Tag: health

Ripped abs and shredded underwear

After months of hard work, I have finally managed to develop an almost classic example of what’s known in the trade as a dad bod. By hard work, I mean minimal exercise, poor diet and unlimited alcohol.

It hasn’t all been downhill. Well, I suppose it has. But the body is a funny thing. Some are funnier than others, that’s for sure. It’s not as easy as you might think to lose all muscle tone and upper body strength and develop a healthy pair of moobs. You don’t just get a dad bod overnight, you know. You need to keep at it.

Here’s what happens. The body is initially delighted. Beer, bunny chows and no exercise? Woohoo! This is the life. Then the brain interferes. Hardwired to focus almost exclusively on ways of ensuring the survival of the species, it knows the road you’re trying to take it down leads to a place where opportunities for propagation are few and far between.

It knows that the only women who might, at a push, find a dad bod anything less than repulsive are the ones who have a mom bod. In almost every case, though, mom bods are more attractive than dad bods. There’s a reason men on dating sites don’t list their body type as “curvaceous”. Or so I’ve heard.

The brain eventually gives up and says, “Fine. Do whatever you want. Don’t get laid ever again. What do I care?” Parts of the body, overhearing this, shout, “Hey! Speak for yourself. Selfish brain.” The brain sighs heavily. “Stupid body.”

With the brain and body no longer talking to one another, you can get on with the job of developing the most perfect dad bod on the planet. No, wait. This is not what I’m meant to be writing about. This was supposed to be about getting into shape for summer. Nobody wants to see your sad dad bod on the beach. It’s horrible.

I went out and bought a magazine for inspiration. I thought I was buying Men’s Health because it had a young half-naked bloke on the cover, but when I got it home I saw it was in fact a magazine called Fitness. The only reason I never took it back, apart from not wanting to do the 30m walk back to the shops after already having sat down, was because it occurred to me that it was more fitness and not so much health that I was after. Health you can get from doctors and pharmacists. Fitness, on the other hand, you can only get from a magazine that sports the photograph of a bronzed god with the most perfectly chiselled torso on its cover.


Sitting here looking at his body, two things occur to me. One, I’m not remotely aroused. Two … there is no two. I’m just relieved that, at my age, I don’t have to start rethinking my sexuality. I’m not even curious about experimenting. But if I was, it certainly wouldn’t be with Cover Boy. I’d take my shirt off and he’d start laughing and I’d have to kill him. While he was asleep, obviously. And I’d need a pneumatic drill to penetrate his chest, which would probably wake him up unless I’d dosed him with horse tranquilisers beforehand, and I don’t want to be going around to vets with a borrowed cat and then asking for 500g of ketamine for my sick pony who’s waiting in the car.

Right, then. Pleased we have that cleared up.

Fitness seems to be a gender-neutral concept so there’s no reason why, if you’re not a man, the advice I am about to glean and share shouldn’t also apply to you. Apart, perhaps, from the feature workout promised on the cover. “Rock hard abs! No excuse for soft abs this summer.” If you’re a woman, simply swap the word abs for willies. You’re welcome.

For a long time, I thought abs stood for automatic braking system. It was quite disappointing to discover that abs are in fact some kind of rare muscle group that disintegrates when you turn 30. When Darwin was dishing out abs, I must’ve been having a smoke in the parking lot.

The cover also promises a “full-body workout in just one move!” Oh, please. I’ve had that one down for years. All you need is a swivel ‘n tilt chair on wheels, a smooth floor and a clear run to the fridge.

Opening the magazine, you’re hit by at least three companies trying to get you to buy their whey. Looking at the models, it seems unlikely they got that way through whey alone. I reckon they’ve been dipping into the curds, at the very least. Little Miss Muffet certainly did more than sit on her tuffet all day long.

The publisher’s name is Andrew Carruthers. In my mind, he was a middle-aged executive who liked to keep fit but who was running a bit to flab as a result of all the meetings he has to attend. Then I turned the page to the publisher’s letter. I’ve had the police, army, ex-wives and hired assassins after me and lived to tell the tale. Having Andrew Carruthers after me is something I’d like to avoid. He looks like the leader of the most dangerous prison gang in the world. I wouldn’t have a hope in hell of out-running or out-fighting him.


In his column titled “Grow your mind, not just your muscles”, he says, “The greatest ideas in history have come from people who were either considered outcasts, insane or mad.” This gives me hope that we could sit down over a brace of tequilas and a couple of whey chasers and discuss the subtle differences between insanity and madness.

Let me flip through the magazine to find ways of developing a beach bod that will blow the girls away this summer. I suspect, though, the only way this might happen is if I strap a bomb belt around my wobbly white waist and detonate in their midst.

I might’ve left it a bit late, to be honest. Summer is in full swing in Durban while Cape Town is still trying to make up its mind. Anyway, it’s rutting season and looking anything better than your worst is best for all concerned.

Alan asks, via email, what to do about stiffness in his joints after heavy lifting. Alan, if you’re struggling to lift your joints, you’re either rolling them too big and too tight or you have the physique of Mr Burns.

I’ve thought of going to gym at different points in my life – most of them were pretty low points, admittedly – but I’ve never known what to wear so I didn’t go. Good thing, too. A gym T-shirt costs R900 and a pair of shorts R749. I can go to a backstreet plastic surgeon and get the fat sucked out of me for that price.

I thought I might learn something from an interview with cover boy Wayne Coetzee. And I did. He says the secret is to never miss a meal, never miss a workout. Excellent. I have 50% of it under control already.

Another memorable quote is, “I always squeeze the muscle with every rep, whether it’s a superset or a max-rep set.” If I ever manage to find out what he’s talking about, I bet I can look like him in no time at all. I was married twice so I’m already familiar with the muscle-squeezing bit.

Oh, thank god. There’s a sultry, under-dressed wench on page 26. Just looking at her is cardio training on its own. Like Little Miss Muffet, she also likes her whey. And I bet she gets her whey whenever she demands it. Her ideal man, apart from having a body like Achilles (without the dodgy heel), is “good with cuddles and booty rubs”. I am the cuddle-meister and I used to rub my army booties until you could shave in their reflection. Call me, babe.

There is also advice on how to biohack your sex life. Biohack? Sex life? What are these things? It’s suggested that you perform “male deer exercises” and eat a Peruvian root that grows on the slopes of the Andes. I miss the good old days of just whipping off your broeks and getting to work without having to first go to South America or prance about the lounge snorting and pawing the ground.

If pain is your thing, there’s a feature on endurance where you can “learn to suffer”. Please. I’ve been married twice. I know about suffering.

“Upgrade your paltry four pack to a beach-ready six pack!” That reminds me. I have to get to the bottle store before it closes. See you at the beach.

To the Chief Executive Officer – Potchefstroom Hospital

Dear Comrade Doctor Sir,

I am applying for several positions at your hospital, largely because of the spectacular salaries, the great working hours and the gorgeous nurses who will doubtlessly be assigned to assist me in the performance of my duties, which, I imagine, would include opening people up, taking rotten stuff out and putting good stuff in, sewing them up, pumping them full of drugs and then taking the sisters out for drinks and whatever happy events may transpire thereafter.

I have several degrees in medicine from the highly respected Luanda Cyber University, which only accepts 500 000 new students each month. The paying of one’s fees up front constitutes 80% of the final mark and for geniuses such as myself, an MBChB with all the bells and whistles can be obtained in less than three weeks. I am unable to send you my certificates at the moment as they with the laminators.

You will be pleased to hear that I have specialised in all the fields mentioned in your advertisement.

Although damnably difficult to spell, especially after a few drinks, ophthalmology is really my forté. There is something profoundly magical about looking into a new patient’s eyes and knowing that it won’t be long before you are holding them in your hands. Naturally I will wear surgical gloves. I would never place myself at risk of infection by handling other people’s disgusting body parts without protection.

I believe eyes are the windows to the soul. This is why I have invented a device that plugs the eye sockets once the balls have been removed. I have seen far too many hospitals where souls have been allowed to escape because the windows were carelessly left open during surgery. I don’t need to tell you that there is nothing worse than being inside a ward full of troubled souls flitting about, switching the medication and tickling the patients who are in straitjackets.

You will also be interested to know that I have developed a technique in which the patient is able to leave his or her eyeballs with me and then come back for them in a week or two when I have finished scraping, painting and polishing them.

Paediatrics is another of my specialities. I love children. Even the sick ones. Actually, I am not all that fond of the sick ones. They never stop crying and complaining and, unlike my grown-up patients, I cannot take the horsewhip to them.

My ideal paediatrical patient is a 10-year-old who pretends to be sick in order to miss school. With a little whispered collaboration and the dispensing of certain substances that shall remain nameless, it often ends up that the child manages to miss two or three years of school. I expect some of them will want to reward me handsomely later on in life once they are in a position to throw a couple of juicy tenders my way.

I understand one of the requirements of this position is a willingness to train junior doctors. What an excellent idea. Given the nature of the field, it makes perfect sense. An eight-year-old girl with a sore throat or crushed vertebrae would feel far more comfortable in the hands of a doctor her own age.

I showed a tremendous amount of interest in playing doctors and nurses at a very young age and can testify that by the time I was seven, I could identify and name every part of the female anatomy. Blindfolded. After I got married, I began removing the blindfold at bedtime but it wasn’t strictly necessary since I still knew my around and nothing much had changed.

I see you also have a post in orthopaedics. Be sure to count me in. If there is one thing I know, it is bones. I have five dogs. Don’t talk to me about bones. From where I sit, I can see dozens of them strewn across the floor. My house looks like Hannibal Lecter has moved in.

You will be thrilled to hear that I have invented a procedure whereby people are able to remove the bones from their arms before they sleep. I won’t go into detail because you will steal my idea and win the Nobel Prize, but be honest, who wouldn’t welcome the end of awkward nocturnal arm syndrome? Just imagine, no more waking up in a blind panic thinking you are having a heart attack when it’s only paraesthesia, or, as we know it in the medical fraternity, pins and needles.

However, I still get the odd patient who wakes up and forgets to put his bones back in and then finds he can’t pick up his cup of coffee or beat his kids, but generally the ORA (overnight rubber arm) procedure works remarkably well.

As for the positions available in the intensive care unit, say no more. I simply adore the ICU. My absolute favourite is the machine that goes ‘ping’. Are you familiar with it?

I also find that patients in the ICU are the best-behaved of all. No idle chatter about the rugby or whining about the food. Lovely people, they are. Tolerant, respectful and, above all, dead quiet. And also you’re not wallowing about knee-deep in misery, blood and gore. The nurses are sexy, full of jokes and they keep the place spotless. I should have married an ICU nurse.

The hospital will also be able to utilise my skills as an anaesthesialologist. I have first-hand knowledge of everything that makes you pass out. Growing up, my father would come home and play games with me. One of the games was called chlorocatch. We would chase each other around the house and whoever got caught would have to sniff a dishcloth soaked in chloroform. I never managed to catch my dad, but every time I woke up after the game, my mother would be pregnant.

The part of anaestheololology I love the most is when you get to have a little fun with the patients while they are unconscious. I have yet to meet a doctor who can resist drawing a happy face on someone’s grumpy penis or taking cellphone pictures of a particularly pretty vagina. After all, isn’t that why it is called theatre?

One last thing. I see one of my duties would be to ensure adherence to something called Batho Pele principles. Is that the South African version of the Hippocratic Oath? I hope not. Have you seen the Hippocratic Oath? It says things like: “In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves.”

I am sure you will agree that the whole point of being a doctor is that you get to have sex with vulnerable patients. Well, that and the money, obviously.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Yours truly,

Dr Ben Trovato (MBChB; FNB; ACDP; MWeb)

Good Health Can Kill You

As a child I was told that an apple a day would keep the doctor away. Now, low salaries and poor working conditions keep the doctor away. Far away. As in Perth. Or toyi-toying in the parking lot outside casualty.

And it turns out that apples are rotten to the core with dangerous sugars and killer acids. If you had to eat one a day your teeth would fall clean out of your head, you’d lose your job, be ostracised by society and end up getting shanked in Pollsmoor after being forced into racketeering to stay alive. All because of apples.

I was also told that sunshine was good for you. If I started choking on a lump of gruel or cut myself and began bleeding on the carpet, my mother would smack me across the head and say, “Go outside and stand in the sun – that’ll fix you.” But the sun isn’t good for you at all. After giving you a fabulous tan, it leaves you with squamous cell carcinomas that gnaw away at your skin until you wake up one morning and find there’s nothing left to stop your meat from falling out. Even worse, it makes your face go all splotchy and people will start mistaking you for Zakumi, the diseased mascot of the 2010 World Cup.

For almost my entire life I have had to put up with my parents, ex-girlfriends, lawyers, paramedics and magistrates telling me that beer is evil. Pinot Noir, on the other hand, is good. What absolute rubbish.

Wine is only good for cleansing your palate between beers. Recent studies have shown that beer improves cardiovascular function. Don’t ask me how it accomplishes this. God works in mysterious ways. All I know is that thanks to beer, I have a heart that beats louder and faster than a Malian jina djembe and I can run the 800m in under four minutes. Beat that if you can.

I remember growing up and my mother telling me that I couldn’t have chocolates because they were bad for me. Well, it turns out that chocolate was only bad for her because she had to pay for it.

Chocolate doesn’t make your willy fall off, as I was led to believe. It is packed with antioxidants that expand your arteries and quite possibly your mind. But make sure you stick to chocolate with a high cocoa content. If you can only get your hands on the cheap stuff, dip it into a bowl of cocaine first. The effect will be similar, except with cocaine you may develop microscopic holes in your brain.

Everyone knows marijuana is harmful. Or is it? Perhaps we are just saying that because we have come to associate it with police brutality. Well, here’s a shocker. Recent studies on mice suggest that anti-inflammatories found in the drug prevent the clumping of brain proteins, a major cause of Alzheimer’s. After the study the mice kept misplacing their car keys and eating way too much cheese, but that seems a small price to pay.

As an adolescent I had to contend with a mother who would don protective gear to clean my room. “But mummy,” I would cry as my emergency food reserves were shoveled into a lead-lined bag, “maggots are good!” It was too terrible for words. The maggots – the only real friends I had as a child – would be taken around the back of the house where unspeakable things were done to them.

It has since been proven that maggots, unlike many mothers, can cure all sorts of things. Placed on an open wound, maggots will happily munch away on bacteria and dead tissue, stimulating healing and preventing infection. Some work colleagues may find this less of a conversation piece than you might think, but this is nothing more than jealousy on their part. If they complain too much, give them an open wound of their own and offer to share your maggots.

I was also taught from a young age that anger is a negative emotion. Every time I threw a tantrum, my mother took me gently by the hand and led me to the bathroom where she would whip my quivering buttocks with a bamboo rod, coat hanger, hair brush and, once those had snapped, she would start in with her teeth, nails and feet.

I quickly learnt to bottle up my anger. When I turned 21, I went out and killed the local rugby team. Looking back, it might have been better for my blood pressure had I let my anger out in smaller bursts.

One of the most enduring myths, usually propagated by slack-jawed mouthbreathers who believe the Earth is only 6000 years old, is that pre-marital sex is wrong. Even though post-marital sex is an even bigger myth, the fact remains that nothing else you do has the ability to reduce stress, lower cholesterol and improve circulation while simultaneously exposing you to ridicule, legal proceedings and life-threatening diseases.

My point, if there even is one, is that nobody knows anything. What seems like a good idea today – like taking Viagra or owning an iPhone or a Vietnamese potbellied pig – could end up decimating half the world’s population I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. I’m simply saying … actually, I don’t know what I am saying. Forget I ever mentioned it.

Doping Scandal At The Fish Hoek Olympics

In my part of the country, the coldest day of the year fell on Women’s Day. I will refrain from drawing any inferences.

Being sensitive to gender issues, I thought it might be a good idea to help Brenda thaw out by staging our own suburban Olympic Games.

I rang up Ted for some ideas and straight away he said we should give Gina a call. He described her as a fiery redhead who apparently does Greek, which fitted in perfectly with the whole Athens thing.

When I asked Ted if she could speak English, he said he wasn’t sure but the advert said she was “a totally inhabited lady”. Brenda also has that lived-in manner about her, so I told Ted to invite her to join us.

The boy, Clive, volunteered to make a replica of the Parthenon using bricks from the back wall of the police station down the road. Okay, that’s not strictly true. He never volunteered. I told him I would burn his favourite skirt and make him listen to Leonard Cohen if he didn’t cooperate.

While the brat was busy, I nipped out to buy the ingredients for a typical Greek lunch. When I got back, Brenda shouted at me and said there was no room in the fridge for 15 litres of ouzo and a small tin of olives.

Because it was Women’s Day, I let her go off at me for longer than usual before coming at her with the sharp end of the broom.

Using some sort of Tai Chi manoeuver, which I had never seen before, she brushed the weapon aside and was about to sink her teeth into my face when Ted arrived with Gina. She looked more lower Sea Point than upper Plaka.

Clive said his Parthenon would never be ready in time for the opening ceremony, which I thought was an authentically Greek touch, so I gave him a bottle of ouzo and sent him to his room.

Gina checked her watch and said her rate was R500 per hour or part thereof. There had obviously been some sort of misunderstanding, so Ted took her to the spare bedroom to fully explain the significance of Women’s Day.

Ten minutes later I heard the front door slam and Ted returned alone. He was having some difficulty walking and refused the offer of a chair. This was just as well because there is no time to sit when the Fish Hoek Olympics are underway.

The first event was an ouzo-drinking competition. It was declared a draw because nobody gave any indication they would stop. Ever.

The second event was golf. Brenda snorted like a sick animal and said golf was not an Olympic sport. I tried to correct her but she parried effortlessly and replied with a thrust to the solar pexus that left me winded.

Since it was Women’s Day, I resisted the temptation to launch a counter-attack and instead took Ted out on to my verandah overlooking False Bay.

By a stroke of good fortune, three medium-sized southern right whales were lolling about within range of my tungsten steel driver. Ted got seven points for hitting two of them, but I took gold by getting a hole-in-one.

Ted tried to argue, claiming that a whale’s blowhole was smaller than a golf ball and that a hole-in-one was technically impossible. I called him a lying dog and the mood turned ugly.

Demanding that I take a drug test, Ted ordered me to urinate into a cup. I was still sorting out my aim when the newly-wed Jehovah’s Witness couple from across the road came over to complain about the noise. I thought we were under terrorist attack and grabbed Brenda from behind. Using her as a human shield, I worked my way towards the kitchen where the machete is kept.

With an overpowering stench of aniseed pouring from his mouth, Ted announced that the archery event was about to begin. He lunged for my loaded speargun and, in the true pagan spirit of the Olympics, advanced on the Jehovah’s Witnesses but then went and disqualified himself by shooting before they had a chance to run.

The rules of this event were clear – the target must be moving at all times. As it happened, Ted missed by a few centimetres. By the time I had released Brenda and reloaded, the happy couple was safely home scanning back copies of The Watchtower to check if what they had just encountered marked the beginning of the end of the present system of world government.

I doubt that it did, but it certainly marked the beginning of the end of my friendship with Ted. The booze-addled heretic decided that the only thing missing was an Olympic flame, so he set fire to Brenda’s collector’s edition of Soldier of Fortune magazine and ran through the house shouting in fluent gibberish.

Once the smoke had cleared and the cat had been extinguished, Brenda cracked a fresh bottle of ouzo and said she had an idea for a new event. Despite being severely incapacitated, Ted and I rounded as one.

We reminded her that, for thousands of years, women had not been allowed to participate in the Olympics. Athletic training takes up a tremendous amount of time and the Greeks understood better than most that if women were allowed to take part, somewhere there would be men going without food or sex.

However, Ted and I agreed that as it was Women’s Day, we would make a special exception and allow Brenda to compete in the Striving for a Non-Sexist Society event.

For her to win, she had to convince us in thirty seconds why she should not go to the kitchen and make a round of toasted bacon and peanut butter sandwiches.

It was close, but she had to make do with bronze. Ted took silver and passed out. I’m still waiting for my medal.

And my sandwich.

Anyone For Chemo And A Nice Cup Of Tea?

I lost my mother a few days ago. Not in the way that you might lose your car keys. Keys can be replaced. Mother’s hardly ever.

It all started several months ago when she developed a cough. Our family doctor, who must be 104 years old, gave her cough mixture. Later, when she complained of chest pains, he gave her a modern miracle drug he’d just come across. Panado, I think it was. Then she started coughing up blood. “How much?” he demanded to know. “A cup full? A bucket?”

A few weeks later, my father suggested she saw someone other than a geriatric GP who spent most of the time complaining about his own ailments.

Her consultations went something like this: “Please sit down. How are you? I’ve got this terrible pain in my knee that just won’t … would you mind not spitting blood onto my carpet? Thank you. As I was saying …”

So she went off to see a man who took some X-rays, told her she had six months to live and suggested an around-the-world cruise rather than chemotherapy. Not being married to Richard Branson, my mother went to another specialist who scoffed at the first specialist, saying: “What does he know? He’s a cutter.” What? You mean this is his part-time job and he actually works for the municipality trimming verges along the M4?

Not quite. He’s a surgeon. For some reason, doctors who aren’t surgeons look down on those who are. Jealousy, I suppose. After all, what red-blooded South African man doesn’t long for a sharp knife and a couple of hours alone with an unconscious woman?

Oncologists look down on everyone because they are fabulously wealthy and also because they get to play with lots and lots of human guinea pigs who eventually stop bothering them because they are too weak to pick up the phone and make another appointment.

House calls? Please. I have no idea what you’re talking about. James? Bring the Jag around to the front and get these weeping peasants out of my office. They’re upsetting the angelfish.

Thanks to the tobacco industry, red meat and deadline stress, oncologists are able to afford offices the size of Khulubuse Zuma’s breakfast nook. Which, in case you didn’t know, is the size of a tennis court.

Oncologists would rather their patients didn’t take a cruise around the world. At least not before signing up for one of their once-in-a-lifetime chemo courses at just R40-thousand a day. Free tea and biscuits included! If lines are busy, call later! But do call!

By the time my mother’s hair fell out, the medical aid was squealing like a stuck pig and the tumour in her lung had shrunk to the size of a grape. I don’t know how big it was to start with. If you ask the family doctor, he’d probably say: “Oh, I don’t know, the size of a hippo? Did I tell you about my leg?”

Then the oncologist, giving us the full benefit of his dazzling smile (no extra cost), suggested she went for radiation. The tumour loved the radiation. It got big and fat off it. Radiation causes cancer, so let’s give cancer patients radiation. I’m missing something, here. An enormous salary and perfect teeth, for a start.

Her tumour was inoperable because she also had emphysema. And why shouldn’t she? After all, she came from an era when they made cigarettes that were good for you. Better than fruit. Yum yum. Got a light?

I had already uprooted the family – if you can call Brenda and two dogs a family – and moved from Cape Town to Durban so I could help out and spend time with my mother. I bought her a wheelchair when she began struggling to walk and forged a disabled sign so we could get the best parking, even when she wasn’t in the car.

Not being a fan of country music, Brenda had apparently never listened to the song, Stand By Your Man. After a while, she packed the dogs and disappeared two weeks before the grand finale.

I suspect all cancer patients ultimately face their fate with extraordinary courage and fortitude. But not all face it with the same degree of acceptance. Some go quietly. Others, like my mother, rage, rage against the dying of the light. Even after she slipped into incoherence, she was still shouting at us. I shouted back, trying to get her to take her medication. Then my sister would shout at me and my father would shout at her. It was like my childhood. Lots of shouting and nobody making any sense at all. The only difference being that I was too big for anyone to hit me.

A hospice nurse dropped off a bottle of morphine. I insisted on trying it in case it was poisoned but my father slipped the bottle into his pocket and gave me the lazy eye.

My mother died in her bed, but I wasn’t there. I was down the road at a strip club playing pool with three lesbians from a local biker gang. Maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t. It doesn’t really matter. When I left the house two hours earlier, she was already in a coma. I said my goodbyes while she was still breathing.

The crematorium was fun. To get there, we had to negotiate a part of the city that makes Cormac McCarthy’s The Road look like Disneyland. Hesitantly, we walked into what they call a chapel. Not a sound. No one around. Just rows of cheap blue office chairs facing a low stage. A curtain twitched and a coffin glided into the room.

A monochrome man appeared from nowhere. “Is that one ours?” asked my father, perhaps expecting more coffins to start appearing and a sudden rush of people claiming them as if it were the baggage carousel at OR Tambo International Airport after a suicide bombing in Kabul.

The ghoul nodded, unscrewed the coffin lid and went to stand a few metres away, watching us in case we stole something.

My father recited a Hindu prayer because he doesn’t know any Christian ones. Then I kissed my mother on her ice-cold forehead and walked out into the sunshine.

Hamba kahle, Ma.



Real Men Eat Meat And Die Young

On Sunday Brenda asked if she could take a picture of me. I agreed without a moment’s hesitation. Although I am not an exhibitionist by nature, I am one of those people who believe in flaunting their assets. And if there is one thing I have, it is assets in abundance.

Quickly stripping off, I went out into the garden and struck a number of exciting poses. The Greek man next door threatened to call the police.

I thought that was rich, coming from a man whose culture embraces a pantheon of drunken whore-mongering gods, two of whom spawned Priapus, an ugly little bastard possessed of an enormous penis who spent most of his life scaring the horses and wondering who his father was.

I flexed my thighs at the neighbour and said if he called the cops, I would transform myself into Pan and ravage his Alsatian dog with wild Hellenic abandon.

Then I pranced about all goat-like, willy a-flap in the southeaster, a sight that sent him scurrying indoors. And not a moment too soon, because I lost my balance and fell into the strelitzias.

Brenda recoiled like a startled mongoose when she saw me thrashing about naked in the shrubbery. Apparently she wanted to photograph me fully clothed. I couldn’t quite see the point of that and insisted on keeping my shirt off.

There is something noble about a well-toned male torso. Not so noble that I would want to wake up next to one, I hasten to add.

I put on my tough-yet-empathetic expression and prepared to be immortalised. Brenda told me to stop grimacing and suck my stomach in. I gave her the lazy eye and told her in no uncertain terms that I had no stomach to speak of. Then I inhaled deeply to enhance my rampant pectorals.

Tiny pinpricks of light erupted before my eyes and my chest emitted a high-pitched whining sound that caused Boris the cat to scramble for higher ground.

Brenda watched coldly as I wrestled with the possibility that my physique resembled not so much that of the Greek god Heracles as it did the Greek dog Cerberus.

You’re fat,” she said.

I got up off my knees and adopted the Enraged Bull position. Brenda laughed harshly. I lowered my head and charged. Well, I would have charged had the sudden rush of blood to my head not incapacitated my legs.

I sat down unexpectedly and watched helplessly as my stomach unfolded like a terrible pink mudslide crushing millions of unsuspecting parasites and tiny defenceless mites who had set up home among my scraggly pubes.

Brenda averted her eyes and told me that my body mass index was higher than my IQ.

Struggling to my feet, I lost my centre of gravity and tried to grab hold of something that wasn’t there. “No more beer for you,” said Brenda.

Fine,” I said. “Just help me inside and I won’t have any more today.”

She made a short, sharp sound that was part bark and part snort – a snark, I suppose – and said no more beer. Ever. From now on, it’s health foods.

I was deeply suspicious of her motives for wanting to keep me alive. This was virgin terrain and my instinct was to fight her with all the rotten teeth and splintered nails at my disposal.

But resistance was futile. Soon I was learning the difference between fruit and vegetables, polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat and transsexual fat.

A few years ago I took some fatty acid in Barcelona and for six hours afterwards I was convinced my hands had swollen to ten times their normal size. It was no fun at all so I don’t mind not doing that again.

In the past I have avoided salads because they are very gay and Cape Town girls operate from the premise that all men are gay unless there is visible evidence to the contrary. For a long time I carried a T-bone steak in my jacket pocket that I would whip out and gnaw upon whenever a brazen hussy deigned to look my way. I can’t say it ever worked, but at least it kept the bandits at bay.

Brenda has now taken to bringing me plates of food clearly designed to render me impotent and get me writing poetry instead of reams of made-up filth.

Tomatoes,” she says, “are good for you. Full of lycopene.”

That may be, but I have heard terrifying stories of what can happen if you mix lycopene with certain pharmaceuticals. Lycopene and heroin, for example, can cause tremendous harm to your health.

Brenda is also feeding me nuts because they are full of iron. I hate the word iron. It reminds me of a corporal who accused me of sleeping in my browns and then made me run around the parade ground with a big fat pig from Benoni on my back.

Eggs are on the list of banned substances. Not because they will clog my arteries, but because Brenda says if humans were oviparous instead of viviparous we wouldn’t like it one bit if a species much bigger than ours came along and turned our offspring into omelettes.

Liver I can have. Whoopee. I can hardly wait to get snout down in a plate full of internal organs that have filtrated all the toxins out of animals that died half-crazed with fear.

Ostrich is also okay, she says. Sure it is. Why don’t I just drive to Oudtshoorn and let one of those giant mutant birds sneeze avian flu right into my mouth?

And only this week federal authorities in America issued warnings that eating spinach, lettuce and bottled carrot juice from California’s Salinas Valley – the self-proclaimed “Salad Bowl to the World” – could lead to paralysis, respiratory failure and death. Charming.

Brenda doesn’t know it yet, but I have started a group called Vegephobes Anonymous. If you’re interested, let’s meat.