Canberra bookshops have become a cactus patch of social awkwardness.
From Monday, when Niki Savva's notorious account of the Abbott Government went on sale, a sizeable chunk of the political class was seized by a ticklish tactical problem: How to obtain the controversial tome and swiftly consume it, while reserving the option to act innocent if accidentally caught in a lift / sauna / peloton with the former prime minister?
Canberra being a small town – and Road to Ruin being the most reliable indicator of factional allegiance since Prince Philip – these are live concerns.
So all week, shrubberies outside bookstores seethed with conservative staffers waiting for the coast to clear. On the plane to Adelaide's Cabinet meeting on Monday night, a range of advisers found creative ways to mainline the thing undetected. One slipped it inside a magazine. Several opted for the lower-profile e-book.
"We had 300 copies, and we sold them all,' reports Rose from Paperchain Manuka, the closest bookstore to Parliament House. "We were actually closed on Tuesday, but we were still selling them through the door. I had a few people ask for paper bags because they were sneaking back up to Parliament".
The most incendiary element of the book – enthusiastically ventilated in extracts before its general release – was its controlled detonation of the long-canvassed rumour of extramarital shenanigans at the highest level of the Abbott Government.
Here's the thing though – and it's a thing that makes my heart throb with pride in the Australian political system: Outside Canberra, nobody really cared that much.
Imagine if a book were published in the US suggesting even the sniff of a rumour that Barack Obama was bonking one of his senior female advisers.
There'd be round-the-clock analysis by pundits, retired staffers and relationship counsellors. There'd be private detectives and DNA tests and endless think-pieces about the secret sex life of Washington. John Edwards, Anthony Weiner and all the other countless politicians hounded from office after sex scandals would have to switch their phones off, as would poor old Monica Lewinsky.
In the UK, the fascination with Westminster sexual peccadilloes is so intense that the whole country just about ground to a halt last year when it was breezily alleged in a new biography of Prime Minister David Cameron that he had – thirty years ago, as part of a Bollinger-addled stunt for his crazy inbred Oxford dinner club – achieved some kind of intimate contact with a dead pig's head.
There is a widely-accepted culture in that country for journalists not only to report sexual misbehaviour when they become aware of it, but to go actively in search of such nasties. In disguise, if necessary.
But what happened here? There was a bit of a fuss, the two protagonists denied the allegation and mainstream Australia had lost interest by midweek, thanks to the rich Australian tradition of not caring terribly much about what politicians are rumoured to do in their private lives.
And the book, by week's end, was understood for what it mainly is; one writer's deeply engrossing account of a weird-as-hell interlude in Australian politics.
When it comes to sex and politics in this country, we are an overwhelmingly sensible people. Even when sex-related policy issues arise – school pamphlets addressing transgender students, the general question of whether people with matching equipment should be allowed to get hitched – the general population is overwhelmingly less prone to moral panic than the denizens of Parliament House, Canberra.
Instead, we reserve our entire rumpy-pumpy download capacity for sporting stars.
On the question of whether the two most powerful people in Australia were intimately involved, we have registered a polite "couldn't care less, really."
On the question, however, of whether one paunchy former football player who hasn't donned a guernsey for a decade and a half did the wild thing with the ex-wife of his friend, the nation is itchily incapable of obtaining anywhere near enough detail.
The Footy Show's love triangle intrigue lumbered noisily into its fifth week on Thursday with panellist Billy Brownless making an emotional TV reappearance to discuss former host Garry Lyon's affair with his ex.
"You don't touch a man's wallet — you don't touch his wife," Brownless explained, in a welcome clarification of what can often be a nebulous code of conduct in the ranks of retired professional sportsmen.
I was roughly aware of the wife thing, but the wallet? This was intriguing news. Is there any connection between the two? I realise with belated alarm that I saw my partner's friend grab twenty bucks out of his wallet at the pub a few weeks ago. DOES THAT MEAN I'M NEXT? Does the rule extend to any other chattels, like favourite T-shirts or Ryobi power drills?
So many questions. Questions we don't really want answered, if politicians are involved. God bless Australia.