‘Does this mean there’s no chance of me getting any action tonight?’ Reservoir Mum says, as I raise myself from the couch.
Even though the blatant invitation sends a pulse of energy through my pudendum, it’s not enough to pull me from the emotional wave I’ve been riding all week – knowing that House Husbands was reaching its end.
‘I have to write my final House Husbands’ review for Series One,’ I say, apologetically, lifting my t-shirt and flexing my abs so that she at least has a visual to take to bed with her. ‘I’ll make it up to you, I promise.’
Being aware that House Husbands is just ‘a show’ and that the characters are ‘not real’ has not prevented me from having attachment issues, and as I take my usual place at the kitchen table in front of the laptop, with the lights dimmed, with my iPod locking me into an 80s wasteland of euphoria and melodrama, I’m feeling a tad sad and I’m not sure I’m in a reviewing frame of mind.
I’ve had three coffees now and two teaspoons of pure guarana and I’m buzzing in a scattered, wobbling, someone just tore my eyelids off so I can’t close my eyes kind of way, and the review is coming painfully slow.
Before RM went to bed tonight she told me I should focus on the onset of Phoebe’s labour in the living room, right up to when she gives birth in the back of a car and because it’s past 11pm now, and I’m struggling to write a coherent line, I’ll just quote RM directly in the hope that it will kick this review in to gear:
‘That’s gotta be your worst nightmare. You’re sixteen – in the middle of labour – and you have your Dad and three of his mates following you around. Then, minutes later, your Dad’s bending over and staring right into your vag!’
She’s right of course (and I love it when she says vag) but my urge to criticise has been replaced by a desperate need to stalk some of the cast between now and Series Two (I’ve spent the past thirty minutes avoiding the review by formulating a detailed stalking plan) and I think the rise of this obsessive desire in me gives real insight into the secret behind House Husband’s success.
Over the ten episodes, the characters have grown and engaged and – apart from Rodney and that cardboard cut-out of a School Principle – they feel genuine and real, and that authenticity has shone through some of the implausible situations they’ve found themselves in.
So when Lewis (I have his Twitter account and the name of his favourite restaurant) was peering into his daughter’s vagina, I was peering into the cracks showing in his old-school, manly veneer.
And because I’m listening to ‘All Out Of Love’ by Air Supply right now (it’s on repeat) I’m thinking of how Phoebe giving birth to a baby is like a metaphor for Lewis giving birth to the emotional side of himself… and that’s probably a sign that I should stop listening to ‘All Out Of Love’ but I’m not going to because these timeless lyrics – lying alone, with my head on the phone, thinking of you till it hurts – feel like they’ve actually been written for Abi and Mark (and possibly the guy I bought a kebab off last week, who seemed really sad.)
Abi is excellent (I have a typed list of her regular hangouts – coffee shop, fitness centre etc – and a pillow with a picture of her head attached to it, inside a box in my walk-in robe). If you ask me, she’s the actor of the series and stole tonight’s show when she told Mark that he ‘broke something’ by kissing another woman.
In that one scene she conveyed the emotional complexity of betrayal in a way that almost made me giggle-sob in awe.
When RM comes in to the kitchen looking all corporate-sexy in her slacks and blouse I’m half way through making school lunches, bleary eyed, wearing only underwear and sporting computer cord lines across my forehead.
‘How’d you go with the final House Husbands’ review?’ she asks.
‘Didn’t finish,’ I say. ‘Fell asleep. It was shit anyway.’
‘Ohhh, Daddy’s grumpy,’ she says to one year old Maki.
She wanders over to the laptop and is half way through reading it when a massive noise comes from Maki’s bottom.
‘I’ll get it,’ I say, grabbing a new nappy and some baby-wipes as Tyson and Lewis start tearing each other apart; their screams emanating from the hall. A few minutes later I hand Maki back to RM for a breastfeed.
‘The review seems okay so far,’ she says. ‘What else did you want to say?’
I grab Tyson by an arm, to get him dressed, as he hurtles through the kitchen, and instruct Archie and Lewis to get their teeth done.
‘I don’t know,’ I shrug. ‘I wanted to say… that thanks to Abi and Gemma we’ve had more of an insight into the struggles facing working Mums than the struggles facing stay at home Dads….’
‘Just say it then.’
‘… and the reason working Mums have been more accurately represented is because there are no toddlers or babies in the lives of the four Dads. Between nine and three thirty every day, when the kids are at school, they’re just hanging out playing pool and chasing teddy bears…’
‘But that’s going to change…’
‘Yeah,’ I say. ‘Lewis has a baby in his life now. Justin looks like he’ll be getting back together with Nicola – so he’ll get a real idea of what it’s like to raise three young children. Kane and Tom are adopting…’
RM’s passes Maki back to me and starts loading up the blender with ingredients for her morning shake and, just as I’m raising Maki’s tummy to my lips to blow a raspberry, says, ‘And it looks like Abi might be pregnant.’
‘What did you just say?’ I whisper, trembling.
‘Yeah… didn’t you see? Right at the end of the show she was taking a pregnancy pack from the hospital.’
When I look up at Maki’s face I see his gorgeous smile, his eyes wide with the expectation of another tickle. His whole body, his whole life, is right there in my two hands. I almost melt into an emotional puddle. This is what I want to see in House Husbands.
I want to see the Dads thrown into challenging situation while locked in to the immediacy of a baby’s life. The mundane work involved – nappies and washing, preparing food and washing bottles, and the nurturing side of it – feeding, bathing, rocking to sleep. And in amongst all that; the most rewarding moments, just like this moment I have with Maki, that don’t come as often as those other things, but make them all worthwhile… and magical.
‘I’ll take sleep deprivation, vomit, spew, poo and anything else for this little critter,’ I say, as I give him a hug. ‘That’s what they need more of on House Husbands. Some hands-on, round the clock, dadding. And it looks like that’s what we’re going to get! A baby boom happening in Series Two.’
‘Get to it then,’ RM says. ‘Finish the review. You’ve got half an hour before I have to go to work.’
‘I can just finish it tonight,’ I say.
‘Nope,’ she says, as she reaches out, pulls back the elastic of my underwear and snaps it back against the sensitive skin of my lower abdomen. ‘Tonight, I’m getting some action.’
‘Shazaam!’ I say. ‘Hey, do you know I have Mark’s Twitter account, email address and approximate postal address now?’
‘You mean Rhys Muldoon,’ she says. ‘Mark is not real. The characters are not real. And… do you think you should remove all the stalking references? We can relate to that sort of humour but others might just find it creepy.’
‘You’re probably right,’ I say, as I decide not to tell her that the underwear she just fingered was once swinging on the clothesline of Firass Dirani. ‘I’ll make sure to edit out the entire stalking thread.’
The final review is as finished as it will get and ready for posting. It’s been great fun. Thanks to everyone for reading. A few things –
- A big thanks to Sarah Finney (House Husbands publicist) for her help along the way.
- A quick reminder that Lily Jones, who plays Poppy in House Husbands (pictured right), is the greatest new acting talent Australia has seen since Nicole Kidman.*
- And another quick reminder to join the Reservoir Dad Facebook Page by clicking the button below.
- To read The House Husbands Review Episodes 1-10, start here.
- I won’t be doing an episode by episode review of next season because I’m planning on starting a new series of posts called The Vasectomy Diaries but there is a strong chance I will get access to some filming sessions for Season Two so that I can write a few House Husbands – Behind The Scenes posts. Stay tuned!
*I am related to Lily Jones.