When the fairy dust wears off.
In a suburban Botany home, a lego McMansion, a bare chested middle aged man stared closely into the mirror. He scowled, clenched his fists in front of his thighs, and tightened his chest muscles.
Looking the reflection intently in the eye he growled “what are you going to do when Luxomania runs wild over you?” Then he made a barking sound he imagined sounded like a fierce guard dog, which actually sounded like the dad in Home Improvement.
He could hear giggling through the wall, so popped his head out the doorway. “What you laughing at Mandy?” She looked up, “just some funny reels”, his wife replied. He noticed her phone was plugged in on the bedside cabinet charging.
Sheepishly he returned to the en suite. He looked back to the mirror. The shaving foam covered his face and his head, rivulets of warm soapy water ran over his neck onto his chest. He grinned and said - “yeah, fair enough I don’t look much like a wrestler.”
“More like Santa has gone somewhere too hot and started to melt”, she laughed from the bed. The eyes twinkled in his reflection and he smiled imagining himself as Santa. He started to sing, progressively louder with each line.
You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is Simeon Brown…
A few miles away in Pakuranga a much younger man was examining his own reflection closely. Staring intently at his top lip and wondering if he could see the first possible hints of a moustache. He dabbed a finger at it and examined the tip, then licked it. Vegemite.
He was making a special Sunday School guest appearance at his family church. His sermon had been giving him some difficulty. The main theme was about potholes and how they were the devil’s work, but he was concerned that there were some quite large ones in the church carpark.
It perplexed him. On the one hand he could clearly blame any problems out on the highway on Jacinda. He took out a felt pen, drew a line through the word “Jacinda”, and wrote “Chippy” underneath. He wondered how he could pin them all on the government without angering the lord.
He thought “why can’t I be more like Bishop, he wouldn’t hesitate to say Labour caused all the potholes”. He licked his lips at the prospect. “Bah, definitely still Vegemite”.
A dishevelled list MP woke with a start in Lower Hutt. He opened one eye and looked around. There was a half eaten tray of vindaloo with about twenty cigarette butts in it. Some empty beer cans and an almost empty bottle of Jack Daniels. But the cause for the sudden end of his too short sleep was the baby, nappy full by the smell, placed on his chest.
“I’m going to see my mother”, his wife said. “She still isn’t happy with you telling the whole country that she isn’t family. You change the baby, and when you’re done with that change yourself, because you stink. Literally and figuratively.”
He sat up, wincing at the odour from his son. The thought of changing him, and the sight of the vindaloo, made him retch. He looked round for his ciggies and placed one in his mouth unlit. He thought of long nights with Nicola when they had been ambitious young MPs together, hangovers never hurt this bad back in those days.
“And clean up this mess, you’re not a bloody student, and I’m not you mother”, his wife yelled as she slammed the back door.
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In a somewhat more affluent part of the Wellington region Nicola Willis was sitting up in bed. Her children were serving her breakfast in matching pyjamas, the same ones she and her husband were wearing.
“People are pretty excited about these prescription fees eh”, said her husband pouring the coffee. She rolled her eyes, “ridiculous isn’t it”, she sighed. “Once they’ve seen my first budget the last thing that anyone will be talking about is prescription fees!”
Her phone started to buzz - Incoming Call: Shrek.
“I’d better take this”, she said slipping out from under the duvet and taking her coffee to the bathroom. “Hey Chris, what’s up?”, she said as she closed the door behind her.
Her family could hear loud laughter, and then a very angry voice, they cringed. They could even hear her swearing, and she didn’t do that very often. Usually only if they got a ‘B’ grade at school, or if Grant Robertson was on the TV, or something
After a long time she re-emerged. Her cheeks were flushed and she looked slightly manic as she smiled at them. “That was Chris, the latest numbers are not good, not good at all. The advisors have told him it’s time for a relaunch, freshen up the brand, invigorate the voters. Unfortunately he hasn’t taken the hint and he thinks we’re going to relaunch him. He kept ranting something about Luxomania running wild over the country.”
Her family looked concerned. They had learned that they were a lot happier when she was happy. “What will you do now?”, asked the eldest child.
“Well” she said, perking up, “what do you all think of the phrase Nickimania?”
“Apparently I’m going to be the new Jacinda.”
There was a gentle murmuring at first, a few guffaws, and then the laugher grew louder and louder. She had tears rolling down her face as struggled to say “they want me to talk about the importance of kindness”. They roared with laughter as their mother stared at them, mischief in her eyes.
“What are you going to do, when Nickimania runs wild over you?”