March 2008

I’m afraid that this morning’s occurrence with four-year-old Archie has thrown a blanket of secrecy over his parent’s sex life just as it was reaching its zenith. Our care-free doors-open, porn-in-the-background approach to intimacy is over. Forever more. 

It’s funny isn’t it? How you can fall asleep one night and wake the next morning to find that life has changed permanently.

Last night was exceptional. Post-coitally, and on a personal level, I’d consider it to be one of my greatest sexual performances ever. So good in fact that I may look back on it in my twilight years and label it the stellar performance of my career.

I imagine the review would go something like this, There was a stunned silence as the curtains fell on the opening act. Reservoir Dad had completely immersed himself in the role, closing his eyes and racing his fast-paced comedy to a shuddering finale which left the one-strong audience, Reservoir Mum, gasping in genuine surprise and screaming for more. Five stars!

Of course, RM’s call for an encore was really just her letting me know that we had only reached intermission and that the second act would need to be a much more elaborate production. In contrast to the minimalist approach of my climactic scene she would require a spotlight to shine directly on her at all times, with a greater emphasis on dialogue and – thanks to the brevity of my performance – would need a greater contribution from ‘costume and props’.

The desire to just close my eyes and go nigh-nighs was intense but I somehow managed to stumbled out of bed to find the shoebox filled with our supporting cast – a collection of knick-knacks and ding-dongs that had been delivered to us in unmarked post packs, or that we’d bought from specialist shops on trips to Canberra in our pre-kids years – and then, after taking a few buffered salt tablets to avoid the type of cramping often brought on by flexing the same muscles rapidly for twenty minutes or more, the scene was set and the show continued.

‘Well that was worth doin’,’ I said later, slumping to the pillow all sweaty and ache-y, my eyeballs a tad distended from the pressure applied to my skull. RM clicked her fingers to signal a high-five – our version of ‘the curtain call’ – and whack, we were in-sync; both of our nerve-centres satiated to a fleshy hum, doped up on smile-juice, hormonally loaded for sleep.

When I woke, only a few hours ago now, the sound of RM in the shower was like my Mum hushing me back to sleep and I think maybe a few minutes passed until I become conscious of the sound of objects being shuffled inside a cardboard box. I sat up in confused panic to see Archie there, at the foot off the bed, holding a penis-shaped dildo.

‘What’s this Daddy?’ he said, turning it around a few times for a full inspection.

‘Oh Jesus Christ,’ I screamed. ‘It’s a torch!’

sunsetIn my desperate attempt to get that suddenly repulsive object out of my innocent child’s hand I leapt to my feet so I could bound across the mattress but caught my foot on the doona and commenced my descent. I did manage to swipe at the air a few times as Archie turned away saying, ‘How do you turn it on?’ but was unable to claim the dildo before being forced to brace for full impact with the floor. As I heard RM call from the ensuite it crossed my mind that the The Divinyls may have penned the famous 80s lyric – there’s a fine line between pleasure and pain – for situations just like this; for people just like me.

‘What happened?’ she asked, wrapped up in a towel, looking down on my naked groaning pathetic form, as I assessed a carpet burn on my right shoulder and rubbed at a deep thrombosis like ache from my earlobe.

‘I have Daddy’s torch,’ Archie said, holding it up, still studying it intently to find the on switch.

When RM burst out laughing and took two calm strides to claim the dildo back I wondered why I reacted the way I did and can only blame it on the fresh shock of slumber, and perhaps an undiscovered fear of kids holding dildos, which I’m sure is an actual phobia with an official name, and not something I just made up.

After RM had handed it back to me, saying with a giggle, ‘This torch is just for Daddy’ I groaned through my pain to crush the shoebox in the most disrespectful way possible before crawling under the bed to find every risqué movie and every bejewelled leather love-patch and all the plugs and probes and bottles of lubrication we owned. After covering them with the doona that had almost killed me I made a hasty trip to the local hardware store.  

And here I am, still reeling, but trying to remind myself that change is neither good nor bad.

As I drop the last vibrator into its new home; a stainless steel metal box fitted with a padlock (if I had the skills I’d also fit it with an alarm system that delivers a mild shock), I’m forced to accept another mark of progression in my parenting journey, but I can’t help but notice a difference with this transition. I do feel the same deep longing as I did when my babies moved from the cot to a bed, or from the boob to the bottle, or when Archie went from kindergarten to primary school but I do not feel the accompanying sense of celebration. Not yet anyway.

RM and I can no longer keep our toys in flimsy containers in easily discovered places. We can no longer wait till morning to clear the orgy-like debris from the floors and walls and ceiling fans. And what other playfulness must we hide because of Archie’s increasing awareness? The flicking of towels at each other as we take our turn in the shower? Mocking each other’s orgasm faces in the bathroom mirror as we clean our ears with q-tips? Eating breakfast wearing only midriff t-shirts as a way of kick-starting foreplay for the next big session?

Yes. Everything has changed. I have to accept this now.

The combination lock spins as confirmation. The lid of the metal box closes with a bang.