Things had been pretty damn good since that weird moment in the bedroom. I was in a place I’d never thought possible. Married, content and regularly getting some. My beloved, being the queen of organisation that she is, drew up a chart highlighting appropriate times and days to…um…how do you say this without it being crude and crass…get jiggy with it? No. Dance the horizontal Lambada? Nah. Fire my love gun? Hmmm don’t think so. Deploy my boys into the deep unknown? Sure, why not. All in technicolour I might add. So as it was, I was regularly getting it on. Like clockwork. And I’d even come up with a way to distract myself from her post-coital gymnastics practice. I called it ‘sitting on the couch, watching TV’. As a means of distraction, it works a treat. You should try it.
We were following her meticulous schedule for a few months and I things were going great. Swimmingly in fact. Apologies for using that awful pun. But apparently, not all was well. And instead of euphoria I started to detect growing anger and frustration after every sweaty embrace. See, we weren’t pregnant yet. The myriad of little plastic wee sticks thrown into a cupboard drawer were proof of that. I hated going to the supermarket, because no matter how hard I tried to steer her away, we invariably cruised through the ‘pharmacy’ section and ummed and ahhed over the respective nuances of about two dozen types of pregnancy test. It got to the point where we tried every single different wee stick we could find, hoping that eventually, we’d find one that showed us that we were pregnant.
I say we. Because that is how it is termed these days. I know. I don’t like it either. But after five years of marriage, to the same woman I might add, I have learned to not argue semantics in the ‘heat of the moment’. This entire ‘we’ thing started from the moment that she said ‘we’ were trying to have a baby. To be fair, I can’t ever recall actually trying. Maybe that was why we weren’t?
Anyway, to distract her from stabbing me to death with a plastic wee stick, I organised a trip away to sunny Port Douglas, to you know, shake up the routine. Her disposition was altered immeasurably. Full of smiles, handholding, compliments (real ones) and all the lovey dovey crap that men secretly love but never admit. There I said it.
We were at the hotel. A lovely little place with shiny white tiles, shiny white walls, shiny white air-conditioning and a very tanned blonde receptionist with shiny white teeth. They shone with the brilliance of a supernova. I stifled a laugh, reflecting on how they beamed from the dark recesses of her tan.
We were booking a snorkelling tour, scanning over the many different brochures, each one with an identical picture of coral and the same turtle swimming happily in the water. My wife was taking her time, chatting to Fangs, while I was sweating like a hog waiting to be stuck on a spit. I could feel the heat of the flames licking at my soon to be crackling skin. It was hot and I was a little sunburnt.
"Have you forgotten anything?" She asked as we left reception, her face hidden behind a pair of knock-off sunglasses we bought in Thailand earlier that year.
"No,” I responded, my brain slowly melting under my hat.
"Are you sure?” She asked again, pecking away at me like a hen at a worm.
"Yes I’m sure. I haven’t forgotten anything.”
“Have you got your wallet?”
“No, I figure on paying for lunch with some rocks we collect on the way.”
“What about the keys? Have you got the keys?”
“Of course I have the keys. Hear the jingle jangle in my pocket. Keys.”
“And you’re sure you have your wallet?”
“For Christ’s sake, I haven’t forgotten anything. Why do you always have to ask me?”
“Because you always forget something.”
“What? You’re talking rubbish. When was the last time I forgot anything?”
“See! I knew you couldn’t come up with an example.”
“I was merely taking a moment to trawl through the vast database of examples. Like yesterday for instance, when you forgot to pack the sunscreen and got ridiculously sunburnt, or last night when you forgot your phone and we couldn’t call a taxi to get home. Or on Sunday, when you forgot to take the chicken out of the car and we had to have toast for dinner. Or last week when you forgot that we were having my parents over and you stayed back for a drink after work.”
“Or two weeks ago when you for…”
“OK I get it.”
“Good. Now, have you forgotten anything?”
“Bloody Nora! No, I’ve got everything. Can we go now?” She looked me up and down, satisfied that she had beaten me down. Again.
We boarded the bus and took it to the marina. She was talking to an English backpacker about crocodiles or sharks or bikinis or something and I was desperately trying to get as much air from the open window as I could. She turned to me, her fingers playing with hair sticking out form under my hat and smiled. She seemed happy, as if the thought of not being pregnant hadn't entered her mind. She was looking forward to going on the tour.
"Hun, do you think we have enough time to look at the shops before we leave? Jenny says they have a wonderful baby store at the marina." Baby store? But we're not even pregnant, I almost blurted out, until the tiny part of my brain that still processed thoughts kicked me senseless and took over.
"I think so. Depends on what time we have to meet the guy at the boat."
"Can you check the tickets?" As I began patting myself down like an overweight, very sweaty cop, an image of two tickets resting forlornly atop the reception counter flickered momentarily into focus and suddenly vanished like a mirage.
"Shit!" I muttered, steam rising from my sweat soaked skin.
"What is it hun?" Oh crap. What do I say now?
"Uhhh...about the tickets"
"Spit it out Ed."
"I...uh...I...kind of left them on the counter at the hotel."
"You forgot the tickets! I can't believe you forgot the tickets! You really are the stupidest...
...I have ever met."
"So what now Ed?"
"At least there's plenty of time to go shopping."