This week my mother-in-law is coming for dinner, and sleeping over. And I’m looking forward to it. And now my spirit is telling me that many people reading this will never say those words, ever. And I don’t mean that your mom-in-law has passed. No. On the contrary she’s very alive. And definitely kicking. It’s just that two of you will never see eye to eye. Unless you’re standing bors-teen-bors. Chest against Chest. Which can be a very sexy situation in a completely different scenario. But this is not THAT scenario. This scenario is spicy, not sexy.
So today’s little story then is essentially for those of you who don’t get on with your mommy-in-law. Because there are many out there who actually do get on with hubby’s mother. And they will make a point of telling you so. And the rest of us look at that newly wed and think MMM WAG JY MA JY GAT NOG SIEN. Very loosely translated for our English-only speakers: YOUR MOTHER- IN-LAW IS A BIAATCH FROM HELL – JUST WAIT AND SEE!
Throughout the decades we have kinda been told to expect nothing less. I even remember a somewhat fierce looking plant called the mother-in-law’s tongue. It does not look like a rose. It does not look like a carnation. It looks fierce and sharp. Like your mother-in-law’s tongue mos.
I have the feeling that this drama mostly comes into play with heterosexual couples, throwing the spotlight on the relationship between the new bride and the groom’s mommy. This is going to be easier to read if we give them names. I’m writing this on a Monday so let me go with M’s all ’round. The groom is Mario. The young bride is Megan. The groom’s mommy is Michelle.
To grasp the mommy-in-law situation well, you have to understand that the bond between Michelle and her son Mario is like a bond between peri-peri sauce and slap chips. Inseparable. (Slap chips is hot chips. Slap is then pronounced “slupp”. Also means limp. Welcome to Cape Town).
God help the brave soul that steps in to separate the chips from the peri-peri sauce. Of course it’s going to cause a thing. But along comes Megan. Mario falls head over hills in love with Megan and they decide to tie the knot. The journey to the altar is not smooth sailing. Michelle is initially dikbek that another woman is creeping into her son’s heart. Note that Mario might be around 31 but Michelle still refers to him as “my child”. My child this. My child that. Ma dai jong is al groot.
So Michelle initially gives Megan a shit time whenever Mario takes Megan home to visit. Michelle will carelessly (but smilingly) say things to Megan like he brings so many girls in and out here – he will never make up his mind – would you like some tea or juice? (By the way, when Michelle offers you tea Megan, you say yes. Even if you hate tea. Just say yes. Otherwise the story will spread like a Parliament fire: sy hou vir haa wat sy nie issie. Elegant translation: she’s pretentious).
When Michelle eventually realizes that Mario is serious about Megan, she accepts that she has to start playing the game. She has to play nicely. Megan now bravely begins to prepare Michelle for the harsh scenario that the peri-peri sauce will gently be scraped off the slap chips. Yes Michelle is the peri-peri sauce and her child is the slap chips. The tricky issue is that the slap chips must show a willingness to be separated from the peri-peri sauce. Indeed, it is during this time that the slap chips must not be slap.
Mario must now emotionally leave his mommy. This is easier said than done because we all know that a man turns into a boy when he is sitting in his mommy’s lounge. And his mommy loves it. Especially when it comes to food. Shame Megan why is my child looking so thin! Megan is thinking yirre Mario open your bek and tell your mommy that you are running every morning! But no. Mario just smiles at mommy and goes into mommy’s kitchen and dishes from mommy’s pot. Like he never left home.
Michelle loves this, Megan smiles and thinks jy kan elke aand by jou ma gaan vriet! (You can go and eat at your Mom’s every night).
Lol. The struggle continues. Good luck in getting that peri-peri sauce off the slap chips.
Did you make a New Year’s Resolution the other night? I was asked by a journo to please send them a few sentences as to what my resolutions are. I emailed back: TO STAY ALIVE. They never went to print with that response. They wanted more. I didn’t have anything more. Aiming to stay alive is currently a big enough challenge.
But even in the good old days before we washed our hair in sanitizer after someone sneezed within eight thousand metres of us, I was not really big on New Year’s Resolutions. Mainly because I hate feeling like a loser. I’ve decided it’s best to keep your new year’s intentions to yourself so that nobody is able to judge you when you fail. Some of those resolutions may not sound challenging but they can eventually prove to be helluva ambitious. Three popular ones spring to mind.
THIS YEAR I AM GOING TO GYM. Don’t tell anyone. Just quietly start going. Maybe. There are so many variables when it comes to this gym story. Take it from me. I’ve stumbled down this road for a while. The gym community is a whole other breed on it’s own. You can’t just arrive at gym in a dirty old grey tracksuit pants as though you’re part of the “boys open relay team”. No. You have to invest in some crisp new gym gear otherwise they will look at you funny. The right sneakers will easily cost you more than many packets of Fritos. I’m often gawked at when I arrive at gym with my old converse sneakers. (Which reminds me – I still need to buy a t- shirt for gym that says TSEK.)
Once you have 2 or 3 gym outifts you need to decide which gym you’ll be frequenting. Different gyms attract different tribes. Some gyms attract the laid back crowd. Others attract the not-so-laid-back crowd. This latter group makes gym noises while they are exercising. They also take very serious ownership of the gym equipment and may smash your car windscreen if you ask a ridiculous question like are you still busy here?
And if you are lucky enough, you need to choose the right Personal Trainer. This is crucial. You will be with this person for 60 minutes at a time. It can be emotionally painful if you make the wrong choice. You want someone who can say sweet nothings about more than just the best protein shakes or how last week’s trance party in Grabouw was lit.
So you see, the gym resolution is easier said than done.
THIS YEAR I’M GOING TO CUT BACK ON ALCOHOL. Please don’t tell anyone. Notice how this resolution more than likely started with I’m going to give up alcohol. This quickly moved to cut back. It’s a tough one. Having said that. I have to admit that I have a friend or two who’ve been able to turn their backs on the bottle cold turkey and are living their best lives. But still. If this is your resolution keep it to yourself. Because it is crucial to remember why you sometimes wind up with a glass in your hand in the first place. It’s just difficult to deal with some family and friends unless you’ve taken a few sips. Those are the people I have spoken about previously, numerous times. They have been created to test us. So a long as they are alive, turning your back on the bubbly is going to be a challenge. If you must, rise to the challenge quietly.
THIS YEAR I’M GOING TO TRAVEL MORE. Don’t be silly. Covid things. Put this one off for a little while.
So then at least join me on my journey with my ONE New Year’s Resolution: let’s try to stay alive kanalla. There’s still lots of laughing to be done.
Rest in Peace Our Beloved Arch. What an outpouring yesterday. From across the globe. So much Love, Respect and Adoration. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a Giant amongst Men. And this sentiment was echoed by so many. It made me think about what people will say about the rest of us when we are no longer here. A person should think about these things. And when you do, you will strive to be a better person in life. Be more lekke with others. Don’t be a vark. Because you want your funeral service to be fabulous. Especially that part of your funeral service where others get to talk about you.
I’ve been to a few funerals in my lifetime where I had to hide my grin when I realized that people were struggling to find a nice thing to say about the dearly departed. And it’s even funnier when you realize that the entire congregation knows that dinges was not a lovely character at all.
I’ve even attended a service where the Pastor decided to say bugger all about the person chilling in the coffin and instead proceeded to deliver a beautiful sermon about the importance of being kind to each other. Now while that’s a movingly important message indeed, you’re kinda preaching to the dead if the main culprit, her of UNKINDNESS DOT COM, is now gracing the cover of the freshly photocopied funeral bulletin.
Wait. Let me then maybe backtrack so ‘n bietjie. Maybe people who are not lovely should NOT strive to be lekke people and instead just continue to roam the planet as horrible people. And then when we talk at their memorial or funeral service, we simply get up and tell the truth and “celebrate” them for who they really were. THAT most certainly would make these gatherings so much more enjoyable. After all, we all know that most of these things have an after party with snack platters, pots of curry, and booze from the boot of Uncle Whatsisname’s car. So we might as well gear up for the party, balls to the wall.
Imagine being able to stroll up to the podium, knowingly sneak a glance at the coffin, clear your throat, whip out your phone, and gooi:
“Graham was married to Jill, but was having an affair with Nicole from Milnerton. I know that most of us sitting here knew about it. Many of us here tried to talk to him – even I tried to talk to him out of the affair – but he wouldn’t listen. He was adamant that he was no longer in love with his wife but was now in love with Nicole. Even Graham’s brothers couldn’t talk to him about this. He wouldn’t listen to them. Essentially because one brother also has a skelmpie on the side and the other brother is an alcoholic. Their family has always been deurmekaar. They are all here – they will tell you themselves. You’ll see at the after party.
I see Graham’s neighbours are also here. I remember Graham always talking shit about his neighbours. He knew that you guys called him ‘suurlamoen gevriet’ behind his back. Graham mos never smiled. Whether it was at work or at home. He maintained that smiling was overrated and it took too much effort, for zero reward. You guys who lived in the same road with Graham wanted him to join the neighbourhood watch but he refused. He used to say to me: ‘their houses are so kak why would anyone want to break in! I’m not missing out on my sleep because of those delusional losers.'”
That is the kinda tribute that can go either way. But whatever happens, if you didn’t know the real Graham, you will know who he was after that day.
Enough about that. We started with the Arch. Let’s end with The Arch. Today he would want us to smile. I have been lucky enough to meet him a few times and he thoroughly enjoyed laughing. He thoroughly enjoyed telling jokes. And he thoroughly enjoyed laughing at his own jokes!
This is the week when people are starting to give other people presents. I panic when someone hands me a gift, and then asks me to open it while they are looking on. It’s stressful because there can only be one reaction. You are meant to go O WOW MAN THANK YOU! So moments before you rip the wrapping apart, you reach deep down to go and fetch that necessary reaction. And most of us are actually quite good at this. And then everything happens really quickly. DO YOU LIKE IT / O MY GOD I LOVE IT / YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE / DON’T BE SILLY / THIS GIFTWRAP IS GORGEOUS I DON’T WANT TO TEAR IT / I FEEL SO BAD I DIDN’T GET YOU ANYTHING / AG DON’T WIORRY! And the moment is over in under 4 minutes. Exhale. You were brilliant doll.
It’s a bit trickier when it’s a shitty gift though. Now don’t come at me with Marc there’s no such thing as a shitty gift. Ja jaaa, I know it’s the thought that counts but some gifts really make me question some people’s thoughts. I cannot tell you how many times people have given me baseball caps. I ask you with tears in my teargas eyes, onto what head am I going to squeeze that cap! No man! I know like I know that you dug that cap out from some goodie bag.
And when it comes to getting people gifts, I’m telling you vouchers is the way to go. (Ja I did think that that sentence should read vouchers are the way to go – but if you consider the giving of vouchers as a singular gesture then you can get away with: vouchers is the way to go). And your voucher can be big or small. Any amount that you can afford. And then let the people buy their own books, their own music, their own t-shirt. Dan is ammal happy. Even while I’m typing this I’m remembering that I still have a voucher somewhere at the bottom of my backpack. And the memory is making me smile and curl my big toes ever so slightly. These are good reactions.
Vouchers of te not, have a lovely little festive break. A strange festive season I know but make the best of it. It’s not all bad. You can now see only the people you’ve ever really wanted to see over the festive period. For the ones who you don’t want to see, simply say sorry man – I can’t see you’s – I’ve been exposed. Everyone’s been using that line lately. It’s very acceptable. And even while you’re reading this, you know that there are always people who you don’t want to see. Some of them are even related to you. Some of them distantly related. Aunty dinges’s husband’s son-in-law’s brother’s niece from Genadendal. I have nothing against Genadendal – it’s just a lekke word to use.
My point is, when visiting someone, you should always have something interesting to say. Make an effort. You came into their lounge. You can’t just sit there on the other side of the dining room table, dipping the crumbed chicken strips in spicy mayo, and not have a single word to say. I mean how difficult can it be. Pick a topic, any topic. Loadshedding. Omnicron. Zuma’s illusive illness. Anything. But no. Not a peep from some mense. These are the people who steal precious moments from you that you can never ever get back. You look at them and think yirre all I want to do right now is sit on my bed and watch netflix with a bowl of trifle –ma nou kyk ek in jou pudding gesig vas!
They are happy to just stare blankly. I have encountered many of them, younger and older. You just want to klap them twice with a stuk snoek to get some kind of reaction. But that wouldn’t be fair on the snoek.
But hey now – look at God – you don’t have to look at any of those faces this year – you’ve mos been exposed!