It’s 10.30pm and I’ve just about finished making the school lunches for tomorrow and I’m chuckling, a little disbelieving, at a report I just heard on the radio. A study has found, apparently, that sixty per cent of women over forty have a low sex drive and no longer want to have sex with their partners.
As I’m putting some cheese pieces into a plastic zip-lock bag I’m feeling pretty jazzed for two reasons:
1. Right in front of me are two Apple computers. One is RM’s brand new Mac Book and the other is her old Mac Book Air, which I’m about to inherit, as soon as the data have been transferred. There has not been one second of my life where I have been free from my desire for a Mac Book Air. Even as a child, way before Mac Book Airs even existed, I can look back and see how I would have much preferred a Mac Book Air over my beloved Guinea Pig’s Spike and Feliz (which means happy).
2. Recent events have proven to me that RM does not have a low sex drive and still wants to have sex with me.
Only a few hours ago, as I was pulling on a pair of my tightest powerlifting shorts, preparing to train in the home gym with regulars Cody, Greeny and Jamon, RM sidled past with a purposeful sneer, eyes fixed firmly on my squished-up glutes.
“Whacthya doin fool?” she said, delivering a slap on the bum that didn’t carry the usual sting through the supportive polyester material but was as strong as ever in conveying her love-sleazy intent.
‘Oh, just getting ready to squat like a demon. Hey…’ I said, arching my back a little, stopped short in my thinking by a sudden, brilliant idea. ‘We should have sex tonight.’
‘Okay,’ she said, circling me and fronting up for a cuddle.
‘I mean, date night is off the calendar this weekend thanks to you and Tyson heading to see your sister in Sydney.’
‘Oh yeah, I forgot about that. But…’ she said, as I made my way to the hall. ‘I’ve got to find the cord to the Mac Book Air. I have to transfer all the data to the new laptop so I can take it to work tomorrow.’
When I stopped and turned to smack myself on the bum before saying, ‘I’ve got a cord you can transfer some data with,’ only a mini-second passed before RM laughed and we agreed, on a subconscious level, that it was not my finest joke.
‘Piss off,’ she said, her eyes lingering for as long as possible I noticed, on my squat-heavy butt.
The workout was a very good one and the entire length of me is now glistening in anticipation of RM’s study-defying desire and now that the lunches are made I’m skipping down the hall like Billy Eliot and sipping a vodka and soda water and here comes RM, exiting the gym after her regular Wednesday night session with gym buddies Pauline and Isobel.
‘I’m just going to send the Northern Dad’s Group email for this week,’ I say.
‘I’m just going to jump in the shower,’ she says.
Only five minutes later Tania’s shrill cry RD! turns the computer chair into a Fighter Jet’s ejector seat and I’m back down the hall and sliding the ensuite’s door open expecting to tackle a Swat Team of perverts or an Amazon jumping-spider the size of a dinner plate but instead I find RM alone, saying, ‘The fricken conditioner is not in the fricken shower a-fricken-gain.’
‘Jesus,’ I say, reaching to the set of drawers just outside the ensuite and stepping through the steam. ‘It’s right here. I had to use it for Lewis’s hair this morning. Otherwise it’s a screaming horror fest just combing his hair.’
‘Just buy another bottle for the kid’s bathroom!’ she says.
‘I could be pulling his finger nails out he screams so much…’ I say, hightailing it down the hall again so I can finish the email and focus on the upcoming session of love and debauchery.
Within seconds the shrill scream comes again and this time I’m back up the hall and swinging open the door so swiftly that I have to put on the breaks to prevent myself being squashed against the shower screen like a bug on the windscreen of a speeding truck.
‘This only has water in it,’ RM says, holding up the bottle and pushing the nozzle down to release a few spurts of cold uselessness.
‘God,’ I say. ‘That’s the old bottle the boys have been playing with in the bath. I must have got them mixed up.’
When I return with the right bottle of conditioner I’m feeling a little freaked out by the panicked sprints and say, ‘When you shriek out for me, could you just do it one time, and then wait a bit? It took me four seconds to run down the hall and in that time you yelled out for me three times. Is that how Usain Bolt won the Olympics? He had his girlfriend on the finish line screaming “USAIN USAIN USAIN” every second?’
It’s only when RM glowers, lifts her hands to her wet her hair and says, ‘This isn’t going very well,’ that I become fully aware of the fact that she has no clothes on. There has not been one second of my life where I have been free from my desire for a RM. Even as a child, way before I knew she even existed, I can look back now and see how I would have much preferred her over my beloved guinea pig’s Spike and Feliz (which means happy).
‘If you need me you just holler, my saucy little kumquat,’ I say, retreating to the computer room for a third time.
With the task finally completed, the vodka drank, and eight minutes wasted watching a YouTube video of a giant python eating a crocodile, I get back to the kitchen feeling surprisingly tipsy and find a towel-headed, dressing-gowned RM sitting in front of the TV cabinet with the spare electrical cords draw open.
‘Watchya doin fool?’ I say, pleased to hear that Billy Idol’s Flesh for Fantasy is playing on the radio. ‘Wow, this is a really great song.’
“Just rummaging through all this shit to try to find a cord?’ RM says.
‘Oh my God,’ I say. ‘Are you still angry about the conditioner?’
‘No,’ she says, holding up a tangled ball of cords so large I recoil a little.
‘God, I had a vodka and soda water while I was making the lunches,’ I say, trying to distract her from her rage. ‘And… maybe it was the beast of a gym session I just had… but I’m feeling pretty… grande.’
‘That means large,’ she says.
‘A-thank you,’ I say.
‘You’re drinking vodka during the week now?’
‘Well, I haven’t had that much. Just a little. Now that date night’s happening tonight instead of Friday I’m just, you know, greasing the wheels a little… oiling the pipes… and now look,’ I say, turning off the kitchen light and switching on the stove light for mood. ‘Flesh for Fantasy’s on the radio and the light’s been dimmed. We could pretend we’re brand new lovers flirting around each other at a blue light disco. It’s the perfect build up to…’
‘Why do we have all these fricken phone chargers?’ RM says.
‘Jesus, don’t get too organisey right now,’ I say, getting a little nervous. ‘Or you’ll unintentionally mask the uncommonly high libido you have for a woman of your age.’
RM’s shoulders are hunched over and she looks like she’s about to start tearing at the bundle of cords with her teeth. ‘I can’t find one cord… with all these cords… stuck together in the… cord drawer like this.’
‘You can,’ I sigh. ‘You just turn the bundle over and over and over again until you see the cord you want. Then you spend ten minutes freeing only that one particular cord. You don’t get all antsy and start separating and organising every one. Remember, the most important thing here is that we have sex tonight.’
RM looks up from the cords for a moment and a thrill courses through me when I see she’s glowering just like she was in the shower, but smiling a little demonically at the same time. Her dressing gown is covering almost all of her but in my current state the flesh of her ankles is enough to help me control my response to her micromanaging and her OCD-like focus on the electrical cords. And the possibility that she may be micromanaging me on purpose, as part of foreplay, is enough to make me happier than the Guinea Pig named Feliz.
‘Can you bring me some of those plastic zip-lock bags so I can put the charges in them and keep them separate?’ she says. ‘That’s if we’ve got any…’
‘I bought some just yesterday, sugar plum,’ I say, moonwalking to the cupboard by the kitchen sink. It takes me a full minute to get back to her because, to be honest, I haven’t been doing much moonwalking lately and I’m not very good at it.
‘You’re showing some ankle,’ I say suggestively, handing her the zip-lock bag. ‘Wassup with that?’
‘You bring just one plastic zip-lock bag?’ she says, pointing to the half dozen phone charges on the floor, seemingly amazed at my cock-uppery.
‘Shit,’ I say, moonwalking backwards again; determined to get better at it, which is probably the reason I return to her with only one zip-lock plastic bag for the second time.
‘So I’ve got two now?’ she says, pursing her lips perfectly before adding. ‘Are you tormenting me on purpose? Do you even like sex?’
‘Oh shit,’ I say, fumazzled, opting to walk back to the cupboard over moonwalking this time, spotting Tyson’s reader bag on the bench and stopping to put it in his back pack and picking up two of Lewis’s Uh Gi Oh cards from the floor on the way back.
When I get back to her I hand over the entire box of plastic zip-lock bags and blood rushes to various parts of my body because she’s raised her dressing gown just enough to give me some knee-high eye candy and she’s holding the cord for the Mac Book Air like a whip, and all of that together with her sneering, objectifying stare is screaming out, It’s game on Feliz!
Twenty minutes later I’m lying on the bed with the doona up to my chin when RM appears from the bathroom. The bedside table lamp is providing a soft glow and there’s the fresh smell of spearmint toothpaste, and mouthwash.
‘Why did you buy those plastic zip-lock bags?’ she says, a little gravelly, like Chrissy Amphlett from The Divinyls. ‘They’re way too small for sandwiches.’
‘They’re for Tyson’s cheese pieces,’ I whisper, as she reaches for the cord on her dressing gown. ‘And for… nuts. I use Glad Wrap for sandwiches….’
‘Can I just critique the way you open the box on the plastic zip-lock bags?’
‘God,’ I say. ‘Yes.’
‘You opened the end of the box, which is dumb. There’s a dotted line along the long edge of the box…’
‘I’ll try to find it next time,’ I say, in time with my rapid breathing, feeling so compliant and physically available right now that the thought crosses my mind, for just a moment, that she might have slipped me a mickey.
When the gown falls RM holds her stance and looks at me with such intensity that my fingers curl over the top of the doona and when I smile at her with my eyebrows raised, like I’m about to have my first experience with intercourse, she pulls the doona away and crawls in with me.
She’s still wearing her hair in a towel, just the way I like it, and as she climbs over me and presses her warm cheek against mine I think of how wonderful it is to be in a loving, long-term relationship that allows you to let go like this; to feel objectified.
And then she touches her lips to my ear. And the lights over the lane of conscious thought are switched off. And the lights over the lane of pure lust are switched on.
‘If you open it there,’ she whispers, ‘You can just pull the plastic zip-lock bags out easily… one by one by one.’