It’s not the BFG: it’s the GHD

I was in Dischem the other day, when I overhead a little interaction that took me back in time. I was instantly reminded of a rather memorable project meeting a few years ago. It was during my former life at one of the Big Four Audit firms. I was in a division with a far lower concentration of auditors and tax advisors than the rest of the firm, but, in general, the auditing culture prevailed: risk averse, polite, professional, etc. However, the meeting in question was the kick-off meeting for a ten-person project at one of the firm’s clients. Okay, fine. I’ll give you a hint: the client has been referred to as Incestec Bonk (but I’m sure only by less refined members of Jozi society and certainly not by my ex audit firm). Anyway, this meeting should have been like any other: timelines, roles & responsibilities, blah, blah, blah. Instead, it felt more like a meeting amongst a Cosmo team preparing for a Hugh Grant interview. 33 year old women in pin stripe suits were giggling like teens, before collectively panicking about what they’d wear on Monday when we be in the midst of these Incestec homo sapiens (the male variety). The atmosphere was filled with palpable excitement; sexual innuendos were rife and the poor male Partner in charge was powerless to stop it. It was almost surreal.

That weekend, I had lunch with a friend employed by Incestec. I’ll call her Nigella (since Nigella is almost as gorgeous and almost as good in the kitchen). I described the reaction of my female colleagues to the news that we’d soon be working amongst her male colleagues. I wanted to know if they were just off the charts good-looking, or what?

“Yes, they are,” she said straight away.

“But…”

Ha! There had to be a ‘but’ – the stats just didn’t make sense.

“You see, the thing is…” Nigella continued but then tapered off again. “The thing is…”

She looked almost pained by what she was trying to say and once again she stopped mid-sentence.

“Well, the thing is, they…”

Oh for Pete’s sake, what is it? By now I was thinking she was going to tell me that they were transvestites by night or that they all lived with their aging mothers.

“The thing is, (deep breath) they do their hair”.

Monday rolled around and proved Nigella right. Virtually every member of the male species had about enough gel in his “do” to stop a bullet. (Thankfully, that didn’t deter my female colleagues).

The other day in Dischem, I witnessed first hand how it all begins. It was mid-morning and the store was quiet enough for me to bump into a yummy mummy and her teenage son several times over. The third time I encountered the duo, I was picking out shampoo.

“Oh, look. They’ve got the GHD,” the mom was saying.

Then she turned to her son. “Do you have a GHD, Kev?”

I was like, “he’s a guy (and he’s 15) but mainly, he’s a guy – of course he doesn’t have a frigging GHD, you silly woman.”

And then came Kev’s reply, “Jaw. I usso got a GHD. For shaw.”

I guess who needs the Big Friendly Giant when you have the GHD?

The Massage

To my knowledge, The Husband has always been vehemently against massages of any kind. “I don’t like people touching me,” he’s been known to say to innocent holiday-makers who happen to recommend our hotel spa to us. (The friendly Americans look taken aback, recover quickly but then politely back out of our dinner date later that evening). So when he suggests that we celebrate my 31st birthday at our local spa, I’m like, “Since when does the Spar do dinner?” Turns out he’s talking about a hot stone aromatherapy thingie at the Radisson’s wellness centre. Ah! Much better.

Birthday eve arrives and we set off for the spa. We get there, change into our fluffy robes and velvety slippers and shuffle over to the heated pool “where our therapists will collect us”. I’ve followed instructions and am clad in the disposable g-string and gown provided, but The Husband’s able to whip off his robe because he’s in his swimming shorts. Our therapist comes through and asks if we have any special requests. The Husband (I should just call him The Cyclist since he’s currently THAT obsessed) wants a sports massage. (I’ve been spared an hour on the stationary bike just beforehand “to earn our massage”, thanks to phenomenal cost of an ad hoc work-out on the Platinum Planet. I mean, it’s my bl**dy birthday, for Pete’s sake.) Anyway, the sports massage request from hubby prompts the therapist to ask if he “would like his glutes massaged.” Now, I’m no expert but it sounds like a fairly standard question to pose an avid cyclist, given that they sit on their gluteous maximus for like, a million hours on the trot. Evidently not, though, because The Husband’s eyes widen and he freezes. The therapist tries again and Lance Armstrong finally responds: “Under …..no…..circumstances…..will…..I….be…..taking….these shorts off”. Ohhh-kay, then, baby.

And off we go to the massage chamber…

We’re asked to lie down on the massage tables (as you do when you’re having a massage, right?) so I duly begin to de-robe when, out of nowhere, a body flies at me from across the room. I’m knocked to the ground and end up in a semi-fetal position, sandwiched between the hard floor and my fluffy terry-cloth robe. My robe is being held in place by the full weight of The Husband.

“Um, what are you doing?” I ask from under my gown.

“What are YOU doing? Why are you taking your clothes off in front of everyone?” comes the shocked response.

Oh boy. I don’t think the previous regime had ANY idea that banning topless tanning would have such a lasting psychological impact on the generations it affected.

“Sweetheart,” I say, “Give the gown to the nice lady. She’s only going to massage your quads and your calves and make you the biggest, strongest cyclist in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD. She won’t bite. I promise.”

Silence. For what seems like forever.

Eventually, I hear, “How big and strong?”

Phew. Progress.

Once I’ve finally coaxed and prized The Husband off me, have helped strap him to his massage table and have left sign language instructions for the therapists to drug him with aromatherapy oils, I sprint out of the couples chamber to the safety of the indoor pool. Thank God the Veuve’s already on ice. I figure that a girl deserves some birthday bubbly after all that. I’ll share it if he comes out of his ylang-ylang coma before I finish it.

Home Exec Seeks BFF


During my sabbatical, there’ve been some signs that the whole “Home Exec” thing is not exactly for me. This morning I awoke to another such sign. Overnight, the ceiling-y-thingy underneath our upstairs balcony collapsed. It collapsed in exactly the spot where The Husband spends a significant amount of time puffing on his Peter Stuyvesants. Of course I was suitably grateful that the ceiling-y-thing did not fall on his head, but it would really have killed two birds if it had fallen on a couple of hadedas (‘scuse pun). At least that would have solved one home improvement problem (apparently it’s illegal to shoot the b*ggers) so a fatal piece of falling rhinoplast would have been ideal.

“Oh, Mr Conservation Officer, there’s been a terrible accident…” Instead, nothing but more Home-Maker maintenance. Not my strong point.

On the bright side, however, “my renovator” (that’s what I’m calling him from now on, even though I only met him this morning) could not be sweeter. He’s been running to me excitedly every time he figures out yet another source of our internal waterfalls, looking like he’s cracked a code or something. He then proceeds to explain the solution in great, painstaking, slow motion-like detail. Bless. Now, I want to live in a house where I won’t get rained on while I’m watching TV as much as the next housewife, but it really is a struggle to stay animated about drainage, plaster and pipes.

Aside from the fact that project managing home improvement is not my forte, there’ve been a few other signs that full-time home-making may not be for me. Looking back, I think I began to realise this a couple of months ago. It was after I got it into my head that I needed a partner in crime to help me through this life-changing phase. I rationalised that new mothers had Mom & Snots, the baby boomers had bridge and bowls and the kugels had Tashas. But what about us child-free ladies of leisure? What did we have?

I decided I needed a friend. I just needed to find her. Shortly thereafter, I started seeing this nice, normal-looking girl at the gym in the middle of the morning. She looked about my age and she wasn’t drawling “Hiiiiiii!” to every second gym-goer. “Aha!” I thought. “A fellow outsider! And if she’s working out at 9:30 in the morning she can’t have a regular day job. Maybe we can be friends!!!”

All these thoughts were racing around in my crazy little head, but of course, I was far too cool (too shy) to introduce myself. Then, later that day, I saw her at a coffee shop at the Blubird Centre.

“Oh my God,” I’m thinking, “This is DESTINY! We’re like…TWINS! We hang out at ALL the same places! And she doesn’t have any friends either!”.

It got even better: she had a huge slice of carrot cake in front of her! “She does gym AND she eats cake – OMG, she’s PERFECT”. I’d just arrived at the coffee shop with my current best friend (who was up from Cape Town) and I didn’t want her to think I was completely loony, so I just said, half-joking, “Hey, that’s the girl we saw at the gym this morning. She obviously doesn’t have a job either. Maybe she can be my friend”.

Now, Current Best Friend (CBF) is all about the confidence. At 19, she dragged me into London bars frequented by Naomi Campbell. (Not kidding, I actually saw Ms Campbell once). CBF would walk in looking like she owned the place and, more importantly, like she was simply born to drink champers there. I, on the other hand, would be hiding behind her, praying no-one recognised me as the waitress from the Spur-style joint down the road. So Current Best Friend leant over to New Best Friend and went:

“Hey. We really should sync our schedules”.

New Best Friend looked a bit confused but Current Best Friend was undeterred:

“We saw you at the gym this morning,” she explained.

By this point I was bright red but simultaneously imagining us as mid-week pilates partners and godmothers to our unborn children. I also seemed to have swallowed my tongue but fortunately, Current Best Friend is never short of a word or two, so happily, the conversation was flowing.

As I was half-way through my speech (in my head) for her kid’s christening, we learnt that she was out from London for two weeks her best friend’s wedding.

And that she had a job – and a personal trainer (thank you very much) – in London. (The little beetch). And that’s when I realised I needed to get a life – or a job. Or more Facebook friends. For now, I’ve settled on the latter.

And yes, it’s working pretty well. Thanks for all the birthday messages Facebook friends – you’re the best!

Vanity Fair at The Lab


I have to admit that I’ve worked hard at taking my sabbatical seriously. Having said that, travel research, travel bookings, packing for travel, actual travel and then recovery from travel, should not be under-estimated.

As a result, I was still deep in recovery phase late last week when an ex-colleague called about some contracting work (bearing in mind that I have not engaged in actual work, per se, since April ’09). When we met to discuss the project, she looked so fab in her tailored shirt, fitted skirt and pointy shoes that I felt a rush of nostalgia for the glamour of a working wardrobe. “I miss suits and heels!!!” I thought and promptly accepted the piece of work. As it turns out, I ended up doing the work at home in my PJ’s. I can’t say it was exactly brain surgery but it was a bit of a shock to the system – what with its deadlines, timelines, frameworks and all those other workie-type things.

So when I finished the work yesterdday, I really felt as though I deserved a reward. I thought about it and then settled on a mani and a pedi at the Blubird’s Nail & Body Lab.

There are many things I love about The Lab. I love settling down into the big, leather Lazy Boys and coming out with perfect little, bright red fingers and toes.

The part I enjoy less is the: “Howz-i-i-i-i-t, D-o-o-o-o-o-o-ol!” (think: ULTRA nasal).

“Ah my G-o-o-o-o-rd! You look a-MA-a-a-a-a-zing!”

“ Ah my G-o-o-o-o-rd, I’m so exh-a-a-a-a-usted. Ricky had a Board function last night and all I’ve had today is two freezocinos and a Super C.”

“Ah my G-o-o-o-o-rd!” And so forth.

Obviously if the cheerleaders actually spoke to me, I’d put on my best nasal drawl and drawl right back,

“Ah my G-o-o-o-o-rd! You ‘usso’ (read ‘also’) look aMA-a-a-a-a-zing!” But since they don’t, my strategy is to look intellectually intimidating. I take along a copy of Vanity Fair and smugly immerse myself in one of the regular articles by Nobel Prize-winning economists such as Joseph Stiglitz.

That’ll teach ‘em. Today, however, I have a somewhat post-modern moment at The Lab. Instead of the latest Vanity Fair, I take along the book I’ve just started reading: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young (it inspired a recent movie by the same name). Turns out, the book is actually based on Toby’s experiences as a writer for Vanity Fair itself.

A chapter or so in, it dawns on me that my visions of the magazine as the seat of cutting-edge journalism and the mouth-piece of world-renowned economists, may be somewhat off-base. From Toby’s descriptions, Vanity Fair is starting to sound more like Cosmo – except the editors are richer and bitchier.

And then comes the quote that pretty much settles it: APPARENTLY (according to Toby), Vanity Fair was once described as “a magazine read by women in Illinois while they get their nails done.” Touché, dol.

Alarms & Shorty Pyjarms

I have to say that being on sabbatical after a December holiday really helps the back-to-school blues. Despite having trouble keeping track of the days of the week when I got back to the Big Smoke, I managed to rock up for my bi-weekly personal training slot.

At 9am.

I’ve had this decadent, late morning slot for the past 6 months but have struggled to find a training partner – go figure. So when The Iron Man (my personal trainer) asked me whether I’d like to join his A-team of female clients at 6am in the morning, I found myself saying ‘yes’. The word just flew out of my mouth without any instruction from my brain. I think my brain may still have been on South American time, which tends to be a little “behind”.

In order to make the red-eye slot, I calculated that I’d have to get up at 05:30. I also calculated that to get 8 hours sleep (another New Year’s Resolution which is danger of being struck off the list for non-implementation) I’d need to be asleep by 21:30. And so, on Monday night, I dutifully climbed into bed really early and willed myself to sleep. I then fell into a a state somewhere between slumber and alertness, with my mental alarm going “FIVE THIRTY! FIVE THIRTY! FIVE THIRTY!” Needless to say, when that delightful hour finally rolled on, I felt like I’d been hit by a TGV. It was, after all, the crack of dawn so I figured the gym would be a morgue and I figured I could roll out of bed and stumble through the doors without so much as a smidgeon of mascara.

Apparently not.

Who would’ve thought it but Melrose Arse was positively heaving. Even the normally ultra-calm Iron Man was in overdrive. I was hustled to the step machine with the A-teamers and told to “warm-up quickly!”

Jeez, dude. There was none of the customary “hey, how’re you doing, how you’re feeling”. Which was just as well since I would have launched into a long lament over my lack of sleep, how the red eye slot might not be for me after all, etc, etc, etc. But none of the A-teamers had spoken a word so far, so I felt compelled to shut my mouth and to try and imitate their seemingly effortless pull-ups. Each of the girls was even tinier than the first and when The Iron Man did eventually initiate some conversation it was about their marathon training programmes.

“Ja, you need to be doing about 20-30km per day,” he was saying. WTF? (Mind you, I have also heard him say that he “chats to Lance” (Armstrong) on Facebook, so perhaps some of his assertions need to be taken with a pinch of salt.)

Then I learned that super sexy A-Team Member 1 has given birth to two kids and that A-Team Member 2 is in her early forties and five-months pregnant with her third kid. I think the three of them (2 A-teamers plus 1 unborn baby) collectively weigh less than I do.

Suddenly, in my semi-sleepless hungover state, I got the Iron Man’s plan for me: competition. I decided to chill out and just enjoy the work-out. The great thing about Melrose Arse is that no matter how gruelling one’s programme, the characters that frequent the place provide you with priceless entertainment. My current fave is what I’ve termed the “shorty pyjamas”. A few of the guys wear the tiniest, teeniest little pairs of shorts imaginable. I’ve seen similar proportions on Clifton beaches, but these are even better, because they’re nice and loose – they let the breeze in. And then a loose T-shirt is worn so it’s impossible to tell, for sure, how high the shorts have been pulled up. The whole ensemble is just a beaut. The best is – it cracks me up and improves my mood every single time. Bring on the pull-ups!