Archive for April, 2007

The finer things in life(click on picture to enlarge)
When [S] called me in a frenzy of excitement this morning to tell me that she has won tickets to a wine tasting evening at a well-known restaurant in Rivonia, I groaned loudly.
“Oh honey, can’t you donate the tickets to someone who cares about that kind of thing?” [Silence] Needless to say I did not score any points in that intricate game of relationship etiquette.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a bit of culture as much as the next person, but being a bit of a “boykie” who grew up in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, wine-tasting does not exactly feature high on my list of things I would rather be doing with my free time. My idea of stepping out of my comfort zone is having fancy cocktails with unpronounceable names in an upmarket pub.
I have only been to one wine tasting many years ago. It took me less than five minutes to realise that I did not belong. Even back then the main attraction was the prospect of drinking large quantities of wine (which did not materialise) and not having to pay for it.
What does fascinate me about these evenings is the elaborate rituals and terminology used by wine experts when they’re telling us what to drink and why.
First we had to learn the basics of wine tasting. We were taught how to pick up a glass, delicately, holding the base of the glass between the thumb and the first two fingers and not as I tend to do, with a nonchalant grab.
Next, you have to learn how to swirl with small circular movements of your hand to let the air in and allow the wine to breathe, which quite frankly looked faintly ridiculous to me. Picture the Queen waving to the crowd from the balcony at Buckingham palace with a glass in her hand.
We were shown how to hold our glasses up to the light and appreciate the subtleties of colour in our wine. We applied noses to our glasses, breathing in the bouquet. We took delicate mouthfuls, swirled it around on our tongues and then spat them out (what a waste). By that time I was ready for a large Scotch, but it was not to be.
The rest of the lesson was more like a lesson in anatomy. We were told that wine had a nose, body and legs. Wine had a robe, a bouquet, a personality, an essence.
And if that was not enough, it was also required of one to describe what you had just tasted. So, as we dutifully sipped and spat, the wine expert provided a running commentary on the wines under review.
The first wine was velvety and bold, even a little bosomy. The second, earthy, but generous, with hint of black pepper (how is a hint generous?). The descriptions became more and more bizarre – vanilla, oak, grass, truffles, hyacinths, violet, sun-ripened strawberries, liquorice, vetiver, potpourri, galbanum, vintage leather, wet dogs, skunks, baby vomit, cat pee an old gym socks. Asparagus?
What surprised me most is that there was never a mention of the main ingredient. Grapes. Apparently they are not considered exotic enough to gain a place in the wine-lover’s vocabulary.
Over the years, I have avoided wine tasting like the plague. Not that I have many opportunities to go to these things. What with me being a mere suburban nine-to-fiver and all.
I know when I’m out of my depth. I’d much rather head for the nearest bar, hunch my shoulders in concentration, and raise my eyes to heaven over an ice cold beer.
I am a cultural wasteland. [Cue the tumbleweed.]


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Zzzzip it!

ZipperI hate silence. It is awkward and uncomfortable and does nothing but confuse the fuck out of me. I’d rather have a string of curse words, a misplaced comment or incoherent babble. At least it gives me something to work with.
Consequently when I am around people/strangers, I will inevitably say something that I’ll regret later on. Still, it beats standing around saying nothing and looking at your shoes. At least, that is what I keep telling myself.
Let me illustrate.
My friend Brad has a flat on the fifth floor of a building not far from where I live. His landlord is a large alcoholic beast who is trying to bring loud Hawaiian shirts back into fashion. Somehow I can’t see that happening.
He is the kind of man who thinks the word “fuck” and its many derivatives are mankind’s greatest invention. He uses it as a noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, adverb, and preposition. Yeah, he is an absolute pro at using the English language.
He probably also thinks that I am a prat, because my pants actually covers my arse–crack and the elastic band of my underpants does not constantly extend 3 inches above the waistline. On the odd occasion he asks me how I’m doing; I don’t use words like “yo”, “phat” and “what… what”. Nor do I make crude sexual gestures with my thumb and middle finger.
Whenever I visit Brad and get into the lift on the ground floor, he gets in with me. It never fails. I swear he watches me as I pull up and then quickly makes his way to the lift to wait for me. Perhaps he feels the need to escort me or perhaps he’s just making sure I don’t relieve myself in the corner. Perhaps he hopes I will relieve myself in the corner, so that he can beat the crap out of me or make me his bitch.
He hardly ever speaks to me. Instead, he stands very close to me and breathes heavily like overweight people do. I can usually smell that he’s been hitting the bottle hard the night before.
Just when I get the feeling that he’s about to crush my windpipe between his chubby fingers, I break the uncomfortable silence by uttering something that I think will be of interest him. He somehow seems offended by everything I have to say. This Saturday was no exception.

”Thank God it’s the weekend. Time to kick back and crack a few beers”
He grunts and says,”Everybody’s not as fucking lucky as you are. Some of us fucking work for a living. I can take one look at your fucking hands and tell you that you’ve never done a day’s hard work in your fucking life”
”I use a moisturiser” (where the fuck did that come from?!)

He looks at me as if I mumbled something in a foreign language and slaps hard me on the back. I wheeze and expel every millilitre of air I have in my lungs. I am his best(est) buddy in the whole world.
Next time I’m taking the stairs.

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Hangman’s nooseMy arch-nemesis, Salem, walked into my office this afternoon with that smug “I know something you don’t” look on his face.

HE: Hey, [K], the boss is looking for you. Methinks he has something important to discuss with you.
[“And wouldn’t you like to know?” I almost said]
ME (annoyed): Dude, seriously, what’s up with the “methinks”?
HE: Nothing. It is just the way I talk sometimes.
ME: The way you talk? Let me tell you something… no-one talks that way.
HE (surprised): They don’t?
People do not regularly use the word “methinks” when theyspeaks English today. It is fucking pretentious. Last time mechecked, we weren’t living in Elizabethan England. If youthinks it sounds intellectual, then methinks you should go back to school and learn how to conjugate your verbs.
HE (mock sarcasm): Ooh… Cranky, aren’t we?
ME: Yes, we are, Your Royal Highness. We also have an uncontrolled desire to tell thee to stick thine finger up thine arse.

Sigh… I give up! Rope… where is my fucking rope?!

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Mommy’s boy

Messy babyIt is Tuesday(yesterday), 12h45pm. My telephone rings.
I pick up and mumble “Hello” into the receiver. It is my mother… the Mrs Michael Schumacher of Johannesburg.

“Hi, [K], how are you doing?” she asks cheerfully.
”Hey mom. I’m fine, thanks. To what do I owe the unexpected phone call?”
”Oh, I was just in the vicinity of your office and I thought I’d stop by to see how you are doing. Perhaps we could meet for lunch? Say in about 10 minutes?”
”Heh heh… I don’t usually do lunch with older women. Not unless a fee has been agreed to beforehand” I quip.
”Well, how does 18 years of free boarding and lodging sound to you?”
”Eish… you drive a hard bargain, mom. I was about to go down to cafeteria to get something to eat, but I am sure I can get away for an hour or so to meet with you”
”Perfect! Shall we meet at the cosy little lunch place opposite your building?”
”Sure”, I reply, “see you there.”

I put down the phone, tell the secretary that I’m going out to lunch and that I will be back in an hour.
When I get to the restaurant she had already secured us a table. She kisses me on the cheek and almost immediately launches into a lecture about how thin and run-down I look. Mothers! They are the ultimate confidence boosters, aren’t they?

“It’s a good thing you are taking me out to lunch then. God knows you wouldn’t want me to waste way, would you?”
”Don’t you get coy with me young man. I am still your mother”
I laugh (or pretend to laugh). I know better than to argue with her. I enquire about how things are at home and how my dad is doing. Anything to get her off my case and focus her mind on something else.
The food arrives in the middle of all this and we start eating.
And then it happens! She licks the inside of her thumb, leans over and proceeds to wipe something from the corner of my mouth.

“Whoa! Mom, What are you doing?” I ask as I back away from her hand.
”There is a piece of food on the corner of your mouth. I’m wiping it away”, she answers casually.
”We’re in public, for crying out loud! People are watching. I’m a grown man… you could’ve just told me to wipe my mouth!”
”Oh relax, [K]. You can be so uptight. No one even noticed”, she answers with an elaborate hand gesture.
As she says so, she turns to the group of young women sitting at the next table.

“My youngest… he’s always such a messy eater.” [Way to go, mom! My humiliation is complete.]
The girls giggle to themselves.
I DIE… repeatedly!!!
It is a horrible death. My battered ego and mutilated manhood is everywhere you look! I think the ghost of my embarrassment will haunt that place for years to come. What I wouldn’t give to be an orphan!

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confusedWomen have got to be the undisputed champions at manipulation and asking difficult questions. Sometimes the intentions may be cruel, but more often than not it is, I think, to remind men who the boss really is. Or perhaps they just like to see us squirm as we frantically search for the right thing to say. I would do it if I had the ability.
Now when I say difficult, I do not mean “Can I get pregnant as a result of oral sex?” [No, sweetheart, the last time I checked the oesophagus was not directly connected to the uterus.]
Nor do I mean the ever-annoying, “does this dress make me look fat?” crap we are required to field from time to time. I mean difficult as in, “Would you ever date one of my friends?” While the former can be somewhat tricky to navigate, the latter is guaranteed to explode into a major argument and/or divorce if the man does not answer appropriately, which is to say dishonestly.
These are the times you wish you could unleash an army of flesh-eating maggots so vile that they would eat that question right out of her noggin.
You will probably find yourself thinking, “And the fucking point is ?” And therein lies the answer. There is no point, because no good can come of it.
I was sitting in a restaurant with [S] the other day when she pointed to another girl a few tables away from us and asked, “Do you think she is pretty?” Sitting right there was a stunningly beautiful girl. I damn near chocked on my appetizer.
Now I’ve been down this road before… many times. Her favourite question to ask me is, “What are you thinking?” Huh?! Why would she ruin my precious me-time by asking me what I am thinking about? Given that men think about sex and sport 80% of the time, that question pretty much answers itself, doesn’t it?
Sure there are times when I wonder what she is thinking. But, do I ever ask her? Hell no!! Who knows what may spew forth from the dark crevices of her cranium? Probably more difficult questions.
Now [S] knew perfectly well that the girl at the next table was pretty. Saying no was therefore not an option, but then neither was saying yes. She was digging a hole and she wanted me to fall into it. And once I was in it, there‘d be no getting out, not without sustaining a substantial amount scrapes and bruises.
So I said, “If you feel the need to ask, then you probably already think she is pretty. What I think is irrelevant. With that in mind, it would probably be best to spare yourself the demoralizing answer and spare me the annoyance of pretending that I have no idea what you are talking about. I’ll just keep on eating”.
“Oh, you are no fun”. It was clear she was a little disappointed. I could “see” her pouting on the inside. I could have played along, but it was not worth the price I would have had to pay eventually.
In the end, men love dating bitches, he’s just not that into you, and women are from Venus…  or whatever crap some relationship guru will come up with next.

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Cheerful whistling signThere’s a guy at work who insists on whistling out loud in the men’s room. Yep, he is the friggin Mary Poppins of the water closet.
I guess if it is acceptable to fart, then whistling is acceptable at the urinal and at the washbasin.
Still, I find it only slightly less annoying than people who talk on their cell phone while they are going about their business. Surely no matter can be so pressing that it needs to be discussed with your pants around your ankles or with your dick in your hand while people around you are doing their expunging rituals?
I thought of telling to him to shut up because my bladder cannot function properly when there are distractions in the room, but that would only make me seem sadder than he is. What is even more annoying is that the tune gets stuck in my head for the rest of the day.
Perhaps the act of peeing brings such joy to him that he can’t help but to let the whole world know.
This morning he was going about his business to the tune of James Morrison’s “You give me something“. I used to like that song. It is a great song. But not anymore.
I wonder if he uses that same technique when he does a number two. “Take my breath away” by Berlin comes to mind. Or how about that 80’s classic by Leo Sayer, “I feel a thunder in my heart“? (Although “thunder in my arse” would be more appropriate).

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Drinks HolidayThe mind boggles yet again.
Seeing that it was Wednesday night last night (obviously) and we have a four-day weekend coming up, I let my mates talk me into going out to a bar with them.
What made it tempting was when one of them said, “Hey, I know the bartender at this one bar. He’s a friend of mine and I am sure he’ll hook us up with some free drinks”
Now before you go ballistic on my arse and think, “Jeez, [K], you are such a free-loader”, let me remind you that I objected loudly. I had grave concerns about the guy losing his job and I had a perfectly good bottle of whiskey sitting right there in my bar, just waiting to be violated.
What got to me at the end of the evening was that when the tab came, they insisted on tipping him 300% and it came out to the same price had we paid for each and every drink!
I may not have been a Math major at university, but when the tab comes out to exactly what you would have paid at another bar, there is no point to it. No point at all! One side of the equation equals the other.
Well, at least the bartender got to keep his job. All I got was a hang-over the size of the Titanic.

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