Reservoir Dad’s Adventures in Phuket – Flight Of The Wolf
We’re a thousand kilometres above the Indian Ocean, on our way to a two week holiday in Phuket where I’ll be a groomsman at the wedding of close high school buddy, Todd.
If Tania hadn’t insisted on turning this into a family holiday I would have made it a four- or five-day solo trip because I’m more of a homebody and if I get the urge for some culture I usually take it in the form of watching topless Papua New Guineans weaving baskets on the internet.
My first and only trip overseas was to Mauritius for our honeymoon. When we stepped onto the tarmac back home I slapped my hands in relief and felt that all zero of my dreams and desires to travel had been realised.
Tania, on the other hand, has been overseas several times, starting with a trip to her father’s home country, Rome, when she was only five, and is constantly looking for excuses to book her next flight. Buying her magazines, downloading whole TV series, even the surprise gift of a year’s membership to the local lawn bowls club has done nothing to distract her.
Our air time has clocked over to five hours of a nine-and-a-half-hour trip and all I really want to do is watch a movie. I’ve had several attempts at the flick Management but am only twenty-five minutes in and can only blame it on the seating arrangements.
Tania, Archie and Tyson have three seats together. Lewis and I are sitting in the row behind them – Lewis. Lew-is. I don’t think I can emphasise Lewis enough here. Tyson is an angel baby whose temperament is more closely related to Spock’s (with smiles and giggles) than it is to mine, and Archie will watch television – in a house, with a mouse, in a box, with a fox, in a drain and on a plane – for hours on end. On the other hand, Lewis is as Lewis does, and Lewis does need to release massive amounts of toddler turbulence every five to ten minutes.
My crazy mixed-up mind suddenly considers the idea that Tania has a good thing going on and that she has probably been aware of this from the moment she began planning the trip several months ago. My suspicions are confirmed when she turns in her seat and says, ‘I’ve watched two movies and one sitcom so far. Have you had any sleep yet? You should get some. I feel so much better.’
I look to the emergency exit lever and am overwhelmed by a longing I have never felt before. I want to buy it flowers, massage its feet and disembowel myself for the sweet relief it promises.
The food arrives, neatly packed on small trays. I place Lewis’s tray in front of him with all the enthusiasm of a member of the bomb squad closing his scissors over random wire. For a moment, as he chews on a piece of lemon chicken in a cow-like fashion, his eyes on the TV monitor ahead of him, I feel like I’m in the clear and my muscles systematically relax until my bones are fully reclined in a seated position for one of the few times in the entire flight.
Ahh, my darling food. Lamb – terrible airplane packaged lamb, but lamb nonetheless. I take the remote control from my arm rest and rewind Management to the scene I have already watched several times. Jennifer Aniston says to Steve Zahn, ‘Okay, you can touch my butt but then you’ve gotta go.’
Admittedly, I could be a little further into the movie if I didn’t appreciate the artistry and the performance of this particular scene. Jennifer Aniston’s butt is also worth watching, no matter who’s feeling it and, yes, I understand that there are issues to explore here – the sexual appeal of dominant women, Groundhog Day fantasies (would you like a desert island and a coconut, or an airplane and Aniston’s butt with that?) and the fact that I am becoming increasingly aware that I am a dirty old man in a relatively young man’s body – but they are issues to deal with another time.
I’m piercing a piece of marinated lamb with my fork and guiding it to my mouth with such anticipation that I am almost choking on my own saliva when I am suddenly struck in the cheek by a stream of milk. I scrisper (a scream tempered by a whisper) and the ‘s’ in ‘Lewis’ turns me into a sprinkler that gives my TV monitor a bath. Lewis is grinning with a small container of milk in his hand that has been partially opened. I snatch it from him, knocking a third of the lamb onto my lap.
Words cannot capture the rage. The spirit of the wolf possesses me. I focus entirely on my food despite the potential embarrassing disaster developing beside me. I am hunched over a carcass. The other wolves are circling. I have to growl, bare my teeth and devour the most edible parts of the kill as quickly as possible. As I shovel food into my mouth I am semi-aware of Lewis standing and spilling his tray – water, main meal, sweets and all – but my body swells further, my face extends into a snout and my skin constricts to reveal a heavy coat of fur. The mind is thereabouts but overwhelmed. I am physical, animal, and food is my only concern. Unless there is some intervention this lamb will be devoured and then I will tear this fucking plane apart.
To the rescue. A stewardess pours me a cup of coffee and my claws retract into human fingers even as I am taking the first sip. I help Lewis finish his meal spoon by spoon while she talks to him and plays with him. He smiles shyly for a moment but then begins to perform, making up songs, gyrating in his seat. The stewardess seems to be melting with affection. A few more minutes pass and I am smiling and laughing with him as well, filled with pride that he can have such an effect on someone. I love the little bugger – the tiring, stubborn, funny little bugger – and no matter what happens that undercurrent of love is always there.
The coffee settles well. I can relax for the moment. The rational thinking mind has replaced the wolf and life is good, but there are hours of flight to go, two airports and a taxi ride through Phuket to our apartment before we can settle.
I focus on the TV monitor and rewind to Aniston’s butt again. I’ve seen this scene nine times now, and it keeps getting better every single time I see it.
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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.