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.