I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s almost like our default activity is seeing who can gross each other out the most. Nothing is off-limits. If family members have to share a hotel bed for some reason, incest jokes are thrown around with gay abandon. Stories that involve losing bowel control or explosive diarrhoea are always welcome, and it’s common for my sisters compare notes about how inexplicably terrible their poos smell during their period. (The key adjective that haunts me? “Sour”.)
Mum disapproves of all this filth. In her mind, she’s a white flower of virtue. “I only learned the word ‘cunt’ from you,” she says. “All you Aussie kids are a bad influence”. I’m not convinced though. After all, this is a woman who has – as long as I remember – recounted the gory details of her childbirth experiences to complete strangers, usually unsolicited. (“Let your doctor cut your lips with a scalpel,” she tells pregnant women in the shops, who find themselves unable to escape the conversation. “And dooooon’t let your vagina tear naturally, otherwise it’ll look like burns down there.”)
One moment we’d be doing homework, the next we’d be watching Dr Cindy Pan discuss chlamydia, together, as a family.
Also keep in mind, this is a mother who – throughout the 1990s – hollered out to us in glee, every time there was a sex scene on SBS (frequent), or whenever Tottie Goldsmith’s Sex/Life was on. One moment we’d be doing homework, the next we’d be watching Dr Cindy Pan discuss chlamydia, together, as a family.
However, the most compelling evidence that we inherited our foulness from mum is that the tit cake from The Family Law was – in real life – Mum’s idea. Growing up, Mum always bought us novelty cakes from the Woolworths bakery across the road, which had a photo catalogue of cakes they could make into the likeness of characters from Sesame Street, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Disney films. Considering she was such a loyal customer, how could they deny her unusual request for Andrew’s 21st birthday? Yes, we changed a few details in the show, but I can confirm that in real life, the tit cake was just as pink, just as delicious, and Andrew was just as mortified.