Beavers and headbutts

Last week I decided the mind was a lost cause, but the body was still in with a fighting chance. Acting on the assumption that transformation shouldn’t take more than one edition of Men’s Health, I purloined the magazine and began the metamorphisizational process. I ended up comfort eating, binge drinking and hating everyone but myself. That’s pretty much par for the course for a narcissistic misanthrope with self-destructive tendencies, so I can’t really say it worked.

Being exclusively in the company of men has always made me uneasy. Sure, they start off just wanting to chat about the rugby or compare notes on smacking their bitches up. But then they get some liquor down them and they want to either sleep with me or kill me. Or, if they’re German, both.

I think it would be beneficial for all concerned if women read men’s magazines and men read women’s magazines. We need to understand what the other gender is thinking. Get a handle on their needs. Their dreams. Their desires. Only then will we stop fighting and co-exist in blissful silence.

So I went out and bought a copy of Women’s Health. Standing in the queue, people glanced into my basket. I do it to their baskets, but I don’t judge them like they judged me. I could see their eyes labeling me. Pervert. Weirdo. Probably one of them intersex freaks.

It didn’t help that the cover shrieked, “Best. Butt. Ever.” Did the people around me seriously believe that I wanted to sculpt an A-list booty in just four moves? I thought I saw a man side-eyeing my bum. I gave him a look that under normal circumstances would have been a death stare, but now came across as a coquettish come-on. My feminine side was getting in touch with me and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.

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I hurried to my car, painfully aware that my hips were misbehaving, and raced off to a beachfront bar to regroup. The cover promised the advice of a Love Coach. “Stay single or settle? You decide.” That’s the first six-word feature story I’ve ever seen. Rock solid advice, too. You decide. Brilliant. That’s what I call empowerment. Nothing more to be said.

The cover also asked me if I could fit into my mother’s wedding dress. It seemed unlikely. Women who have been married for a certain length of time cannot look upon their wedding dresses without either smiling or weeping. And rarely do they pass them on to their daughters for fear that they, too, will be cursed.

Back home, I got into a scented foam bath and opened the magazine. The first thing I saw was two girls in tight Levi jeans. They seemed to be having a lot of fun without men being present. Fine with me.

I skipped ahead to the ‘Ask Women’s Health’ page. The question of the month was, “Is it okay to work out three days in a row to get in my weekly exercise?” The writer would have it that it depends on the type of exercise you’re doing. I would say it depends on other things. If you’re single, sure. Work out 50 hours a week, if you like. But if you have a boyfriend or husband (or a partner who is lesbian, bisexual, trangendered etc etc) then working out three days in a row is not going to work out. Meals will go uncooked, egos will go unstroked and genitalia will feel neglected.

Page 19 reveals that stressed women are 29 percent less likely to fall pregnant. One of the reasons women are stressed is that they know men like me are buying Women’s Health magazine to find out stuff like this.

I was astounded to discover a whole page devoted to sex. I thought there’d be a paragraph at most. Exercise apparently helps fight the libido-killing effects of antidepressants. What if you’re taking antidepressants because the idea of having sex with your husband is what’s depressing you?

A study found that women on “mood uppers” who did a 20-minute workout had double the genital arousal than when they hadn’t exercised at all. So there it is, guys. The secret is to pump ‘em full of Zoloft, Prozac or Cymbalta and make ‘em do a hundred push ups. You’ll have to beat them off with a club after that.

I discover that only ten percent of women know when is the best time to conceive each month. Seriously? Are they being raised by wolves? It’s like men not knowing that erections are caused by the pull of the moon.

“The sperm need to be inside the Fallopian tubes before the egg is released.” The only comparatively serious thing men need to know is, “You have to be inside the pub before last round is called.” I can see how it might lead to arguments among couples trying for a child.

“You released your egg yet?”

“How do I know if I’ve released my bloody egg? It’s not going to send me a text, is it?”

“I’ve got to get back to work.”

“So put your bloody sperm in my Fallopian tubes, then. Hurry up. Then take the dog for a walk.”

“It’s your turn to walk the dog.”

“Shut up and get on.”

Over the page, I discover that 59 percent of Women’s Health readers prefer shopping in warmer temperatures. The rest apparently prefer fighting their way through blizzards and ice storms. I don’t know what to say about this.

And on to The Daddy Diet. “Moms-to-be often pop prenatal folate to protect the health of their unborn babies.” What the hell is frolate? It sounds like an optional extra at a frozen yoghurt stand. “Would you like some frolate with that, sir?” The very next sentence reads, “Now a Canadian study has found that nearly 30 percent of mouse litters sired by a father deficient in the nutrient had birth defects.” WTF? Are we mice or men?

“If a baby bump is your goal, tell your guy to aim for about 400mcg of the nutrient each day from the leafy greens, fruit and fortified cereals.” Listen, honey. If your guy worries about his intake of leafy greens, don’t be surprised when he runs off with your brother.

Then, page upon page of products. Wrinkles? Try this serum freshly squeezed from the pineal gland of a Kihansi spray toad. Dead skin? Use a peel made from algae scraped from the belly of a Vietnamese coughing crab and you’ll be sloughing like a snake in no time at all. Stinky? Daub a little essence of fruit bat on your wrists and make new friends instantly. Dry hair? Rub in a cupful of oil secreted by the rare albino killer whale. Too white for the night? Spread on a 24-hour bronzer made from the foreskins of an isolated Ethiopian tribe. Too dark for the park? Take a long, luxurious bath filled with Tippex.

I’d have to look like Elephant Man before turning to some of this stuff. Polyfiller would be cheaper and just as effective as L’Oreal Paris Nude Magique Blur Cream Instant Flawless Perfector. And as for the Black Pearl Prestige G-Mask Gravity Black Mud Mask (only R1 198!), well, I often wake up with a face covered in mud at no cost to anything but my liver. That’s why I have the skin of a 19-year-old. Tortoise.

The further I read, the more I get the impression that women worry far too much about their looks. It’s your minds we care about, girls. Ha ha. Just kidding. I know you’re not doing it for us.

Fitness seems to be important for both genders. I understand the need for men to be fit because we’re forever chasing women and on the rare occasion that we catch one, we have to do all the heavy lifting, in and out of bed. I don’t know why women need to maintain their fitness levels. They don’t even have to climb very far up the corporate ladder before hitting a glass ceiling and going home early with a headache. Maybe that’s why, under the section Get-Fit Tricks, they’re offered the “one-dumbbell solution”. It sounds like a starter husband and lasts about as long.

There’s a feature about how best to protect your heart, which, quite frankly, is ridiculous since everyone knows that only one in a thousand women have a heart.

“According to a US study, 40 percent of women rarely give their hearts a second thought.” According to a study done in my study a few seconds ago, 90 percent of women rarely give men’s hearts a second thought. Sorry. That’s the bitter lemon in my gin talking.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends cutting back on red meat. Hang on. Tim Noakes recommends we eat a lamb for breakfast, a sheep for lunch and a cow for supper. With bowls of steaming offal for dessert. It’s all so confusing.

“Light tippling may drop your risk for sudden cardiac death by 30 to 40 percent.” In South Africa, light tippling constitutes three bottles of wine, two tequila shooters and an Irish coffee.

“Just keep it to one drink or fewer per day.” Nobody who was born in this country has ever had just one drink per day. And, unless my maths is worse than I thought, less than one drink per day is roughly equivalent to no drink at all per day. You might as well kill yourself.

There are three pages on tea. I like tea. But I don’t trust it. My first wife was a tea addict. I’m not blaming tea for the collapse of the marriage, but something pushed her over the edge. If it comes down to tea or me, then, yes, I am blaming the tea.

A double page spread explains the transcendental complexities of the sell-by date. For the hard of thinking, pictures of common foods are provided together with their lifespans. Gherkins, for example, are good for up to a year. Probably less if they’ve been standing with the lid off under a tree outside Tripoli. I have fished food out of dustbins and eaten it after it was tossed out by women treating the sell-by date as if it were some kind of biblical injunction. I don’t mean dustbins in the street. I’m talking about in my home. Or their home. Whatever.

A more useful feature might have explained how a woman can tell when a man has reached his sell-by date. If he looks, smells or tastes bad, throw him away and get a fresh one.

Then, five pages on one woman’s struggle to lose six kilos in the 14-week run-up to her wedding. You wouldn’t believe the things I have lost in the same amount of time. Cars and jobs, mainly. Six kilos? Please. I want to know what she weighs after her first year of marriage. What’s that, darlin’? I can’t make out what you’re saying because your mouth is always full.

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Readers are invited to learn the secret to the perfectly grilled steak. “Meat is an ideal source of muscle-building protein.” Damn straight. Nobody knows this better than the animal it’s coming off. We are told there is nothing better than meat grilled to perfection.

“On the other hand, there is nothing worse than wasting money on meat that is dried out and tough.” Yes, there is. It’s buying dried out, tough meat from a butchery in Baghdad, then getting snatched by an Islamic State terrorist and having your head cut off before you can eat it.

Finally, on page 83, we get to sex and love. How very whimsical to link the two.

Right away, we learn about the world’s first rotating couples’ massager. “They’re worn by the woman during sex …” My sphincter snapped shut. No thank you. Maybe after I’ve done a stretch in C-Max. And, yes, I do mean stretch in the worst possible way. Besides, I’m not interested in anything that comes with a difficulty rating of 4/5. That’s the same difficulty rating I give to fixing a leaking U-joint. Or, for that matter, rolling a perfect marijuana joint

We also learn how to upload our own porn videos to tasteful websites that offer videos of “real loving couples having real sex”. Share in the laughter and joy as “Wendy and Dave make love in their own bedroom with the sun streaming in from outside.” Voyeurism at it’s white-knuckled glassy-eyed best. Watching old movies of Vietnamese villages being napalmed is less repulsive.

And on to the glutes, the source of so much conflict in the world today.

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From what I can make out, it’s harder to develop a good bum than it is to develop a good brain. A “strength and conditioning specialist” said the booty is like the final frontier. “The true test of a woman’s commitment to strategic eating and intelligent fitness is the quality of her glutes and hamstrings.” I don’t know what that means. I do know, however, that relationships based solely on glutes rarely last longer than an hour or two. I don’t know what the deal is with hamstrings. I don’t recall ever looking at a woman and thinking, “Hmm. Poor quality hamstrings on that one. Someone should have her put down.”

“Research indicates that a smaller waist and larger hip circumference acts as a magnet to the opposite sex across most cultures and multiple generations.” Only most cultures? I want to know more about the culture that prefers huge waists and tiny hips. And where do they find these women? Maybe they aren’t really women at all. Maybe they’re men with giant beer bellies and skinny alcoholic hips. As for appealing to multiple generations, if your boyfriend’s father, grandfather and ten-year-old brother are hitting on you because you’ve got a tight ass and childbearing hips, you’re probably hanging out with the wrong family.

Jesus. Does this magazine never end? There’s a feature that asks why so many women are struggling to concentrate. Two words. Facebook. Twitter. Luckily, there are drugs that can cure us of our addiction to social media. Call me.

Last week I wrote about Men’s Health magazine and now I have written about Women’s Health magazine. This brings to an end my contribution to the war for gender equality.

My conclusions in this comparative study will be published separately if and when I feel less drunk.

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