The Husband has never quite grasped terminology that has traditionally been associated with more "feminine" things. For example, if I'm wearing a skirt he likes, he'll say, "Nice dress!" No matter how hard I try to explain the difference between a skirt and a dress, it just doesn't sink in – to him, a skirt is a dress and a dress is a dress.
I guess terminology for baby paraphenalia has also traditionally the realm of more "feminine" things, which is why he has the same difficulty retaining new baby vocabulary as he has remembering the word "skirt". So when I'm burping The Princess and I ask him for a towelling nappy, he can't fathom that anything besides Pampers or Huggies was ever used as a nappy and so he'll hand me a disposable nappy. Then he'll get annoyed when I throw it back at him and ask for a TOWELLING nappy. Just as I don't think he actually understands the word "towelling", so too has he been unable to learn the meaning of a "muslin", which I guess is a bit of a hard one for boys. In his defence, he picked up "compactum" pretty quickly, which I also had to learn when this whole baby adventure began. (A chest of drawers cum changing table for babys, for those of you who have no need to know what a compactum is). For the rest of the baby paraphenalia, he has simply decided to accept his weaknesses and has taken it upon himself to rename items so that they make sense to him.
For example, he was unaware that the word "Babygro" existed, so he proceeded to name all of The Princess' one-piece outfits a "uniform", as in: "That's such a pretty uniform!" Sometimes, there's a bit of variation on the term uniform and Babygro's are referred to as "suits" as in: "What a cute suit!"
The word "pram" is another one that just won't stick with The Husband, so we take The Princess for walks in her "trolley" instead. Like "uniform", "trolley" also has a synonym in The Husband's unique baby vocabulary. It's sometimes referred to as a "cart". I guess this is his American version – sometimes we push her around in her (shopping) trolley, sometimes in her (shopping) cart.
That's the babytalk for boys in our little family. If you have some amusing boy vocabulary of your own, please post a comment and share it. Happy Sunday!
Officially five days to go until our firstborn is due to arrive. Along the journey, there have been signs that The Husband may be getting nervous. Common examples (once a week, at least) have been:
"Will you still love me once the baby is here?" and
"What are we going to do about my cycling after the baby comes?"
But the real evidence of his internal panic came last week at our final ante-natal class. The trainer was talking about the pros and cons of circumcision, when The Husband turned to me and said:
"What are we going to do?"
I paused for a while before responding. I figured he was either talking about something completely different, or he'd realise his mad mistake if I just gave him a chance. Many seconds passed and he kept looking at me with raised eyebrows.
"Er, what are we going to do about what?" I said.
"The circumcision!" he responded.
I had to literally take his hand, look him in the eyes and remind him that we were having a girl.
This obvious panic didn't stop him from excitedly telling me that he'd managed to get a ticket for the Argus this past Sunday or that he needed to go to Cape Town for meetings last week. Luckily, our gynae calls a spade a spade. Her response to his questions on how wise it is to undertake domestic travel after 38 weeks, was simply:
"Depends. Do you have a private jet?"
I'm not sure what pained The Husband more: the knowledge that he'd been officially grounded by our medical practitioner, instead of his paranoid wife, or admitting that no, he did not own a private jet.
The result is that we are in Jozi and wondering if this baba is going to take after her parents who struggle to be on time for scheduled events or if she'll decide to surprise us and come early. Maybe she'll be a Human Rights Day baby and come on her due date. I guess we'll soon find out…
I believe I have a fine appreciation for most things French. I love their beautiful language, their sense of style, their magnificent gastronomic flair…but I have never understood their willingness to share all of this with their dogs. At a guest house in the Alps last year, I was horrified to find a rate card in our room for "nos amis a quatre pattes" (our four-legged friends).
As 2010 drew to a close, however, I learned that it is not just the Frenchies who treat their pooches like people. I learned this when I discovered we were sharing our Umhlanga hotel's fine dining restaurant with not one…not two…but THREE pampered pets. Since when do silver service and slobbering dogs go together? Admittedly, we probably would never have noticed the little mutts, had our waiter (the man has a sense of humour) not decided to quietly point them out to us. It wasn't so much their presence that he wanted to share with us, but the matter of their finely developed taste buds. Two of the coochy-coochy poochies apparently preferred still water, whilst the third had a penchant for sparkling, which our waiter had just served them in their silver-plated doggie bowls. Next up, the hounds were going for the Fillet Bearnaise, served with potato dauphinoise. This was straight from the menu ordinarily reserved for humans. For the more neglected pets out there, however, their owners have the option of a specially designed "pet menu" which the hotel offers. This menu doesn't offer Fillet Bearnaise, but instead Fluffy can feast on some delicious "Woof Waffles" – grilled waffles which are served with "a large boerewors sausage and gravy". Mmmm. Or if Fluffy has had a big night and wants a morning after fry-up, then he can have the "Full Doggy Breakfast" which consists of: scrambled eggs, pork sausage, bacon and hash browns. And all of this is on offer for the yummy price of 95 ZAR.
Who said pets were cheaper than kids?
Because it was New Year's Eve, this doggy-friendly fine dining establishment was offering a "dinner & dance" combo. When we saw the band, we suspected that the music may be a bit before our time – the average age of the musicians was about 75 squared. I guess it made sense since the average age of the guests was in that region as well. Which would have been fine, except that these people belong to an era when white men really could dance. Not so, for The Husband and I. Our little foray onto the dance floor went something like this:
The Husband: Okay, we can do this. We can show those old-timers. My mother sent me to some lessons for my matric dance and I know what I'm doing here.
Me: Great, because I have no idea what you're doing.
The Husband: It's easy. I lead, you follow.
Me: How am I supposed to follow when I have no idea what you're about to do next?
The Husband: You don't need to know because you're following me. That's the definition of following. Your problem is that you can't stand not being in charge.
Me: My problem is I can't read your mind.
The Husband: Just follow me, for Christ's sake. I'm in charge!
Me: I get it – you're in charge. You just don't seem to be in charge of your feet because you just crushed my baby toe with one of them.
During this spectacle we managed to collide with a Swiss couple a few times. They may have been in their twilight years but when they got moving on the dance floor, they did these one-legged jigs that would have put 16 year old gymnasts to shame. And they weren't the only ones who really knew how to shake a shoe or two. The rest of the couples were spinning one another around, looking like Strictly Coming Dancing for seniors.
Mercifully, we were put out of our misery by the ringing in of the New Year when everyone stood in a circle and did some kind of a folking dancing, can-can number in lieu of a countdown. Clearly, that's how they did things back then, before the war.
After the old Auld Lang Syne sing-along with the old folk, we discovered a venue upstairs with dancing and music from this decade. At least there we could steer clear of one another's two left feet. Only thing was, the floor was dominated by 21 year old girls in the highest of heels and the shortest of dresses. Not one to be up-staged after being shown up by the senior citizens downstairs, I was determined to get "low, low, low" with Flo-rida and the best of the twenty-somethings.
Not a good move at 29 weeks pregnant…Needless to say, I retired to bed soon afterwards, leaving the respective dance floors to the very old and the very young.
Happy New Year, everyone. Remember: never start a New Year's Resolution on a weekend!
Just in case anyone had any illusions that paternalism in South Africa was dead…I can report from personal experience that it is alive and kicking in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands.
First of all, someone needs to tell hotel owners that no-one cares who they are or what they've achieved in their long and illustrious lives. Second of all, someone needs to tell them that we also couldn't give a cr*p about their socio-political views.
Allow me to elaborate…
The Husband and I set off on our annual adventure yesterday afternoon for a two-night stint in the KzN Midlands en route to Umhlanga. I had been dying to visit this particular Midlands establishment – renowned for its award winning cuisine – for years. At 5pm, we arrived and confirmed with the manageress that we would most definitely be "joining them" for dinner. We were told that we should present ourselves at 7pm for aperitifs, which would be followed by a speech by "Mr Blah-di-Blah" before dinner. Mr Blah-di-Blah's name (which I honestly did not catch) was pronounced so matter of factly that she may as well have told us we were to be addressed by Nelson Mandela himself. Although I suspected that Mr Blah-di-Blah was the hallowed owner of the establishment, I couldn't resist asking, "Er, who's he when he's at home?" It was then confirmed that he was indeed the almighty owner.
No big deal, you might be thinking. But The Husband and I have had our fair share of boutique hotel experiences where self-important proprietors actually think your life's goal is to belong to their inner circle. We were really looking forward to a private, romantic dinner to kick-start our holiday and we just had a niggly feeling about this scheduled "speech".
At 7pm sharp, we were seated on the guest house's stately patio for appertifs when, soon enough, Blah-di-Blah came bounding over to introduce himself. We decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and were on our best behaviour, exchanging pleasantries on the weather and other such engrossing topics. He then bounded over to introduce himself to some more guests as they stepped onto the patio. "We've met twice before," they reminded him politely, to which he swiftly responded, "Of course! Jolly good show! I thought you looked ever so familiar!" Yeah, right.
By 7:45 The Husband was ready to eat the 18th century stonework on the guest house walls so I gently asked if we could be shown to our table. "Sure," the manager told us excitedly, "it's almost speech time!"
At this point, I suspect the owner sensed the hunger of his guests, and, eager to now get us to our tables, he let forth with a joke for the benefit of his 15-odd guests which resounded across the dining area: "Gentlemen! You pay so much to marry our wives and then you can't even get them to join you for dinner! Hahahahahahahaha!!"
I don't even know how to comment on that, er, joke. I think it speaks for itself – although God knows what it's saying.
But his speech proved even better. Guests were treated to a 15-minute history of the his childhood in the Transkei, playing cricket with his best friend, Prince What's-his-face. During these idyllic times, the Prince bowled, while Blah-di-Blah batted, because, of course, such was the hierarchy in those times. (This was also put forward as the reason behind the Eastern Cape producing international stars like Makhaya Ntini who's "a phenomenal bowler" but who "can't bat".) We were then reminded that nowadays, the inverse is, of course, true: "the white boys" are bowling and black people are batting.
Just then, with no sense of irony whatsoever, he moved on to the topic of his "zooolooo" staff members, for whom it is apparently still "a pleasure to serve". Guests were then told that in many places in the world it is "no longer a pleasure to serve", however, we were assured that here at Paternalism Place, it is still indeed a "pleasure to serve". We were told that we would not experience Swiss hospitality. Instead, we would be privileged to experience "zooolooo hospitality" – something that "takes a little longer", but that is "much better" in Blah-di-Blah's (ahem) humble opinion.
At this point, The Husband looked as though he was ready to throw up. Trapped in my seat, with Blah-di-Blah sounding like he could go on all night (he hadn't ommitted to mention that he'd been a lawyer in his "former life"), I came up with the ultimate act of defiance. I reached into my handbag, pulled out my faithful Tabard stick and began painstakingly Tabard-ing my big toes. Fortunately, my strappy sandals meant that protecting the top of my feet from the mozzies was a really delicate affair, requiring enormous amounts of concentraion. In this way, I was able to drown out the remainder of the discourse, until eventually, mercifully, it came to an end.
At breakfast this morning, our waitress wanted to know whether we'd be "joining them" for dinner this evening. We told them that we would like to, but gently enquired whether they would be any speeches to look forward to? Our waitress informed us that no, there would be no speeches. And I could swear I detected a bit of a twinkle in her "Zooolooo" eyes.
Alas, alack! On Sabbatical in Sandton is NOT one of the 10 finalists in the SA Blog Awards' Best New Blog category – or any other category, for that matter. So all of you who meant to nominate me but didn't…feel the guilt. Feel it wash all over you… From my side, I will be wallowing in disappointment alongside a pool in Mauritius next week. The Husband has decided it is the only way to cheer me up.
Just kidding. I wish.
No, we are off to this fair island because he is riding in yet another cycle race – another cycle race disguised as a holiday. Although, this time, I intend to go on a concerted Strike de Soigneuse. After all, I am a Saffer – striking should be in my blood. I'll be silently picketing at the pool behind my dark glasses, my book and my margarita and The Husband can go off and do as many little circles around the island as his heart desires.
To celebrate the arrival of Spring, I took myself off to a Zumba class this morning. Admittedly, I have not shaken my tush to those sexy Brazilian beats in a long time. Normally, I am intimidated by a classroom full of hot chicks who really can move their little backsides to the beat of the music. But that's the beauty of being on sabbatical – it was just me and a bunch of middle-aged housewives, WAY past their prime. Thank God. So we all looked a bit like "white-chicks-can't-dance" – because, let's face it, we generally can't. The hilarious part is that the instructor had a beer boep the size of a Jabulani soccer ball. (In fact, I think that may be an understatement.) But boy, could he dance! Just goes to show…
Anyway, thanks to my class-mates, I came out of there feeling like Shakira (but with more clothes on) and ready to take on this beautiful Spring day in Jozi.
Hope the traffic doesn't suck too much and you make it home in time for a sun-downer on your balcony!
Summer in Aspen is all about the sport. Wherever you look, tanned Americans with bodies to die for are biking, running, hiking, walking, climbing, golfing, kayaking, fishing or playing tennis.
The Husband was in HEAVEN.
When on holiday and surrounded by sporting opportunities, his motto is "which sport's next?" When on holiday…when on sabbatical…when in Jozi…whenever…my motto is: "one sport a day".
I thought The Sister was on board with my mantra, but it seems she can be heavily influenced by The Husband. It was either that – or the Bad Billy's All American Beef Burger she was struggling to digest which made her want to chase me around the tennis court for 90 minutes (at an altitude of 2,400m) AND go jogging – all in one day.
So the next day, before those two got any bright ideas about hiking up the mountain, I came up with a plan for a decoy: a cultural outing. I found it in a brochure in the hotel lobby and it was entitled "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous Tour". I decided to read them the promotional blurb on the tour. It went like this:
If you like People Magazine, you will love this tour!…You'll see the beautiful homes of Movie Stars, Television Stars, Sports Stars, Music Stars, Super Models, Fortune 500 CEO's and Royalty!…You'll have incredible stories to tell your friends when you get home!
(Capital letters NOT mine, by the way…)
The Sister and The Husband heard this, raised their eyebrows, looked at each other and then looked at me as though we couldn't possibly be related. The Sister then verbalised their thoughts, telling me that we weren't "those kinds of people".
Mission "Avoid Sport" had failed.
And so off we went on what was supposed to be a leisurely, meandering bike ride. The first 5km was utterly pleasant: we cruised along paved, flat bike trails, in amongst trees, alongside bubbling brooks. All very civilised and manageable. But then the gentle pathways turned into monstrously steep hills. Before I knew it, I was huffing and puffing like the Big, Bad Wolf. The worst was, there didn't seem to be any end in sight. In times like these, when I ask The Husband important questions like "how much longer is this effing hill?" or "how many more of these frigging hills are there?" he actually lies to me. He'll say that the hill we're on is the "last one". And when we get to the next one and I call him on it, he'll say that he wasn't lying, because, in fact, this hill is not at all like "one of the frigging hills" I was asking about – it's steeper. By this point, I feel like ramming my front tyre into his rear derailer – not that I would actually be able to identify one of those – but of course he's half-way up the mountain by then and there's no way I can catch him.
The Sister wasn't helping matters either. She took to this whole hill thing like a duck to water and soon she was wanting to see if we could cycle to the next town, Snowmass, just to "see what's there". And so, on I rode – or rather, on I wove because the hills were so steep I couldn't actually ride up them in a straight line. I kept thinking that I could have been swanning around the holiday homes of the rich and famous, listening to some American tour guide gushing about their marble kitchen counter tops and who they'd allegedly shagged on said counter tops.
Infinitely more appealing.
Three hours, one spate of tears and one numb bum later, we returned to Aspen. As we were wheeling our bikes back to the bike hire place, we passed a gorgeous looking jewellery store. But it wasn't just any jewellery store. This store had a very special sign in its window. It went like this:
"YOUR HUSBAND CALLED. HE SAID BUY ANYTHING YOU WANT".
Gotta love this town.