My wife is enthusiastic. I deftly quell his joy and settle in
My wife and I are driving to our holiday destination. We are alternating between shouting at tailgaters, reading out Tim Dowling columns and chortling, and listening to a podcast about the Russian influence on the US elections.
“I would like to know our elevation,” announces my wife.
I look it up. “700 metres,” I say.
“Fuck yes!” he shouts, banging the steering wheel. “Doesn’t it feel good to be right!? Remember when I said it was 700 metres?”
“No,” I say. “When did you say that?”
“Like, an hour and a half ago!”
“Well, we weren’t at 700 metres an hour and a half ago.”
“No, when I said Canberra was like 700 metres high?”
“We’re not in Canberra yet,” I say. “We’re in Bungendore.”
“God, you’re hard to share good news with,” he says.
Four minutes before our hotel, we are still in desert-like golden bushland. We are the only vehicle on a two-lane highway into the capital of Australia.
“Sick, we can do 110 on this bitch,” says my wife, happily.
The Ibis Hotel is in the bush. Our friends have drawn us a map to get to our room from reception. When we get to the door, it is opened by Chandler and Steve. My wife puts down the pizza we have bought to share, immediately opens the box and starts stuffing it into his face. “Happy anniversary!” says Chandler.
My wife and I look at each other quizzically, then with mirth. “Isn’t it your anniversary?” asks Chandler. She states the date.
“Is it?” I ask my wife.
“This is the date on our marriage certificate,” nods my wife, chewing.
“Whoopsies,” I say.
The next order of service is to arrange the bedding. Somehow we have purchased ourselves a room with one big bed and a bunk bed. Steve is enthusiastic about creating a sleepover environment. Almost immediately the boys have rearranged the room so the bunks line up with the big bed. Everyone sprawls.
The journey here is discussed, aggressively, for a long time. This is a direct result of us all arriving in twenty-year-old vans that religiously take hills at 30km/hour, regardless of speed limit. I take a cheap pot at my wife’s tailgating anger. “How dare you,” he says. “On our anniversary.”
Next we take a tour around the facilities. Steve tells me the pool is massive. The pool is small. To no fanfare, the billiards room is closed. The boys start googling local pool tables.
The gym is quite fun. We all have a sit on the yoga balls. We talk about our plans for Australia Day. “Where’ll Scomo be?” asks my wife. “I want to go and wish him a flash day.”
Practicalities are discussed. In one corner of the giant bed my wife decides to ignore social niceties, and gets his phone out. “Siri — what is my elevation?” Siri amusingly refuses to tell him. Steve starts to look it up.
“Leave it, Steve,” I tell him. “That’s what his slave is for.” The way my wife speaks to Siri is truly dreadful. I believe this is what they call karmic retribution.
Everyone piles in to their separate corner of our four-person bed. “Who gets control of the air-conditioning?” asks Steve. He nominates me as the person closest to the unit, at the same time as my wife says “Anyone but her.”
“You don’t understand,” he says, “Kat’s internal temperature regulator doesn’t work.”
“Yes it does,” I say, taking the remote. I push the button for “powerful” because I am still dreadfully hot, despite being in this nice cold room for several hours. This blasts Steve with arctic air. I am immediately recused from my air-conditioning duties.
I undertake my usual nightly routine of slathering all my dry skin in medicated moisturiser. For some reason, this greatly amuses everyone. “You’re really getting in between the toes there,” says Chandler. “It looks like you’re enjoying that.” I turn to see an unsettling fan of faces staring at my feet. “Please stop,” I say. “I have a skin condition.”
“Are we sleeping soon?” asks Chandler. “I need two minutes notice on when the socialising ends so I can turn my cochlear implant off.”
When we do all eventually stop chattering and I have undertaken a trip to the van to retrieve my forgotten pillow, there is a minute or so’s silence. Chandler takes her implant off.
“Aw, she’s missed the sweet clatter of me putting my braces in,” I say.
“Who’s talking?” she says immediately. “I can hear someone’s talking. Sleep time now.”
“Christ, I didn’t know my mum was here,” I say under my breath. And with that, we are all deeply, soundly asleep.