It’s 7am and I’ve just put on a load of washing so huge that I am actually fearful for the washing machine’s life. As I turn the dial to begin the cycle I think of the several people I know who would frown at my habit of overloading and the one in particular – Reservoir Mother-In-Law – who would actually physically assault me for not separating the clothes into a dozen or more baskets labeled whites, colors, delicates, heavily soiled and DNR.
And I can’t help but feel influenced because even though I know it is borderline insane, such practices have been known to extend the life of a washing machine from 10 to 10.2 and sometimes even 10.3 years. And the clothes themselves would definitely be unnoticeably cleaner.
Thankfully, the machine convulses through its early cycle just before I am sucked into the zombie-like mentality of multiple load washing. Its rhythmic shuddering reminds me of the 80s classic Maniac by Michael Sembello and because Reservoir Mum and I watched Magic Mike only last night, I move effortlessly into dance.
As I run my hands from my chest to my thighs and back up again it occurs to me that I have been wearing the same clothes for more than a few days and so remove my jumper, t-shirt and pants as seductively as possible. If the washing machine were a woman I would almost certainly be sporting twenty bucks in the waist band of my bonds undies right now, but because the washing machine is not a woman, and my underpants also need a wash, I remove them and add my clothes to what could be the biggest load I have every created.
The door to the laundry swings open and Archie and Reservoir Mum walk in just as I’m busting out The Running Man, my arms and legs pumping rapid fire. They are both in PJ’s. Reservoir Mum is carrying baby Maki.
‘Dad,’ Archie asks, so used to the scene in front of him that he doesn’t even blink. ‘Are you famous?’
‘Oh, I don’t know, Arch,’ I say, slowing down incrementally to avoid tearing a muscle. ‘I mean yes I am, but I don’t like to admit it… why do you ask?’
‘He was reading your blog,’ RM says.
‘Are you as famous as Justin Bieber?’ he asks.
I shrug. ‘It all depends on your perspective Arch. In seven-year-old-boy-world Justin Bieber would probably pip me right on the line in terms of famousness but I don’t live in that world, you see?’
I pause as Lewis chases Tyson into the laundry with a Nerf Gun. Tyson puts on the brakes and his eyes light up as a bullet hits him in the back of the head.
‘Nudie!’ he yells, pointing at me.
‘Yes,’ I say, in a classic Play School pitch, before turning back to Archie. ‘You see Arch, I live in house-husband-world and that world is slightly smaller in terms of population and… prestige…’
I pause again, involuntarily, as Lewis redirects his aim and hits me directly in the willy with a Nerf Gun bullet.
‘Don’t do that again,’ I say calmly, unsure if anyone heard me on account of all the laughing.
‘Great shot Lewy!’ Reservoir Mum yells.
‘In House-Husband-World I am about as famous as you can get,’ I continue, putting my hands on my hips defiantly. ‘So famous, in fact, that they are now making a TV series about me.’
Another bullet hits the bulls-eye and even though I’m annoyed I can’t help but be impressed by Lewis’s aim. He’s a real dead-eye dick. A wave of relief washes over me when he and Tyson run from the laundry laughing. Reservoir Mum puts Maki on the ground and he starts crawling over to me.
‘The series is called House Husbands. It starts this Sunday on Channel Nine. And even though it’s almost certain to be riddled with gender based stereotypes – laid off embittered men, dominant women folding their arms and rolling their eyes, Dads incapable of making school lunches or changing nappies, answering the front door wearing tank tops and screaming greetings over the roar of their chainsaws – I’m still hopeful there’ll be some reality and some warmth and some worth in it.’
‘Are you going to be in it?’ Archie asks.
‘Not in person,’ I say. ‘But you’d have to be a bit naïve to say they didn’t get the idea, the entire premise for the show, and most likely many of their story arcs, from my lively and popular blog Reservoir Dad.’
Reservoir Mum laughs as the boys run back into the laundry.
‘Why is everyone laughing so much?’ I ask.
Tyson is also nude now and jumping up and down excitedly. Lewis hands Reservoir Mum another Nerf Gun and drops a bucket of bullets between them. They bend down, take a handful each, and start loading up.
‘But if you really want to test out my famousness, Arch,’ I say, ignoring them. ‘I’d urge you to Google Reservoir Dad and note the number of results. Then compare that number against the results returned for Googling House Husbands Channel Nine. Although I can’t be certain without doing it myself, I’d hazard a guess that Reservoir Dad outnumbers the soon to be popular TV series 4,980,000 to 79,300. And that’s a firm shellacking by anyone’s standards.’
I’m disappointed to see that Archie’s looking bored but the washing machine is hitting another violent point in its cycle as Reservoir Mum and Lewis are eyeing each other off and counting to three, and knowing that I’m about to cop another two rounds in the willy, I decide I might as well strike up the running man again to at least make their target is a moving one. The rhythm of the washing machine now reminds me of the B52’s classic Private Idaho. My body responds as if hypnotized.
‘And because I’m so incredibly famous in House-Husband-World, Arch,’ I say, copping two more direct hits despite my frenetic movement. ‘I see it as my duty to review this new TV series. And that’s what I’ll be doing every week – until the first season is over – in a series of posts called, The House Husbands Review.’
I am now being showered in bullets and even though they are soft and spongy and brightly colored these remarkably competent snipers are managing to awaken a dull ache in me. Thankfully the washing machine bucks and stalls, releasing me from my dancing spell.
‘That’s it!’ I yell, picking up Maki and wrenching the gun from Reservoir Mum in one deft movement. ‘It’s time to get ready for school. Breakfast! School clothes! Readers and reader diaries! Lewis, its library day for you. Archie, think of something for show-and-tell.’
Archie and Lewis and Tyson run screaming from the laundry and Reservoir Mum moves in for a cuddle, smiling at me. Maki reaches for her and we squeeze him between us.
‘I guess I won’t be needing that vasectomy anymore,’ I say as the ache lingers. ‘You can tell your Mum I’ve finally been fixed.’
She shakes her head. ‘So you’re going to start another series of posts?’
‘Yes,’ I say. ‘Similar to Wednesdays from the Womb. But with a little more intent. I will either help make that show as famous as me, or sink it like a moldy bag of spuds.’
‘You have to be careful what you say because Lily’s in it.’*
‘I know,’ I say. ‘And I plan on making a subtle reference to her brilliance in every post.’
‘And I only have one other request.’
‘Yeah?’ I say, preparing mentally for the onslaught of the morning school run.
‘If you ever have to mention your penis could you not refer to it as a ‘willy’? Willy is for little boys.’
‘And we have four little boys,’ I say. ‘It’s a hard habit to get out of. But I’ll try.’
We kiss and as she walks away to get ready for work, I smile and call, dramatically, ‘RM?’
‘Yes?’ she says, turning towards me, a trusty gullible target.
I aim my loaded Nerf Gun at her left boob and fire but she flicks out her hand and knocks it away effortlessly. Maki waves back at her, smiling.
‘I guess I better get some pants on,’ I say, suddenly feeling very nude.
She winks and says. ‘Probably a good idea.’
I lift Maki and nibble at his tubby little belly until I get that rewarding baby chuckle and then settle him back against my chest. ‘You know what Maki?’ I say. ‘If a scene featuring a nude Gary Sweet being pelted by Nerf Gun bullets appears in Season 2 of House Husbands, I will really get suspicious.
*Lily is RM’s cousin’s daughter who plays 'Poppy' in House Husbands.
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