I’m on the couch waiting for Episode Nine of House Husbands and it occurs to me that the dark Hungry Jack’s Whopper stain on the crotch of my blue denim jeans would suggest to certain people that I’d recently had a good time with myself. That’s not how the stain got there but there is guilt attached to it and if I can’t remove it with a good soak in some Napisan I’ll have to torch the jeans and hopefully the memory and regret will burn away with it.
When Reservoir Mum comes to join me on the couch I move my laptop over my crotch.
‘Taking notes for the review?’ she asks.
I nod. ‘Is there a better word for crotch?’
‘Crotch?’ she asks.
‘Yeah,’ I say. ‘I don’t want to use the word crotch too often in the review…’
The recap of last week’s episode is on. Mark has just dislodged himself from the lips of his daughter’s teacher – Nadine – when RM offers, ‘Groin?’
After trying it inside my head a few times – Whopper With Cheese stains on the groin of my blue denim jeans – I decide to stick with crotch.
‘The main topic for discussion in Episode Nine, as far as I see it, is whether Mark should tell Abi about the kiss at all…’ I say. ‘I mean, if you kissed another man, would you tell me?’
‘Yeah, but you’re a different kettle of fish,’ she says with a shrug.
Before I can ask her to expand on that, Mark informs Lewis of his infidelity while they’re warming up for a morning jog near some monkey bars. When Lewis advises Mark to keep it to himself I find myself nodding in agreement.
‘If you ever kiss another woman,’ RM says. ‘You better keep it to yourself as well because our relationship would be over.’
‘Completely over?’ I ask, amazed.
‘Over one little two second kiss?’
‘It’s more than just a kiss,’ she says.
RM’s lips are pressed together and she’s wearing a look of stern certainty. I like it. She looks foxy.
‘Okay,’ I say. ‘So a kiss is definitely out… but what if I hugged another woman?’
She shrugs. ‘You hug women all the time.’
‘Well, what if it’s more of a lingering hug… and we’re both wearing white woollen jumpers… and because it’s so cold you can see our breath rising between us into the one intimate fog?’
RM laughs. ‘I don’t even know why that would happen.’
Justin has just found out that his ex-wife, Nicola, and her dickhead new partner, Rodney, are moving to Sydney and taking the kids away from him. In typical Justin fashion he goes about inviting more trouble into his life – staging a full-on booze up, insulting strangers, stealing money, picking fights and inconveniencing friends. He’ll have to change the way he responds to events before he gets my sympathy.
‘Okay,’ I say, returning to the kiss conversation. ‘What if she’s wearing spandex gym pants and I’m wearing the mankini made famous by Borat and while we’re hugging I press my hips into her, so that our groins are touching?’
‘Groins?’ she says, grimacing.
‘Okay, so our crotches are touching,’ I say.
‘That’s pushing it,’ she says.
She adopts a serious pout and I surrender to the buzz I’m getting out of the questioning. She’s all angry-sexy like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider and I don’t want it to end.
‘And then,’ I continue, a little breathy, ‘While our groins are touching, I move my hips from side to side a few times. Kind of mash everything together a little bit… her spandex and my mankini make a swish-swish sound as they move against each other… but there’s still no kissing…’
RM punches me and says. ‘What are you doing?’
‘I’m just trying to work out where the limit is. I can tell you about a lingering cuddle – you’re okay with that – but as soon as there’s friction between groins I should keep it to myself? Or our relationship is over?’
We lose the conversation again as the Mark and Abi story unfolds like a fast-paced tennis match. Our attention swivels from Abi; who is inching towards the truth, to Mark; who is overwhelmed by fear and guilt, and back again. There’s an agonising tension that continues even after Nadine confesses to Abi about the infidelity. The confrontation between Abi and Mark is beautifully done.
All the cast are at a carnival and Abi arrives to find Mark riding the dodgem cars. She takes to a car herself and rams him relentlessly. The touch of corniness only makes the look on Abi’s face all the more powerful when she finally corners him. She stares at Mark without saying a word but her expression reveals hurt, betrayal, disbelief and hatred all at once. It’s the best five seconds of acting the show has seen to this point. And I know without doubt, that I never want to see that expression on the face of RM.
‘Far out,’ I say. ‘I feel so sorry for Abi… but I also feel sorry for Mark. And it still makes me wonder if it’s worth telling. I mean it wasn’t Mark’s choice in the end but would it have been worth him telling Abi if it had been left up to him? For all the pain it causes, would it be worth confessing to a two second kiss that was regretted by both parties immediately, and was never a chance to happen again?’
RM thinks for a moment before saying. ‘Well, you’d be moving outta here, that’s for sure.’
‘Oh really,’ I say, my back up a little. ‘Well, I’d be taking the kids too… and I’d force you to pay child support. And then… I’d marry an overbearing arsehole of a woman named Rodney and we’d move to Sydney together… so there.’
The promo for Episode Ten – the final of Series One Of House Husbands – gives a glimpse of the horrid emotional disaster that Abi and Mark must now go through.
‘Anyway,’ I say, removing the laptop to reveal the dark stain on the crotch of my jeans. ‘I have done some things wrong. Some things I’m not proud of. And today, I choose to confess…’
‘Like what?’ RM says, sitting forward on the couch.
‘Well, I made a spontaneous visit to the Hungry Jack’s drive-through on the way back from Kemizo Family Entertainment Center today. The boys had been so full-on and I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. I ate and drove – very slowly in the middle lane – which was wrong. When the kids started asking for some of my burger, I ignored them and turned up Gangnam Style on the radio so loud it made the Tarago speakers do fart noises, which was also wrong… and now I’m worried our three year old may know some words that are age-inappropriate. When a motorist swerved past me and leaned over their steering wheel to engage me with his angry eyes I laughed insanely with my mouth wide open so he could see all the mushed-up food inside. Then I flipped the bird at him with half a burger in my hand… and grease all over it. That’s two, possibly three more wrongs right there. By the time I’d nourished myself to some level of normality we were pulling into the driveway and I was picking bits of meat and mayo-covered salad from my crotch, feeling like a bad bad man.’
‘Now, I know the truth,’ RM whispers, as she shakes her head and reaches for her mobile phone. She swipes across the screen a few times and says, ‘And you should feel bad about it. You’ve broken something. Here’s a vid I took this afternoon of Tyson singing…’
As I hold the iPhone in my trembling hands and watch the horror unfold on the screen all I can say is, ‘Oh jesus god no…’