Ever wonder what life would be like with two husbands instead of just the one? It's crossed my mind a few times, I don't mind admitting, but usually only when the husband has had a running streak of 'nights out' and I've found myself bored and lonely at home wishing I had another husband who enjoyed romantic nights in, cuddling up to me with a bottle of wine and a dvd occasionally.
Well this past weekend I had the chance to dry-run the idea when our family went en masse to Karnataka, the next state along. We were headed for Gokarna, or more specifically 'Om Beach' - named such because of the formation of rocks along the shore which are laid out just like the Om symbol.
Having paid a small fortune to get his beloved Enfield tuned up after five months of being locked in storage, the husband was aching for a proper ride to flex those 'moto-muscles' of his and revel in the satisfyingly chunky 'clunk-clunk-clunk' tick synonymous with the Enfield engine.
As our friend from London was keen to come, the husband suggested that perhaps he could accompany the monsters and I on the train while the husband rode his motorcycle along the three hour stretch and met us there. Our friend may not yet have any children of his own, but has more god children than we have friends, as well as being 'god uncle' to wee Egg.
He thought it would be amusing to step in for the husband and get a taste of family life without the strings. And of course, being a rather courteous and considerate fellow, we all joked about how he could be 'Husband Number Two' and I could try him out for size in case we ever decided to go Mormon and live in a reverse-gender-plural-marriage.
The journey there was surprisingly without incident. The monsters weren't too rowdy, they held our hands crossing the train tracks and we all managed to find seats next to each other. To be fair, Egg had his head buried in his Nintendo DSi the whole time and Dumpie spent the journey making faces at other passengers and surreptitiously trying to sneak into my handbag for chewing gum and crisps when I wasn't looking. However the weekend itself proved to be a bit more of a challenge.
Our friend (a model fake husband it has to be said: always carrying the bags, making sure I was comfortable, helping chase Dumps across crowded restaurants etc.) showed his weariness only a few times, mealtimes being the most trying what with Dumps insisting he would only eat every other bite of food, and our friend having to choke back cold porridge in an attempt to coerce Dumps into eating. The throwing the sand thing didn't go over too well (Dumps again), nor did the regurgitating unwanted mouthfuls of Momo's (delicious Tibetan dumplings) back onto the plate. However I did rather enjoy having two men at my beck and call, allowing me to daydream about how lovely it might be to keep a spare husband for when the primary one is acting up or not fulfilling his husbandly duties!
I'm not entirely sure what our friend made of his experience of pinch hitting as husband/father for three days. I suspect serious consideration has been now given to any plans he has for pro-creation. I mean, as much as he adored the kisses, cuddles and watching Egg and Dumps sleep like little angels, he was also front and centre to all the chaos. Highlights include:
Egg and Dumpie wrestling and fist-fighting in front of a holy temple in Gokarna, as the old holy men filed out after a ceremony and stared aghast at the boys attempting to tie up and choke each other - and me! - with long strands of 'holy string' i'd unwittingly purchased earlier...
Dumpie knocking frantically on my hotel room door, being pursued by an angry Dada, after having bolted the door on the outside of our friends hotel room and locking he, the husband and Egg in there for several minutes, refusing to let them out or even answer their pleas for release (luckily our friend was able to call out the window for a bystander to come and free them)...
The hardcore mud-slinging fight Dumps and I had on Om Beach, much to the amused delight of all the Indian tourists gathered near to watch my three year old literally pummel me with fistfuls of mud (his aim is scarily precise) as I sat there covered in mud, begging him to hold off and trying vainly to protect my bikini-clad modesty...
But the worst had to be the train journey home and getting chucked out of the air-conditioned first class carriage. Much to our humiliation, we were sat next to a well to do older British couple who watched us get admonished and told to move along by a portly, uber-serious conductor who literally shooed me aside and painstakingly sat down, opening his notebook, pulling out a laminated fare sheet and powering up his handy dandy pocket calculator to begin the onerous task of figuring out just how much money he might potentially owe Rail India for our innocent oversight.
Egg and Dumpie were of course at this point ensconced in a sleeping berth, curtains shut tight, eating crisps and chocolate and watching Tom and Jerry on the portable dvd. Only occasionally would a hand emerge, with a little voice demanding that we open some package or another and pass in some mango juice. We had to drag them, shamefaced, chocolate smeared faces and all, through three further carriages until we arrived in Second Class non-AC where we we taken pity on by a young woman who said that Egg and Dumpie could sit with her while we climbed up onto the highest berth to sit out the rest of the journey. For my six foot something friend, this amounted to sitting painfully hunched over, necked straining beneath an unfortunately placed metal pole, while I just sat there contemplating how on earth I was going to be able to climb down gracefully in my tenously tied sarong and not expose my undercarriage to all and sundry upon embarkation.
At any rate, we made it home. In one piece. I'm not so sure whether our friend is so keen to repeat the experience and pinch-hit for the husband again, but he at least now knows that 'husbanding' and parenting is hard bloody work. He also doesn't realise that I saved him from one of the more harrowing tasks: seeing to Dumps when he loudly demands (usually in restaurants as our food has just arrived) "I NEED A POO!". And did I mention that a lot of the toilets here are primitive mere holes in the ground? So I have the unenviable task of having to bend over and grasp Dumps under the arms while he goes limp like a rag doll, splays his legs straight out in front of him and waits for his body to do the work. And if you think that's bad try cleaning him up without the help of toilet paper - especially when he pushes me out the door (my job clearly done) and bolts it from the inside, and I hear the sound of the hose (the 'bum-blaster' a friend wittingly coined it) starting up. Minutes later he'll emerge, soaked but triumphant, smelling faintly of poo, and ready to eat his meal. Me...not so much.
Ah well. Such is life. Our friend leaves tomorrow to go back to London and I hope he's had a good trip. We worked amazingly well as a parenting threesome, though I did realise that a permanent manifestation of such might be trouble in the long run given that both husbands might just spend a lot of their time drinking beer together and passing on their bad habits, until you were left with two unwieldy husbands to manage.
And like Bono sings in 'Until the End of the World',
"A woman needs a man, like a fish needs a bicycle"...
Think I'll stick with just the one.