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I have fallen in love with a Brady Bunch house in North Balwyn. I really, really want it because I am obsessed with the Bradys and I really, really want to be Carol. I want a mushroom haircut and a husband who is always right. And I want Alice.
I force the Bradys on my kids every night before they go to bed. Teeth, toilet and Brady Bunch episode. I figure it’s a good way to instil in them old-fashioned, homespun family values and a taste for vintage clothes.
So I want to move to North Balwyn and live the rest of my life Brady-style. I want to play Scrabble with Mike in the big sunken living room while the kids are in the family room in their nylon dressing gowns, working through serious moral crises such whether to dob on each other or wear a wig to school.
This is the life I want. The kids understand what punishment is on the Brady Bunch. They expect to be grounded, even if they’ve done nothing all that bad such as deliberately forgetting to wear their glasses at school. Mike can solve any sort of issue or dilemma, and when he arrives home unexpectedly early from the office in that big old Cadillac, Carol goes outside with a grin on her face and says that it’s the best thing that’s happened to her all day.
I want to be like that. I want to spend the day in a miniskirt stirring an empty saucepan in the kitchen with Alice. I want to call Sam with my meat order and then go out shopping for Modern Danish while Alice sorts out all the hard stuff.
But can I bear to live in North Balwyn? It’s really lovely with all those up and down streets – it’s just that its full of old people who moved to North Balwyn when they were young and then stayed.
When my friend moved there the first thing she did was offend the lady next door by asking her what her son’s name was, which is technically not offensive except that the son was the husband. I guess it’s hard to distinguish between old and really old sometimes.
But I like living with old people. Many years ago we rented this fabulous flat in East Melbourne and were the only residents in the entire block younger than 60. Everyone else was about 20 years past retirement and because this was a body corporate set up, they did everything by committee. They all went downstairs to use the communal washing machines on Mondays and swept the carpark together on Tuesdays and then they’d have sherry nights on Fridays.
After a couple of sherries and a mountain of Clix and french onion dip, I would lie in bed dreaming one of those lovely old people would leave me something in their will – an old picture or a vase or their flat. They never did, and so I have to fend for myself in this big old world and save up for my own Brady Bunch house.
But what really worries me the most about the lovely house in North Balwyn is that someone who doesn’t get it will buy it – because they want to live in the Balwyn High zone or be close to the South Eastern or something really trivial such as that.
But they won’t realise what they actually have, and they’ll not stop to savour the frenzy of brown wood and exposed beams and grey brick feature walls, and they’ll probably render it and paint it charcoal and then close in the carport and put in a stainless steel kitchen and extend the kids' TV room.
And my dream will be over.