Thursday, June 23, 2016

talk the walk...

(Image via
This morning began as all my weekday mornings do: at the gym. Gymming is a throwback habit of mine from the 80’s that started because I always felt fat (who didn’t feel fat in those high-cut undies and cozzies?) So, back then I went for the sake of my body. Now, with a chemical called “peri-menopause” coursing through my veins, I need to go to the gym to rectify what can only be termed “my rapidly unravelling brain.” Of course, when I tell people that "nowadays I gym more for my head”, I can read their minds: “Do it for your buuuuuummm!”

Now, I know that lots of people look down on gyms and gymming people. I know that I’m “supposed” to prefer exercising outdoors (because it’s much more, um, noble and, um, outdoorsy and, um, connected-to-nature-ish) but I, for one, love the gym. I fucking love it. One of the reasons I like the gym is that it is so neatly compartmentalised. You don’t go to the gym and “accidentally” end up exercising. You go there to exercise and then you go home, or you go to work. And then you either do home-stuff or work-stuff and you don’t have to clutter your brain with thoughts of exercise and you can fully apply your mind to other exciting pursuits. Later, if you like, you can walk the dogs with no thought of exercise at all because you already did your exercise and you can walk as slowly or quickly as you like without bothering about things like “heart-rate”, “calories burnt” or “personal best”.

Just to clarify, it’s not that I dislike being outdoors. I love it in fact. It’s just that I feel the outdoors is too nice a place to spoil with blood, sweat and tears. For me, the outdoors is purely a place where I can lose myself in the sounds of birds tweeting and feel the breeze upon my un-sweaty skin. It’s a place where I could ride a bicycle in a white frock down a country lane (think: most movies set in Tuscany/Provence) and where I can use phrases like “just look at those sweet lambs gambolling”.

My thing with the outdoors is somewhat inherited. Exactly half my family are any-kind-of-weather outdoorsy types who like nothing more than doing almost anything outdoors (although I must add, they do seem to have a weird preference for being outdoors in unreasonably hot weather.) The other half of my family, of which I am one, are fair-weather outdoorsy types. We like doing things like lying on the grass reading a book, taking a stroll in a leafy forest or perhaps doing a spot of beach yoga. Needless to say, sweating doesn’t typically come into it.

But I digress, back to the gym. As you know (if not from me, then surely from your own experience), gyms are funny places. One of the most funny things about gyms is what I call “the gym-walk”. I’ll explain.

A gym-walk is a walk that is mostly reserve for the gym only. Sometimes, you will see guys doing their gym-walk outside of the gym, but then they will most likely be on the beach or be doing some other kind of sporty thing. Both girls and guys have gym-walks but they are characterised differently. Girls will hardly ever use their gym-walk outside of the gym, unless they are walking alone and suddenly feel threatened. But then they will use the men’s gym-walk and not the women’s gym-walk.

Women’s gym-walks tend to lengthen their necks, which calls for raising your chin slightly and pulling your shoulders down. Women’s gym-walks aim to reduce any Quasimodo-like shoulder hunching, which means you have to pull your shoulders back, but not too back that it looks like you’re showing off your boobs. Women’s gym-walks are also inclined to resemble a sprinting sandpiper rather than a striding cowboy. Many women have plenty of swag but they tend to speed it up – like those old fashioned silent movies – because as you know, women always do things at pace because they have places to go and shit to do and they mostly rush their workouts.

Men’s gym-walks are different and for some bizarre reason, I’ve adopted the official men’s gym-walk rather than the official woman’s gym-walk. I attribute this to trying to look like I belong in the free-weights section. It’s taken me years to perfect and I have to say that it often fucks out. It looks something like this.

I warm up my gym-walk between my car and the gym entrance. This involves a kind of bouncy walk (you know, the kind where it looks like you’ve strained you Achilles, or your heels are hurt and you don’t want to put them on the ground. BTW, I have a friend who walk s like this all the time.) This walk is important to establish the impression that you are “ready to do this shit and then rule the world”.

There is a brief period when I swipe my card where I kind of suck in my tummy and puff out my shoulders a bit – just to set the tone. But by the time I hit the cardio area, I’m in full-on gym-walk mode. Working from the top down, this involves several things. To begin with, my head is pulled slightly back, as though I’ve just smelt something unsavoury. This automatically makes my neck look thick, like a boxer or wrestler, and gives off the vibe that I’m not to be messed with. My shoulders are slightly hunched forward, as though I’m just about to wrestle a heavy, but rather short bear. This sends a message of “possession”, as in “this is my machine, back off”. It’s different to the puffed out shoulder look because it implies humbleness, suggesting, “I’m not full of myself, I’m just here to do my shit”.

Hunching my shoulders is further enabled by the fact that I’m trying to simultaneously pull in my gut and pull in my bum – which means that all that junk gets displaced and is repositioned in my shoulders. My legs are responsible for striding out purposefully - no hesitation is permitted on my way to the “machines” – which is the non-verbal equivalent of saying “there’s just no stopping me”. Once I start training, my gym-walk is supported by various noises and facial expressions. These involve devil-may-care face-scrunching, tongue-out panting, and, on occasion, grunting or unintentional loud whistling as air is forcefully expelled from my lungs.

The irony behind my gym-walk is that it pretty much fucks out the minute I start running on the treadmill. Here, the word “running” is to be interpreted in very elastic terms because I’m not sure that you could call what I do on the treadmill “running”. Its more a short-stride-shuffle, seasoned with a touch of imminent- wipeout. To make matters worse, I often do “rapper hands” as I run – to look tough, you understand – even though I am actually listening to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” (which, by the way, is perfect in terms of BPM if you’re wanting to run at a speed of 10 minute per km). Another reason my gym-walk fucks out on the treadmill is that I’m always very busy rearranging myself. I have to manage my pants so that they don’t slip down and my top so that it doesn’t slip up. Actually, I’m thinking of inventing some kind of braces for gym tops. They would look almost exactly like men’s braces but they would be shorter and worn upside-down. The two front straps could fasten to the front of your gym top and the singular strappy bit could go under your crotch and fasten to the middle-back of your shirt. I suppose this is why leotards were invented but fuck knows, I’m never wearing one of those again.

Anyway, next time you’re at the gym, look at everyone’s gym-walks and then glance at the mirror and look at your own. Heaven knows, mine makes me laugh.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

africa burnt...

(Image via:
I had planned to write a blog about “gym walks”, but what with AfrikaBurn underway and so much being said about it on social media, I couldn’t resist the urge to “get involved” myself. In truth, the mere idea of the event has been filling me with a growing feeling of annoyance that I can only liken to an untreated STD – you know it’s there and it bothers you but you can’t talk to anyone about it. However, on reading Kurt Seigfried’s colourful and wonderful rant, I feel as if I am no longer alone and therefore safe enough to “express” how I really feel.

To be clear from the start: I haven’t been to Afrika Burn so everything I know is wholey based on what people – people who have actually gone - have said. So guys: no judgement. Don’t fire back at me because this is about me and my issues, not about you and, um, yours.

By all accounts, it sounds like AfrikaBurn is an event that is short on venue and long on attitude. A dusty festival of druggery, fuckery and white-neckery. What is wrong with druggery, fuckery and white-neckery I hear you ask? Well, nothing actually. And as my dad would say, if that’s your thing, bully for you. Except I can’t help but feel that if it IS your thing, you should state quite clearly that it is. You could say something like,

“I’m off for some druggery, fuckery and white-neckery” in the desert for the week”.

And then, your family and friends could say something like,

“Awesome. Have a wonderful time! See you next Tuesday.”

That way, there would be no confusion about what your intentions are. Because, despite the honourably conceived principles that underpin the event, most people are there for the aforementioned activities, and the “gifting”, “self expression” and all those other admirable things, are peripheral to the real experience.

But let’s back up a little and give deserts, druggery, fuckery and white-neckery some due diligence.

Deserts. I do like them. A little. But mostly I like them far away from me and not when I’m in them. Also, I like deserts a whole lot more when they have a lot more grass, a big lake, perhaps a stream or two, and a ton of trees. Guys, deserts are overrated. There’s a reason bedouin’s are nomads. They’re trying to find their way out!

Drugs. No problem with them. Not at all. Except that I, for one, like my drugs the way that God intended them to be taken. Prescribed and predictable. Also, the concept of “recreational drugs” and “decommodification” somehow don’t go hand in hand. After all, we can only assume that all the E and coke that has been purchased to aid “self-expression” has been “bought”, and not “gifted”. Of course, the fact that these drugs have entered the “Burn” through unconventional, black-market avenues might be of some comfort to those “burners” who don’t want to make big corporations rich. But personally speaking, I like my drugs utterly tested. And no, I don’t care that I’m making pharmaceutical companies rich or that my hard-earned buck is sending their sales force to the Seychelles. When I need drugs because I’m sick, I call on Cipla, not my local dealer, to help me out.

Also, if drug-talk is to be believed, ummm… how to but this gently ….  Apparently, drug users have an inconvenient reaction prior to “dropping” their stuff, and that is…they need to poop. Now, under normal circumstances, pooing is no problem. However, given that AfrikaBurn has limited loos (which are located roughly 7km away from where your urge happens), I can only assume that after a few days of reactionary-pooping a bit of a, um, buildup occurs. The lack of lavs (amongst other important things) is hilariously alluded to by the very funny Susan Hayden of discopants blog. Indeed, I feel such a kinship with her after reading her piece that I want to dash over to her house, cuddle with her on the couch and say  “Isn’t this great. Just you and me, fully clothed, in not-a-desert, and with tea and a loo close by”.

Those folk who know me will probably say that I’m being all grinchy about AfrikaBurn because I’m not hot enough to show myself off. And they would be partly right. When asked if I will be joining in the revelry, my standard retort has been “No. Because if I go, I want to be the hot-chick wearing nothing but gold lamé hotpants and a crocheted bikini top, and since I’m not that girl, I’m not going”. Given that the event is held in a hot desert and that I have the opposite of a thigh-gap, my only option would be to wear gold lamé leggings (to avoid chafe, you understand), which would leave me looking like a tubby, trunk-legged minion that never got into the movie.

But let’s get to the fuckery. Fuckery in the desert doesn’t work for me. It’s a very dry environment guys, and heaven only knows how the sales in KY jelly must have spiked over the last few days (see: “decommodification”). Coupled with a severe lack of ablutions (see “wet wipes purchases” and “decomodification”), screwing in the desert just sounds like a UTI waiting to happen. Not only that, but I think I’m not alone when I say that 5 days of not showering is just not sexy. Also, I can’t lie. If I went I’d want to seem like a person who is all “fun-and-up-for-anything” whilst in truth, I’d be the “touch-me-and-I’ll-stab-you-in-the-eye” person”.

Sex in the desert reminds me of the story of when Exotica met her husband for the first time. One of his first questions to her (obviously a deal-maker or –breaker) was, “Would you prefer to sleep in a cave or a hotel”. I’m afraid to say that, crushed by the weight of such a loaded question and by the need to seem “cool”, I would have be compelled to answer “cave”, only to scream out on my fourth cave-date: “I like hotels! I like hotels and showers and soft beds and not-caves. There. I’ve said it.” Because, as most people know, camping (in caves or otherwise) is like blow-jobs. You say you like it at first to impress people but then eventually you just have to be honest about it.

And what do I mean by white-neckery. AfrikaBurn is not cheap. Tickets are over R1000 apiece and that’s before you’ve fired up your ol’ SUV to get there. Add to that, the price of your outfit/s, the cost of your drugs, the petrol to get there, the milk-thistle and ibruprofen to recover, the food, the drinks, the wet-wipes (did I already mention wet-wipes?) and you have a pretty packet. Radical inclusion se gat. There’s a whole bunch of folk that can’t afford the ticket, let alone all the other paraphernalia that helps you be “self-reliant” and “self-expressive”. And don’t even get me going on the environmental footprint of the event. I think The Cooling Man has made his point.

As for gifting. Why just for one week? Why not “decommodify” in real life and offer your services for free for a week to, oh hell, I don’t know, people who actually could do with a gift or two?

By the way, the concept of “gifting” is pretty much the same as “commodification”. Here’s why. Way back when, some guy had some chickens. Then, because he was feeling kind (or perhaps one chicken was troublesome), he “gifted” a chicken to a friend. However, after a while, the guy who was getting all the chickens said,

“Thanks for the chicken, but you know what I really need? I really need a goat.”

And then, the other guy said,

“OK, I’ll ‘gift’ you a goat but I really need a pig. If I give you one of my goats, will you give me one of your pigs?”

And then, after a whole nother while, one guy had enough chickens and enough pigs and enough goats and needed something he could save for a rainy day. So, he said to the other guy,

“You know what, I have enough pigs, goats and chickens for now, and what I’d really like is to have something I don’t have to feed. If I give you a pig, will you give me some of that shiny, heavy, metal stuff?”

And the other guy said,

“Ja, OK”.

And so, “gifting” became ‘trading” which is “commodification”. Same-same but different.

Last but not least, lets chat “self-expression”. Presumably, this relates to druggery, fuckery and white-neckery. I could be wrong, but as far as I know there is no rule-book that say’s you can’t self-express every day, any day, and everywhere. I’m not sure why you have to go into the desert to be different just so that you can be the same? Any clarification on this point would be hugely useful. Also, as far as self-expression goes, I find it slightly cheeky that you are “allowed” to take pictures at AfrikaBurn but you are not allowed to “use” them for anything other than personal use. Umm, did I miss something? Surely self-expression includes being able to pretty much do as you please so long as you’re not harming anyone?

Anyhoo, perhaps next year I will also be a “burner” (yes, the very word is like nails on a chalk-board to me). Perhaps I will don that outfit and have to eat a big slice of humble pie when I have a rip-roaring, fiery jol. But till then, the only thing I will be burning is the dinner. As usual.

P.S. And for the love of sweet cheeses, can we pleeeeeeease also stop spelling Africa with a “K” in it.

Dr. Seuss inspired "Ode to Africa Burn"
I will not burn
I will not hug
I will not take
Your fucking drug
I will not “gift”
I will not “shift”
I will not sniff
The shit you sift
I will not poo
I will not screw
I will not in
The desert spew
I will not “art”
I will not “install”
I will not pretend
I’m “different” at all
You can take your burn
And all its gas
And kiss my lily-white
Abundant ass

Monday, February 22, 2016

from Russia with love...

(image via
Now that I no longer have my nose buried in books, I decided it would be a good idea to draw up at to-do-list for 2016. To keep me motivated and to give me some sense of direction, you understand. The list includes things like 1) find more freelance work 2) stop drinking copious amounts of coffee 3) get into shape (I’m aiming for something less “boxy”) 4) swear less, and, 5) rule the world. I can’t say that it’s been going swimmingly so far as what I’ve only accomplished is perfecting imaginary arguments (it must be a hormonal thing) and talking more than usual to the dogs.

I must confess, there is another guilty pleasure that’s been keeping me from my to-do-list. You see BK and I decided to switch off the DSTV as we felt that the “kids” were spending too much time in front of the box and also that it was a waste of money. So, we switched to Netflix, which was not the smartest move because instead of watching ten minutes of sport or E-TV, we now waste anything from two to ten hours watching old movies, series, or a several documentaries.

Anyway, I was recently “sucked in” (to be fair, the dogs also wanted to watch it) by a documentary titled “Love Me”, which delves into the world of Mail-order-Brides. The guys they featured were so utterly convinced that they would find “everlasting love” with a Ukrainian woman that I thought it would be interesting to investigate buying a bride for myself (hashtag NoMoreCookingForMe).

The website I visited got me interested at the get-go, as it promised “hundreds of friendly, exciting foreign girls”. On reading the word “exciting” I was instantly relieved that I, myself, was not actually applying to be such a bride because I’m not sure that I’m “exciting” enough (note to self: google “how to be more exciting”).

I was even more relieved that I wasn’t a Russian-bride-to-be when I saw that applicants were obliged to state their vital statistics, including weight, and that most of them weigh around 54kgs. I fear it would be at this point that I wouldn’t make the cut. Vital statistics also had to include height as well as hair and eye colour. This, I felt, was a reasonable request because as you know, all long-lasting marriages are based on height and the colour of your hair and eyes.

Another stumbling block for me would be that applicants have to state their drinking and smoking status. I’m afraid that I only found profiles either stating: Drinker: No, or, Drinker: Social. Disappointingly, no profiles stated: Drinker: Like a sailor; or, Drinker: Is this a trick question?

Despite the fact that I felt intimately connected to most of the lovely ladies through their revealing profile pictures (yes, if I can see your underboob I think that makes us pretty close, eh?) I did want to extend my investigations beyond superficial vital statistics. I wanted to know not only about who these women were, but also about what they looked for in a “husband”.

I should start by saying that I noticed a difference in criteria depending on which region the woman came from and for this reason and for ease of reference (after all, this is no cattle show) I will sometimes quote in terms of “Miss Minsk” or “Miss Thailand”. 

I noticed that most of the women had pretty modest criteria when it came to what they were looking for in a man. Words like “serious, kind and sincere” came up a lot, which made me wonder whether buffoonery and insincerity are issues with Russian and Ukrainian men? (I’ve always thought that “Funny Russian” was an oxymoron?)

Some women were more demanding, with one even insisting that her life-partner be “not greedy and not very tall”. Another women (I feel she’s a kindred spirit) felt that “someone who can appreciate a good song” was the deal-maker.

Given that most women listed “health” and “fitness” as hobbies (and at 54kgs who am I to argue) it came as no surprise that many wanted a man who was “active enough” (enough?) or “neat, easy-going, sunny…who loves sports”.

Miss Barranquilla felt that a “well-educated and persistent man” (horror of horrors) would be the ideal match but Miss Moscow put a cap on happiness, insisting that she would “like to meet a kind and sincere man to share my life with, to support each other in joy and sorrow and have warm relations and happy family. Up to 65”. What happens after they turn 65? Murder She Wrote?

One self-confessed “nature lover” was simultaneously optimistic and realistic when she wrote that she “admires animals and nature” and wishes she “could find a life partner here and start a happy family with him the sooner the better”. This, naturally, conjured up images of a scantily clad Russian beauty frolicking through the undergrowth, stumbling upon an “animal”, bringing him home and wedding him. What can I say, hope is a wonderful thing.

Miss Thai was by far the least demanding and simpy asked for a “nice ordinary man who wants me and only me….if that is not too much to ask.

But getting the man of their dreams is no easy task. These ladies have to put their best foot forward and this involves a measure of self-promotion. I found the way that they described themselves most compelling, and it would be no exaggeration to say that now more than ever, I want my own Mail-order-Bride.

After all, who could resist Miss Zaporozhyte who claims that “just to be a woman is her soul calling” and that she “likes to study because knowledge is useful sometimes”? Or Miss Kherson who wants to “feel myself weak and at the same time the most beloved”? Miss Minsk is clearly my kind of gal - hardworking and not looking for a "sugar daddy”, she also promises to “always give back twice more” which to me sounds like a very solid investment. And let’s not forget about Miss China who professes that “docile is her communicating principle”.

It must be said that I’d steer clear of Miss Spain. She sounds a little tricky. Describing herself as “a combination of outer beauty and inner beauty” she also claims to be “humble”. Mmm.

An added bonus is that you can search for your life-partner using a Zodiac sign or Chinese horoscope filter. This to me is the clincher and again, a most reliable way to find a life-partner.

It came as no surprise but with some disappointment to find that Mail-order-Grooms isn’t a thing. I found only one website dedicated to Mail-order-Husbands and on reading the profiles, I realised it had to be a spoof and the profiles had me cluching my stomach in mirth.

Here are my favourite excerpts:

Mr Missouri: I’m looking for a girl named “Julie”.. it’s just easier that way. I got this “Julie” tattoo last year, and would prefer to not deal with it. or if you want to change your name that’s cool.

Mr China: Smile for you! Please let me know a reasonable target budget your can afford. I think I can be the husband solution to meet your request. Please let me know what price must beat.

Mr Romania: I am looking for someone who can hold my attention, keep up with me, and who knows how to dress a wound. I am attracted to a girl with a job and a car. preferably a Camaro. I like to meet big american girl.

Mr Lebanon: (perhaps a good match for Miss Spain?) It’s actually quite ridiculous that I’m here. I do extremely well for myself – meeting ladies everywhere I go. Since I don’t really need this, you might not hear back from me, but I do appreciate all your notes.

Mr USA: I will be turning 18 in September. Soon I will be legal and we can marry. My parents are kicking me out after December and I’d like to meet a woman with money so we can have fun. I like women between 18-45, but would consider older if we don’t have to touch a lot.

So chaps, if you’re looking for a Mail-order-wife that looks like a supermodel you will find her – but so will all of those other blokes out there. And gals, if you’re looking for an instant husband, well, good luck with that.

Monday, February 8, 2016

mambo number 5...

(Image via:

Shoowee. It’s already February twenty bloody sixteen. Despite the economic doomsayers, I think it’s going to be a good year. Well, for me at least, because I finally graduated. Yup, that’s right, the long haul is over and a quarter of a century after everyone else my age got their degree, I got mine (not exactly a trailblazer eh?) What can I say about studying. For one, it’s made me a bigger person. No but seriously, I don’t know how other students manage to stay slim (I suspect a diet of Ritalin and vodka mostly). As for me, all that sitting around reading and reading and reading (and vodka) has left me with a physique that very much resembles an onion; wide and bulbous with a tiny cocktail onion for a head. I now officially have a body that’s “made for writing”.

Whilst trying to find the funny, bloggable side to this dilemma (I couldn’t, it’s just not funny), I remembered that I had committed to writing a series of embarrassing moments. Oh the wealth of stories to choose from. I could write about the time I told the actual man who invented luminous zinc that I thought it was “ridiculous” (how was I to know that it was him who invented it?) Or, I could write about the time that I told an old family friend that I thought the title of  “Honourable” was a big fat wank and that the “British gentry should just get over themselves”, only to later find out (when he kindly wrote out his home-made Van der Hum recipe for me on his personalised stationery) that he himself was in fact, a “Honourable”. (Oh to have the super-power of being able to go back in time.)

My story for today, however, involves an injury, a bit of whiskey, and Mambo Number 5.

When I was still a rep for a fabric company, I had the chance to exhibit our fabrics at a  huge home-textile trade fair in Frankfurt. With a one year old toddler at home, most of my evenings pretty much consisted of reading nursery rhymes, sleeping and not sleeping. Needless to say, I was rather excited at the prospect of getting away for a few nights.

When I discovered that the opening night of the trade fair was a fancy dinner for all the exhibitors, I was pretty darn stoked. No cooking for me McGee, AND the chance to mingle with real, live adults. As if dinner “out” wasn’t exciting enough, I could barely contain myself when they introduced “someone special” who would be performing for us.

Enter Lou Bega, whom most of us generally know as the “guy who sings Mambo Number 5”. With a full belly and one to four whiskeys coursing through my veins, there was nothing I could do when Lou busted out with Mambo Number 5, but jump up and dance. I have vague recollections of trying to drag some of the other exhibitors onto the dance floor. They weren’t at all keen but I wasn’t going to let that hold me back. No sireee.

And so it was that I found myself spinning around to Mambo Number 5 in a feverish, rather desperate kind of way (as though the fun might suddenly end and I might be imminently summoned to “put the baby to sleep”, you understand). Safe in my anonymity, I unleashed my most daring dance steps. One of these dance steps – and to be quite specific about this, you will probably NOT see this move on a MTV video – involves doing a spin with one leg slightly bent and raised to the back. The leg position is called “attitude” and it is a very nice lifted-leg-spin move when done just right. When it is done wrong, and in a spinning motion, by a dancer wearing bulky boots, who might be a little unstable on her legs, it can be, well, a little violent.

I’m not sure what made me try this move. Perhaps it was the feeling of being “out on the town”. Perhaps it was whiskey-infused boldness. Or perhaps it was the fact that I was just paces away from the “guy who sings Mambo Number 5”. Anyhow, the poor woman who was dancing in my “radius of spin” wasn’t to know that she should probably stand back. After all, most of the other exhibitors were dancing in a very neat step-together-step-tap kind of way. It must’ve come as quite a surprise – coupled, I suspect, with some sharp pain – when the toe of my boot connected with her crotch.

As the impact broke my spin, the whole world slowed and the music stretched out like a LP record on slow-speed. I will never forget the look on the injured woman’s face; there were a million questions right there, like: Who is this crazy woman? Who let her in? Why is she dancing like that? Why does my groin hurt?

Whereas this incident might have heralded the end of the evening for most folk, I didn’t let it curtail my night. Nope, I carried on dancing like a person trying to wrestle off a straight-jacket (I may even have lost some items of clothing) and fell into bed in mess of  big hair, sweat and worn out caterpillar boots (note to self: investigate choice of footwear).

The next morning, I had vague recollections of the “foot-in-crotch” incident but figured that everyone else probably also had their own embarrassing injury story to tell. At the very least, I pinned my hopes on the fact that it had been pretty dark on the dance floor – dark enough that no-one would recognise me at the trade fair.

It came as a rude surprise then, when I walked past one of the exhibitor’s stands and overheard a man say “Da gegt das Mädchen, das wie ein Verrückter tanzte”. This translates roughly to: “There goes the girl who was dancing like a crazy person.

And for the rest of the trade fair I had to stay away from whiskey, music and Mambo Number 5.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

low five...

(Image via FlickRiver)

If I look back at my last post I see that it’s dated March 2014. March bloody 2014. Where has the time gone? To explain, I decided to take a break from humour blogging because quite frankly, I just wasn’t feeling funny anymore. No surprise, but academia will do that to you. It’s a laughter-thief of note. However, as I’m feeling heartened by the fact that I’m officially on the academic homestretch, I’ve resurfaced from my blogging sabbatical and will attempt to relocate my funny.

I thought a good way to kick off would be to do a series of short posts that I will be calling “The Embarrassing Moment Series”. I figure it will make readers laugh as it is the literary equivalent of watching YouTube fail videos. So without delay, I’ll begin.

After leaving school I was unsure of “What-I-Wanted-To-Be”, so, I opted to study something “useful” that would be sure to land me a job and see me on my way to financial independence. I went to secretarial college. Here, as I tried to squeeze myself into a pencil skirt (because, as you know, pencil skirts are the most comfortable things on earth) I got to hone my skills as a speed typist and well, to tell the truth, I don’t remember much else of what I learned there.

Shortly after finishing my course, I found myself looking for work. This was not easy to do in a pencil skirt because as you might rightly suspect, pencil skirts are not designed for taking big strides in (mmm, I feel this is rather telling). Anyhow, I was still in touch with a close friend from school (I’ll call her Dory because she was an excellent swimmer and I often had to “eat-her-bubbles”) who told me that there was an admin job going at the conveyancing agency where she worked. I had abso-fucking-lutely no idea what a conveyancer did, but I went for the interview and got the job. Although the money was fine for a green-branch with no experience, landing the job was a bit of a hollow triumph as I soon discovered that my life would turn out to be nothing like Melanie Griffith’s in “Working Girl”.

My colleagues were a smorgasbord of savory and unsavory characters. By far the worst was the head-secretary-honcho who I’ll call MMM which stands for “Marshall- Mather’s-Mother”. She was a lazy, 50-something trailer-trash type, with peroxided hair and bright turquoise eye-shadow who pretty spent most of her day thinking up inventive ways of being a bitch to everyone.  On my third day there I noticed she had an ashtray, which read “Famous Grouse”. No shit, I thought to myself. (I even asked her if someone had given it to her, you know, as a joke but not a joke). Remember, this was the early 90’s and smoking was still permitted every-fucking-where so the entire office spent our days breathing in MMM’s chain smoke.

Other noteworthy heinous characters included “The Body”, who indeed had the body but little else (she was MMM’s side-kick and they’d have bitchathons of biblical proportions) and “No-Smile”, a sour puss of a girl who was personal secretary to one of the conveyancers. It obviously wasn’t a very fun job because she always looked as if she had bile in her mouth.

As for me, my job entailed the riveting task of “opening-files”. This was the early days of data capture (yes, the days of a black screen with orange typeface) and in order for the data capturer to do her job, us all-important file-openers had to match up documents relating to the same transaction. This involved the tricky task of reading the names on the documents inside the file and writing the same names on the front cover of the file. As you can imagine, my days went by in a blur-of-boredom so there was no lack of excitement when I discovered one day, that the names on the front of a file did not match the names on inside the file. This, I realised, could be a shit-fest of note because if we had to locate the documents of, say, Mr Biggs and Mr Chester but they were filed under Mr Seymore and Mr Winston, it would take an eternity of dusty years to wade through EVERY file in the back office to find the correct documents.

Bearing in mind that I still had no idea and even less interest of what conveyancing was, I thought I’d better to and check with No-Smile that I was right about being wrong. She wasn’t at her desk (probably out sharpening her claws and tongue with MMM and The-Body), so I went directly to the conveyancer himself.

As I queried the error on the file, he nodded sagely and agreed on the shit-festness of who-ever opened the file wrong. I felt he had a congratulatory air about him which I was sure was aimed in my direction (because after all, I was the cunning secretary who’d discovered the error) so, when he held out his hand to me I did what any normal person would’ve done. I low-fived him. I may even have said "yeah".

He gave me a confused look and then said, umm, I was actually just holding my hand out for your pen.

What can I say. I only lasted five months at that place and I still shudder when I see someone wearing turquoise eye-shadow.

Monday, March 10, 2014

but I am the hardest working person in the village...

The other day I was mooching around Facebook when found one of those funny vintage-styled cards that I normally find hilarious. Hang on, let me see if I can find it… Ah yes, there it is. Exhibit A.

It got me thinking about one of the lesser-known battles, one similar to the Battle of the Sexes but with a frilly twist. Ta daaa, I present to you … The Battle of the Dresses.

Basically, it’s a Cold War between SAHM’s and WOHM’s. You might not know what those are yet, but in a nutshell, it’s an ongoing competition about which is HARDER: being a StayAtHomeMom or being a WorkOutOfHomeMom. And yes, they are actual recognised acronyms - not made up by me this time. There’s another acronym,WAHM, which stands for WorkAtHomeMom but this is a separate category altogether, which irks the SAHM’s and WOHM’s because it mucks with their arguments.

This war has escalated to such a degree that there are forums and websites dedicated to SAHM’s and WOHM’s bitching and moaning about each other. 
I’m not really sure when this infighting started but I’m placing my bets on sometime after WW2 when women found that, after being in the workplace for the first time, they weren’t that eager to relinquish their paying jobs and go back to being housewives and mothers. They liked being self-sufficient, independent women. Note: this could be a clue.

Perhaps, back in the post WW2 era, the women who carried on working and the women who went back to being SAHM’s had some kind of mutual respect. Fast-forward to 2014 and this respect seems to have disappeared. If anything, the issue seems to be hotting up.

This “my-work-is-harder-than-yours” mentality has spawned a new phenomenon called Mommyjacking. This happens when WOHNOM (WorkOutOfHomeNon-Mom) declares – normally on some or other social media forum (erm, whole bunch of questions right there -- WTF!??!?!)  - how ‘hard’ their day has been, or they might boast of any recently endured “hardness”. Her/his statement is then mommy-jacked when a SAHM retorts with a counter hardness argument.  Here’s a little sample that was gleaned from…

WOHNOM: I love working and not getting paid.

Mommyjacker: Welcome to motherhood. lmao

Mmm. See what I mean? It’s really hard to tell who is worse. To be fair, it’s not only SAHM’s that Mommyjack. WOHM’s like to do it too (please refer to exhibit A postcard.)

Just as pendulums will swing, there is a counter-phenomenon to Mommyjacking that might in fact be even worse. I don’t think it has a name yet but perhaps we could call it Mommywanking.

Mommywanking occurs when mothers gush on social media about how much they luuuuurve being a mommy and how little [insert kids name here] is just the sweetest, most darling, gentlest, intelligentest, prettiest, talentedest, atom-splitter in the world. For some reason, this even more uncomfortable than Mommyjacking because everyone knows that everyone else isn’t going to agree, because everyone else has their own little darling that they think is nicer than the other little darling, right? Note again: Mommywaking isn’t exclusive to SAHM’s because WOHM’s do it too. No wonder WOHNOM’s hate moms, but more about that later.

You’d think that with at least Mommyjacking and Mommywanking in common the SAHM’s and WOHM’s would get along. But they don’t and the one-upmanship continues. I’m thinking of getting T-shirts made in support of either group. You know, like political parties do.

Whilst trying to get all of this hard, harder, hardest work into perspective, I was reminded of Chris Rock’s take on people who call their work “hard’. He was lambasted for saying at the 2012 Oscars that he hates it when actors say how ‘haaaard” it is doing voice-overs for animated films. He pointed out something along the lines of “you know what’s hard? Digging trenches. Now that’s hard work” (~ please imagine this in Chris Rock’s voice, it’ll just be funnier. If you don’t know what that sounds like, it’s the Zebra’s voice in Madagascar.)

What that basically means is that all the while that SAHM’s and WOHM’s are arguing about whose work is the harderestestest, trench diggers are scoffing behind their pick-axes because they know that THEIR work (along with perhaps miners and sex workers) is in fact the hardest.

Alongside this Battle of Hardness between SAHM’s and WOHM’s, an invisible enemy lurks. WOHNOM’s. WOHNOM detest WOHM’s. It’s true!  Just when the WOHM’s were happily smug in their belief that their life is the hardest, it turns out that WOHNOM’s hugely resent mothers who work, claiming that they get preference over non-moms. WOHNOM’s say that WOHM’s don’t pull their weight, meaning that the WOHNOM’s have to pick up all the slack.

This means WOHNOM’s believe that they the harderestestest working people in the world. But they obviously haven’t chatted to the trench diggers, miners and sex workers.

I tell you, all this just makes me long for the good old days when the enemy was just plain old men. Things were so much simpler then.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

26, 27, 28...


As an act of defiance against the start of term, the boys and I decided to treat school days (well, the afternoons at least) as if they were still holidays.  This meant going to the beach.

Because of my recent obsession with Instagram, I take my camera everywhere with me. And so it was, that whilst the boys were frolicking in the waves, I was bumbling along the shoreline looking for good photo ops.  After all, I’d bumped into Ninja just a few weeks before so who knows who’d pop up next.

As I mooched around the shallows, I spotted a guy a little way off. He had a camera phone pointed my way and said something to me that got drowned out by the noise of the waves. Thinking that he was asking me a question, I walked closer and said “pardon, I didn’t hear you”.

“I was just taking a photo of you”, he said.

I was immediately suspicious. Let’s just say that I’m not really the sort of beach person that other beach people take photos of. Although there was something slightly unsettling about his demeanor, I decided to let it slide, putting my suspicions down to my apartheid upbringing. I rationalized that despite his rather piercing eyes and penetrating gaze, his face was pleasant enough and when he smiled he revealed a cheery “Cape Flats smile”*.

Besides, I’d remembered reading somewhere that if you’re feeling unnerved by someone, the best tactic to disarm them is by being friendly. I gave it a whirl.

“A perfect day to be at the beach, eh?”  I say.

“Yaaas”, he answers in a broad Cape-coloured accent, “I just came here with my gurly. You know, instead of sitting at home yuss sitting aroun bored”.

I look around. No gurly.

“Great”, I say, “where is she then? Your gurly?”

“She’s visiting with some friends”, he replied “I dropped her off”.

“Ah, so you guys live around here”, I say.

“Nou”, he replies “I live in “Monrthehadfashdf”.

OK, so I didn’t hear exactly what he said but as I had never heard of it, I assumed it was farther afield than what my uptight whitey legs had ever taken me.

We exchanged small talk and then went our separate ways. Or so I thought.

Not long after our encounter, the fellow reappears in his swimming trunks. He enters the water. But not a little way off where his belongings are, rather right in front of me. Free country, I thought to myself, though at the same finding it a little odd considering the long stretch of available beach. I again rationalized that crime-wary South Africans are far too suspicious.

After a short swim, he gets out of the sea and starts walking towards me. It’s then that I catch sight of his tattoos.

Prison tattoos. Holey crab cakes, I think to myself.

Thinking quickly I say “Hey!” (as if we’re long lost friends). I was hoping the excitement in my voice would hide my mild panic.

“Great tattoos”, I say, whilst all the while thinking fecking hell, they’re not great tattoos. They’re not great tattoos at all because they’re gangster tattoos and they all mean something fiercely wicked and I know this thanks to “The Number” and “Ninja”.

Still, a meeting this up-close and personal with an ex-con was just too interesting to pass up.

He elaborates.

“I youzyouly doh like taking my shert aff becoz the people, they think bedly of me man”.

Now, I’m not sure about you, but on the whole, I was raised – as many South African’s are – to be polite to strangers and, wherever possible, make them feel welcome and at ease. Perhaps, with ex-cons, this isn’t a very good idea.

“No way!” I hear myself swoon, “I think they’re AWESOME”.

He looks slightly bashful but takes all this encouragement as a sign to sit down alongside me. No wait, not alongside, but RIGHT NEXT to me. We could practically pick each other’s noses.

“I love tattoos”, I gush (I mean I do but WTF?!?!?) “What do yours mean?”

“I wuss in a geng”, he says shyly.

“Ah”, I say, trying to sound philosophical, “which one?”, all the while hoping he says the 26’s because rather a swindler than the other two.

“Da 27’s” he says.

“Ah, so your tattoos probably mean something”, I say and mumble something about having read Johnny Steinberg’s book.

He looks sheepish and replies “I got them a long time ago. Sometimes a tattoos, they can mean someting. Like if I’m in prisson and I get my gurly’s name tattoo’d on my chess, it means someting. But sometimes, they can mean nutting.”

As he looks away both he and I know that his tattoos don’t mean nothing.

I’m suddenly so curious. I can’t help myself asking.

“You were in prison?” I say, feigning surprise. “Where? In Pollsmoor?”

“Yaaas”, he answers “I was in prison but not at Pollsmoor”.

‘Ah”, I say, trying to sound light and conversational, as though he were recounting his yearly travels. I stop short of saying well nice to meet you. you’re the first ex-prisoner I’ve ever met, because I feel it’s important for him to think that I mix with ex-cons all the time and that’s why I’m so wys*.

“Where were you then?”

“I moved from place to place” he says.

Cryptic silence.

“Um, why do they move prisoners?” I hear myself say, all the while presuming it’s because of some kind of shanking or equally wicked activity.

“Well”, he says, “I wuss in prisin for eight yeears and I got tieyid of the fighting and violence and killing and I aksed them to move me away from the gengs”.

My mind is reeling at the words “eight years”** but I interject with an old, lame tactic I hope everyone uses and that isn’t unique to my lame-ass.

I relate to this dear, wretched man. You know, to make him feel like I understand him entirely.

“I hear you”, I say, “eventually all the violence, killing and fighting just gets too much.”

WTF?!?!?!? For crying in a bucket, relating to your girlfriend when she’s had an argy-bargy with her bloke is one thing, but for hamcheesesakes, did I really think this guy was going to believe I had ANY idea what true violence was? I think of showing him my tattoos just to prove to him that deep down we’re all the same but then imagine him inwardly scoffing at my timid little snowflake ink.

I realised something else alarming. When you’re polite to someone, its really tricky to suddenly be rude. Like say if you were getting a bit nervy and wanted to walk away.

What I sincerely wanted to say to Mr PrisonTattoos is “well this has been a smashing conversation, but I’d like you to leave now and go home so that when my kids come ashore you’re long gone.”

But I don’t say that. We carry on talking and, to my horror, my kids come towards us.

Adding to my horror, I hear myself (who, for the love of God has taken over my mouth?!?!) say to my sons, a la Tannie-en-Oom-styl*** “say hello to the nice gentleman” when what I really wanted to say was “Run! Run for your lives!”

This surely takes the proverbial cake. As much as my fantasies of a Pygmalion-type scenario playing out are entrenched, surely one HAS to draw the line at protecting one’s kids?

In desperation, I fabricate another fantasy.

“Guys, we have to leave right now. Dad will be home shortly and we’re going out”. I think of adding “To Rio. Forever”, but think better of it because then MrPrisonTattoos might think we’re loaded and try to shank us for some money.

Equally fantastically, for once the boys don’t ask a million questions about where we’re going? And why we had to leave the beach so soon? And why dad would be home so early? I suspect they could smell my fear.

Between the look of MrPrisonTattoos and my fear, TFTF and MrPP asked a million questions on the drive between the beach and home (did I mention we took a 26km detour via Scarborough? You know, incase this wicked man was following us …on foot.)

For the next 48 hours I fielded a million questions from the boys regarding prisons, prisoners and gangs, causing me to Google things like ‘prison tattoos - meaning’, ‘number gangs’ and ‘what to say when you meet an ex-gangster.

But apparently you don’t say anything to an ex-gangster. Because there’s no such thing.