I started the day as typically as a Sunday could be – sweating my arse off at gym while Garth Walton from next door moonwalks his jaundiced arse into another three weeks of life before collapsing in a pile of his own liquids. I sat on an exercise bike for twenty minutes establishing that I should have paid more attention to my iPods battery life and that I am really shit at Mahjong. Dad arrived in time for the spinning class along with other people who, unlike Dad, look like they lost most of their cardiac muscles in a painful divorce. Everyone is wearing the latest on neoprene and nylon. Dad is in his favorite gardening shirt.
I am proud of my father, at 63, he can still beat most men half his age in wits, stamina, endurance and hair capacity. He has two calves which are afraid to leave him.
I got home to realize the twin bacterial colonies I had been calling flip flops for six years had developed an odour. As a result, I rushed back to Old Khaki to find a replacement. Despite being unemployed, the universe still sees it fit to thrust expenses upon me. I do not have children I don’t know of (that I don’t know of), so I am grateful these expenses are limited to new slops, car services and dinners with friends. Christmas shopping is done so I don’t feel the loss of a kidney as much as I thought I would.
Crisis! Dad, while packing, establishes that his cycling gloves have disappeared. After leading a Spanish Inquisition throughout the house, they were found still damp in a drawer. Crisis averted and the day is saved. Now Dad can ride in fashionably fingerless fagans while fingering the fornicating Farmers In the Free State at large.
It took a while to write that.
Dad and I posed for the requisite “before” image as we departed. The police would need this later no doubt.
We drove uneventfully. A red Mercedes was enjoying speaking on its cellphone more than obeying the laws of the road. It did this behind, in front, next to, on top of and eventually far away from us. Dad described this behavior as florally as a royal garden show. I learnt many no-no words at the age of 30. The garage stops are a nightmare with the public holiday tomorrow. Ques stretch twenty deep for the toilets. I walked into the Engen loo to see a man balancing the end of his penis on the edge of a urinal while using both hands to hold his cellphone three feet away.
God is kind to some.
We fought the cross wind for road supremacy all the way from Harrismith to Bethlehem. We won though people pulling trailers lost. Dad spoke to me about his car choices in life (at my admitted prompting), and I was given a brief summary of Landrover history. It is cool learning how a car fit a man and vice versa. A land rover is as good a metaphor for my fathers idea of adventure as any: rugged, capable, mud-splatters but with aircon and plush seats.
Bethlehem was polite enough to remain as we left it in 2015. The potholes have grown commensurately with the national debt. Everything is closed which means Dad and I are eating at Spur. We were checked into La Croche by a pretty receptionist who referred to Dad as “Oom”. My days are numbered when the moniker is thrown at me. Rooms are comfortable, a bit spartan though clean. Perfect. Dad and I drank wine and talked poo in his room as we watched the Cape Town 7’s. This was followed by dinner at spur where my father tucked into a plate of ribs like a God creating an all-female chorus line in the book of Genesis.
Got back to the hotel. I am wandering around my room in my undies with a toothbrush half-heartedly dangling from my maw when the door is knocked off its hinges. I opened it to find Dad requesting a night cap. Sat on a stool solving the rest of the worlds problems with him for half an hour before retiring to bed. My mouth tastes of minted old grapes.
Tomorrow we ride.
Though how we ride will be seen tomorrow.
A quote from the old man has wedged itself between my ears.
When asked about what he would have chosen for his life at 25, his response was typical of the man he is:
“I would have been happy with half of what I have.”