Once upon a time there was a perfectly respectable couple who wouldn’t have dreamed of doing anything illegal, offensive or immoral. But they had to spoil everything by having a child.
From the beginning, the parents did everything by the book. Everything – from eating spinach and offal before conception to not screaming for drugs on the delivery table. The mumma struggled with the breastfeeding business because ‘it’s nature’s way and gives bubby the best start in life,’ even though nosy old cows in pink towelling tracksuits constantly approached her in the street to inform her, ‘you probably don’t have enough milk, dearie,’ just because the baby was howling his head off and hurling plush ferrets at gawking bystanders. The daddy put up with the mumma having a headache every night, not realising this state of affairs would probably continue for another 20 years, after which time she’d probably be wishing she was dead.
Both parents diligently taught Rocco right from wrong. He was well aware he should wash his hands after visiting the bathroom and knew it wasn’t nice to drink milk straight from the carton. Mumma made sure he could say ‘aitch’ without the ‘h’ on the front. The parents thought they had all bases covered.
Then Rocco starts school. He is now capable of choosing the people he wishes to associate with, and it’s not lovely Nigel from No.23 in the home-knitted argyle cardigan, either. Dream on. His chosen playmate is Shayne, who teaches him on the first day how to rip great chunks out of his new grey trousers by sliding across the school carpark on his knees, and how you can pierce your own eyebrow before morning recess. Rocco is a willing student. By home time he also remembers the pronunciation of the f-bomb, the p-word and a few interesting variations of the s-word, which can hitherto be used when his meal is placed in front of him and mumma has not done the right thing. After the first day he will no longer take his lunch to school in the Tupperware box with his name written on Elastoplast on the lid – and his Globite schoolbag is smashed to pieces and hurled under the house, together with the poofy legionnaire’s cap sporting the school crest.
Long before he reaches high school, Rocco knows policemen are to be referred to as animals of the pink and grunting variety and that ‘mother’ is only half a word. The contents of the family cutlery drawer are strapped around his thigh at all times, even under his Anarchy Rules OK pyjama trousers, and daddy’s new Stihl chainsaw sometimes goes missing for weeks on end.
More often than not, the police come to make routine enquiries on Saturday mornings. At first, it was just to check Rocco’s waste paper basket for alleged Cadbury wrappers after he’d allegedly been seen removing the said alleged chocolate bars from the alleged corner store. In later years they brought a pantechnicon with them in order to remove the alleged plasma screens from where they were allegedly stashed under tarpaulins in the back of daddy’s toolshed.
Mumma started to think it might have been better in the long run to have turned a blind eye to Rocco drinking milk from the carton and to have allowed him to say ‘haitch’ every now and then. You do not, after all, end up in Pentridge from bad grammar alone.
Nigel’s mother however, is very smug. She tells Rocco’s mumma that Nigel is taking an accountancy course at TAFE in his spare time and is doing really well working part time at McDonald’s. According to the manager, Nigel’s burgers always have just the right amount of ketchup and he never forgets to include the pickle. Furthermore, when he was on his way to his accordion lesson, Nigel saw Rocco piddling over the railway bridge on to the roof of the 9.45 from Central.
Rocco’s mumma, in her sweetest and most controlled voice, calls Nigel’s mother the other half of the word of which mother is only half. She also informs her there isn’t much call for accordion players anymore and it’s a well known fact most people throw away the pickle from their Big Mac.
Then, with a ‘proud mother’ flourish, she pulls the Stihl out of her handbag.