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This is a cheating post. I'm uninspired, tired and still ill.

But at least I'm posting. Quantity over quality.

All for NaNoBloPoMo.

(I don't think this is quite what they had in mind, but there ya go! I can't mess this up on Day 28.)

And on the 25th day, she was ill.

When asked what is wrong, I would ordinarily be all tough and answer dismissively and airily (or as airily as one is able to be when half of one’s airways are obstructed), using the rasp in my voice to lend the toughness just that bit of a rockstar edge: “Oh, it’s just a cold.”

But this? This monster? Isn’t just a cold.

Oh, no. After careful consultation of my trusty and beloved, dog-eared edition of the Time/Life A-Z Medical Encyclopaedia, I have come to the alarming conclusion that I have… the Man Flu.

Why that particular strain, you ask?  And how does this Man Flu differ from your run-of-the-mill cold and flu?

At first glance, all the symptoms are identical: scratchy throat, runny nose, coughing, sneezing with such force that you can blow your neighbour's hair back from where you are curled up in a pathetic bundle in bed, feeling lousy, feverish, and achy. But in the trusty tome, it says that when you are feeling particularly SORRY for yourself on top of all of that, and act to your loved ones as if you are on the brink of death? It’s definitely the Man Flu.

Yes, it IS mostly just a male affliction. But in VERY rare instances, such as this, even the strongest women sometimes get weak enough to be overcome with it too. It’s horribly shameful, which is why I would never have admitted to it unless I WASN’T DYING AND FEELING ALL CONFESSIONAL DUE TO THE FACT THAT I'M DYING.


Was that my last breath? It sure felt like it should've been. Can't see anything, 'cause it blew the glasses right off my face. 

Updated to say: No, I also have NO idea why and how the font managed to change colour halfway through this blog post. (Yeah, got my glasses back.) Unless... I have given it my highly contagious and fatal form of Man Flu too!?


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The scream may have been earth shattering, had any sound managed to actually escape from my mouth. I only realised later that I never actually screamed out loud, even though I’m sure my lips assumed the oh-shape it would have had to make to form that sort of terrifying sound. That the faint echoing that was bouncing around in my mind later on was simply a remnant of a deafening thought.


Several minutes before, I had been slowly, furtively making my way down the aisle, like a huntress. 

My heart was pounding and the sweat was beading on my brow. My eyes were thoroughly sweeping the shelves for that one, crucial object.


“Come on; come on; where ARE you?” I muttered under my breath. A lot was riding on me finding what I’d been searching for. I needed to locate it in order to save face.

So engrossed was I in looking, that I never saw the woman until she spoke behind me, causing me to jump a metre high. “Is there anything I can assist you with?” she asked. It was soon her turn to be somewhat unnerved when I spun around, startled by her voice.

When I finally composed myself, I decided to take her up on the offer of help. “Yes, please. I’m looking for this.” I reached into my handbag and whipped out the mocha mechanical eyeliner.

She shook her head. “Sorry, the manufacturer has discontinued that particular brand and colour. May I interest you in anything else?”

That was when the scream of frustration exploded in my head.

In case you think that I’m slightly overacting, consider this: this sort of incident hasn't been the first of its kind for me. Whenever I find a product that I like, that somehow, magically, works for me, it gets discontinued.

I’m still mourning the loss of the liquid foundation that was a perfect match for my horrible skin colour (or lack of – I make albinos look tanned). That foundation turned my skin translucent and glowing. So of course, the manufacturer ruthlessly axed it from its product line, making it very clear to the world that maybe I WASN’T born with it.

The list of products past is in fact so long, they could all easily populate an entire section of a store. Among them are sweeteners, mascara, medication, hair products, body lotion, bras (just like that, my chest was divided, conquered AND lifted!), nail polish, stockings, gum, coffee… you name it, I’ve loved, loyally supported, and cruelly lost access to it.

I’m really starting to think it’s some sort of cruel conspiracy aimed at one particular consumer.


The violent riots that have been plaguing the region where I live for the past few days might be inching closer to us - if it's not already upon us. 

A short while ago, my phone beeped with a message, warning everyone in our picturesque, quaint town of Stellenbosch to stay indoors; that truckloads filled with rioters have apparently arrived in town and that all access roads into and out of the area have been blocked. 

It is difficult to discern rumour from fact, but last night's message, about an uprising on the outskirts of town ended up being true. Hundreds of rioters burned tyres, threw rocks at passing cars and vandalised traffic lights - amounting to millions of rands in damage. It remains uncertain what their motives were, though. Some claim it was about providing free electricity to the town's informal settlement (AKA shantytown/township), while others think it is also about the labour dispute involving the labourers who work on the wine farms in the area.

When will people learn that violence and destruction solve absolutely nothing? 

(Okay, kindly humour me and imagine that these words are in fact a picture of a brown box that is partially covered in courier stickers. My phone is currently acting up, so unfortunately I have been unable to transfer the photograph that I captured of the actual aforementioned object.)

This parcel with my name on it was delivered to me on Monday morning. It is now Tuesday night (scratch that, WEDNESDAY early morning now, since midnight's already come and gone) and it is STILL unopened.

Why, do you ask? Because I actually have - and I am astonished to discover this about myself - amazing self-restraint. It used to be as elusive to me as a metabolism (which, by the way, has been missing in [in]action since birth. So please, if you find a stray metabolism, kindly send it my way?). Especially considering that I have been impatiently waiting for this very delivery for a torturous two and a half weeks, during which I spent every day (perhaps even multiple times daily, since I don't fixate AT ALL) checking the shipping status of the order, as if the mere act of staring at an unchanging virtual tracking receipt on the screen would somehow speed up the entire delivery process.

So why did I not promptly rip it open in that blissful instant that I accepted it from the courier on Monday morning? Because I have a murderous deadline right now (it's killing me, even though the slaying is supposed to be the other way around) and I just knew that opening that parcel and getting lost in its wondrous contents (a book for me and a musical gift for someone else) would mean that I would get so side-tracked from work, that I would never get back to it.

Now I need all two of you, my dear imaginary readers, to tell me how incredible I am for showing such remarkable self-discipline. Okay, if not incredible, can we settle for all right, then? No?? How about just so-so..?

P.S. 12:35 AM and I STILL have not given in to the temptation to open it. Now if that is not a super-human feat, I don't know WHAT is. (And don't you dare come and tell me about the people scaling Everest without limbs, or about those poverty-stricken, motherless drug addicted children who miraculously manage to grow up and become extraordinarily successful career criminals! For someone with my lack of stamina, not opening this parcel is on par with a severely dyslexic child winning a spelling bee. Or something.)  

Oh, never mind this.

Apparently not everyone is deterred by my fat (but deceptively youthful) face. A 45-year old man has just asked me out. As in, on a trip out of the country OUT.

I declined.

I mean, don't get me wrong. I WANT to travel again. Yearn for it, even. But that is a tad too much of a time commitment for a first date, no?

I'm not that picky, I swear. But whatever happened to good old dinner and a movie?
... dead.

I turned older yesterday than I've EVER been before. (Yes, I KNOW I've already said it somewhere on here. I'm glad you occasionally pay attention, imaginary reader. So are you saying this joke is OLD? And just WHO do you think you are calling OL... THAT awful word?!?!?)

It's a dire state of affairs. I referred to myself as a 'girl' last night, and one of my young immature student friends actually SNICKERED.

In somewhat better news, though, after being such a traitor last year, my fat face is doing its age-defying job again. But at REALLY inopportune moments. (Of course!) Some time ago, on a rare trip out of the house, I was out shopping with my sister. Now, for the 'sake of this story, you need to know that all three of my sisters are absolutely GORGEOUS.

Since I'm the youngest, all the talent, looks, charm, style, general savvy, cooking skills, intelligence, and bone structure had already been handed out to all of them. So by the time I came along, the only things that were left for me were depression, anxiety, fat, a handful (okay, MORE than just a handful... grrrrr) of freckles, an appetite, no metabolism (deadly combo, those two), an inability to tan, and a generous helping of neuroses.

So I'm kinda used to fading into the background when I'm around them. It's okay, there are the odd perks to being invisible woman. For one, it gives me time to observe or read in public without ever being disturbed.

Anyway, so I'm out shopping with my sister. (Or rather, SHE's shopping - apart from a slight addiction to books that I have to occasionally maintain by buying more books, I have not received the shopping gene either - and I'm just trailing behind her, helping to carry stuff.) At one point, she bought some pots and pans from this Englishman (during the demo, he was all "swee' 'art" this and "swee' 'art" that), but since it was heavy, he offered to keep it there so that she could travel light for the rest of the shopping trip. Sister accepted and we were out of there.

When we returned much MUCH later, dude was still working, and I just sort of faded away as usual, lost in my own thoughts while my sister collected her loot.

Suddenly "Swee' 'art" pipes up from behind the counter and pays a very swee' compliment to the girl behind me... Or so I thought. I was on the verge of whipping around to see who the lucky lady was, when I realised that there wasn't actually anyone behind me. Or next to me. Or near me. And so it took a further 10 minutes (I should've said... my sisters clearly got all the 'quick on the uptake' genes as well) or so for me to figure out that he was actually speaking to ME.

I almost went: "Huh?" Luckily I pulled myself together before doing/saying anything too drastically daft, so I just said thanks and mumbled something mildly flirtatious back.

Bless him, for he looked almost as surprised as I had looked just moments before. But then! He shook his head wistfully, sighed and said: "Oh, bu' swee' 'art, I'm WAY too old for you."

Now I SWEAR he couldn't have been much older than 40. It never even OCCURRED to me to ask him just how old exactly he thought I was then? It was only later, after we'd already left, that it slowly dawned on me and I asked my sister: "He probably doesn't realise just how old I really am, does he?" (TOLD you I'm "quick" on the uptake!)

Maybe it's time for me to lose the fat face (and body, but we're not talking about that now, are we?!?) after all. I never realised that being frequently mistaken for a 26*-year old could have such dire consequences on one's romantic prospects.

*Well, perhaps now I'll begin to look 27. I've never managed to look 10 years younger than I actually am and various people have, amusingly enough, always shaved off 9 years. No more, no less. NOT that I'm complaining, mind. It is only when it prevents dashing Englishmen from asking me out that it starts being a bit of a pain.

One of the few perks  The ONLY solitary perk about lugging extra weight around on one's rapidly ageing body is that the additional lard seems to fill up wrinkles, thereby creating the illusion that one is still in possession of a smooth, youthful skin.

At least, this is the thought I console myself with whenever another of my garments mysteriously shrinks overnight. (It's amazing, I seem to own the world's most Incredibly Shrinking Wardrobe.)

Luckily, I don't have the faintest idea what my padded body looks like. I haven't had a full-length mirror since the late 90's.

Of course, other people are also partly to blame for my blissful delusion. Recently, a guy I'd just met asked me: "So, Red, how old are you?" (These South African boys are SO rude!)

In response, I batted my lashes, giggled like a 15-year old and asked: "Just how old do you want me to be?"

Okay, not really. But before I could give him my standard reply ("I put the four in thirty-four!" Because yes, *sob, sob*, until recently I was still merely thirty-four), he cocked his head to the side, squinted at me and proceeded to deduct an ENTIRE NINE YEARS from my age!!! (Which prompted me to quickly uncheck the 'rude' box after his name. Apparently he did attend charm school after all.) 

Did I mention that it was really REALLY dark at the time?

So whenever another button pops, I try to suck in my stomach, gingerly insert a safety pin where said button used to be and place the button in a jar housing all the other popped buttons. That jar is labeled: "Payment For Lifetime Access To The Fountain Of Youth."

When I turned 35 at the end of August, I was far more upset about leaving the 18 - 34 group - that sprightly age demographic so revered by especially advertisers (and men) - than about the PHYSICAL implications of finding myself smack dab in the middle of my 30's.

But alas, even one's best delusions must eventually come to an awful end.

A few days ago, I popped into the newly opened beauty salon in my neighbourhood.

I'm still not really sure what had driven me to go in there. Normally I steer well clear of such places. I figure that beauty parlours are reserved exclusively for those who are already in possession of beauty, not for those of us who have a hard time unearthing even our alleged inner beauty!

As soon as I'd stepped into the lightly perfumed, clinically clean salon, I felt like a fish out of water. When I laid eyes on the receptionist - a model look-alike with perfectly sleeked back hair and cheekbones so sharp that it could easily poke an eye out - I felt like a clumsy elephant among delicate butterflies.

She was murmuring into the telephone when I walked in, so I had some time to let my inadequacy and out-of-place-ness thoroughly sink in. I stood around uncomfortably, nervously toying with the safety pin straining to hold my trousers together and hoping that it wasn't visible to Ms. Immaculately Put-Together.

She finally ended the call and looked up at me. (And the worm's eye view is DEFINITELY not my best angle! NOT that I even have a best one, but you know what I mean.) I could've sworn that I momentarily saw an incredulous expression flash across her face (which couldn't have been more flawless if it had been airbrushed), but it might have been my imagination after all, because when I looked again, her perfect, front-cover of Vogue-worthy face had rearranged itself into a look of consummate professionalism.

"May I help you?" she asked. I was almost waiting for her to add: "Not that I think we'd be able to help the likes of you!"

"Yes, please. I just want to know if you by any chance give laser treatment here?"

She scrutinised my face and then pointedly said: "No, but we do Botox!"


Fat face, I can't believe you've decided to stop working at such a critical point in my life! You useless, chubby traitor you!

NOW what do I do?!? Shoot myself?

Or be shot choc-full of Botox?  

Thissssss isssss the ssssssnake. I'm here to inform you that I have eaten Red. She'ssssssssssss large, ssssssso it took me sssssssseveral hoursssssss to devour her. For my trouble, her hair hassssssss given me a bad casssssse of indigessssssstion and *cough* hairballssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

Oh, shut up Cobra.

It's me, loveys. And no, the slimy bastard hasn't gotten me... yet.

However, last night I encountered something which proved to be far more dangerous to my health than any venomous, fork-tongued reptile: two friends and a bottle (or three) of red wine. The one bottle's top collided with my lips... and after that everything became a bit muddled and befuddled. And today the Hangover From Hell has me by the head, pounding the living daylights out of my skull.

The upside about the hangover is that I feel so ill, I don't even CARE about the possible presence of the snake in the house anymore. In fact, right around now, I'd consider a fatal snake bite to my person to be a bit of a merciful favour.

When will I learn that I am, despite my size (SUV), surprisingly light on fuel? 
I told my sister.

I still hadn't made up my mind as to whether I should or not by the time I arrived there, but my crocodile eyes were uncooperative. Hours after the few (okay, many) tears I had shed, they were still virtually swollen shut. And I know from experience that trying to convince my sister that IamdoingjustsplendidlythanksandwhatredeyeswhatareyouTALKINGabout while trying to peer at her through telltale slits would be as futile as trying to look like a movie star whenever I cry. You know what I'm talking about. You see it in any drama and even in a few romantic comedies. When they zoom in on the actress's flawless makeup, the tears clinging to her impossibly long (and still perfectly mascara'd), quivering lashes like glittering jewels, making the leading man's heart melt and causing him to lean in, gently brushing her tear-streaked cheeks with his lips or fingers.

Why oh why do I look so horrid not only during crying jags, but for almost DAYS afterwards? Even waterproof mascara can't survive the destruction of all make-up during my melodramatic sobbing spells. You know how television news always capture women in war torn countries? Women who have just lost their entire families in senseless violence and who are wailing loudly, making otherwordly, primal sounds while desperately tearing their hair out and clawing at their clothes?

They have nothing on me when I weep. When I get going, I surpass even that which Oprah Winfrey refers to as "the ugly cry".

So before she could even ASK me what was wrong, I simply blurted out the whole story. And started crying again in the retelling. (Hey, I laugh at my own jokes, so I'm almost compelled to cry during the telling of my own sob stories in order to keep things fair and balanced.)

Her immediate reaction was laughter. Not at me, bless her. (She doesn't laugh at my jokes, so laughing at my sob stories is probably also just part of keeping the equilibrium.) But because the entire situation was so preposterous.

Then she asked: "Why didn't you tell me last night, when she was still here?" (Aww, I think this is the grown-up version of her wanting to beat up my playground bullies!)

THEN she told me that the girl was 1.) Drunk anyway.

"Which only makes people say what they really think!" I wailed.

And then she told me that the girl was 2.) Not... Well, let's just say that she wasn't quite as forthcoming to me about her own life and about what she is doing.

(Okay, here it is. I can TOTALLY not keep it to myself. That girl? The one who has told me that I should really become a bit more independent!? SHE IS TOTALLY NOT EVEN STUDYING RIGHT NOW! Hasn't done ANYTHING, in fact, for YEARS! Which is why she is putting pressure on my brother-in-law's friend to propose to her, because apparently her extremely rich daddy is now finally getting impatient with his 30-year old daughter's lack of drive and would really like her to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE ALREADY! And hey, what better way to do that than to get a husband, right?)

So yes, I'm over it. Okay, my over-it-ness didn't, admittedly, happen immediately. When I finally stopped crying, I got angry at her audacity. Then I thought of all the things I SHOULD have said to her:

"Okay, so how about I remove all my vital internal organs. After performing the DIY (of COURSE!) surgery on myself, I would simply continue living. WOULD THAT BE INDEPENDENT ENOUGH FOR YOU?"

(And that is really all I came up with to say. My sister said I should have said: "Wow! Thank you for such stellar life advice! Especially since you are such a fine example of independence yourself! So I really value your unasked for counsel!")

Then my dear sis reminded me how I didn't even ask for the car.

And then we had coffee and cake and lived happily ever after...

Seriously though, I do know why her words stung me so much and so deeply. During my last years in the States, as I slowly sunk into the depths of a bleak, all-consuming depression, one of the first and most important things I lost a grasp on was my independence. And I've had to work HARD to get it back. (Still working on it, in fact, every single day.) And I will be the FIRST to admit that I would never, ever, ever have been able to do it without my family's help.

I love them.   

is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)


  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Terra: YES! Wait... you didn't think that I would be this possessed to post for NO REASON, did ya???... [go]
  • Terra.Shield : OH! ... [go]
  • Marco Author Profile Page: Be a bit like serving drinks at AA?... [go]
  • Marco Author Profile Page: I personally think it is a mindset that has been cultivated over the years, and one, if not stemmed,... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Ms. Crazy Cat Lady Pants!!! Squeeeee! Sooo good to see you! (I thought NO ONE was bothering to read ... [go]
  • Ms. Pants : Kitties don't get enough credit sometimes. (All times, if you ask me, but I'm a Crazy Cat Lady.)... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Hey Tamara! I know, right?? That is a tough act to follow indeed. I adored that dentist. He used to ... [go]
  • Tamara Tipton : Well, I am not sure how any dentist could live up to that standard! LOL! I hope your appointment was... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: I'm really really glad that I'm not the only one, Po! Sometimes I drive myself mad with all the what... [go]
  • Po : Those questions run through my heads for various times in my life too, that is for sure!... [go]
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