Re(d)rospective: November 2012 Archives

There once was a little girl from Canada. 

A special spirit, she was always amazing to those who knew and loved her, but then one day, after getting a wonderful and noble idea and - more importantly - acting on it, she unintentionally began drawing attention to herself until the rest of the world recognised her awesomeness as well. 

In fact, her story is featured in a newspaper today in Nanaimo, the Canadian town where she resides with her mom and her older (and equally special and gifted) sister. 

I'm writing about this today, because I am so proud and lucky to count her incredibly creative and talented mom among my "real life" friends. I haven't seen this kick-arse little girl since she was a wee babe, but time and distance apart haven't changed how deeply this remarkable trio of girls have burrowed into my heart. 

And this? Is just the cusp of the amazing things that are in store for all of them. 
On a Friday afternoon in mid-March, as I was getting my car washed (which is probably why it began pouring at that moment, but never mind...), who would show up next to me but a major South African celebrity: Haas Das* himself, the legendary Riaan Cruywagen

Riaan Cruywagen.jpg

For my international imaginary readers, 
he is one of South Africa's most veteran and famous television news anchors and a total legend in his own right. (Americans, Riaan is basically our version of the late, great Peter Jennings and Tim Brokow.) 

Despite a disguise of sunglasses and a cap (so, sadly, no sighting of the infamous, "alleged" toupee), he was almost immediately accosted by another fan, so, since he was already disturbed by another fan and didn't bite the guy's head off, I eventually worked up the courage to also go over, shyly say hi and ask for a photo op. 

He was incredibly gracious and - rather surprisingly - deadly funny. (Which is why the resulting picture of the two of us is of me all puffed cheeks and squinty-eyed from cracking up!) I told him that I'm a journalist as well ("but only in online media, so really, it's No Big Deal") and he said: "Well, what a coincidence, so am I!" 

No shit, Sherlock.

He was SO lovely to me. Chatted to me for about 30 whole minutes. Of course, he didn't have much of a choice. I kept on incessantly quizzing him (if he hadn't believed that I was a journo, he believed me by the end of it!) and he couldn't really escape, since he was essentially held hostage there until they had finished cleaning his car. 

The interroga... conversation was about all sorts of things, from what it was like to live in Washington, D.C. almost a decade apart (he was foreign correspondent there from '81-'84), to journalism, his first big scoop in D.C. (Hinckley's attempted assassination of Reagan) BlackBerry phones, iPods and cars. It totally made my day! 

And from then on, whenever he came onto the TV and said: "Goeienaand, welkom by die nuus om 7 op SABC 2", (Translated: Good evening, welcome to the news at 7 on SABC 2), I pretended (in a Nurse Betty kind of way) that he was speaking JUST TO ME. Because we’re now BFF and therefore thisclose.

But I'm rehashing this story tonight, because earlier this evening, exactly 37 years (to the day) of anchoring his first news broadcast, Riaan retired. To great fanfare and sadness. 

I sat in front of the television, absolutely rapt throughout his entire final broadcast, waiting to see if he would get emotional during his last goodnight. 

And? I ENDED UP MISSING IT. Right at the crucial moment, the satellite decoder somehow decided that RIGHT THEN WOULD BE AN EXCELLENT TIME TO RESET ITSELF and so it first had to warm up and rescan all the channels. Meaning that I missed his very last goodbye. 

Utterly bereft, and going to campaign the SABC to put the final broadcast on YouTube. Or something. 

*Haas Das was a fluffy rabbit puppet who read the news out of animal land to kiddies when I was little. Riaan voiced Haas Das, even before he assumed that same position as human (or robot, if you care to believe some for his continual excellence and unchanged hair) anchorman. 

I just feel genuinely lucky to have crossed paths with him. 

Enjoy the break, ye legend! 

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*

This post is dedicated to cat person LB and his own two feline guardians, Oubaas and Vlooi.

I adore all animals - some from a respectful distance - but when it comes to dogs and cats, I am firmly and unabashedly in the canine camp.

However, more than a decade ago, there was a moggie that marched its way into my heart with great chivalry. At the time, I was living in the United States and working as a live-in Au Pair for a family with three adorable girls. The parents were unhappily married though, so whenever they were home, the atmosphere in the house became almost unbearably thick with tension. Even when they were not audibly fighting with each other, the very air was coiled tight with the unspoken resentment between them – almost like the heavy humidity that chokes the air before a violent thunderstorm during summer.

At night, when I wasn’t required to babysit, I jumped into the nanny car and escaped for a few blissful hours. The house was one of about six identical McMansions that were grouped together in a small development in suburban D.C. The family I lived with had no pets – the mother hated animals. Having grown up with dogs around, I severely missed an animal presence in my life. Alas, my only “fix” was the black and white cat I sometimes glimpsed walking around outside the house across the way.

One night, not long after I began working and living there, I returned from one of my nightly excursions. I parked the car in its designated spot next to the house and, when I opened the door, that same black and white cat was right there, at the car door. “Oh, hey!” With some surprise, I greeted it and reached out to touch it, only to have it jump away. “Okay, okay,” I said and let it be. It didn’t run away though. Instead, it patiently waited for me to lock the car doors and when I walked around to the front door, it walked alongside me, every step of the way.

When I got to the front door, I kind of expected it to try and sneak into the house with me, but it didn’t. It merely waited for me to unlock the door, let myself in, and then I watched it through the window as it bounded straight back home.

This became a nightly occurrence, no matter whether it rained, snowed, sleeted, or was too hot to move. Every night, as soon as I parked at home, the cat would be there, poised to fulfill its obligation. On nights when I tallied too long, it jumped onto the hood of the car and impatiently pawed the windshield until I got out, before proceeding to walk me to the front door. It never allowed me to touch it; it never tried getting into the house with me. It simply walked me up to the front door (up some steps), and waited for me to get safely inside, before turning around and walking straight back to its own family’s house across the way.

No one believed me until my mom and my then-boyfriend witnessed it with their own eyes when they dropped me back home. The fact that I came home with others, in different cars, didn’t deter the cat. Nor was it thrown for a loop by the fact that I was sometimes dropped off in different places around the house. As long as I was in the car, my little feline bodyguard was there, waiting to walk me to the door… It was flabbergasting.

This went on for the entire year I stayed there. It became a highlight of my day/night during a time that I was deeply depressed. I never learned the cat’s name, but I believe that it sensed how incredibly unhappy I was, which is why it took it upon itself to become my furry little guardian.

Needless to say, this self-proclaimed dog person was utterly charmed. I’ll never forget what that kitty did for me, way back then. With the simple act of walking me to the front door, it ushered me through a very bleak time in my life. 

I have a dentist appointment tomorrow.

I'm not scared. (For all my neuroses, I'm not scared of docs, dentists or any other needle-wielding types.) Merely blue, because - no offense to South African dental docs - but no dentist will be as magical as the one I had in the States. The dude did card tricks with a deck that contained pictures of the FBI's most wanted on it. Osama bin Laden was the ace, if I'm not mistaken.

I usually laughed so much when I went to him, people in the waiting room must have thought that I was pumped up on laughing gas.

Hopefully I will leave smiling tomorrow too.


















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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comments
  • 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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