So, my lovely cousin, another one, has decided I’m unfit. As in physically, not unfit to stand for president or raise small llamas. I am, but that’s beside the point. Basically, he’s taken it upon himself to get me into shape. Thanks, bru. Thanks a lot.
Let me put this into context. I’m the odd one in the family. With a double springbok for a grandfather and a collection of parents and aunts and uncles with various colours for various provinces, my youthful penchant for books, cigarettes and deep meaningful moments with existentialist pseudo-goths was not deeply appreciated. And so, naturally, it was a penchant I favoured for a very long time.
Cue a mini mid life crisis. Thirty and droopy is not what I envisaged for the Prime of My Life. So, surprising all and sundry, I quit the smokes, gave up the Goths and joined the Virgin Active. *gasp*
Cousin dearest has been waiting patiently for just such a move. He can sense weakness. Sneaky bastard parades a selection of his finest single friends before me and then, just as I’m all soft and flirty, he sidles up and mentions that they’re all going for a walk on the weekend. Just the start of his master plan. I agree, not being of sound mind, and wake up to the screeching ring of my telephone on the chosen Saturday.
Aware that I might be make a massive mistake, I nevertheless pull on some jeans, my lovely new hiking boots and a pretty little pink top. Cousin picks me up. Grinning. Evilly. We drive to some remote place, half way up what seems to be a mountain I don’t know, clearly inaccessible to rescue helicopters, and meet up with said friends. I immediately start to sweat. They’re all in poly shorts and peaks. One kind soul whispers conspiratorially, ‘Don’t you have something else to wear? You’re going to get reeeally hot in jeans!’
A number of things go through my mind. Mostly, how bloody ugly polyshorts are and how you wouldn’t catch me dead in a pair. But I just shake my head, put on my sunnies and remind myself to kick Cousin in the shins if given a chance.
We start on the trail. It’s a mountain bike trail. All filled with mud and stuff. Which is fine. I like nature. I love looking at the stunning sweeping vistas from the comfort of the hammock on my dad’s country stoep. I love tramping up the drive of a cute country inn, anticipating a warm fire and an ice cold beer at the end. But I’m still not convinced about lots of it. Up close and personal.
But I’m willing to keep an open mind.
Then we turn the frikkin’ corner. Ahead is an unbelievably hideous stretch of vertical forever. I physically blanche. Cousin turns around. Cocks his head. Raises an eyebrow as if to say ‘Ja, what?’. I purse my lips at him and raise an eyebrow back. We do this, in my family, say a lot with our brows. Cousin turns back and continues to canter up the huge hill. Little shitbag. I grit my teeth and ignore the shooting pains in my calves, my back, my head.
Fortunately, one of the other chicks on the walk has an enormous hangover. Normally, I suspect, she’d be moutain goating up this hell along with all the other over-endorphined fitness fundies. Instead she’s wheezing and gasping right next to me. Smelling faintly of tequila. Giving me painful ‘What the fuck are we doing’ glances. I manage a rictal grin back. This was supposed to be fun.
I’m also becoming aware that jeans offer another joy I might have wanted to avoid. Chaff. So, when not observed by the others; which is often, considering they are now two kilometres ahead of me, I employ what can only be called the John Wayne shuffle. Kiff. I’m also getting damp. Not in the nice, knickerly way, but in the fly attracting, hair plastering, dripping down the armpit way. This is not a look I was hoping to embrace. I grimace, pleasingly.
Cousin is waiting for me at the crest of forever. Still with that fekkin’ stupid grin. Still with one wayward eyebrow. Still cocking a snoot. Wanker. I’m almost reduced to a crawl, but they ain’t breaking me yet. I try another smile. I look like a wet Doberman. With chaff. I reach the crest. Almost cry. Don’t. Snatch the water from Cousin’s hand and think in the reptilian recesses of my baking brain ‘You’re dead, you twisted little muscle mary, you’re dead.’
He points ahead. Beyond the crest is the beginning of the forest. Verdant shaded green. Huge towering gums. Moss and pine smell. The road is pointing down. I almost cry again. Don’t. Cock an eyebrow back at cousin and say ‘Not bad, china, not bad. So what are we doing next weekend?’