When Tyson sees the golden arches of a McDonald’s Restaurant and yells, ‘Dick Donalds!’ Reservoir Mum and I look at each other and our matching expressions tell us it’s the first time that both of us have heard him say it.
When we finish laughing I say Dick Donalds? just to hear it again and then RM says Dick Donalds! because it really is addictive and just as we finish laughing for a third time Archie says, ‘Can we have McDonald’s?’ and I say, ‘No.’
‘I can’t believe he calls it Dick Donalds?’ RM says.
‘I know,’ I say, ‘Dick Donalds.’
We’ve just left the in-laws house and we’re heading over to the block in our sweet ride – a 2005 Toyota Tarago – to see how our new house is progressing. There’s a real excitement about completion, but I’m suppressing it in order to protect myself from the possibility of further delays. It’s been a crazy nine months. But we’re almost there.
After instructing Lewis to administer the dummy, RM says, ‘Here we go… why do you feel like Jerry Springer?’
‘Well, on the outside I appear calm and I’m asking all the right questions and I always come up with the wise words at the end of the show but I’m surrounded by lunacy and midgets and strange sexual fetishes and when I get back to my dressing room mirror I stare into my reddened quivering eyeballs and know that I’m one moment of weakness away from being consumed by it all… only I don’t have a dressing room, RM, you see? Because we live with your parents. I have nowhere to go…’
‘But you don’t know any midgets,’ she says.
‘Yes I do,’ I say, ‘We have a Tarago filled with them.’
RM looks back at our four crazy boys and pats my thigh before saying, ‘Well, you’re the only one with the strange sexual fetishes, Jerry…’
‘I’m not talking about my fetishes,’ I say, as Tyson screams out his desire to hear ‘We Are The Champions’ by Queen and Lewis counters by yelling his request for some Bruno Mars, ‘I’m talking about your mother’s.’
RM closes her eyes tightly and whispers something that sounds to me like find the happy place but I can’t quite make it out for the screaming contest going on behind us and so I point at the boys via the rear vision mirror and yell, ‘NO YELLING’ at them. I then tell them we’re listening to The Bangles and after shuffling through to ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ I nudge RM and say, ‘You’re a little bit scared – I get that – but you really want to ask me about your mother’s fetish, don’t you?’
She shakes her head and grimaces in a way that makes her look like she has no eyelids, which I take as a sign to continue, ‘Well, you know I’ve been hanging out your mother’s underwear on the clothes line for nine months now, right?’
‘Happy place…’ she whispers again.
‘But do you know she washes her bras in a zip-up cushion cover?’
RM’s eyes spring open and, disappointingly, she looks relieved. ‘Yeah. So? It’s supposed to protect them and make them last longer…’
‘Sure it is. I’m just saying there’s something a little saucy about coercing your strapping young son-in-law to your lawn on a sunny day and watching him dip his hand into your magic zip-up bag of shiny white braziers.’
RM pauses before saying, ‘Did you just say saucy?’
‘It’s a word that belongs to your Mother’s era. I thought it was appropriate.’
‘This is the Egyptian song!’ Archie says, from two rows back.
‘Well done, Archie,’ I say, as I jack up the volume and wind down the window. ‘Man, I will never get over this song. I was in Year 7 when this came out and I was in love with Tracey – who was in my class – and Susanna Hoffs – who was the lead singer in The Bangles and it was one of my most formative years where I discovered self-pleasure and…’
RM interrupts just as I’m gathering momentum to say, ‘How many times have I heard this story? You used to wiggle on your doona and then one day it just happened and you thought you were going to hell. I know everything about you.’
‘Tolerating self-absorption and repetition is part of being in a relationship…’ I say, a little hurt.
‘You just insinuated that my Mum has the hots for you…’
I sigh, ‘Okay, if you insist on continually bringing it up… all I’m saying is that I’m almost certain I saw the curtains move inside the house this one time I was dipping in to her bra bag.’
‘She’s always done that with her bras,’ RM says.
‘I’m not so sure,’ I say.
She rolls her eyes. ‘I know you’re just trying to get me to talk about sex again. Jesus, I don’t know how men get anything done…’
‘We get things done so that there’s the possibility that we might have some free time for sex at some point during the day or night…’
‘Bingo,’ she says. ‘Hey, you’re not thinking about blogging this conversation are you?’
‘Of course not,’ I say, as I start rocking my shoulders back and forth to mimic Tyson, who’s a real groover, ‘ because your Dad will read it and then he’ll call me a fricken perve.’
‘You are a perve,’ RM says.
I’m just about to sing along with Susanna Hoffs and change the lyrics to my usual ‘All the cocks in the donut shop’ but knowing RM will correct me with her usual, ‘It’s all the cops in the donut shop’ I resist the desire and say, ‘Being a perve in the context of our relationship is okay. You allow me that space. It’s one of the reasons I love you and laud you above all others. But, man, if everyone else knew…’
When I check the rear vision mirror again Archie, Lewis and Tyson are all rocking to the left and right in unison and it’s truly awesome. ‘Funny though, I was reading Woogs World the other day and she made the comment that every time she bends over to stack the dishwasher or pick up her clothes her husband appears and starts dry humping her… and then about 150 people commented about their own husband’s dry humping them and doing a heap of other crazy things like getting out of the shower and drawing attention to their penises by swiveling their hips and making 360’s…’
‘You do that all the time…’
‘I know,’ I say with enthusiasm, pleased we’re on the same page, ‘and it kind of made me feel that maybe I’m not such a perve, that this is just the reality of male sexuality, and that maybe I’m actually pretty normal… but then when I think on it a little further I have to accept that compared to all those comments …’
‘You’re still a freaky perve…’ RM says, finishing my sentence so that I only have to nod. ‘But you know what? I love that you’re always into me. It makes me feel good. And I love that you can tell me all your freaky thoughts. If all of a sudden you weren’t in to sex and weren’t coming up with freaky new things to try I’d start getting worried that something was wrong with you, or us, and that maybe you didn’t think I was sexy anymore…’
I place a finger on her lips, look into her eyes and say, ‘You had me at freaky perve.’
‘Hey,’ I say, as we turn into our street, ‘I was just thinking… later on tonight when we’re back at the in-laws… once the kids and your mother are asleep, and your father’s watching documentaries in the lounge room… you might be interested in ducking off to the bedroom for some Dick Donalds?’
‘There’s always a chance,’ she laughs. ‘You feel like some nuggets?’
‘That doesn’t sound… sexy,’ I say.
‘A fish burger?’
‘Oh my lord…’
‘Maybe you’d prefer a triple cheese burger?’
I can only shake my head and say, ‘Jesus, I thought I was the perve?’
As the boys rock the Tarago on it’s axels RM holds her hand out to me like Selma from Selma and Louise, and so I hold my hand out to her like Louise from Selma and Louise and we entwine our fingers and look out ahead as if we’re about to drive off a cliff.
But we’re not about to drive off a cliff at all. We’re in this for the long haul – RM and me and the boys. We’re a crazy family tumbling from one day to the next and staying strong against the wear and tear of a crazy world by staying together. Like a bag full of shiny white brassiers.