Dec 4, 2009

Reservoir Dad’s Adventures in Phuket – Home

Even though I have told my mind to shut up and sleep a dozen times it continues to move from one unordered thought to the next. We arrived home from Phuket at 7.15am without a minutes sleep and the house smelt dusty and well and the air inside was cold and refreshing and I saw that, outside, the chickens had shat all over my shoes as well as they possibly could.

It’s now 2am and I am in bed, desperate for sleep, and my eyes are so wide open and motionless that they remind me of the mannequin me and my schoolmates stole and kept in a deserted old train station behind my house. We also kept a bow and several arrows that we stole from the school gymnasium there and one day I shot Jimmy in the leg from a short distance. I can still hear the noise – thoooomp! – and even though it was a blunt arrow it still penetrated his leg about a centimeter and made him bleed and I felt a little bad about that at the time even though Jimmy was a bit of a turd and the sort most people would take pleasure in shooting with whatever weapon they had on them.

I drift away from Jimmy into semi-wakefulness and my ears are being throttled, again, by the noise of the airplane engines on our flight home from Phuket, and Archie and Lewis are entwined and asleep between me and Reservoir Mum and we’re doing our best to stop them falling to the floor at the same time that we’re trying to keep Tyson sleeping through the relentless ping of the turbulence warnings. Thoooomp!

I see the Thai air hostesses in those long tight traditional-looking dresses shuffling around the plane as if they are bound at the ankles and everything about them is so polished – the blackened hair in a tight bun, the makeup-ed face as smooth as a sugared almond – and the shape of their bums are on display and their cleavage has me glaring and their patterned smiles and warm but wary eyes make it seem like my attention is acceptable only because they don’t expect anything else.

Thooomp Thooomp Thooomp. It’s now 2.45 and I have shot Jimmy in the leg seventeen times and each time I wonder at how pithy an event it is – two boys in a tiny country town versus the rest of the world – and yet here I am trying to convince myself that it didn’t matter and I realize that I am stuck in a vicious cycle because I am so hammered by sleeplessness that I am remembering irrelevant events in a dramatic and engaging way that makes it even more impossible to sleep.

Putting the flights to and from Phuket aside, the holiday was awesome and I only have to think of
Patong and Surin Beach and the Buck’s Night and The Wedding to acknowledge this but as the ticking continues and the night begins thinning I struggle with an uneasiness that may take me a while to shake. We stayed in a five star holiday apartment for two weeks while the locals lived in shacks made of corrugated iron or bamboo and lived one day to the next on whatever the tourists threw at them. Thooomp. And then I remember the arrogant old men buying girls for thirty Australian dollars a day to perform whatever service was required and I think about money and how the uneven distribution of it makes these things possible and I want to hurt these men for what they do at the same time that I see my part in it and the only thing that stops me from feeling a level of disgust at a world that allows such unfairness is that the locals I met and got to know seemed genuinely happy all the time and I can forget about the poor living conditions – as easily as I forgot about Jimmy’s wound for so many years – by convincing myself that what I saw was an actual happiness and not simply something I perceived to quell a rising sense of guilt.

Before she fell asleep tonight Reservoir Mum watched me reading an old newspaper article about the
Geelong 2009 Premiership and said, ‘You’re very simple, aren’t you? You only need football, powerlifting, sex and writing and you’re happy’ and I wonder if this is the real reason I’m awake. Thooomp. I am simple and if I get a taste of those four things on a regular basis – with sex being shuffled through the order depending on desire – I am as content as an individual can be but this does depend on my ability to ignore certain sufferings that exist all around me, all over the world, and I reflect on that fact as I remember that an old school friend told me, several months ago, that Jimmy is now very fat and drinks a lot and has a tattoo of a pizza on his ankle and I wonder if me shooting him in the leg had anything to do with that.

As I am about to shoot him, for the twenty-first time tonight, he makes a strange whimpering sound – which only makes me want to shoot him more – before he says, ‘Seven billion people, man. Can’t you go and shoot someone else?’ and my mind shifts to the size of the world’s population, reflected by all the people I saw at the airports, and for a moment I have no way around the fact that being one of so many is dwarfing to the individual and I wonder how I can convince my children when they are older that even though they are one tiny part of seven billion they are still vitally important if I don’t really believe it – on a consistent basis – about myself.

There is no way around it. Thooomp. A level of selfishness is required to live in this world when you have it as good as I do. The holiday is over and now I must narrow my vision, again. Among seven billion I am nothing but to the four people who I am around every day I am everything and I only have to remind myself of this whenever I feel the world is working to make me disappear or overwhelm me with its sufferings and complexities, and a simple thing – like teaching Tyson to sit and crawl – becomes the most important thing and makes me indispensible.

It’s 3.50am, thooomp, and the arrow fits nicely into the hole that has permanently opened up in Jimmy’s leg and I am finally at the point where sleep is inevitable. When we got home this morning I noticed the backyard was overgrown with weeds, and the cracks in the walls and the stains in the carpets and the overstuffed disorganized cupboards and the lack of storage space and all the other things that plagued me daily before our vacation re-enter my thoughts immediately and I can’t help but smile because all these concerns seem petty and familiar and altogether safe.


Nov 19, 2009

Reservoir Dad’s Adventures in Phuket – The Buck's Night Part 2

Cheap fucking Christmasy lights and tinny music and seedy open-air bars as far as the eye can see and I am so stung into wonder by the unbridled debauchery of the Patong nightlife that I find myself skipping - happy little girl style - and pointing at everything I see in such a way that all the traders are approaching me with the ching-ching sound of a cash register in their ears.

There’s madness everywhere and while I am impressed by the up-frontery of the hookers who show me their wares, and the persistence of the tailors who work 24/7, and the casualness of the animal handlers and the ferocity of the salesmanship in the Pirated-DVD guys, I am mostly impressed by the continual allusion of sex which overwhelms every nook and cranny of Patong in the same way that a house decorated with a freshly chopped Christmas tree is overwhelmed by the smell of pine.

Todd is wearing a T-Shirt with the word’s “TODD’S BUCK’S NIGHT written across the back in black marker. On the front is a grid with 36 squares and 36 tasks that he must complete by the night’s end ranging from sculling a beer to enacting a ‘Mick Dundee’ on a Lady-boy – which basically entails cupping his hand around her meat and two veg – and while I have my doubts that Todd can complete every task I am certain that he will dig deep and give it his very best shot.

A man dressed as a monkey selling half price passes to the Phuket Zoo appears on one side of me and I feel a scratchy weight on my shoulder as another man appears on the other side of me yelling, “You want photo? You want photo?” I do my best Arnold Schwarzenegger slow-mo glance in the direction of the scratchy weight until I bump my forehead against the open mouth of a giant fricken Iguana.

“Get it the fuck off me!” I scream, as I bolt ahead of the group thrusting my hips back and forward and shaking my chest like some crazy hot dancer from the 80’s hit Maniac. I am the cause of much mirth for the Buck’s group and Dennis comments, in a way that could be interpreted as semi-serious, that I have some impressive moves. Being in such a buoyant mood and happy that the man actually caught the giant Igauna before it fell to its death, I have to agree with Dennis – I did move very well and I’m sure that if I had performed those steps in a different context, say at a Blue Light Disco, I would have been an inspiration to many.

We find our way to The Malibu Bar which was secured for the Buck’s Night exclusively nights earlier and within seconds of perching myself on a bar stool three waitresses begin massaging my shoulders, arms and hands (I italicise waitresses here only to save myself from the effort of writing prostitutes and Lady-Boys). The effect it has on my intoxicated mind and body could only be matched by a shot of morphine and by the time I regain my clarity I am in need of a napkin to wipe the drool running from the corner of my mouth and something else to drink with a little kick in it.

Todd lines up several shots and we down them quickly as Jamie climbs a stripper’s platform and starts thrusting against the pole and within minutes of watching him gyrate and kick and swing I am convinced that he has participated in the highly popular pole-dancing fitness classes back in Aus. I make a note to tell him how impressed I am with his talent as I strike up a conversation with two of the other Buck’s – Buck 11 and 12 – who I met only hours before, and within minutes the inevitable, “And what do you do…” question is raised.

“I’m a stay-at-home-Dad,” I say.

Waitresses appear from nowhere to break the lingering silence with their shoulder-loosening fingers. After several seconds Buck 11 says, “That’s great. No, really. I’d love to be able to hang out with the kids all day. Go to the park and that.”

My mouth opens and then shuts and then repeats that pattern several times until I stick another shot into it. I then buy the waitress a shot, which guarantees her 50 Baht from the bar, and distract myself from replying to Buck 11 by refocussing on Todd’s efforts to cross off every box on his T-shirt. As I watch him proposition a Lady-boy, swap pants with a stranger, scull a pot while standing on his head and offer a sexual service to a merchant for 100 Baht, I am suddenly aware of the fact that Archie, Lewis and Tyson will one day start reading this blog and that this very post may be the one that confuses them the most.

I am interrupted by the urgent need to urinate and hightail it out and notice the toilets are right at the end of the long thoroughfare of bars. Todd, who is still negotiating with the Merchant – they have agreed on the sexual act Todd will perform but the merchant will not go above 80 Baht - stops the intense negotiations when he sees that I am heading in the direction of the toilets. “You should seriously think about taking someone with you, when you go for a slash,” he says. “The waitresses and Lady-boys can be very persistent about getting you into their bar.”

I shrug it off, laugh at him, and start walking in the direction of the toilets. I feel confident. I feel great. If the women and the he-she’s pressure me too strongly to enter their bars, I’ll simply ignore them and walk right by. I am a big, big boy and I can handle it.

As I approach the first bar several waitresses gather at the entrance so I hold one hand up, offer a pleasant expression and mouth No Thanks. Like a clumsy adolescent boy trying to reach second base on his first date it takes me a moment to realise that my raised hand has been seized. I am being dragged, violently, towards the bar by two waitresses and I whimper, pathetically, No I don't want it, as another grabs my leg and yet another goes directly to my nether-regions and works her hands in such a way that the meat is separated from the two veg in what appears to be a bizarre measuring-up ritual.

I am being shunted towards the bar paralysed and conflicted by the fact that my genitals are being handled so expertly by a woman – who may or may not have a penis herself – at the same time that my will and sense of self is being shattered by an effective Phuketian gang-tackle that I lose all ability to think my way out, and it seems my fate is sealed, until another waitress jumps on my back and reignites the memory of the giant Igauna, and I know what I must do.

I channel the energy of the Maniac with every ounce of effort available to me and recreate the dance that served me so well only hours before, and to understand the effort and emotional intensity involved I urge you to watch this clip –

In my mind I am suitably dressed in tight black leotards with white cotton wrist bands and I flick and gyrate and buck and thrust and jump and dive and punch out and one by one the waitresses release me and fall away until I am back out in the thoroughfare panting like an overworked racehorse and jerking all around like that little squirrel chasing the nut in the Ice Age series. With urine on the horizon I have no choice but to Maniac my way past all the bars on the way to the toilets and in this fashion manage to deflect and avoid dozens of genital-scented hands without more than a few mills of leakage.

After doing my business, I stand at the sink for several minutes convincing myself that I have what it takes to make it back and then I hear Todd behind me.

"It's okay. Wait for me. I 'll show you how."

He returns a minute later and guides me to the entrance of the thoroughfare.

"Don't leave me," I say.

He smiles, takes off like Usain Bolt and screams, "Let's just keep going RD. Let's just keep going!" as waitresses bounce off him or dive back inside their bars for their own safety.

I decide I need some real motivation to gee myself up and give me every chance of making it all the way to the Malibu Bar and so I settle on what I feel is the most appropriate song to sing - "My body's nobody's body but mine, you've got your own body, let me have mine," I bellow with all my might, as I take off running faster than I have ever run in my life, not sure if I actually have enough energy left to break free of the waitresses clutches.

They lunge, reaching for me. "Let me have mine," I scream.

Let me have mine.... !

Nov 13, 2009

Reservoir Dad’s Adventures in Phuket – The Buck's Day/Night Part 1

The boat is fanging its way towards Phi Phi Island with fourteen semi-decent to non-decent males on board. I’m almost certain that I’ll get seasick and so I distract myself with inner dialogue about the overweight boat-boy. He’s wearing nothing but a pair of cheap board shorts and I’ve been trying to count the roll lines on his belly but he keeps bending, stretching and reaching for things and so I come up with three different numbers – two, three and seven. I’m about to give up, add the numbers and divide the total by three for an average when he finally stops moving and looks stoically back towards Phuket’s shore. I’m surprised to find that his belly wobbles out into a perfect podgy sphere with no lines at all. I ponder the size of his omentum for a moment before we burst through a large wave and I’m jolted back to reality.

Todd, the Buck, told me weeks earlier, that we were in for a day of swimming, diving, snorkelling, lunch and beers on a chartered speedboat. He then asked me which of those activities I would be participating in and seemed surprised when I replied, categorically, lunch and beers.

The Captain yells ‘In case of an emergency….’ over the roar of the boat and that’s about all I hear. I’m not concerned because if this boat capsizes or crashes or is attacked by sea monsters the result will be the same for me whether I understand the emergency procedure or not – death, so I pretend I'm listening, nod seriously and turn to Jamie, Todd’s brother and best man, who is tapping me on the shoulder.

“You have to snorkel,” he says.

“I don’t see any point in snorkelling,” I tell him. “It’ll make me wet and then I’ll have to dry myself.”

“Everyone will be doing it. Are you scared?”

As all visible sign of land disappears I have the impression that the sea is overwhelming us – like cookie dough overwhelms a chocolate chip – and I see no reason to change my decision.

“I’m not scared, I just have a care factor of zero for this particular activity. I’m happy to sun myself and drink beer on the boat. Are you okay with that?”

“I’ll lose a little respect for you,” he says.

“Respect for me? I won’t be the one splashing and squealing like a little girl in the water,” I tell him. “How about I bypass the snorkelling and when we get back to Phuket I’ll find a sprinkler to spread my arse over. You can be the one to turn it on if you want.”

Jamie laughs and even though I’m appearing as blasé as possible I
am stuck on the ‘respect’ thing. I like Jamie – he’s a cool dude in a doofusy, Clarke Kent-ish, Gilligan from Gilligan’s Island kind of way and Todd is one of my best mates from right back to High School days and I am suddenly struck by my predicament – I can do what makes me happy or I can do something, marginally painful, to make the groom and the best man happy on what is an important day for them.

I decide to consult the oracle and so reach for a can of beer and pierce the end with a pen. I shake it just a little and then shotgun it in what I feel is under three seconds. Even before I lower the empty can-slash-oracle my 2009 Geelong Premiership Cap is blown right off my head and out of the boat and I take this as a clear message to stay on board and refuse any water activities until Jock – Todd’s father – hands me my cap back and says, ‘It just blew into the back of the boat.’

I swallow a wellspring of emotion and am certain of two things – Geelong will win back-to-back flags 2009/2010 and I will be dipping myself into the ocean for the benefit of my long term friend.

The boat boy waddles past and starts collecting diving equipment as we round Phi-Phi Island and find a ‘good’ diving spot. I reason that he is a good choice for a boat boy for this particular group. Most of the guys have taken their shirts off already and this has to have something to do with how good we feel about our own abs in comparison to his.

Todd is in his element, surrounded by his friends and family – beer drinking foul-mouthed mostly Aussie lunatics – and he leads the diving group into the water. I pull on a pair of flippers and a snorkel and waddle my way to the edge and I can’t help but think that if the boat-boy ate an all meat diet for a month and did some basic exercise that he could switch from Buck’s groups to Hen’s groups and probably make a lot more Baht.

Suddenly I’m in the water. Several fish swim by, I can see right to the bottom of the ocean and am aware that this is what divers and snorkelers talk about – the clear water, the colourful fish – as the carrot of the experience, so I do my best to get taken away. I see a school of barracouta, a big flat fish, some skinny white fish and a very fast fish with yellow stripes. The chorus from The Dream Police is replaying itself over and over in my head. I have no idea why.

What strikes me, apart from the fact that I am just about brain dead bored, is that all the fish are so fricken calm. Why aren’t they eating each other? Where’s the violence? The Dream Police is replaced by the echo of a radio advertisement designed to raise awareness of people with disabilities with the catchphrase - ‘See the person not the disability’ and as I float lifelessly, so disinterested that I can’t even be stuffed paddling, I have to be honest with myself and say that every time I meet someone with a disability I
always see the disability first and it is only with great effort that I then see the person, if time and circumstance permits. I also notice the fat in fat people first, the old in old people, the bushy eyebrows on hairy people, the height of the very tall or very small and the pus-filled zits on the pimply. I feel semi-guilty about this until I consider the fact that when I look at myself in the mirror the first thing I notice is the baldness, the sickly whiteness of my skin and the very very slight appearance of bitch-tits on the bald, white, nearly bitch-titted man looking back at me.

Four really big brown fish swim past and look right at me and I barely notice until I see the look in their eyes. They’ve encountered yet another snorkeler and they’re thinking, ‘Oh, there’s another one of
those, again.’ They’re as bored with the activity as I am.

Some ocean gets in my snorkel and I lift my head choking and spluttering as Jamie swims by. I look back at the boat. Ten minutes of snorkelling has to be enough to get the respect Jamie has on offer.

The boat boy offers a hand to help me on board and in this position I can see five very distinguishable rolls of fat. I decide that five will be the official number. The flippers and snorkel are discarded and I decide I will now revert back to my University attitude for the rest of the day/night and so open another beer. I have at least half an hour to empty several cans. The Captain turns on the radio and sits down next to me. We look out over the expanse of what is the most beautiful scenery – Islands, massive rock formations, clear water, blue sky – and within minutes he is telling me how he picked up a Phuketian lady-boy by accident.

“Like you pick up your mates keys instead of your own?’ I ask, ‘That sort of accident?”

“No, man,” he says, a little pained, "I mean, I bought her for the night – 1500 Baht – but I thought she was a real woman."

“What did you do to her?" I ask.

“Just about everything,” he says and then goes into detail. “(Content removed by author).”

“How’d you find out she was a lady-boy?”

“I just realised when I woke up in the morning.”

I think,
Bullshit to that. You wanted to sleep with a lady-boy and now you want to talk about it. You really really love lady-boy but I really say, “That’s crazy man.”

He nods as The Empire of The Sun start singing Walking on a Dream and I feel awesome about my decision to snorkel for only a few minutes because I would have missed this little story and I know that people are crazy and while everyone’s out there skydiving and scuba diving and ab-sailing I’ll be sitting around watching and waiting for a crazy person like the Captain to spill his guts to a crazy person like me and when asked about my Phuket trip in the future I’ll be talking about how crazy-cool this dude is before I talk about a couple of colourful fish.

The Captain continues his frank discussion about lady-boys and even though I am now aware that there’s a strong chance he is trying to pick me up I start to look forward. Soon we will leave this boat behind and get sucked into the night-life of Patong where there’s a constant atmosphere of insanity, where everyone seems to be laughing at one another as they bargain money, sex, experience and time from each other. It’s going to be crazy and as the rest of the boys climb on board and start reaching for the cold beers I get this tingly, drunken, excitable flutter about the night ahead.

Nov 6, 2009

Reservoir Dad’s Adventures in Phuket – The Jellyfish

I’m in a lazy sun-slash-beer-slash-food stupor and comparing myself to the recently fed, highly-sexed lion, lazing under the shade of a tree in the sweltering African heat. I come to the conclusion that I stack up alright – Lions eat lots of meat and I have eaten double helpings of every kind of animal available in Phuket. Lions have sex fifty times a day and I have already thought about sex at least fifty times today. And when not aroused into action by sex or food lions do nothing at all and I am also doing nothing very, very competently.

I open my mouth to let out a groggy roar but the effort is beyond me and I resign myself to a dopey smile and several smacks of my recently beer-soaked lips when I notice a blurry shape to the right running down the beach towards me. I lift my head to see Reservoir Mum walking at a steady pace with Archie, crying, and Lewis in toe. A mild panic strikes me and I’m on my feet, suddenly alert.

“He’s been stung by a jellyfish,” she says. “Don’t make a big deal out of it.”

“Oh Jesus, is he going to die?” I scream.

Reservoir Mum rolls her eyes and tells me to go ask the locals for some ointment. I run as fast as my legs (which are fatigued by my extended period of stagnation) can carry me, to a woman selling massages for 100 Baht and tell her that my son, who has encountered tremendous peril at the hands of a jellyfish, needs her special magic ointment to ward off any chance of death. She fails to understand me and calls over another woman who cannot understand me who calls over a man who holds two hands up and says, “What do you want?”

I say, “Jellyfish sting ointment.”

He speaks in Phuketian and the second woman dawdles off and returns with a slice of lime. I ask her if she perhaps forgot the cocktail that goes with it.

‘Rub it on the sting’ the man says.

I’m unconvinced but scream Konichiwa as I head back to the scene of the drama and within minutes Archie is fervently licking a chocolate coated shark-shaped ice-cream and standing confidently on his lime-soaked legs.


The boys are asleep and I’m watching a pirated copy of
Management with Reservoir Mum but I lose concentration shortly after the bum scene.

“I want to hunt that jellyfish down and kill it,” I tell her. “It’s out there somewhere with bits of my child’s skin on its bastard tentacles.

“Don’t be silly,” she says to me, “Stuff like that just happens.”

I feel angered by her Buddhist nonchalance at the same time that I feel enamored by her coolness. “If Archie had been eaten by a lion in Africa we’d hunt the feline arsehole down and skin it alive. Wouldn’t we?”

Reservoir Mum begins to talk but her words are lost in the shoosh of the ocean. I can see myself on a jet ski. I am high-tailing it towards the horizon. When I look behind me I see Archie on the shore. His leg is very, very red and the tears in his eyes renew my resolve.

When I look down I see a school of the bulbous jellyfish bastards, undulating as they do – their tiny heads and their pathetic wispy tentacles. I don’t trust anything without eyes and mouths but these child-stinging mongrel sons-of-bitches are also missing noses and ears. I secure the snorkel and goggles to my face and dive into the deep blue. My legs clamp together and I buck and flex my hips like a mermaid (without boobs, long flowing hair, a tan and a general female allure).

Within seconds I am upon them. They scatter like rabbits but regroup meters ahead and circle me. I am in water – their favorite place. They have the home-ground advantage and they know it.

To my right I see a jellyfish with something on its tentacles. It can only be human flesh, the flesh of my child. I lunge for it and my hand is consumed by jelly. I whack at it, bite it, punch it, poke it, give it a Chinese burn and my rage is so focused that it’s only after I deliver a thorough thrashing that I’m aware of the dozens of other jellyfish that cling to my legs, my arms, my torso. The pain is so dictionary complete.

I swim one jelly-fished stroke, one tentacle covered kick at a time until I feel the waves rise and carry me to the shore. I am dumped on the sand resembling a large summer sweet. Beautiful exotic Phuketian women run from everywhere with slices of lime and rub me from head to toe for 50 Baht a stroke and the jellyfish recoil and fall like vampires splashed with holy water.

A crowd forms. Archie is crowd-surfed over them and placed at my feet. He looks at me, still scarred by a reddish or perhaps now pinkish-white barely visible line around his ankle. He notices the jellyfish I still hold in my hand and recoils but I beckon him near. I raise it in the air and feel a surge of unnatural strength, that only a father whose child’s life is threatened feels, and I say, to the jellyfish, so that all – the crowd, the women but most of all Archie – can hear, ‘You’re going to the naughty corner. Two minutes. And then you must say sorry.’

Archie laughs and falls to his knees in relief as the crowd cheers. The Phuketian women, still lovingly applying lime juice to my legs, ask me to marry them but, alas, Reservoir Mum and my country will only allow me one wife.

The shoosh of the ocean and the adulation of the crowd recedes and is replaced by Reservoir Mum’s voice. "We should buy him that blow-up shark floaty thing on the way to the beach tomorrow though, to encourage him to get in the water again."

"Yes," I say, "He’ll love that" and within minutes I can see Archie floating out into stormy seas. I am guiding my hang-glider through lighting and rain, honing in on him. The Phuketian women are wearing wedding dresses and singing a particular song from Moulin Rouge which I can’t quite remember the name of……

Dad Blogs

Sep 29, 2009

The Top 5 Days Of My Life (as dictated by Geelong Premierships)

Some people - those who are not wise in the ways of the world- have told me, over the years, that football doesn't really matter, that there are more important things in life, that football is just a game. Up until 2007 when Geelong won our first premiership in 44 years, I would reply 'If only that were true,' such was the pain of having to live through four grand final losses without seeing the ultimate success once.

In the last quarter of the 2007 Grand Final, when we were already 100 points ahead and certain of the win, I sent out a mass text to family and friends that said something like this -

I love yous all. This is one of the top 5 days of my life.

Reservoir Mum and a few astute others sent a message back asking what other events filled the top 5, suspecting that maybe I didn't have too many other passions that would really trouble the list. I replied -

1. Marriage to Reservoir Mum
2. Archie & Lewis's birth
3. 2007 Geelong Premiership

It dawned on me that they were right. I was two short of top 5. So being the clever dick that I am I filled in the top 5 to come up with this -

1. Marriage to Reservoir Mum
2. Archie & Lewis's birth
3. 2007 Geelong Premiership
4. 2008 Geelong Premiership
5. 2009 Geelong Premiership

I was stupidly happy. It was happiness mixed with relief and emotional fulfilment and a sense of accomplishment and a ton of pride and a shitload of getstuffedallyoubastardswhothoughtwecouldn'tdoit.

That day and that night I hugged thousands of blue and white clad strangers and thought about my life and what the Geelong Football Club was to my childhood and my family and my sense of self and I could only come to the conclusion that it was a great thing to be so passionate. It's a wonderful thing.

So when I was confronted with ‘It’s only a game,’ by the few naysayers who thought that my celebration was excessive, my reply was simple - 'Thank God it is not.'

It's only a game they said again in 2008 when I watched us lose a fifth Grand Final. The pain was so overwhelming that I was forced temporarily back to my pre-2007 reply, 'If only that were true.'

And the Top 5 Days of My Life had to be altered -

1. Marriage to Reservoir Mum
2. Archie & Lewis's birth
3. 2007 Geelong Premiership
4. 2009 Geelong Premiership

2008 left a glaring hole that made 2009 a very long season. Tyson was born and I said to Reservoir Mum several times how I'd love to have a child born in a Geelong Premiership year. It wasn't looking good for a while. We had been stung by the Grand Final loss and not many gave us a real chance of winning the Flag. There were several sides capable of winning and as the season wore on the Geelong team started to stumble, losing players to injury, dropping form, losing games.

But the Cats regrouped. Players returned from injury just in time and form lifted. The spirit was there and we played some of our best footy to make the 2009 Grand Final.

I was a nervous wreck leading up to it. I neglected most things except for the kids (sorry Reservoir Mum) and spent most of the week locked inside myself. Another loss would be disastrous. Another win would bring euphoria. Both of those scenarios played themselves out in my head, over and over.

I read all footy-related print media, watched every news report and footy-related television program and listened to
SEN on the radio from morning to night. I took the boys to the open training session at Skilled Stadium on the Monday and took them to the Grand Final parade on the Friday. I spent a lot of money on Grand Final tickets for me and my old man.

Finally the day arrived and we were off the Grand Final breakfast at Etihad Stadium where we dined on fine cuisine, drank champagne and beer and were entertained by comedians and musicians. But nothing could ease the tension or distract us from the significance of the game ahead.

As we boarded the bus from Etihad to the MCG the fire in the belly grew. The jaw clenched. The forearms flexed. The us against them mentality overwhelmed and I looked at St.Kilda supporters with contempt. I hoped, desperately, that it would be them falling to the ground in despair as the final siren sounded, and not us.

I got my wish. The Cats won their second flag in three years after a gutsy, brutal, desperate game. I'll never forget the elation. After the game a St.Kilda supporter squeezed past me, as the Cats did their lap of honor. He said,’ Congratulations' with a tear in his eye. I said, 'Bad luck, mate. Awesome game' with a tear in mine.

A great day was made even better because I got to share it with my Dad, and good mates Garry and Brendan. It's something we'll have forever.

With this win comes another redrafting of the Top 5 Best Days of My Life. Having thought about it, I probably shouldn't squeeze Archie, Lewis and Tyson into one day just so I can include more Geelong Premierships. They really do deserve there own birthdays (hehe). So here it is -

1. Marriage to Reservoir Mum
2. Archie's birth*
3. Lewis's birth*
4. Tyson's birth*
5. 2007 and 2009 Geelong Premierships**

Just a game?
Thank god it's not!

*Numbers 2 – 4 are interchangeable.
**I know that's technically six days but it's my list, so back off. Hopefully, I can add several more to number 5 in the years to come.

Sep 24, 2009

I'll Show You Some Good Parenting (Take 2)

Like every parent, I’ve read a lot, heard a lot and tried a lot of parenting techniques. We shouldn’t push our own agendas on to our kids. That’s the rule isn’t it? We shouldn’t push them in the direction of one particular sport, or one particular profession. We should encourage a diverse range of activities and support them when they begin to find a passion for one or two in particular. As they grow older we shouldn’t form their political or religious beliefs, we should promote an open dialogue, play devil’s advocate occasionally, build a solid base of reasoning so that our kids can form their own ideas and opinions and… and…

...and there’s no way in hell my kids are barracking for any team other than the Geelong Cats. Yeah. That’s right. I agree with most of the advice in the first paragraph but when it comes to who my kids will pledge their allegiance to, I’m determined to steer them in the right direction.

Compare the angels they are now -

to the people they will become -

The second photo is of Brendo, Gazza and myself celebrating the Preliminary Final win against the Pies last weekend. It warms my heart to see the Geelong supporting bogan-ish human-like creature I have become.

To Archie, Lewis and Tyson. The above photo represents your destiny. I will not let anything stand in the way. That’s why I put the blue and white beanie on your head only hours after you were born, Tyson. Lewis, that’s why I snuck away and hid your soccer ball in the garage when you started to show more interest in it than the glorious Sherrin. Archie, that's why I always use the plural ‘we’ when discussing the Cats – We barrack for the Cats. We hate Hawthorn. We hope Ablett wins the Brownlow.

Yes, I have been relentless. And I am already reaping the rewards of my hard work. Archie and Lewis now know the
Geelong team song, Archie can also identify several players and Lewis walks around with a toddler-sized Sherrin under his arm (Geelong colors of course).

That’s tear provoking stuff because I know I am molding these young boys into a Geelong Cats-addicted AFL junkies just like me, just like their Pa and just like their late Great-Grandfather. They have now been added to a family history that includes four generations of Geelong supporters and over 90 years of history.

Very soon, probably even next year, three generations of my family will be going to Geelong games together and screaming our guts out. You can’t buy that sort of life-long bonding material.

There are some things, specific to family culture, which overrule all those otherwise solid parenting guidelines. When they are much older I will show Archie and Lewis this rant and they will love me for it. Just like I love my old man for forcing me down this path many years ago. It set up years of Saturday afternoons together. Years of phone calls and visits to discuss ins and outs, injuries, team form, draft choices, disappointments for past seasons and hopes for upcoming seasons.
My Dad was born in 1951 the year the Cats won their first of back-to-back flags. He was clearly too young to remember it. I like to imagine my Grandfather listening to the radio, hanging on every minute of the game. He would have loved it. In 2007 The Mighty Cats won their first flag in 44 years. Dad and I witnessed our first Geelong Premiership together.

Last year was gut-wrenching and I'll say no more about it.

This weekend the Cats are up for their third successive shot at the title. It’s an emotional week. Dad and I will be riding every minute desperate to see the Premiership cup back in the hands of Captain Tom Harley and Coach Mark Thompson. We will party long and hard and I’ll have some great stories for Archie, Lewis and Tyson to pass on to my grandkids.

I love the fact that I had no choice in being a Geelong supporter. I had been at my first day of primary school and was mixing with a lot of wayward Corio kids, a few of who were filling my head with some crazy ideas. When Dad came home from work I ran up to him and said, ‘Dad, I’m barracking for the Bombers now because they Bomb ‘em’’. A very cute, child-like thing to say. Dad dropped his bag, knelt down, looked me in the eye and said, ‘You barrack for The Cats, mate, or you're moving out.’ That’s some pretty special parenting right there. Thanks Dad. Go Cats! Premiers 2007/2009.

Sep 22, 2009

The Smell Of A Good Nugget

Reservoir Mum really does seem to cop the full blast of Lewis’s toddler-inspired lack of etiquette. Fresh on the heals of being mortified by his Muslim counting episode she found herself in the overcrowded interior of a Macdonald’s restaurant with Lewis by her side eating a hearty meal of 17%-real-imitation-chicken-flavour Chicken McNuggets.

Reservoir Mum isn’t a big fan of MacDonald’s – the rainforest clearing, animal soul devaluing, corporate greed beserking, child brainwashing, smarmy bastards! – and was there only to meet a work colleague. (I feel the same way about Maccas a lot of the time but, occasionally, when I feel very hungry and need a bite real quick I think Macdonald’s is a very yummy restaurant with a nice interior and a great record for socialising fat, slothful teens who are trying to avoid low to moderate to high intensity activity.)

Anyway, she was feeling a bit out of place, a bit self-conscious and a bit observed even
before Lewis, yelling to be heard over the Macdonald’s chatter and clatter, said,

“Mummy, can you smell my pop-off?”

Reservoir Mum’s extremities tingled and her face flushed with embarrassment as she whispered forcefully, ‘Lewis! That’s just the way the nuggets smell here.’

Poor Reservoir mum.

She was convinced that everyone was looking at her with a pierced glare, thinking what a terrible mother she was. What else would all the upper class, high-flying Macdonald’s restaurateurs be thinking? I mean, she was eating food in Macdonald’s for Christ sake and not only that she was forcing her children to eat their terrible semi-food products as well. And to top it off her three-year-old was a little filth muppet who made her smell his bodily emissions.

Trying to avoid any further mortification, Reservoir Mum tipped some water into the small amount of Coke Zero left in the Macdonald’s cup and gave it to Lewis to keep him quiet, hoping to fade into the chatter and clamour around them.

“Thank you Mummy bum-bum!” Lewis said, loudly, as he took a little sip. “MMMMM. Yum! This tastes like beer. I love beer!”

I told her that at this stage I would have stood up, kicked over a chair and yelled, “I am a good parent you fuckheads!” spraying Quarter Pounder and spit at them for good measure but she didn’t really think that would change their opinions on her ability to Mother effectively.

My opinion is still the same though – you have to give the fans what they really want…

And so, here is the next installment of My Backyard - The Series.

My Backyard 6 – Perspective

Outside, the ducks still run away from me,
fighting for the tightest position on the fence.
They’re quacking quickly and sound like a boiling kettle.
When I take a step forward, their quacking grows louder.
As if it helps, they bend then stretch their necks.

The rain that first made me wet has now made me wetter.
It’s okay, I’m used to it. And I’ll stay here
until the ducks quack less. Until they peck at things
and shake their tails. Until they move from the fence
and jump in the water.

Inside, the house smells damp
suddenly. And I’m thinking about the ducks –
their fear, their love of water,
their thoughtless, pure actions.

The channel is turned to Jerry Springer,
the sound is down
the guests are running madly back and forth,
towards and away from each other.
In my ears are the ducks – their sounds coming back
and Jerry makes sense to me
suddenly. The way he ridicules us all,
the way he ridicules it all
to us.

I hope we haven’t sprung a leak
but my nose will ignore the damp smell
eventually. I’ll grow used to it.
In a sense, it will go away –

the world is dull outside my window,
inside, the world is wonderfully grey.

Sep 16, 2009

Mud Cake For Your Birthday

Happy Birthday Dad. Have a look at me in that photo to the left. Forget for a moment that I look like a Penis wearing sunglasses and focus on the fact that you've done a pretty decent job with me. That's what this post's about. I am a happy, Geelong Football Club obsessed fully grown man who has stopped dropping mice into boiling water ever since you showed me how much easier it was to simply stomp on their heads. Archie thinks that's great too. And that's how these things work - great ideas and skills get passed from one generation to the next. But teaching me how to killl mice is not the only thing you've done for me.

I remember when I was a drowning kid in a fast flowing river. The fact that you had to let go of your favorite fishing rod and lose it to the watery depths to pull me out by my long blond hair really said something to me. Made me feel like I was worthwhile. And when I was diagnosed with a significant illness in my teens the doctor told you to stop smoking and you did that very day. You didn’t start again until I moved out of home and bought you a carton of cigarettes to say thanks.

It was a great learning experience for me when you found my first porno mag in my desk and had a stern word with me. ‘If your Mum found this there’d be hell to pay’ you said. When I found it in your cupboard a few months later under some science-fiction paperbacks I understood how important effective hiding spots were. Now, even though I never read them, I always make sure I have several science fiction books in my cupboard (wink).

I remember how you told me where lamb chops come from. You made it sound so tasty and normal and probably saved me from my brief stint as a crazy vegetarian.

I’ve taken your There’s a time and a place for everything mantra to heart and remember clearly when you first took me camping with some mates. I saw you live the mantra, transforming from a reliable, gentle, non-swearing, feminism-supporting Dad to a drunk, farting, swearing, sexist, mate who I could often use to roll over and extinguish the campfire with. Simply awesome Dad.

By forcing me to work with you during the long hot summers - crawling through roofs, under houses, digging trenches, etc - you unknowingly taught me a valuable lesson about hard work that I still live by today. It can be summarized thus - Work is hard, avoid it at all cost.

In fact I remember sitting on the porch and saying ‘Dad, why do you enjoy working so much?’ You choked on your Port, laughed and said, ‘No one enjoys work mate. It’s just something you have to do.’ What? I thought, my Dad, who has worked his arse off since his mid teens doesn’t like working?’ It drove me crazy initially but was the beginning of a long search for a professional woman with big earning potential that culminated in my marriage to Reservoir Mum. I am now a living example for men everywhere and I will soon be writing an instructional self-help book titled ‘Work is Hard, Find Your Queen.’

These days I often hear you speaking through me when I talk to Archie, Lewis and Tyson. Like when I tuck them in at night and say, ‘There you go mate. Snug as a bug in a rug.’

So thanks for everything Dad and Happy Birthday. Had great fun with you at the final last week watching the Cats kick arse. I hope (dear-god-please-oh-shit-please) we can see another Geelong Premiership in a fortnight’s time.

The kids say 'Happy Birthday Pa'. I’ll leave you with a picture of a mud cake the kids made for you yesterday. Ingredients used – sand, dirt, slugs, water and their heads.

Sep 2, 2009

The Deformity of Reservoir Mum

Seems to me that kids start having body issues as soon as they're fully aware that they have one. Tyson held his hand up today and looked at it for a good ten seconds. Going by the look on his four-month-old face, it wouldn't have surprised me to hear him screaming 'Get it off me, its eating my arm!'

When I tickled his foot to calm him down he smiled and giggled while his eyes said, "Dad, where the hell is that sensation coming from?"

"You should be a bit more concerned that your eyes are talking," I replied.

At the shopping centre yesterday, Lewis kept pulling my t-shirt down and pointing out to anyone close by that I had hair everywhere. I tried to distract him with all the pretty lights but he was too persistent and so I tackled it head on:

Reservoir Dad: Yep, I'm hairy. You'll grow hair on you chest one day too, mate.
Lewis: No. I won't.
Reservoir Dad: Yep, you will.
Lewis: I won't!
Reservoir Dad: Uh, you will. You'll get hair everywhere. Be happy. It's cool.
Lewis: Oh, yeah. I will. And on my arms and on my legs and on my hair and my face and eyes and bum-bum (etc etc etc)

So going by his enthusiastic little summation, in twenty years we can expect Lewis to turn up to family dinners looking like this -
Of course, when it comes to boys (and men) and body image issues, you can't beat the penis (did I just write that?). At this point in time, in our house, it's referred to as the 'willy'. Just so you're sure of what we're referring to, here's one I prepared earlier -

Archie, Lewis and Tyson all have one (that's one each, not one between them) and the obsession with them is clear (and familiar). In a few short years Arch and Lewy have shown me the amazing things you can do with a willy. Here's a short list -
  • stretch and twist it, get-the-chewy-off-your-boot style, to the point where it seems like it just might snap
  • dip it, by squatting down, into cups, buckets, boots, just about everything
  • paint it
  • wiggle it enthusiastically by swivelling the hips
  • include it in daily conversation
Being a grown man, who has a willy himself, I fully understand the curiosity/obsession involved and I'm qualified enough to explain to the boys that they will never ever tire of it. Only difference between Reservoir Dad as a child and Reservoir Dad now, is that it was my Mum who told me to 'get my hands off it' in my childhood, these days it's Reservoir Mum.

Anwyay, thought I'd leave you with this little occurance. When Archie was two-ish and fresh from the exploration and discovery of the willy, he followed Reservoir Mum into the toilet. When Reservoir Mum stood up Archie leaned close, looked at the front of her, then looked at the back of her, and with all the toddler-ish concern he could muster, said:

"Mummy? Willy gone...?"

Soon, we will have to tell him about the Fagina (stay tuned for future posts on that one!), but for the time being he can go on believing that Mummy's just a little bit deformed in her pants.

Dad Blogs

Sep 1, 2009

The Reservoir Animal Lovers Society

Seems that a lot of people think I hate animals and that I'm a bit heartless and that I should be falling into line and getting all gaga over Buckley the Dog, Sam the Koala, Bibi and Raden - the hot underwear model. (An aside - a fair number of hits since this post have come from Google searches like 'Raden in his see-through underwear’, and the even more mirthful ‘transsexual blogpost’.)

I want to set the record straight. I don't hate underwear -shit- I mean, animals. I've always had pets. Archie, Lewis and Tyson have pets and will for the time they live under our roof. In fact we have 8 animals on our property. Even more if you count the Sea Monkeys.

Animals have their place in a well-rounded human’s life. Here are some personal stories that will make it clear that I am an animal lover and hopefully get all you angry emailers (mostly PETA freaks) off my back.

1. When I was eight my pet cat 'Flippy' ran away. I searched for her for days. Never gave in and finally found her in my next door neighbour’s lounge in front of the heater. I was just so happy. When I got home I shaved her back and wrote my name on her with a permanent marker. That's how much she meant to me. When she died of hypothermia two weeks later I was devastated.

2. I once caught a mouse on my Nana and Pop's farm and with childhood enthusiasm, called it Mousey. Over a period of minutes I put it in a bucket of water, pretended to fish with it by tying a string to its tail and buried it in sand to watch how long it would take to climb out. It was a warm day and I fell asleep in the sun. When I woke up Mousey was dead. Here's the clincher and the proof that you're looking for – I felt bad about it and admitted my crime to Nana. I was very angry when she laughed and told me to give it to Flippy.

3. When I was house-sharing in Melbourne I bought my housemate Kylee a little kitten as a present. She called it Schmitten. I accidentally killed it while she was out. I knew Kylee would be heartbroken so I threw the body over our fence. Because it landed on the neighbour’s roof in plain view of anyone walking by I experienced a high level of stress while I helped Kylee search for the little kitten all over the neighbourhood. Several times Kylee looked up towards the sky, as if to see Schmitten flying overhead (which she would have seen if she’d been there earlier) but somehow missed seeing the body on the roof. I swear I saw the little bastard turn its head towards me, more than once.

4. We used to have two ducks, Floppy and Flap-flap. They were so cute when they were tiny and yellow. I loved them so. Problem was they grew into massive white monsters who shat like automatic tennis ball launchers. In no time at all, our entire backyard was a residential pile of shit. The final straw came when I slipped in it and broke my leg, only days before a powerlifting competition. It was their time to leave but, being the animal lover that I am, I relocated them to a local park with a big pond and dozens of other ducks where they could frolic in virtual duck heaven. A week later the council did a massive culling of all the ducks. Floppy and Flap-Flap frolic no more.

All these stories provide very strong evidence that I am an animal lover. But the clincher has to be the guilt and horror I live with to this day –

At night I feel a cold feline body settle at my feet, I hear the pitter-patter of tiny paws on my roof, I see my pillow sinking under a mousey weight and hear ducks shitting with the force and consistency of machine gun fire.

Why do they come to me to die? Why do they come to me to die?!

And here is number 5 in My Backyard - The Series

My Backyard 5 - Reflections of a Broken Leg

My ducks are uncoordinated,
more suited to swimming than they are to walking.
Their legs are at the back of them.
Their necks carry their heads too far from their bodies.
They are, it seems to me, in a perpetual state of falling forward.

When I am bored, I walk behind them with intent.
They waddle away from me.
They waddle slowly at first
but the faster I stalk them
the faster they waddle.

I’ve worked out, over a few months,
that if I raise me knees with each step
the ducks will see this as an increase in pace
and they will waddle faster than their natural structure allows.

There is something I find rewarding
about increasing the pace of an animal’s gait –
my ducks are armless,
they struggle with balance,
I hate to see them suffer
but when they reach their ultimate speed –
when they fall over and quack
I like it.

I like it –
that I can cause that to happen is affirming.
Most things are beyond me,
there are things I have no control over
but when the ducks reach their maximum speed,
when they fall over and quack as if their lives were over
I like it.

I like it.

I do.