Re(d)latives: November 2012 Archives

As promised last night, here's the story: 

It was a mid-winter's night when I was about 14 years old. The Pretoria Show (sort of like the US equivalent of a State Fair combined with a trade show) which ran for a couple of weeks every year, was in full swing.

I got to hang out there almost every night during that time, because my mom was working for a sewing machine company and running their stall at the show. The show hours were brutally long – from early morning until about 10 at night – so I had no choice but to tag along, help out and sometimes also to explore the enormous show grounds on my own. There were several massive exhibition halls, tents, fields (where equestrian shows, pop concerts and other outdoorsy type things were held, with pavilions for spectators) and of course, the large amusement park with the roller coasters, merry-go-rounds and all the other rides.

The sprawling show grounds are located in the western part of the city. Right around that same time, girls my age had been disappearing in that very area of town; vanishing without a trace. Sometime after this particular night, the man who had been identified as the kidnapper shot himself and his lover (who happened to be the aunt of one of the kidnapped girls) while being chased by police. None of the kidnapped girls were ever seen again, nor were any remains ever found to give their distraught families closure.

Back to the Pretoria Show: so on that particular night, I must’ve been wandering around again on my own for ages. Eventually, I saw a poster advertising some sort of magic show. Intrigued (and probably somewhat chilled too from being outside), I decided to enter the theatre and see what it was about.

I don’t remember many details surrounding this particular show, but I do remember that I found it dead funny. The magician/hypnotist’s routine included the usual shtick of randomly pulling rabbits from hats, and then eventually, pulling people from the audience and hypnotising them. He made grown men crow like roosters and dignified ladies act like little girls. The audience (myself included) was screaming with laughter.

When the show ended, I followed the rest of the audience out into the now-almost deserted show grounds. I still remember telling the woman next to me that the show must’ve run overtime, because all the other stalls and halls seemed to have already been closed down for the evening. I was a tiny bit alarmed that my parents would possibly be worried, but was soon distracted from that thought when I heard the sound of a helicopter and saw a blindingly bright search light.

I looked up. It was a yellow South African Police helicopter and it was flying low across the grounds, sweeping the search light back and forth. We shielded our faces as the chopper flew over us, kicking up a gust of wind and a swirl of dust.

Moving towards the gates, we rounded a corner and suddenly I saw a few hundred police officers. And police dogs! The dog lover in me squealed with delight: “Oh, look at all those gorgeous Alsations!” I remember telling the lady who was still walking next to me.

I wondered aloud what on earth was going on, what they were all doing there, when suddenly, from a distance, I glimpsed someone vaguely familiar standing in the middle of this massive crowd of cops and canines. When we moved closer, the figures became increasingly clearer and even more familiar. The recognition finally dawned and I told the woman next to me, with some amazement and not a bit of excitement: “That’s my parents! And oh… wait, is my mom CRYING?”

It turns out that all those cops (almost every single one who was employed by the Pretoria City Police Department at that time) and that helicopter? They had been searching for ME! As I had suspected when we left the theatre, the magic show had indeed run overtime… by about an hour! So knowing that I fit the profile of the kidnapped girls, my frantic parents immediately called for help when I didn’t appear at closing time, as I had dutifully done every single night until then.

Even though I had done nothing wrong and it wasn’t actually my fault, I was in so so SO much trouble, it wasn’t even funny. Not with the cops, understand – they were just happy that the case of one “missing girl” had for once just been a misunderstanding, and that it had a happy outcome. I could’ve handled trouble with the cops, I think. No, it was far worse: I was in seriously hot water with my parents.

They were certainly NOT happy. Especially not my dad. He was FURIOUS. In fact, technically, I believe I am probably still grounded. That’s what “you'll NEVER EVER EVERRR leave your room EVER AGAIN, young lady, except for school and church” means, after all, right?

So, that then concludes the true story of how a whole city’s entire police force was once looking for me. 

*Bows*

Birthday

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Today. Not mine.

My mom's. The woman who gave birth to me.

Love her. So so much.

Happy birthday, Mom.

My nephew and I slip out onto the balcony and into the cool night air. It's already way past his bedtime, but since I do have my sister's permission, this isn’t an illicit outing. 

 

We hear another dull boom in the distance and crane our necks to look across the neighbouring rooftops and through the trees, squinting for a glimpse. No luck.

 

"When I was little," I tell him. "I thought everyone was talking about someone called ‘Guy Fox’." 

 

He giggles, after I explain why this is supposed to be funny. (Which is sadly not a phenomenon only reserved for when I speak to kids. The only time people of all ages EVER react to my lame jokes - and not always favourably - is when I explain the punchline at length.) 

 

“But who was this Guy Fawkes and what did he do to get fireworks?”

 

“He was a British man who, along with a group of 12 other men, tried and failed to blow up Britain’s Houses of Parliament, because they wanted to kill the king, since he didn’t like their religion. But some of the other men got cold feet. Guy Fawkes still wanted to go through with it, but then he was caught and ended up being killed instead. So the bonfires and fireworks that go off every 5 November is to remember that the king was saved. And to kind of make fun of Guy Fawkes. They make bonfires to burn pictures of him. We celebrate it here in South Africa too, because we were a British colony for a long time.”

 

After failing to see any of the fireworks that we can hear going off in the distance, my nephew loses interest and wanders back inside.

 

In a decided role reversal, I plead: “Just a little while longer, please? I’m sure we’ll see something any moment now. And hey, there! I can even smell it!”

 

Without missing a beat, he says: “Naah, that’s just your coffee.”

(Because I always say that I am so useless in the kitchen, I even burn water…) SEE? There I go explaining the punchline again. AND YOU DIDN’T EVEN CRACK A SMILE, DID YOU?

P.S. Close to midnight, and crackers are still exploding all over town – heard, but not seen. I really think it ought to be the other way around, don't you? Silent fireworks will be so much kinder towards poor, petrified pups and cats everywhere. 

It’s a quiet night. The first breath of summer is in the air at last; the windows and balcony door are flung open to let in the coolness. The breeze brushing my face is like balm on my hot skin.

The only light in the room is the soft glow coming from the laptop screen. I’m lying on the couch, my sister is surfing the web.  

Suddenly, the serenity is shattered by a brief, deranged growl. (Just so you know: there is no animal on the premises.)

“What the hell was THAT?” my sister whispers, pale with fright.

“I don’t know; probably the TV in your room,” I say, unconvincingly. Outwardly, I probably appear calm, having not even budged an inch from the couch. Actually, it’s only because I have been completely frozen with fear.

Then we hear it again, and it sounds decidedly closer this time.  

For a moment my sister goes just as motionless as I am. However, seconds later she turns in her chair and lunges at something towards the right hand side of her.

This time, it’s my turn to squeak: “What the HELL..?”

She grabs the offender and starts to laugh.

Seeing that I’m still a tad perplexed, she holds it up to the laptop screen’s glow. It’s her iPad.

As if on cue, it emits another growl. “It’s that stupid game!” my sister laughs.

Turns out my niece had played Talking Fred (the pig that imitates and responds to the player's voice) on the iPad and never turned it off. If you leave Fred on without playing with him, he sulks by, every once in a while, making attention-seeking growling and grunting noises.

Yes, indeed. Two adults were spooked by a game for toddlers…

In our feeble defense, despite the microphone in his hand, Fred IS one scary-looking pig, complete with an “Eat Me” tattoo across his belly, a red Mohawk, a bad-ass, spiky dog collar around his neck, a nose ring, cut-off camouflage trousers and combat boots…

 

 

 



















about
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!)

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