The humidity would’ve killed a lesser man

I was in Dubai two weeks ago, attending a conference.  For those of you who are geographically challenged, Dubai is a bright lights, big city in the desert. For those of you who are climatically challenged, September is the start of autumn for the residents of this massive outdoor sauna and the change of season means they change their description of the heat from “hof AF” to “hot as hell”.  The problem is that Dubai is on the coast, so for non-residents the heat remains best described as “hot AF.”  The humidity is a killer.

I almost died, every time I had to walk from the hotel lobby to the conference facility.  One would think that a conference facility would be inside the hotel but no. One had to go outside and walk like 50 meters or so.  And I’m not exaggerating about evading the sickle of the Grim Reaper because attending a conference in Dubai implies having to wear a suit.  It seems that businessmen over there like to dress up for death.

The humidity was so severe, it took on a personality of its own.  It went beyond the normal call of duty with regards to the creation of moisture on the human body.  It attacked and reached most of my intimate places. The temperature of the pool is exactly the same whether you’re in or out.  And could someone please warn the unsuspecting guests of the depth of the pool.  It must have been 73 feet, and when I jumped in, I almost drowned and because I knew the lifeguard didn’t look anything like the cast of Baywatch, I managed to stay afloat by sheer willpower alone.

My closest call with crossing to the other side was when I reached the point of fedup-ness and thought screw this, I want a glass of wine whilst watching the Arab sun set from a different spot than my hotel room window. I ventured into the heat on route to a cozy bar just off the coast.  And in the words of Julia Roberts in that scene from Pretty Woman: “Big mistake. Huge.”  Humidity saw me coming, lurking in the shade, waiting patiently to strike when I would least expect it.

I took the golf cart taxi service offered by the hotel because I’m lazy and it’s free.  I got to the bar, happy to have spend five minutes in moving air created by the not-so-fast-as-I-would-have-liked-it-to-be golf cart.  I smiled at the bouncer who looked frighteningly cool and huge.  He did signal me to sit inside but being the brutish, stubborn person I am, I scoffed at his feeble attempt of luxury and opted to sit outside.  I attacked the stairs and embraced the vibe that didn’t exist at the top of the bar.  And this is where humidity was waiting.

I ordered the wine which took a few seconds longer that it normally would because I was hunched over, trying to catch my breath, after taking the stairs.  The bartender looked a bit freaked out, like he was serving the Joker or someone who is about to die of a heart attack.  I ignored his expression because I couldn’t make out if it was admiration or serious concern.

I took my spot and smiled at the setting sun.  I took a beautiful photo and sipped my Cabernet.  It was good.  Until it wasn’t anymore.  Nineteen seconds later.  When I started to sweat.  And not in a sexy way.  In a WTF, where does all this water come from, kind of way.  Within seven minutes I looked like the victim of a ice-bucket challenge prank.  Or at least I was praying for an ice-bucket challenge prank.  The setting sun was relentless, fighting the last few minutes of the inevitable.  It simply got too hot.  I got too hot.  The wine got too hot.  And humidity was rolling on the floor laughing.  I cursed it and left the wine and the bar and a bouncer with a condescending smirk on his face.

I swear, if I wasn’t so hot and humid, I would have punched him in his sweat-less throat.

As luck would have it, there was no golf-cart at the moment when I needed it desperately. I had to wait, for what seemed like an eternity, even if the long arm of my watch only moved twice.  At long last my hero arrived.

sweat

Me, only worse.

By this time I looked like a survivor of a sunken vessel, drowning in my own bodily fluid. Dehydrated and red, which is a great look on any middle aged man by the way, I was tempted to kiss the driver.  Yes ladies, don’t fight, just form a queue…

I rushed back into the hotel praying that no-one else would be in the elevator and fortunately for me, it was packed with one big family.  The father’s protective instinct kicked in, as he was slowly ushering his children away from the deranged, big, wet, red freak of a human.  I almost broke down my door, got naked and fell on the bed, spreading my body like a star (maybe this is too much information) underneath the best invention of the last four centuries, the AIRCONDITIONER.  It deserves all my respect, hence writing it in capital letters from here on forth.

Needless to say, I didn’t leave the safety of the hotel for the rest of the evening.

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He’s drinking ‘big man’ coffee now.

Dude always loved coffee.  Probably since birth.  Maybe even before that.  And the Internet was much smaller back then, so we didn’t have a million opinions on how to do parenting properly.   So we fed him coffee.  And decaf is only consumed by the spawn of Satan, so we gave him the real thing. *insert gasps of a thousand moms

Relax.  He’s fine.  Sort of.  He has a weird twitch every time someone says ‘coffee’ or when he sees a Starbucks. Even though I suspect the Starbucks-twitch has nothing to do with the fact that they serve coffee but more with the fact that girls hang around the place like antelope around a pool of water during the dry season.

I do remember he had a little trouble sleeping as a toddler, if you consider “a little trouble sleeping” to be a kid who woke up seven times a night. Further proof that parents aren’t perfect and we shouldn’t be judged on specific things we did wrong. Parental success is based on a series of hits and misses and praying that the hits stick like bubblegum to a ponytail and the misses falls into an abyss of forgotten trauma.  So besides the twitch and the third nipple he developed on his back, I’m sure there are no permanent side-effects to caffeine.

Decent coffee is made from boiling water because otherwise it tastes like shit.  So throughout most of his life we made it for him.  We’re certainly not the type of parents who would expect a three year old to collect wood before sunrise, start a fire, carry water for seven miles and then handle a pot of boiling water just to make coffee.  He did that when he was five.  The basic idea for exposing him to caffeine at such a young age was so that he would get hooked, then one day meet a sexy barista, who is the bored daughter of a filthy rich mogul, charmed by Dude’s great sense of humour and who doesn’t run away when he shows her the third nipple.  Then they fall in love, get married and invite us to live out our days in a cottage on their estate, built on one of the Caribbean islands they own…

Where was I?

Oh making coffee.

When he was smaller, we diluted the strength and temperature of the coffee because we are only semi-irresponsible.  This morning as I was making coffee for Dude, the Wife and I, (because Princess is a princess and princesses drink tea), it dawned on me how I’m not diluting his coffee anymore.  He takes his coffee just like Dad.

It was another nostalgic moment for me, realizing how he is growing out of all his little kid habits, developing a whole bunch of new adult ones.  Like shaving and driving a car and inviting a girl to our house and laughing at R-rated jokes that he hides from Wife and taking his coffee like a big man.

How I miss that little kid who used to have the diluted, milky, cold coffee served in a Spiderman sippy cup.

Dude can be a Bond villain

I’ve mentioned that Dude loves drama.  And not in the way the Kardashians or any one of the other Housewive-shitshows like drama.  He likes to act.  In a play.  On a stage.

Their high school puts on a play every year and Dude has been lucky enough to get a role every year since he joined.  It’s four years now.  What can I say?  The apple falls very far from the tree.  Like miiiiiiiiles…

It all good, except for the little known fact that he has been cast as the villain in the last three plays he was in.  Portraying revolting creatures, crafted from the foul scraps left over when they drained the cesspool of humanity.  Kids who are degenerates of society.

Three years ago he got a girl pregnant and left her like cold turkey.  Last year he posted nude photos of a girl on social media and she ended up committing suicide.  This year he played a homophobic bully, who ends up being held hostage by the poor kid, only to see the victim blowing his brain out too. Like I said, disgusting characters…

Dude blew us away with subtle nuances and expressions, switching between a frightened teenager held at gunpoint and a viscous bully in some of the flashback scenes.

His portrayal is a bit of a concern.  A subtle poke at my parenting skills, or the lack thereof.   Dude enjoys every moment on stage, digging deep into a darkness I didn’t knew he possessed, indulging in the shadows that lurk there.  For the sake of art.

Because let’s face it, we all have a dark side.  And not in a I-want-to-drive-my-car-into-a-crowd-of-innocent-people because that would imply the need to be institutionalized.  I mean by way of an urge to say what we want, to call people out for the bullshit they sling around.  To erupt in fury when things become too much.  To stand on a podium and scream at the chaos erupting around us: CAN WE ALL JUST CALM THE FUCK DOWN! PLEASE.  To not consider the consequences of our words.  Or actions.

But we don’t.  We understand physics…An action…a reaction.  We control the urges.  We keep our mouths shut.  We keep calm. We act civil. We do what is expected. We simply take the hit and swallow the insults.  We count to ten.  We keep the beast locked up in a dungeon where no-one could find it.  Because we’re not animals.  We’re all just fine people.

But sometimes we should let loose. We should stand up and say something.  Talk about the uncomfortable stuff.  The things we bottle up.  We should call out the villains in our lives, make them take responsibility for the hurt and the pain they cause and not just lie in shreds and tatters in a corner and live out a tragedy of silence.  We should rise up, stand proud and let the animal roar, rid ourselves of the chains that might end up destroying us later.  Be the hero of your own story, so get on the damn dragon and burn those fuc…

Anyhow, getting back to my point.  Based on Dude’s track record and list of performances, he would be an ideal James Bond villain, considering Daniel Craig just confirmed he is slated to have his martini shaken, not stirred, for one more movie, coming out in 2019.

I even have an idea for a plot: James Bond saves the world from a narcissistic, self-absorbed, American dictator who threatens nuclear war.  Just get Dude in a fat suit and an atrocious wig and and throw three tons of orange paint on him and he’ll be good to go…

The case of the missing teaspoons

I don’t know what’s up with our office kitchen but if the fridge is not a gestation chamber for toxic waste, then the teaspoons are eloping.

We are constantly having to stock up on teaspoons.  Like doughnuts at a police convention.  A lady in the office even started marking them with nail polish because that is what some women do when they want to secure their possessions from theft.  I’m not sure how it prevents the theft from actually taking place but who am I to judge what goes on in the mind of the female gender. It’s not like the nail polish is radioactive and can induce a coma on contact, it’s just red nail polish. Or maybe it’s rose pink.  Or it may even be dark coral.  No, I think it’s magenta.  Or you know what, it fuchsia, it’s definitely fuchsia.  Or… Just. Let. It. Go.

Any good detective, worth his acting career, will tell you that in order to progress with any investigation, one has to have at least one solid lead.  And preferably not the metal type. Unless it’s the murder weapon.  Or a stolen teaspoon.  Which it wasn’t.  The suspect in our ongoing investigation is the cleaning lady because she handles more teaspoons than any other person in our office.  When we confronted her, she merely suggested that the office workers are eating the teaspoons.  (And I’m not making this up.)

missing teaspoons

Listen to Ned Stark, he knows some shit.  Until he lost his head, that is.

Based on her theory, most of us are suffering from a condition known as iron deficiency anemia.  We’re basically minding our own business, pretending to work, focused on getting home, and in between all of that, some of us just gets an uncontrollable urge to randomly gobble down a teaspoon.  And to set the record straight, I work for a chemical company, not a rehabilitation center for X-men.  None of us have any super powers. Unless off course you count the fact that I can tell a co-worker to piss off and leave my office without saying a word, as a superpower.  Then we have one.

I have my own theories as to why our teaspoons are disappearing at such an alarming rate.  Here’s a few:

  1. They are sick of being stuck in a job that feels like a prison sentence and found a way to escape through the drain of the dishwasher, dig through sewage and found a happier life on an island somewhere off the coast of Mexico.
  2. One of the bigger spoons is a bachelor and he’s sending teaspoons home every week with a piece of food stuck to it, as he doesn’t like their spooning technique.  He’s probably going to settle for the plastic spoon. They all do.
  3. The teaspoons have gone to Vegas with a few mates, drank too much and now they’re stuck on a roof of a hotel somewhere, suffering from the worst hangover in the history of cutlery.  All because their mates forgot them there and are still frantically trying to figure out what happened the night before.
  4. They’re all on maternity leave and due to the aggressive campaign of some of the feminist cutlery, it has now been extended to three years for every little piece of food they can scoop out.
  5. The teaspoons have been taken hostage and somewhere there is a knife, hunting the gang, because he doesn’t have any money to pay a ransom.  He does however, have a particular set of skills which he acquired over a very long career and turns him into a nightmare for people trying to eat soup with a fork.
  6. Some of the dishes ran away with some of the smaller spoons, as soon as they saw the cow jumped over the moon singing “Hey diddle diddle”.
  7. Aliens arrived on Independence day and abducted most of the teaspoons because they ran out of their actual probing equipment.  The teaspoons will obviously never be the same again and no-one will believe their ordeal.  So they prefer to stay in Upside Down.  Stranger things have happened.
  8. The teaspoons went to Camp Crystal Bake where they all end up in the bottom of a bowl of dirty water or broken in half by Jason the Muffin Man, who is still trying to get over the loss of his gum drop button.
  9. They’ve been chased out of the kitchen by Kanye just as they started to thank a few people for cleaning them.
  10. The teaspoons have all been deported because they’re all made in Mexico and the wall has been built and paid for by a racist, self-centered, narcissistic fork and knife.

Or they’ve just got lost and found their way into the bags of the cleaning ladies who cart them little spoons from the coffee corner in our office to the kitchen sink and then every so often, not back again.  It’s the latest fetish, “tantalizing teaspoon tampering” and it’s becoming very popular around our office.

The case of the missing teaspoons is an ongoing investigation and just like the Bermuda Triangle and Wife’s natural hair colour, it’s a mystery that might never be resolved.  In the mean time we simply continue buying new teaspoons because the one thing I do know is that it is extremely painful to stir a cup of coffee with my finger.

My love, your car hates me.

I’m 6’4″.  That’s tall.  In any country.  I’m proud of my height, I’ve worked damn hard to get this tall.  It took countless awkward moments throughout puberty and then some. My length allows me to be heavier than most people simply because the weight has a wider distance of distribution.   Or at least that’s what I like to believe.  It enables me to do things that normal people can’t.  Like getting the sales items that’s normally hidden on the top shelf of a grocery store.  You didn’t know?  I’m able to spot my friends from a mile in a crowd.  And then avoid them.  It allows me to have a perfect, unhindered view at any concert, whilst people behind me normally start swearing as soon as I stand up.

My length does make certain things a little more problematic.  Like taking a bath or buying a standard pair of jeans or walking around construction sites or being stuck in an economy seat for eleven hours with the rest of the cattle.  My biggest frustration for being tall is having to drive a normal sized car.  Which is why I don’t.  And which is why Wife does.

Every so often I have to sacrifice my SUV for the good of others.  Like this morning.  She had to cart a bunch of her Kindergarten class to an Eisteddfod, where they’ll try and recite a nursery rhyme in front of three judges, without crying or freezing completely. And then get a certificate for participation.  In order to optimise on time, she would use our SUV.  (Which is technically my SUV, but please don’t tell her I said so.) The SUV has seven seats.  And the reason why I own a car with seven seats is because as much as my kids love each other *insert coughing sound* they prefer to have their own row of seats when we go on a family road trip.  I also prefer them to do so, as the alternative would be “If you don’t stop your shit right this instant, so help me, I will stop this car and throw you both off this mountain.”

It’s a health and safety issue.  My health and their safety.

The problem with my sacrifice, is that I’m stuck with her car.  And it hates me.  Maybe because I’ve been quite vocal about my own preferences when it comes to the vehicle I choose to drive.  I love my Wife enough to suck it up, as I’ve learned many things in my 21 years of marriage.  One of them is to know when to keep your mouth shut.  And this was one of those times.  She was already stressed out about the whole “I-hope-my-kids-will-be-alright-today-Eistedfodd-nerves-thing.

So I took the whole mountain of forty-three keys she has on a chain, compared to the one on mine, and screamed at my kids to get their butts in the car or else they’ll be walking to school.  (We’re such a loving family.)  The first problem is the physics of stuffing four teenagers and their bags in the car, as I still drop them off at school.  My vocal reaction starts as soon as I get into the car and bump my knee against the steering wheel.  Shit! is normally the first word the car hears when I get in.  I have to adjust my seat to accommodate the leg space of three other growing people behind me and whoever shouted “shotgun!” first, is safe from the inevitable squashing and complaining that will unfold on route to school.

Then I have to adjust every single mirror in the car because it’s very important to have 360 vision when you drive in a smaller car because most other drivers won’t see you hovering beneath their bumpers, dodging traffic.  Wife opted for no Bluetooth when she bought the car, so I’m not able to entertain the teenagers with my jam.  I’m not sure if they’re even disappointed.  We’re stuck with whatever music Wife is currently listening to and it’s strange how the kids crank up the volume…

I also have the honour of getting into the little white cabby with a fuel light flashing, which means I have to fill her up because no-one likes to walk 20 miles to work on a winter morning, before coffee.

Then there is the weird pedals.  Maybe it’s because of the combination of my big feet, long legs and lack of awesomeness, but I battle to have a smooth transition from start to fifth gear.  I even stall the damn thing a couple of times a day.  I suspect it’s a conspiracy, thereby ensuring that men can’t claim to be better drivers.  I look like someone who’s failing driver’s ed.

In other news, do you know what they say about men with big feet?  *insert drum roll* We have big shoes.

The worst thing about the car is that as soon as I finally pick a song, it has the uncanny ability to switch to a traffic report for DURBAN! in the middle of it!  Rudely interrupting my groove, which I battle to get going in the first place.  I certainly don’t mind traffic reports, as they can be very helpful, but I prefer to select the time when I want to hear them, especially if they are for a city that 400 km’s away!

The lady simply starts japping away like Trump on Twitter at three in the morning, never once considering how rude she might be for interrupting a song that I’m killing in my own version of carpool karaoke.  She left me on the high note!  High enough for my to croak and start coughing.

Her car does things to me that no decent human being would do to someone else.  I certainly wouldn’t expect any of this kind of behavior from my own car.  I think it’s best if I give her a time out, to ponder all the things she did wrong this morning.  I expect an apology from the traffic lady, at the very least.

Anyhow, I got to work  in one piece, albeit bruised, moody and with a sore throat, but I’m not ungrateful.  I just need to find someone with a can opener to get me out of this damn car.

Moments like these…

Sucks in a get-over-yourself-such-is-life kind of way.  They are notoriously difficult to write about because when I do, I end up looking like a slobbering idiot with tears streaming down my face, splashing all over the keyboard, ruining the electronics and causing a short circuit that leaves the whole office building without power for three days.  It seems electricity and water does not make a great pair.

Not that I write any posts at work.

Luckily these unfortunate occurrences I’m referring to only happens annually.  Like today.

I’m talking about the celebration of the birth of Princess, fifteen years ago. FIFTEEN! OMG! WTF! And every other acronym that express shock.  It hits you SMASH!, like a blow from the Hulk.  Right in the gut.  Reminding me that my kids are growing up and I’m growing old…

222

Princess, as I’m typing away with two fingers, I’m left wondering how long I will still be able to call you “Princess”.  And then I realise the answer to that question is easy:  As long as I’m posting for this domain.  It’s my literary man cave, as it were.  And over here, like in my heart, you will always be my Princess.

This year was one of those where your growth simply lapsed time.  Somewhere between the last birthday and this one, you have morphed into a beautiful young woman.  And it’s not just the outside beauty, which is obvious, but your inner beauty is shining brighter than the Bat single of Gotham.  It’s a strength forged from your unfaltered faith in God, a profound determination, an unquestionable integrity and an endearing, compassionate soul. And this inner beauty boils over into delightful manifestations of song and laughter we get to hear every single day.  Which is why those sounds are the sweetest sounds in the universe.

You make us smile.  You make us proud.  You make us want to be around you.  You make everyone want to be around you.  And we love you more and more and more with each passing day.

May the next year of your life brings you an opportunity to catch a star.  May God grant you blessings beyond your wildest dreams.

And always know this: We love you, our Princess, now and forever and ever.

Have a wonderful birthday.

Something died in our office refrigerator

If you’re stuck working with people in the same office building and the company who you work for does not provide you with a cafeteria, where a person can escape the daily grind and have a freshly prepared lunch, then this post is for you.  To the rest of you spoiled brats, go ahead and mock us, the disadvantaged individuals.

We are condemned to a reality of having to pack our lunch.  To pre-prepare whatever we want to feed our face with, and bring it along to our place of torture. To satisfy the need to eat with hurried scraps because of the time restriction in the morning, due to you having to dress, shave and dump the used food you ate yesterday.  Not to mention the stuff you have to do to the kids to get them to school on time.  Wife has given up on packing my lunch because I am, in her words, “full of shit.”

This post is teetering in the wrong direction.

The biggest issue with a heap of people bringing their own lunch, necessitates the need for a few key appliances.  Like a percolator, microwave oven, scattered cutlery, the wildest array of mugs you’ve ever seen and the biggest menace of them all, a refrigerator.

office-fridge-cleanup

Food is something I enjoy.  Especially if it looks good, smell nice and tastes better.  South Africans are living in a rainbow nation, which is just a polite way of saying that the citizens of our great nation is a melting pot of a gazillion cultures.  And this is where the general concept of what a person might perceive to be good food, gets a little muddled.

One would be very wrong to assume that most people enjoy pasta, pizza, salad or a ham sandwich for lunch.  People eat all kinds of shit.  Kale on cardboard, tuna on a stick, spices that could burn a hole straight from your throat to your anus and a dozen examples of other inconceivable crap.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have an issue with what other people might perceive as delicious but I do have a problem with the fact that everything and anything gets stuck in the same damn fridge.  Another common assumption would be to assume that the chosen food are kept in air-tight containers, thereby ensuring the freshness of said food and also, but more importantly, to eliminate the strange, indescribable toxic odours that rise from said food.  To keep it from spreading through the rest of the kitchen.  Or to a neighbouring country.

People are not that courteous.  They are selfish bastards who would put anything in the fridge as long as it would feed their hunger pains come lunchtime. Doesn’t matter if it lapsed the sell-by date with a year.

I made the mistake of opening the fridge on Monday morning and was smacked in the face by a smell so potent and vulgar, I could actually hear it scream for help.  I was overwhelmed, but was able to shut the door, moments before I passed out.  I didn’t even have time to remove the milk I wanted.  When I came to, I was still trying to control my urge to vomit.

But I’m a man. I’m better than this.  I’m strong.  I’m brave.  I’ve been through worse.  I’ve seen things.  I’ve done things.  I’ve raised two teenagers and had first hand experience on how babies can destroy a nappy.  Or a shirt.  I’ve entered a room where seven teenage boys have been sleeping for three days.  I’ve been to India.  And I’m still here.

So I took a deep breath and opened the fridge again.  I immediately knew it was a mistake.  This was different.  This was toxic.  This was a bio-hazard.  This was trying to kill me.  I still couldn’t figure out what the source of the aroma was.  Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t the decomposing, severed head of that co-worker who is on my fantasy hit list.  There was no head.  Or anything remotely suspicious.  No dead cat.  Or bucket of puke. Not even a tuna/kale/seaweed/cardboard salad.  Nothing.  Being the person who I am, I deduced that the only logical explanation for the foul smell was that someone was able to capture the essence of a Zombie fart and keep it in the fridge.

I did what any brave man would do in a situation like that.  I shut the door, leaned against the wall for support, took another deep breath and ran to one of my colleagues for help.  This colleague was a female.  Obviously.  Most men will agree that there are some things women do better.  These activities include giving birth, silencing a screaming baby, putting a plaster on the bruised knee of a toddler, washing dishes, bringing beer and preparing my favourite meal.  And of course, getting rid of a foul smell in a refrigerator.

The kind lady suggested I place a cup of vinegar in the fridge, as it would soak up the odour. After she shared her wisdom with yours truly, it took her another eight seconds to realise that I wasn’t there for advise.  I was never going to open that fridge again.  I barely survived the nasal version of the first ten minutes of Saving Private Ryan.

After receiving some counselling, I returned to work the next day.  The counselling was very effective because I completely forgot about the atrocious smell I experienced the day before and opened the white crypt without thinking.  The death smell was gone and replaced by an overwhelming aroma of vinegar that made my eyes water.

I got my milk, and then after pondering the reality of my situation, poured it down the drain.  I would like to apologize to every starving kid reading this post but there was no way in hell I was going to drink something that has been contaminated by something that belongs on an episode of the Walking Dead.

Unfortunately, my uncontrollable urge to stuff my face when I’m hungry, will imply that at some point in the future I will break that promise.  And open IT again…

So far so good.  It’s been three days since I’ve had the need to open our damned office refrigerator.