Category Archives: Family

How To Choose a Husband

I met Alistair when I was 18. We fought all the time and broke up when he went overseas, but we just couldn’t leave each other alone. Over the years we’ve survived more crap than most people do in a lifetime, but I never doubted I wanted to marry him.

Here’s how I knew:

  • Biceps: Al was wearing this fitted 3rd Base T-shirt the first time we met and I thought, “Wow! My tutor is hot.”
  • Adoration: Marry a man who loves you a tiny bit more than you love him. People are horrified when I say this, but women are more prone to the romanticism of uncertainty. It’s exciting. (Why do you think Carrie kept going back to Big?) In the long run however, you’ll always wonder if he loves you as much you love him. Marry a man who adores you and you’re far more likely to be happy.
  • XXX: Skills are essential if you plan on sleeping with this person for 40+ years.
  • Manners: Al insisted on opening the car door for me on our first date (still does).
  • Brains: Marry a man who’s potentially more intelligent than you. This is far more important than biceps. People call my husband “The Walking Encyclopaedia”. I voraciously consume and re-appropriate information. He’s knowledgeable, I’m smart. We complement each other and we never get bored.
  • Eyes: I’ve got a weakness for blue eyes. After his biceps it was the next thing I noticed. Some women love puppy-dog brown or sea-green irises. You’ll be staring into them for years so make sure they melt you.
  • Kindness: Silly bravado and Neanderthal male bonding rituals aside, the guy who gets groceries for an elderly neighbour is a keeper.
  • Proximity: Occasional separations are good for a relationship, everybody needs space, but more than five days and I start to feel like Lyra separated from her daemon in His Dark Materials. I physically ache. A cousin and her husband (now divorced) spent months apart in different cities, quite content, even though it wasn’t completely necessary. Why bother being married if you live separate lives?
  • Humour: It’s such a cliché, but life can be rough – share it with someone you find amusing. My husband makes me giggle like Marge Simpson.

Everything I just said aside, a wise friend once told me that you can’t really define love – it just is. He was right.

The dog that ate Vaseline Intensive Care Cream

I wrote this a year ago on my old blog. I think it’s worth sharing again in the lead up to a new blog feature I’ll be introducing...

When my best friend and I were 13, we dreamed of sharing a big house with a menagerie of mutts. Toy poms and huskies for her, golden retrievers and ridgebacks for me.

Last night we watched Marley & Me … Two of the most unsentimental 27 year-old women on the planet sniffling away in the cinema, our hearts aching for the dogs we’ve loved.

I desperately scratched in my bag for the one tissue I had. I held it up and carefully tore it in half, handing the other piece to Leanne. We looked at each other and laughed at ourselves through snotty tears. Leanne said to me afterwards, “The movie must’ve been sadder for you. Marley looks like Prince.”

Prince – the canine vacuum cleaner

Prince (aka The Dog Formerly Known As Slobber Chops) was my childhood dog, a gorgeous golden retriever with soft fur and the patience of a mother.

I was eight and my brother five when we brought Prince home. Dad grumbled about paying R300 for a dog, but Mom insisted retrievers were good with children. As always, my mother was right.

Why all kids (& moms) should have a dog like Prince:

  • We would sit on a dinner tray, hold Prince’s tail and throw a piece of food down the corridor for him to chase. Hours of fun during school holidays.
  • Being a retriever, Prince needed to carry something whenever you arrived home. My mother gave him her keys and he would drop these somewhere in the house. Hours of playing ‘find Mommy’s keys’ while mommy relaxed.
  • When we got a pool, we would watch Prince dive spread-eagled into the water to retrieve various items – including us. Hours of lifeguard duty.
  • Prince would eat anything (except veggies); we called him the vacuum cleaner. Vaseline Intensive Care Cream was one of his favourite foods, squeezed straight from the bottle into his mouth. Hours of hysterical childhood laughter.
  • When we got a dishwashing machine, it was just the right height for Prince to lick all the juicy tidbits off the plates. My mother called this “the pre-wash cycle”. Hours of dish-rinsing time saved.
  • Whenever we got home, Prince ran around wagging his tail with delirious delight. One day the garage door slammed and nicked the tip of his tail off. Prince carried on wagging obliviously… Hours of telling school friends how our house looked like a horror movie.
  • When I was a depressed teenager, I kept my sanity by going for long walks at night with Prince by my side. Hours of free therapy.
  • Before leaving for work, my mother often left a frozen chicken or margarine tub to defrost in the sink. Often, it disappeared. Eventually the garden service called to ask why there were frozen chickens and margarine tubs decomposing in our hydrangea bush. Hours of amusement when retelling this story.

Prince died just before my 21st birthday. That’s 13 years of unconditional love and memories that inform my childhood. How many people can you say that about?

To my husband on our Second Anniversary (29 March)

Dear Alistair

  • I will cook and bake for you until I need my hips replaced.
  • I will never understand why you loved computer games. I’m so happy you don’t play them anymore.
  • One day we will have a house with a garden and lots of dogs.
  • I’m sorry darling but the dogs will be allowed in the house (although not on the bed).
  • I only want children if they’re your children. Otherwise I’m not particularly interested.
  • I will give our children all the things you missed out on. That includes making them sandwiches (I know I’ll regret this).
  • I cannot be away from you for more than a week. My heart slows down too much.
  • Our wedding day was, and still is, the happiest day of my life.
  • I hope that I die before you. Selfish, I know.
  • You are brilliant, seriously. And everything you’ve achieved has been done without a safety net.
  • You are the bravest person I know.
  • You are the most intelligent person I know. That said, I wish you’d read more books and less of The Economist.
  • Your poetry is so good that it makes me jealous.
  • I love how we can debate everything from game theory to Homer (Simpson).
  • I forgot to get you a present again so this will have to do for now.
  • I think you will forgive me since you were in Jo’burg yesterday while I was at home, sick and alone. Sniff.
  • “Perdition catch my soul but I do love thee! And when I love thee not, chaos is come again.” (I know Othello is a little depressing but the passion is apt.)

Love, Am

Things that made me smile this month

  • Wandering around the rest of the museum and feeling just like a kid again.
  • Two-for-one cocktails with Kate at Neighbourhood, discussing life, love, in-laws and the vagaries of advertising.
  • A phonecall from MSF to thank me for my donation and keep me informed of their work in Haiti.
  • Funny holiday photos I hadn’t seen yet.
  • Saying sorry for something I should have apologised about ages ago.
  • Teaching a beautiful redhead toddler how to get all the foam out of her babycchino cup.
  • The same little girl asking for bits of my omelette breakfast, the sweet cherry tomatoes in particular (she obviously has good taste).
  • Talks with the ‘Byn, a brilliant woman who I admire and respect more than any other.
  • Fruit & Flowers, Thrupps, fresh fish, braai, swimming and meeting many incredible people in Joburg.
  • Futurama dolls. Unfortunately they belong to Chris and I couldn’t distract him long enough to steal Bender.
  • Back rubs, hugs and kisses. X.
  • My husband stroking my forehead when I was ill.
  • A great annual review with my Creative Director.
  • Finding out that my colleagues are a bit scared of me and think I’m good at what I do.
  • Sea of Love by Cat Power (and the rest of the Juno soundtrack).
  • My mother’s face when she opened her birthday gift.