s on a par with me in terms of good-looking… ness. In the movies… they only hire actors who are much better looking than the real life characters they’re playing. That’s why they’ll never make a movie about Hugh Jackman or Channing Tatum because there’s no one better looking than those two.’
There is nary a pause between RM asking, ‘So who would play me then?’ and me realising I’ve backed myself into another corner.
‘Oh…’ I say, (well, shit). ‘Um… I guess you’d just have to play yourself. Or they might have to make an exception in your case, and settle for an uglier person. Someone like… just off the top of my head… Scarlett Johansson… or Katy Perry?’
‘I can see what you’re trying to do,’ RM says, smiling, (thankfully). ‘Hey, turn around right away and start washing your butt cheeks.’
Even though I know RM is using me for her own selfish pleasure right now, the thought occurs to me that her command makes sense because my butt cheeks are probably more hirsute than my actual head and therefore more in need of a good shampooing, and it’s as I’m jigging under the shower a little, giving RM full view of the junk in my trunk, that I think of the movie Mike XXL and consider the possibility that Channing Tatum might actually be a better fit to play me in the movie instead of Hugh Jackman, but when I turn around to tell RM this I’m distracted by the lustful look in her eye.
She’s staring at me – almost zombie-drooling – like I’m a man-sized bar of chocolate, and suddenly I have an idea to that is guaranteed to get women running to ‘Reservoir Dad The Movie’ in droves.
‘God, listen to this,’ I say, as I turn off the shower and step out into the steamy bathroom. ‘What if everyone in our family was played by grown-up, adult, extremely good-looking male actors.’
‘What?’ RM says, as the sound of four boys destroying things comes from down the hall.
‘Imagine this,’ I say. ‘Tyson – played by Channing Tatum – trips over and scrapes his knee, and RD – played by Hugh Jackman – runs over to soothe and cuddle and stroke him!’
‘Are you finished with the celebratory drinks?’ RM says, smiling in a kind of amazed way.
‘Or… after a romantic Date Night and an intense sex scene Reservoir Dad – played by George Clooney – rolls off Reservoir Mum – played by Vin Diesel – and whispers, ‘So, that was great, do you want me to finish you now?’ I mean, the whole cinema will be screaming, ‘Oh my GOD, RM! Let him finish you! Just say YES!’
‘Okay let’s put a lid on it!’ RM laughs, as I try to flick her with my towel. After she catches the end of the towel and wraps it around my neck, she says. ‘It is pretty crazy though isn’t it? That they want to make a movie based on our lives?’
‘My reflection convinced me that it’s not so crazy,’ I say, glancing back at myself in the mirror for support. ‘I mean, what did you expect?’
‘What?’ RM says. ‘How about a quiet life in the suburbs?’
‘Why not make a movie about our lives,’ I say, as I start towelling myself down, but in an honest way; without trying to titillate anyone. ‘Before my quiet poo and shower got interrupted several times by my own family, I was reading my book on the toilet right there, and… do you remember the paragraph at the end of the chapter “My Backyard”? The paragraph that left me slobbering and crying like a baby on stage at my book launch last year?’
‘Hard to forget,’ she says, shuddering a little, as Magic by Olivia Newton John becomes the backdrop for an unexpected, potentially romantic moment.
‘Well, I think it pretty much sums up my emotions and thoughts about everything,’ I say. ‘My family… our life together… why I’ve kept writing about us for so long. Do you know what I mean?’
‘Here,’ I say, leaning on the toilet and picking the book off the ground. ‘Read it to me?’
‘Can I do it later?’ RM says, opening the door so that it’s impossible to ignore the sound of laughter and screaming and teasing intermingling with objects striking the walls and splashbacks, and scooters skidding over the floorboards.
‘Please!’ I say, drowning our children out. ‘God knows I don’t ask you for much!’
‘Okay!’ RM says, closing the door and opening the book.
‘Go to the top of page 135. Start at “It puts me right in the middle of the story…”’
She breathes, closes her eyes for a two count, and then picks up from where I left off. ‘And I’m hanging on his every word… Tyson will wake up and soon and Archie and Lewis will fight, and then befriend each other, and then fight again, and the house will have to be cleaned, and I will battle thought the lack of sleep, and a million dramas will unfold in front of me in a matter of minutes, but it’s okay. These are my people and the story I’m telling about them is as exotic as any – it reaches through past, future and present, and offers me a place that has everything and, as far as I can tell, inside and outside, it is a story that has no end.’
When RM looks up from the book I whisper, ‘So you see? Do you see what I’m saying? Why not a movie about our lives, RM? Why… not?’
‘I can’t believe you’re crying again,’ RM says, pushing me in the chest and then leaning forward to kiss me. ‘No more drinks you crazy bastard.’
After she leaves I turn back to my reflection and notice the wrinkles around my eyes and how my blue eyes seem a little deeper in the sockets then they used to and… shit, my ears even look larger… and there’s no question that a lot has happened in the last ten years, and that I’ve aged in a noticeable way, but it’s okay because I know better than any movie star that time is an indifferent beast and that even mouth-watering Hugh Jackman – who will eventually be forced to play me for basically no financial reward – has aged as well.
It’s time to get the boys to bed and I’m just about to ask my reflection a final question – so that it can push me past that last shred of disbelief – when Archie swings open the door of the ensuite.
I’m certain he’s about to ask me who’s going to play him in the movie and so I say, ‘Johnny Depp, Archie. Johnny Depp.’
‘Huh,’ Archie says. ‘Lewis and me want to play you and Mum in Uno.’
‘Oh okay,’ I say, as I look down at Mini Me, who’s shaking his head at me, amazed at how up myself I’ve become all of a sudden. ‘I’ll be out soon.’