Reservoir Dad’s Adventures in Phuket – The Jellyfish

I’m in a lazy sun-slash-beer-slash-food-slash stupor and comparing myself to the recently fed, highly-sexed lion, lazing under the shade of a tree in the sweltering African heat. I come to the conclusion that I stack up alright – Lions eat lots of meat and I have eaten double helpings of every kind of animal available in Phuket. Lions have sex fifty times a day and I have already thought about sex at least fifty times today. And when not aroused into action by sex or food lions do nothing at all and I am also doing nothing very, very competently.

I open my mouth to let out a groggy roar but the effort is beyond me and I resign myself to a dopey smile and several smacks of my recently beer-soaked lips when I notice a blurry shape to the right running down the beach towards me. I lift my head to see Reservoir Mum walking at a steady pace with Archie, crying, and Lewis in toe. A mild panic strikes me and I’m on my feet, suddenly alert.

“He’s been stung by a jellyfish,” she says. “Don’t make a big deal out of it.”

“Oh Jesus, is he going to die?” I scream.

Reservoir Mum rolls her eyes and tells me to go ask the locals for some ointment. I run as fast as my legs (which are fatigued by my extended period of stagnation) can carry me, to a woman selling massages for 100 Baht and tell her that my son, who has encountered tremendous peril at the hands of a jellyfish, needs her special magic ointment to ward off any chance of death. She fails to understand me and calls over another woman who cannot understand me who calls over a man who holds two hands up and says, “What do you want?”

I say, “Jellyfish sting ointment.”

He speaks in Phuketian and the second woman dawdles off and returns with a slice of lime. I ask her if she perhaps forgot the cocktail that goes with it.

‘Rub it on the sting’ the man says.

I’m unconvinced but scream Konichiwa as I head back to the scene of the drama and within minutes Archie is fervently licking a chocolate coated shark-shaped ice-cream and standing confidently on his lime-soaked legs.


The boys are asleep and I’m watching a pirated copy of Management with Reservoir Mum but I lose concentration shortly after the bum scene.

“I want to hunt that jellyfish down and kill it,” I tell her. “It’s out there somewhere with bits of my child’s skin on its bastard tentacles.

“Don’t be silly,” she says to me, “Stuff like that just happens.”

I feel angered by her Buddhist nonchalance at the same time that I feel enamored by her coolness. “If Archie had been eaten by a lion in Africa we’d hunt the feline arsehole down and skin it alive. Wouldn’t we?”

jelly2Reservoir Mum begins to talk but her words are lost in the shoosh of the ocean. I can see myself on a jet ski. I am high-tailing it towards the horizon. When I look behind me I see Archie on the shore. His leg is very, very red and the tears in his eyes renew my resolve.

When I look down I see a school of the bulbous jellyfish bastards, undulating as they do – their tiny heads and their pathetic wispy tentacles. I don’t trust anything without eyes and mouths but these child-stinging mongrel sons-of-bitches are also missing noses and ears. I secure the snorkel and goggles to my face and dive into the deep blue. My legs clamp together and I buck and flex my hips like a mermaid (without boobs, long flowing hair, a tan and a general female allure).

Within seconds I am upon them. They scatter like rabbits but regroup meters ahead and circle me. I am in water – their favorite place. They have the home-ground advantage and they know it.

To my right I see a jellyfish with something on its tentacles. It can only be human flesh, the flesh of my child. I lunge for it and my hand is consumed by jelly. I whack at it, bite it, punch it, poke it, give it a Chinese burn and my rage is so focused that it’s only after I deliver a thorough thrashing that I’m aware of the dozens of other jellyfish that cling to my legs, my arms, my torso. The pain is so dictionary complete.

I swim one jelly-fished stroke, one tentacle covered kick at a time until I feel the waves rise and carry me to the shore. I am dumped on the sand resembling a large summer sweet. Beautiful exotic Phuketian women run from everywhere with slices of lime and rub me from head to toe for 50 Baht a stroke and the jellyfish recoil and fall like vampires splashed with holy water.

A crowd forms. Archie is crowd-surfed over them and placed at my feet. He looks at me, still scarred by a reddish or perhaps now pinkish-white barely visible line around his ankle. He notices the jellyfish I still hold in my hand and recoils but I beckon him near. I raise it in the air and feel a surge of unnatural strength, that only a father whose child’s life is threatened feels, and I say, to the jellyfish, so that all – the crowd, the women but most of all Archie – can hear, ‘You’re going to the naughty corner. Two minutes. And then you must say sorry.’

Archie laughs and falls to his knees in relief as the crowd cheers. The Phuketian women, still lovingly applying lime juice to my legs, ask me to marry them but, alas, Reservoir Mum and my country will only allow me one wife.

The shoosh of the ocean and the adulation of the crowd recedes and is replaced by Reservoir Mum’s voice. “We should buy him that blow-up shark floaty thing on the way to the beach tomorrow though, to encourage him to get in the water again.”

“Yes,” I say, “He’ll love that” and within minutes I can see Archie floating out into stormy seas. I am guiding my hang-glider through lighting and rain, honing in on him. The Phuketian women are wearing wedding dresses and singing a particular song from Moulin Rouge which I can’t quite remember the name of……



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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.