It’s 9pm and the kids are asleep and I’m taking the quiet time to have a shower as I listen to my self titled playlist Reservoir Dad when Reservoir Mum walks in to the bathroom to clean her teeth.
It’s been four days since my last shower but that’s okay – my showering routine ensures a longer than usual stench free hang-time. I’ve made the water super-hot because hot water opens the pores and assists in a thorough wash. I step under the showerhead and stifle the impulse to scream. My body eventually adjusts and as I manage to take in a few short gasps of air Reservoir Mum says, ‘I will kill the next person who asks if I’m having twins.’
When I look down the length of my body I’m pleased to see it’s reddened up. I wouldn’t look out of place hanging off the back of a baboon’s arse. ‘Would it be better if they asked you if you were having puppies?’ I ask.*
It’s clear that my attempt to lighten the mood has failed when she responds with, ‘At least then I could interpret their question as suggesting that I’m a bitch – rather than a fat cow.’
‘I understand,’ I say, as I apply a generous helping of glycolic facial cleanser to my neck, face and scalp. ‘And you’re absolutely right. Someone needs to be made an example of… I’d like to help with the kill if that’s okay. I prefer to gibbet my victims alive. Death can often take weeks to occur.’
‘Okay then,’ she says. ‘Thanks.’
Next I apply an all purpose facial moisturiser for its minimising effect on fine lines and wrinkles. ‘I was reading a post today on goodgoogs.com,’ I say, fumbling around for more product with my eyes closed, ‘… she was commenting on an article in New York Magazine that said having children decreased marital happiness.’
‘How can that work?’ Reservoir Mum asks, over the whir of the electric toothbrush.
‘Stuffed if I know,’ I reply, as I place a small cake of Vanilla Cupcake scented soap in between my bum cheeks.
I’ll keep it wedged there for a full three minutes. In that time I’ll apply a full body moisturising gel. Then I’ll let the water wash over me, without scrubbing, to remove some but not all of the soapy excess.
‘The thing I found most engaging,’ I say, ‘Was that the childless by choice – or CBC – used the term breeders to insult couples with kids.’
‘Breeders?’ Reservoir Mum says, as she opens the shower door and stares at me while she flosses. ‘That’s so degrading. It reminds me of blow flies and maggots and rats gnawing at things…’
‘Really?’ I say, ‘Most of the other kidded-up responders were offended too. Not me. You think of flies I think of the Spanish Fighting Bull, selectively bread for its well-muscled athletic look. You see maggots I see the progeny of Mountain Gorillas who use their strong backs to tear down banana trees. And your talk of gnawing rats reminds me of the Black Bear who gouges its mark into trees to show it dominates a certain area of terrain. Call me a breeder? I’ll take that as a sign of respect.’
Reservoir Mum pauses before saying, ‘Do you have a bar of soap up your arse right now?’
I reach around, collect the soap and hold it up in front of her, ‘I’ll be smelling like vanilla cupcake back there for days.’
The final step in my showering routine involves a full minute under cold water to close my pores. Closing your pores in this manner does two things – it protects the skin against the perils of the outside world, and at the same time, seals in soapy fragrance to leave you smelling cleaner for longer.
I ask Reservoir Mum to shuffle the player to Whirly Girl by Oxo – a real mood lifter – before turning off the hot water. Almost immediately my back arches against the cold and I struggle for breath.
‘The way I see it,’ I say, in a forced whisper, ‘The CBC are just acknowledging their inferior genetic potential and opting out… their use of the term ‘breeders’ is only a nastiness, and a transparent attempt to regain some illusion of power. We simply need to own the term, to take it back. Just like Southern Europeans now call themselves wogs, and homosexuals own the word queer, couples with kids need to claim the power of breeders.’
When I finally turn the cold water off and exit the shower my skins hums. I have been scalded half to death, sodomized by a bar of soap and frozen to within a few seconds of an epileptic fit and I feel great. I take Reservoir Mum in my arms and let Oxo do (some) of the talking. My body rocks to the beat as if hypnotized. ‘Soon,’ I say, ‘the CBC will be saying things like, “Don’t get me wrong. Some of my best friends are breeders.” ’
Reservoir Mum laughs and leads beautifully – releasing me to arms length for a pirouette before pulling me close again – and I can’t help but think of the newest member of our brood. The world around him is uncertain and in flux, as usual. But the studies are wrong – his Mum and Dad are happy. He’s coming to a good place. And the music he’s hearing from beyond the womb walls can only lead him to greatness.
(*Thanks to Shannon Walker for this line.) (Thanks to Robert Pizzari for tshirt design)