Take It or Leave It, Tennis is Where the Real Drama’s At

Who needs reality TV when you can watch reality (live, from Melbourne)?

My wife is watching the tennis. He is heavily, incomprehensibly, invested. I already know there is a high chance of a fight when Married At First Sight Australia starts up again at the end of February. It is an argument I feel confident I will win, seeing as he watched the entire five-day cricket test match this year. I have already expressed as much.

Like cricket, I can take or leave tennis, much to my wife’s sorrow. More than the players, my interest is in the ball-kids, with their strange, stiff-backed poses like a cockroach caught in the fridge light. I hear they get paid in uniforms, which seems faintly ungenerous.

“Look,” I say to my wife, “They’re conversing. That’s highly illegal. I just looked it up.”

“You’re almost out of chocolate,” my wife says sadly, sprawled on the bed. “There’re only four pieces left.” He puts three in his mouth without taking his eyes off the telly.

My mother-in-law texts me: “Once again I thoroughly enjoyed the latest episode of Boatworm. If you are going to take any advice from anyone, please make it this: DO NOT swim in the rivers and creeks in the northern areas of Australia. Your wife will be of no use as a spotter as no one usually sees them coming. Also, he’s a bit blind.”

I repeat this to my wife. He sighs. “Times are bad when even my mum refers to me as your wife,” he says. He does not dispute the blindness.

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The next night as my wife finishes his dinner he asks me: “So — are you ready?”

“Ready for what?”

He mimes a little tennis.

“Again!” I say.

“Are we going to have this conversation every night for the next ten nights?” he asks.

When I return from the bathroom my wife’s already on the bed with the telly on.

“You should really watch this,” he says. “Or don’t, your choice.”

I sit in bed reading my book until I hear the commentator say “I can’t watch.”

It’s Helep vs Tomljanovic. “You don’t understand,” says my wife. “Tomljanovic is an unseeded player. She’s never won anything! She’s Australian!” The Australians love a bit of patriotism.

“Woah,” I say after a moment. “Helep’s getting fucked up.” I know who Helep is because I got coached on her yesterday. She is Number 2.

“Oh my God,” I say a few minutes later. I hear myself blow through my teeth. “The mind games!” I find myself clutching my pillow.

“This is colossal,” says the commentator. I am holding my breath. “This is epic,” says the commentator. I stare at the TV. I am transfixed.


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