October 01, 2010

Art can be wet sometimes

First there was this big bang, then a drop of chicken soup fell somewhere and all things great and small came forth (it had to be chicken soup – if it was pea soup we’d all be vegetables). From all that came forth, the man bit stood upright, picked up a lumpy stick and beat every other creature over the head, stuck it on the barbeque, and ate it. Then he created a brick, a wheel and a fire-stick, religion and art. He fought disease, got a phone and started a stock market – which crashed.

That’s the condensed version of the history of the world.

And immediately after man stood upright, woman stood behind him and said: “For Neanderthal’s sake – how many times must I tell you…” mercifully cut short by two dull thuds: the first when club met skull, the next when she met earth. Strangely, in modern times, this effective form of marital communication is sometimes frowned upon. Which leads to a whole set of new problems.

Look, I'm a man – I know this because I check every morning. Being a man, I have certain built in defects - it's a given. This will never change. The wife loves that about me - it gives her something to work at for the rest of her life.

And as a man, I am defined by certain quirkish (yes, that’s my own word) traits that set me apart from her: some are not pretty, a couple remind of cave-dwelling days, but on the whole, most of it is downright brilliant from where I’m standing. They are what makes me me. And being me very much helps… me. “No dear, I didn’t forget to put them in the cupboard. I put them where I found them… because I left them there earlier… for convenient retrieval, later.”

And no, it wouldn’t bug me in the least if she left her wondrous frillies lying about. No harm, no foul – it’s all good. I know it, I accept it, I’m a man.

I have four remotes and know which buttons do what. I have five chargers and I know exactly which five things they charge (no dear, it’s not a stupid phone – it’s a calculator). I drink beer and belch occasionally, I scratch my bum when it itches, I have meaningful conversations that last less than 20 seconds, I gel my hair (I must admit that one even confuses the dog), and I pee standing up!

And herein lies the art.

Yes, yes, of course you'd have something to say, you always do. You have an opinion – I know. You’re entitled to it – you’re a girl. I, however, don't care. I'm a man – eternally optimistic – it’s part of the design. I accept it, I like it, I move on with my life – and NO, I DON’T want to talk about it.

From where you’re sitting, you may think it’s all plain sailing standing upright, both hands clutching at something down there that is always smaller than I remember, aiming into a bowl that appears large and still. However, it takes a fair amount of dedication and training to pee while standing! Only determination can hone a specialised skill integrating pressure, arc, flow, wind, and a generous portion of pure luck. You may accuse me of being a Neanderthal, but at heart I’m an artist…

But you also know – and I know you know because you remind me seven times a day – that “my little friend” has a mind of its own. And so it doesn’t matter what I try to do, because the little dude will do whatever it likes and I’ll take the blame.

Now if you think this is going down the toilet, just bear with me. If you’re someone who does your make-up while driving, never has anything to wear, can quote an argument you won six months ago – verbatim, and knows what color taupe is, the following might give you insight into a world seemingly foreign, yet so close and familiar that you can smell it on a hot day – and I’m not pulling your chain! Besides, a little toilet humor never hurt anyone… one or two people might’ve smelled bad, but that’s about that.

It’s a daily challenge: man stands at the edge, staring into the infamous abyss - knees trembling. Man alone has the power to direct his fate, favour and consequence. He alone can decide… In these times – usually mornings – responsibility bears its heavy load when, standing at this edge, looking down, a decision must be made: seat up, or down?

That’s the easy part.

Once the decision is made though, all man can do, standing at the edge, staring into said abyss, is hold on tight – both hands – and hope his “little friend” is staring into the same abyss. Man trains his friend toward the centre of the bowl. He trusts, he hopes……. he goes:

STOP! (Dammit!)

Little to the left and…… go!

STOP! (Rats!)

Slightly up and release with a curve… and, go…?

STOP! For Pete’s sake Jetson – try hit it for ONCE!

And if you are slightly prostatically challenged (yes, I made that up) you can say STOP, but little Jetson will go “wee-wee-wee-all-the-way-home” and there’s not a thing you can do about it. Just bend the knees slightly and go with the flow – it’ll be over soon.

Seriously, contrary to all you believe, we actually don’t try to miss – it kinda comes naturally.

There’s a science behind the entire process. And science is flawed. With all good intent we casually approach the bowl, not thinking very much about anything. But as we get closer the pressure builds. No matter the intent, whatever the will, there is no way of knowing… Once we’re all good and ready we’ll release a tester salvo – to get an idea of where the little dude is aiming today. From the initial burst and the wet spot on the wall it is CLEAR that he’s aiming high. You may therefore correct by aiming at your shoes – release:  $%#@^#*!

This is on a good day.

On other days the “Little General” surprises us with a two-pronged attack: no matter how hard we try, no matter how well we aim, one part streams just high enough to miss the upper rim while the other dribbles short – complete miss. On two fronts. No intention. Big mess. Melodious co-habitation at risk.

Then we get two beers down our neck, and things happen more often. And they get more interesting. Apparently beer can influence one’s ability to focus and we tend to hit the spot less often. I disagree: I believe it is because we insist on talking rugby to the guy next to us with the slightly wet shoes. And secondly, no matter how hard we try hitting the centre of the bowl – if the bloody thing won’t stand still, how can anyone expect us to hit it?!

And then someone switches off the light…

You think it’s hard hitting the bowl during the day? Now try it at night, when you can’t see a thing – not even THE thing! We do however try, because we’re courteous, we’re men, and we can. So for night-peeing, evolution developed radar. Remember science? Radar is flawed. Again the tester salvo – listen… For porcelain, carpet, tile or foot, readjust slightly. Pinch off another tester – listen... Keep readjusting (and thinking up excuses for the morning) until you hit water. Then adjust slightly either left or right and fire for effect. End off with a muffled drum-roll (or a flimsy squeek if she made you eat pesto-pasta again – what the hell is that stuff? Fish?).

Today - a totally new dimension:

Where having to go to the toilet was a very personal and wondrously lonesome experience, today it became a team sport. Because today, the wee man (no pun intended whatsoever) decided it was time he learned the art. And from the above you now might have insight into the nuances and intricacies of the challenges we men face daily. But add a little 18month old face staring up at you from about knee-height and two inches away from the edge, poking his inquisitive little fingers at the tinkling flow, and it becomes a totally new ball game…

Yes, this is definitely a fine art – and like all art, it’s never perfect. More like a work in progress.

Sit? What do you mean sit? And wee…? I don’t understand the question…

August 06, 2010

The Venus thing

Yes, I’ve been quiet for some time.

No, it’s not because I have nothing to say – I always have something to say, according to Judogirl , and that’s the point!

But what I have to say this time is very much like looking for a landmine with eyes shut, fingers in ears, and one foot softly tapping the ground ahead… tricky. I have therefore taken my time about it – I believe it prudent.

And in saying what I have to say, I believe I have achieved insight into what a suicide bomber goes through when he takes that all-important, career altering step.

In my case I take my life into my hands in an effort to shed a muted light on a situation or relation that started on the sixth day. No, nothing metaphorical in that – the actual sixth day – ever! The Big Book says that Eden was paradise. Mysteriously the parentheses “for the first five days” were omitted on that fateful day when ink was first put to papyrus (at the insistence of the scribe’s wife).

And why do I do this? I have absolutely no idea. Call me selfless.

I believe the thought crossed my mind on a golf course. I noticed a younger couple trudging along behind our group, deeply imbedded in what I refer to as the “good ol’ days” phase of their relationship. This is the only phase where she (for all intent and purpose let’s call her Eve) will readily and enthusiastically accompany him (Adam, for obvious reasons) as he hacks his way around the course. He tries to impress, explaining his approach to every shot, and expertly reasoning why it didn’t work. She lavishes praise and understanding, whatever the outcome. Both of them still secretly fart upwind from the other (the “you again!” phase is but a malicious rumor to them). It was evident that Adam and Eve’s liaison was strong and steady as a Viking longboat: she was even carrying his clubs!

Ah, the good ol’ days… at this exact stage in our relationship, Judogirl split my lip with an eight iron!

It was however not so much the display on the course that brought me to my task at hand, but a remark Adam very bravely and audibly uttered amongst other living souls in the sanctuary that is the 19th Hole. Men everywhere are in awe of another male’s supernatural ability to have his mate accompany him on a round – more so when she voluntarily takes up the bag, and giggles. So when an older version of Adam mustered the courage to enquire about our Adam’s powers, he smiled innocently and responded: “I understand women.”

At this point most men will go “Aye, the poor bastard!” Women everywhere will go “I don’t get it…”

And exactly here is where I, in a literary sense, become Aghmed (the suicide guy).

Not because I’m going to explain where Adam (and all the poor Adams out there) went wrong, but why Adam (and all the poor Adams out there) doesn’t stand a chance. *

*Author’s note: all opinions, references, phrases, incidents and comments are that of the author ALONE. It is possible that your husband/boyfriend does not share this global view. Therefore please do not compare, discuss, mentally torture, or physically withhold anything due to this scribble.

Adam’s still young – there’s lots of time for him to realize just how wrong he was. If Eve never finds out what he said, he’ll become a man one day. And men everywhere enjoy a good challenge. Nature and instinct (i.e. facial hair) will become part of his existence and he’ll inadvertently take on the greatest challenge of all: the impossible one. The one that history, to date, has failed to record. The one no man was ever designed to contend with… the one where Adam understands Eve.

And how could he? For instance: *

*Author’s second note: Dear Judogirl, the following content is purely fictional and meant to assist others. Should any of the incidents or remarks resemble moments reminiscent of our lives, it is purely coincidental – really!

“Fruitloops, please hand me my sunglasses.”
“Which pair Sweetcheeks?” Judogirl has two – one sporty set with funky motives on the little arms, the other a fancy-schmancy windscreen sized polarized do with rosy lenses and a handy cloth for cleaning.
“Any pair will do thanks, it doesn’t really matter.”
Obviously, I hand her the one with the cloth thingy as she’ll be able to clean the visor, it will suit her outfit, the sun isn’t all that bright, and I think she looks great with it…
“No, not that one.”

Or I get the following… one could get the following:
The wee man’s taking his bath. He’s splashing away like a tiny happy hippo and Mom pipes up from the bathroom floor “Dad, please bring him a spoon he can play with in the bath!”
“What type of spoon?”
“Any type – just a spoon! He likes to mix the water.”
So Dad finds a big spoon – a small paddle rather – with a really cool handle. Wee man’s gonna churn some gallons with this thing!
“What’s he going to do with that? It’s a metal spoon – he needs to play with it in the bath. Sjeesh!”
So what – he’s gonna rust? (of course Dad doesn’t say that out loud – that would be silly). He trudges back to the kitchen to find the most basic wooden spoon of the 12 different wooden spoons neatly stowed (hidden) in various places in the kitchen. Dad doesn’t think we need 12 different wooden spoons – he doesn’t even know what to do with more than half of them. For this letter however, see the first wooden spoon that comes to mind when I say “wooden spoon”: that’s the one he gets. It can float.
“No, not a wooden spoon. Jeepers, are all men this stupid? The plastic spoon in the second drawer!”
Dad thinks three things, none of which he utters – it’s a honed preservation mechanism:
1 – second drawer from top, or bottom?
2 – why didn’t you just say so in the first place?
3 – Eden was paradise… for the first five days.

“I think I need a new car – this one has absolutely no power.”
“Don’t you think it might be because you’re trying to pull away in 2nd gear?”
“So? Cars are supposed to do that!”
Why then, in modern times, do they continue to build cars with a 1st gear, I wonder. I’m too clever to actually say that though.

However, let’s give credit where credit is due. At times, if we’ve been particularly good or innovative, we are fortunate and are afforded the luxury of partaking in the decision making process:
“This was a good idea Knock-knees. It’s such a lovely day for a walk along the sea.”
“It is, isn’t it Honey-Bunny? So which way would you like to go: left towards the beach, or right towards those rock pools?”
“You choose, it really doesn’t matter to me – it’s just so lovely to be out.”
“OK babes, let’s go this way…”
“No, I don’t want to go that way. Let’s go the other way.”
“OK,” is what he says, although in his mind it sounds completely different. He’s not going to argue – she’s pregnant.

And at the shop:
“I’m looking for the yellow box with the baby on it… can you see it?”
“No, sorry babes. No yellow box with a baby on it.”
“Sjeesh, there it is – right in front of you!”
“That box is blue dear.”

Adam doesn’t understand women.

Nobody understands women.

So for Adam’s sake I have taken my life in my hands. I have endeavored to assist. For Adam’s benefit I have taken my time, mulled over, dwelled on, thought about and pondered. I have ruminated, contemplated and deliberated, and finally summarized, condensed… nay, encapsulated – in a word – what women are to me:

Extraordinary! *

*Author’s final note (and he’s hoping there’s nothing prophetic in that): Because this can go any way and I can in no way be certain how women would react to my ruminations, please consider that I didn’t say “Women are special – like Belgium truffle chocolate with dustings of Swiss cocoa, only better, much better”. Nono, I didn’t do that – that would be like sanctioned suicide. I also didn’t say “Women are amazing beyond the comprehension of the universe and the meaning of life” because that’s just silly – too much room for interpretation. I kept it short, sweet – succinct. It’s safer that way. Adam would do well to remember that – and just that.

It’s a good thing we don’t understand our women – a very fortunate thing. Because the day you understand your woman is the day you get hit by a bus!

May 01, 2010

Nuts for the Soul

Telling another man’s story is like chewing your bacon with another man’s teeth – still kinda salty, but a lot of the good bits get lost among the gaps and fillings if they’re not yours. However, a good piece of bacon has to be chewed and in an effort to maximize embarrassment I am willing to give it my best shot!

In keeping with my self-established poetic ethic, I will make the utmost effort not to disclose the true identity of the innocent, yet unfortunate, Pastor Bob who relayed his painful event to me….. oops.

It seems that Pastor Bob and his lovely wife, Mrs Pastor Bob, had decided that should they ever stand a chance of having something resembling a normal life again, after raising two little angels with pigtails and Barbies to a point where they brush their own teeth, someone was going to volunteer for some surgery. And I’m not talking about the good type where you go in 30A and come out 32D – Pastor Bob feels this won’t go well with his ears – no, I’m talking about “the Big Snip”.

As with all good and strong marriages, the topic came up. As with all good and strong marriages the point was debated in a mature and responsible fashion. As with all good and strong marriages, in two seconds flat, Pastor Bob (or “Bob” as his wife affectionately calls him) had unwittingly volunteered for the procedure as there was “no way in hell that I will be doing that! Not after what you and your “little friend” put me through to bring those two little (angels) into this world! Your time has come buster – suck it up and take it like a man!”

Of course, being the wonderful wife she is, Mrs Bob said this in such a way that Pastor Bob almost felt as though he had made the decision himself. So being Pastor Bob, the man of the house, a man in charge of his own destiny, he knew resistance was futile.

Two days later Pastor Bob found himself at the Urologist to gather more information and discuss one or two of the finer points his friend Google just couldn’t clarify in a satisfactory fashion. It seems however that before Pastor Bob had the opportunity to inform the Urologist of these one or two finer points, he had his trousers around his ankles and a Urologist in a rubber glove giving him a kinda dingleberry recce that rivaled anything of a similar nature he had experienced in 10 years of marriage.
“I’ve never in my life felt like having a cigarette, until then!” he confessed to me.

The scrotal exam done, and Pastor Bob having taken a few deep breaths, our doctor friend was slightly concerned about a lump he had felt. Pastor Bob felt it too, but he was almost sure the doctor never touched his throat.

He was given a scribbled note and told to go for a scan, a few floors up in the same building – which was a good thing, because the building was quite far from home and far from any of his parishioners.

“Pastor Bob, how nice to see you here!” The building was clearly not far away enough.

Any man in his situation would be mildly uncomfortable. Pastor Bob at least was used to chatting to ladies about delicate problems and awkward situations – he had experience on his side. The receptionist at the Radiologist however was no lady. She was the blonde-locked, blue eyed, curvaceous, vivacious, twenty-something daughter of a couple he had dealt with at the church… of course, she had to be. Pastor Bob sucked in his gut, contracted amnesia, and immediately lost the scribbled note.

“How can I help you today Pastor Bob?” she asked, her voice laced with honey and traces of vanilla.
“Oh, I’ve come to have my picture taken, I guess. Say, I didn’t know you worked here?”
“Only mornings. You have a note?”
“No, but I’m going to get one – will be back after two. Lovely seeing you again. Bye now.”

Nobody has time on their hands. However, if you have to kill an hour or two in order to stand on that pulpit Sunday after Sunday without blushing scarlet every single time your eye catches the blonde-locked beauty in the fifth pew, it’s justified homicide.

It is therefore a much more confident and bashful Pastor Bob that ascends the stairs to the Radiologists at 14:15.

“Hi Pastor Bob, glad to see you back – you got that note for me now?”
“I thought you only worked mornings?” he said, unwillingly handing over the scribbled and crumpled note.
“Oh, my colleague phoned in sick so I took over her shift.”
“&^%#*$^ disease!!”
“What’s that Pastor Bob?”
“Nothing dear. Religious talk, you know? Just praying she gets better soon.”
“How sweet!”

She scrutinised the note closely. She frowned and looked even closer. Pastor Bob’s spirit rose… well, it kinda peeked hopefully from under a blanket of apprehension: he knew it was impossible for a mere mortal to decipher the scribble on that note – it was basically two straight lines with a loopy bit at the beginning and a dot above the first line, about two-thirds down. He was hanging on to that. He could get out of here with his dignity intact. Then tonight he could check Google for flights to Argenti….

“Scrotal Scan!” she exclaimed triumphantly. “You’re here for a scrotal scan.”
“Yes, this ‘a’ here almost looks like an ‘o’ but it definitely says Scrotal scan.”

At this point Pastor Bob realized how suddenly quiet the big, and slightly overcrowded waiting room had become. Finding a chair wasn’t easy. Not finding a gaping hole into which he could disappear forever was a knock to his faith.

Fortunately this embarrassment wasn’t made to last very long. He was soon escorted to a cubicle in the back where he was given a flimsy T-shirt and told to strip down – completely! Now any man will tell you: being given a T-shirt to “cover up” is like being given a new Mustang Convertible for your birthday… without an engine – a nice gesture, but a gesture at most. But Pastor Bob accepted graciously.

It got drafty. He felt lonely. He was sure they’d forgotten about him. So he went looking for someone. Slowly venturing from his safe but secluded haven, he pulled down hard at the seams of that shirt, with both hands – front and back.

“Can I help Pastor Bob?” a honey-vanilla voice piped.
“You again? I thought you worked at reception?”
“Tea break. Cookie?”

Now anybody who knows Pastor Bob the way I know him knows he will sell our momma for a cookie.

“Ooh, chocolate chip – don’t mind if I do.”

He took the cookie and bit into it with gusto, which was slightly unfortunate. It meant he’d let go of the front seam which popped up as the tension on the back seam doubled. Honey-vanilla froze. Pastor Bob however reacted exactly as I expected: “The secret to making a good chocolate-chip cookie lies in selecting the best chocolate buttons. Whoever made this is a genius. Excellent cookie…” He turned and walked back to his cubicle, happily munching the cookie, letting go the back of the shirt to pick out a particularly creamy chocolate chip, blissfully unaware of the psychological chaos that erupted under those blonde locks. He left her stunned, with her tea, and her amended view of the Pulpit Pilot her family admired so much.

With a few crumbs on his lips and a chocolate smudge on his chin he was eventually summoned by an attractive, but different lady who took him through to an X-ray booth “for his exam.” Remembering his earlier exam with the Urologist, he started smiling a sheepish schoolboy smile – complete with rosy cheeks. He did get slightly concerned when she produced a bottle of petroleum jelly from under the counter...
“All in the name of medical science, eh?” he justified. “Bombs away!”

This girl was mean. No exam. She just perched, twisted, and maneuvered him into a position similar to riding a horse – upside down – with the T-shirt crawling up to about chest height. And not a cookie in sight. There she left him, hanging, excusing herself with a curt “the doctor will be with you shortly.”

And he was.

“Hiya Pastor Bob, nice to see you.”

“What the …?! Like this? It’s nice to see me like this? Lying naked, arms and legs in the air, straddling an imaginary upside-down horse? Oich, Sundays are going to be hard.” Of course this is what he thought in his head.
What he actually said was: “And you Stan. My goodness, when you said you were a radiologist I thought you meant one of those guys with the two-way radio things and the big aerial, ha-ha. How’s the wife?”

Pastor Bob got a dollop of cold jelly on his dingleberries and a scan from his friend Stan, and we’re happy to report that all seems well.

What followed might have seemed odd – on any other day. Given however what had thus far transpired, Pastor Bob took it in his stride and followed through in, what seems to me, the most appropriate ending to a very eventful day: just when he thought the end was in sight, just when he thought he’d had enough, at the exact moment when he felt he could really do with his pants, Dr Stan had a question… of a spiritual nature. One he probably couldn’t discuss at church. A question he had pondered over, lying awake at night, searching for answers…

And so began possibly the longest and deepest spiritual voyage ever undertaken in an X-ray booth by a man in search of truth and guidance, with his Spiritual leader beside him wearing nothing but a stretched little t-shirt and a convivial smile.

“Just another day in the ‘works in mysterious ways’ business then, eh Pastor Bob?” I remarked after hearing his story, drying the tears from my cheeks.

“Eish,” he replied, “I’ve always known He has a sense of humor. I just so wish I don’t always have to be the butt-end of it!”

March 25, 2010

A split second in a nutshell

Strange, but lately it feels as though my life revolves around pooh.

It seems that whenever anything interesting happens, there it is – pooh. Whenever I have the urge to grab a beer, write a letter, change my mind, somewhere down the line – pooh. If you have kids, you’ll understand. If you don’t, you will.

So, yet again, having absolutely no idea of what was to come – pooh – followed by a moment.

The wee man’s not stupid – I know this! He might only be 2 feet tall, run into doors on a daily basis, have the vocabulary of an Uzbekistani goat herder, and the personal habits of a mountain troll, but he gets me. He gets that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing being a dad. He’s taken to talking rather than the goo-goo-ga-ga stuff because he realises I don’t understand what the heck goo-goo-ga-ga means. He gets that he has to be patient with me – it’s a virtue. He gets that he can get away with anything whenever he hits a ball with his little putter. He gets that if he smiles just right I’ll run around like a mindless racing chicken picking up toys and discarded soothers while he sucks on his bottle and plans his next nap around whatever meal is supposed to come next. No, he’s definitely not stupid – he has intelligence juice running out of his ears!

The same, I fear, cannot be said of his old man: I struggle with Sudoko, I enthusiastically support Scottish rugby, I manage to misplace either my wallet, car key or cellphone on a daily basis, I get lost in the mall, I still think the Krebb’s cycle is some sort of mountain bike, and I have not yet managed to send a rocket to the moon with my laptop although the shop assistant assured me I could!

It’s still a mystery how, but these thoughts managed to fight their way through the frontal lobes of what technically constitutes my brain as I looked into those little brown eyes, and for a split second wondered what he saw when he looked back at me.

If your ability for reading is what light is for speed, you’ll experience the full effect of my moment. If however, like me, you read at what is considered 2nd grade speed (I still contest that bloody machine was broken!) a split second in print might seem slightly longer than the actual moment it represents – so bear with me. I type much faster though, which means my fingers type what my brain’s going to conjure up in about two to three seconds from now. It’s quite cool – every time I write a letter, my brain eventually catches up to the writing and goes “wow, it feels as though I’ve written this somewhere before” – a kind of ongoing literary Déjà vu if you like. So try and keep up, or read at your leisure – I dipped my fingers in the wee man’s jungle juice by accident!

It starts as usual: a whiff reminiscent of nothing natural that anyone in his right mind could comprehend starts a process that nobody would possibly contemplate to remedy should the unwitting source of the unfortunate eminence not have sprung from his and her loins at a previously and long forgotten wondrous date in time, yonks ago…. (you smell a pooh and know good well that if that was somebody else’s baby, there’d be absolutely no chance you’d attend to it – not in a million years. Not if it smelled like that!).

But he’s mine, and I do. And I look into those big brown eyes and wonder: what do you think when you look at me my boy?

Sjeesh dude, what the heck? Stop smelling my butt. Yeah, I made a doo-doo. Deal with it!

No really, deal with it. You’re up there twitching your nose, pulling your face this way and that, going: “do you smell that?” Of course I smell that – I’m sitting in that! Come on!

No, no, standing on my toes, lifting my arms going oo-ooh is not cute – it’s embarrassing! I’ve got a ton of stink following me like a caravan and… OICH!, what the …. Dad, up-up – pick me up, this thing in my diaper just moved. We gotta get it outa here – NOW!

Upsidaisy – to the change mat Jeeves! And make it snappy, you’re eating into my playtime.

Easy does it – gently now. Watch out dad, I think this one’s angry – it growled at me. Phew! Dad, did you make a stinky? Whooaaw, sheesh…. I remember eating the peas, but what the heck is that orange stuff? Step away dad, slowly, give it some air – catch it with a wipe, GO! Good one dad – rather you than me.

O-oh! Dad, wait. Wait… WAIIIIT! That bum cream stuff is cold – can’t you see it gives me the shrivels? Shriek!

Dad, why you wearing that shirt again? Didn’t the lifeguard say you’re not a surfer? Hey, it does look better without the waterwings though. And those camo shorts aren’t working dad – I can still see your legs, and they still look wobbly.

Hey dad, why you comb you ha….. hey dad, where’s your hair?

Hey dad, where’s the ball?

Hey dad, you think you can hand me my pants now? I’m done here. Got to go play!

Hey dad, where’s Mom? I like Mom.

Mom, I’m hungry.

Food. Now!

And juice.

I dunno. Maybe he just thinks:   You again?!

March 04, 2010

A visit to Cairo

Today was like a visit to Cairo – glad to have had it, overwhelmed by the experience of it, and happy to leave it far behind, hopefully never to have it again!

It was scorching, never ending, everlasting, fire and brimstone with absolutely no point to it whatsoever – almost like the second Star Wars movie. The only difference was that the hero in this plot had the endurance of an Alaskan Glacier, the patience of a fire cracker, and the voice of a Basutu pig being slaughtered with a can opener – all of which is quite impressive when the hero wears superabsorbent diapers and stands about two feet tall in his little booties (this is technically incorrect because he has never tolerated a bootie, shoe or sock on his feet for the entire 426 days of his existence on this Death Star, better known to us mere mortals as Earth).

Yes, yes, I’m exaggerating slightly for effect – HA! You’d think! It was dreadful! It was like everything I said above but squashed together, sitting in a tin-can (howzit Major Tom!) with the screams and echoes amplified by Sony Dolby Surround Sound (Live the Experience!). Sjeesh, I more than lived it – I almost #@%^&* killed it!

You might think, what could have been this bad? My answer to you is: did you NOT read what I said above: glacier, fire cracker, Basutu pig, can opener, tin-can, Sony Dolby Surround Sound (Live the Experience!)?

That Obama dude in the fancy big white house wants to fight terrorism. I’ve emailed him my home address! Fear of imprisonment – what, me? I’m harboring a terrorist – I admit it! Now please, Mother of Pearl, take me away, lock me up, give me the peace and quiet of an overcrowded Pollsmoor prison cell!

It was supposed to be a simple trip, about 350km in total – one that this little family has done various times before. A trip that has a certain rhythm and predictability to it: Mom and Dad discuss the past few days while the sweet little angel in the back goo-goo-ga-ga’s until he falls asleep, leaving the loving parents to stare fondly and with pride at the little bundle of wonderfulness they have gifted this world.

But this didn’t happen – the little angel decided to improvise. The little angel decided to run his own show. The little angel turned into a volcano in a tumble drier, contained (restrained more like) only by the straps of his little car seat (which I installed lovingly and with patience on several, separate occasions!)

And of course there’s a reason for all of this… if you know it, please let him know because he has absolutely no idea and he has us stumped, baffled and in despair!

Sleep – HA! That’s for babies. I’m gonna sit here, and I’m gonna scream at the top of my voice – for four hours straight – and there’s not a thing you can do about it! Gimme water – Whaaaa! Gimme toy – Whaaa! Move my chair – Whaaa! Gimme marshmallow egg – yum-yum-yum-yum – Whaaaaaaaaaa!!! Next?

Let’s ignore him…. hee-hee-hee, nice try.

Whaaahaaahaaahaaaaaaaaa!!!!! (remember the glacier thing?)

I would welcome Chinese water torture – seven days a week! It would be a holiday!

But four hours of that non-stop wailing –harsh enough to strip paint – got to me. I realized this when I found myself chewing the steering wheel, foam bubbling out of my flaring nostrils, going 140km/h through a winding mountain pass in dense mist – the little terrorist staring at me in the mirror going whaa-haa-oo-oo-oo-vroom-vroom!

We got home – somehow. The end might just be in sight. HA!!

Because the little angel didn’t sleep, he felt that he’d lost out. How could he compensate? Wha-ha-ha-HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

Shower, dummy, diaper, bottle, soother, blanky!

Sing, bounce, read, play, pat, plead, pray!

Uhm..yum…oom yoom..thp-thp….


I normally drink two beers a day – as I type I am guzzling down my third and there’s no guarantee that it’ll end there.

I haven’t blinked for six hours and my teeth feel cracked. My toenails have curled backwards and I believe I might now be into polka music.

Mom’s done some magic and by grace, luck, foreign deity, indigenous stump of dried wood or clump of wool, and all that is holy, the little monster eventually fell asleep after a marathon that left him dehydrated like a Safari raisin – at half past nine! Precisely an hour after we had stumbled aimlessly through our neighborhood’s darkened streets with the little terror in his stroller and the dog who was happy to be out, but nervously aware of the distinct possibility of being eaten alive by the monster wrapped so tightly in his (much too thin) little blanket!

Three beers can calm one down. I need three more.

Today was rough. Today was epic. Today was a day to compare all other days to. Today is over and gone.

And there he lies asleep… so sweet.

Daddy loves you my boy!

February 06, 2010

What's in a game?

You’d never think it, but there’s actually something quite decent about the common house fly. When I’m stumbling around the room at 2 o’clock in the morning, wildly swinging my pillow and trying to bash that blasted mosquito’s brains to smithereens, cousin fly doesn’t bug me. He doesn’t sit cheering on the curtain; he doesn't pester me when I swing and miss; he doesn't even laugh out loud every time I stub my toe against the bed – unlike someone else around here who hides under the covers (in mid-summer!) and makes silly comments about how some of us need some sleep! As if I can sleep with a mozzie Kamakaziing around my ears! The fly stays out of it – it’s just not there. That’s nice.

You know what else is nice? Sport.

I like sport. Maybe because I was blessed with an ability to partake in most forms of sport with a reasonable level of competence – never a champ, but never a chomp. Give me a ball and I can catch it, throw it, pass it, kick it, spin it, bowl it, hit it, spike it, roll it, put it, serve it, smash it, and even punt it. Throw it in the water and you can get it yourself.

You gotta love it. I love every form of it. Well, figure skating and athletics won’t get me out of bed at two in the morning, but you show me Norwegian turtle wrestling and I’ll watch it.

I never used to like cricket much: a bunch of guys with bats and hats, wickets and wides, bouncers and no-balls, bowling, batting, driving, catching, and diving while wearing their pyjamas! I’m still not crazy about the male version, but since Judogirl bought pyjamas from La Senza last week, I have feverishly been scanning the Supersport channels for footage of the Women’s Cricket League – Howzat!

I’m quite fond of rugby too: a game where 30 burly sporting fanatics (in stripy shirts and weapons of mass destruction on their feet) run around a park chasing a ball shaped like an egg, while using all permissible, and non-permissible, methods of restraining or detaining another’s progress, up to, and including, ripping his face off. It can be confusing – even the guy with the whistle seems to be lost every now and then….

From my intensive study of the game and the research of the Encyclopedius Rugbyious – all 73 volumes thereof – I have managed to condense the game’s essence into a single , concise theorem: if you have the ball, chances are you’re going to get hurt!


But sport doesn’t bear grudges. After a game we all get together for a beer and a laugh, discussing the day’s action:
“Who’s the guy in the corner?”
“But he’s in your team!”
“Yes, but you have to admit it’s kinda hard recognizing a guy without his face!”

What makes sport so wonderful is that there’s something for everyone: there are horses and courses, poles and pits, points and pucks, caps and cox, hoops and loops, tears and tires, knots and foils, even spikes and studs, rooks and rocks, and girls in leotards.

But today I feel Olympian! It might be because the Winter Olympics just started in all its glory (and I had to feverishly switch channels between Super14, 6Nations, Pro20, and the downhill slalom) or that I believe I have a new game that fulfills the age-old Olympic code. A sport true to the ethos of Olympians everywhere: screw it, just get it done, whatever the cost or consequence!

It’s called Oshit (speculation of Oriental origins could not be verified at time of print). Judogirl and I both play, and although it’s immensely intriguing as a participant, I do believe as a spectator sport it’ll take the gold!

To play you need two players, preferably sleep deprived parents, and one overactive infant hyped on jungle-juice (otherwise known as the ball). The “pitch” should preferably be a neutral, non-infant-friendly, swanky guesthouse with the whitest linen you have ever seen in your life!

The game starts when the ball emits a slight, yet distinctive odor, somewhat reminiscent of varsity socks after a hot week. The player who notices this and reacts first is in the game. This is not a good thing. The premise of the game is to stay out of it as long as possible. It is therefore paramount for the player who scores the first whiff, to hide any signs of doing so, thereby achieving the advantage over player number 2 allowing her to fall into the trap and be unceremoniously dumped into the game.

As soon as player 1 notices the slightest wiggle of player 2’s nostrils, it is a good tactic to ask: “do you smell something?” If player 2 shakes her head but her face is contorted and her eyes are watering, she… or he (if I’m not thinking clearly) defaults and is in the game. If however player 2 is a talented player, she’ll calmly respond “no, and you?” to which a lesser experienced player may fall victim by responding: “WHAT? How on earth can you NOT smell THAT – he’s right there on your lap?” at which point player 1 defaults and he is in the game… It’s quite simple really.

The object of the game, other than staying out of it for as long as possible, is focused around the ball: it needs to be cleaned, changed, and content, with no visible signs of the match that could otherwise lead to immediate disqualification (and probable expulsion from said guesthouse)…

The ball also determines the level of the sport – a sweet and innocent cootchy-coo-bundle-of-innocence-infant puts you at amateur level – congratulations! When 95% of the ball consists of the hyped-up, super-revved, unstoppable, irritable and inquisitive insomniac part of the gene soup that is Judogirl and me, you’re in the major leagues.

A classic match goes something like this:
Players and ball are having a pleasant, yet informative, chat with the proprietor about the history and highlights of the establishment we have chosen as our base for the weekend. Player 1 (me), engrossed in the history of cross-pollination in the ancient gardens and the news about the upcoming wedding season, unwittingly scores a whiff and his nose automatically starts probing the immediate atmosphere for pockets of fresher air. Player 2, with the ball tucked under one arm and her senses-radar set to “super”, notices this movement mere moments before player 1 hides it and with deft precision passes the ball to him (still me) – with a smile so sweet it almost masks the odor… I said almost (damn, she’s good!). So I’m in the game!

Not wanting to make a scene I expertly scoop up the ball, eliciting much adoration from the appreciative crowd consisting of the landlord and his wife who have absolutely no idea what is about to transpire on the immaculate white linen on the oversized bed of the Lavender suite…

A great tactic that has served me well during many a game has been to keep the ball occupied as much as possible so as not to alert him to the fact that he’s about to be changed. However, balls have a sixth sense about these things, so when the beach towel comes out, followed by a sheet of plastic, a new diaper, a tub of cream, and a bag of wipes, making funny faces just doesn’t cut it anymore and the ball goes into spastic contortionist mode – the game is now really on.

A quick note – a pause to ponder if you like……. ever try wrestling a harmonica away from a Nile crocodile with a touch of the Blues? It’s not easy, I can tell you. It is however considerably easier than playing this sport.

With the ball tucked under one arm, its four appendages flapping wildly, the primary objective is to land it on the towel, lying on that big bed like a little island in the middle of a shimmer-white Egyptian cotton sea. An unorthodox, yet effective, move is to launch the ball into the air, determining its downward arc and thereby buying a few precious milliseconds in which to place the towel on the approximate impact site – you want to keep the ball off that white linen at all cost!

Another piece of advice at this point: make sure you have high ceilings!

If wrestling is your thing, you’re gonna love this game: getting those little trousers off his wildly kicking legs is like trying to grab a mango in a blender. Then you have to go for the diaper – zip-zip………. got it!


If all goes well, you should now, in your one hand, have a little bundle of blur with a dirty bottom trying to touch, twist, curl, bend and eat everything in site; in the other hand you should have a right mess. None of these are allowed anywhere near the linen… or the curtains, or the fancy chair, or the antique bedside lamps! Skill and lightening reflex is a definite advantage: whip it, bag it, bin it, wipe it, clean it, cream it, where’s it? …..oops!

As with most sporting codes it is a good idea to keep your eye on the ball… at all time. If you lose your focus for even a split-second, chances are you’re going to drop the ball, which really isn’t a good thing.

I blinked.

That gave the ball enough time to turn, twist, aim and speed off halfway towards the edge of the bed, signaling my imminent expulsion from the code. As with all true Olympians, at the exact moment when all seemed lost, I improvised and ingeniously invented an innovative new move, now commonly known as “The Desperate Dive”: launching my lanky frame clear across 6 feet of crystal white linen, catching the ball expertly moments before it went over the edge. I landed softly on orthopedic springs, and was immediately rebounded into fresh air from where, suspended in mid-air, I expertly placed the ball softly on the shiny floor below before I hit the floor in a heap of contorting bodyparts and bumcream. The ball – unphased – was already heading in a different direction at breakneck speed – peril ahead at head-height everywhere.

I had only got to the “cream it” bit, which meant the ball was going commando. From my crumpled upside-down position in the corner I could see the little white bottom wiggling across the floor. But lady luck was smiling on me this day: the ball sprung a leak!

The best thing about a ball leaking: it fascinates the ball no end! This gave me the advantage, an opportunity to untangle and launch past the bed – one hand stretched to its limit to grab the new diaper – and lurch-crawl (un-Brad Pitt-like) towards where the ball was happily spreading an ever-increasing puddle into a little lake. At this point two things, both unexpected, happened simultaneously.

Firstly, the ball lost fascination in his aqueous creation and zipped off…. this rarely works. A ball trying to zipp of in the middle of a puddle always ends up in a flat, sprawling splat – all fours flying in different directions, landing him face down in the middle of said puddle. I on the other hand had my eye and my diaper-hand aimed on the ball’s creamed bottom. Unfortunately my attention was so focused on the cream patch that I too forgot about the puddle…….. You don’t need the detail – I’ll just say zip-slip-swish-phweet followed by the sound you get when you're hit in the face with a plank and your teeth rattle like a wind-chime in a hurricane.

But I was lucky! Although I was also winded from the fall, my diaper-hand miraculously scooped up the ball, and before he could “goo-goo-ga-ga-what-the-heck?” I wrapped that diaper across his little tummy, strapped him in and stopped our party’s little cross-floor slide against the opposite wall… with my head!

I was winning and looking to drive my advantage home.

I was up – wobbling – with the ball clutched under one arm, heading back to the bed through the haze of birds and stars buzzing around my head. The ball’s wet shirt was replaced by a new one in seconds – all done without snapping a single limb or suffocating him (which in itself is a miracle if you compare the size of a shirt collar to his gargantuan cranium!). Victory was in sight. The last hurdle was to get those little trousers onto those wildly kicking legs. Inch by inch every time his little body passed me, fending off various odd bits the ball managed to pick up and throw at every pass.

Almost there! Last step: get the little hurricane to cootchy-coo level. Take one big towel, one little girlie step, one huge dive, and slide across the wet floor soaking up all the evidence in one foul swoop! Scoop up giggling ball, bin diaper, wipe blood from forehead, inhale, smile, cootchy-coo, exhale… done!

We walked out victorious, strutting proudly, limping slightly, pretending not to gloat.

“How did it go?” Judogirl asked as the peanut gallery looked on.