Month: June 2009

Big FAT Greek engagement party looms….

You may recall a post a few months ago – about my sister’s engagement party. To recap: she’s getting married (when, we don’t know) to a lovely Greek man, and they’re having a big Greek engagement party. As they should.

As an aside, my older sister recently announced that she too is engaged. If I get one more “ah sweet, all three sisters are engaged” comment, I will scream loudly… in the butchest possible way I know how. I’ll just copy my boyfriend…

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnyyywaaaaaaaaayyyy…

This means that on Saturday I will engage in the plate-throwing frenzy that seems to be part of a Greek party, and hope not to seem too out of place.

I’m actually no longer scared of the the plates not breaking. I’ve been reassured that they are a special, more-flimsy plate that breaks a lot easier than normal crockery. Thank the Lord. They clearly have had gay people at their parties before, and made dummy plates so the gays without throwing genes don’t feel too embarrassed.

But, as an aside, I was informed of a new terrifying, life-endangering tradition that I will have to partake in.

Not only do I have to watch for shrapnel as shards of cheap pottery smash around the shoes… I may not wear the shoes…actually, I think I may invest in wellingtons… aaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnyyyyyyyyywaaaaaaaaaaayyyy… but, and I have this on good authority, they throw whiskey on the floor. (Seriously)

Now this in itself is a danger. I’ve been known to slip on the odd wet surface, so this whiskey puddle could make for an embarrassing moment as I glide across the floor before landing under a table with my legs in the air.

Not only, dear readers, do they throw whiskey on the floor, but they light it. WITH FIRE. I am going to be dancing along, flinging the shoes from left to right in a circle of flames while shards of cheap pottery fly around me.

WITH FIRE!

I’m going to be dancing in fire.

Whiskey fire.

Plates smashing.

Me screaming internally.

You see, I will probably be the one to step into the flames as I dance too enthusiastically (apparently I need to drink some of the whiskey too, so I shall be feeling rather adventurous – given that I get drunk on the smell of whiskey), and as I make contact with the fire, some of the whiskey that has landed on my pants in the Greek whiskey throwing ceremony (I assume they have one too) will burst into flame, and I will be the flaming (no, not queen) person, screaming, as people rush to get away from me. I’ll set the mamas and the papas alight, and hopefully some kind Greek soul will take off their jacket and throw it over me before I set the rest of the guests alight.

Because, do you know how much hairspray Greek people use?

Apparently.

Highly flammable people. In a room of fire…

Let’s recap, shall we?

Me and the shoes.. lalalala, chat chat chat…

Plates breaking…

Me yelling “Opa!”

Whiskey splashes.

FIRE!

Dancing…

Now after showing this post to someone before posting, I was told that apparently you have to dance with a shot of whiskey on your head.

Flammable goods on the hair!!!!!!!

That’s it… I’m not going…

These Greeks can endure the MADNESS on their own.

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Moaning

I feel like moaning…

Because I’m good at it…

When I start feeling that bit of frustration kicking in, the way I deal with it is to moan about it… When I feel tired, I moan… When I feel cold… I moan…

Not in a brash “nya-nya” kind of way… more in a roll my eyes and make a snide comment kind of way… and if you give me the gap, I’ll tell you my complaints.

Can I tell you my complaints…

Shouldn’t have set you up, should I…

Okay, I’ll tell you my dislikes – because that’s kind of like moaning…

1. I hate being thrown in the pool. Ever. Even if I’ve been in the water and am standing around about to go in. And I hate being splashed. I am in control. I will go in when I want to, and throwing water at me is not encouraging. It will make me remove you as y friend on facebook.

2. I hate being removed by friends on facebook… well, random people who added me then felt I never made an effort, then deleted me. Firstly, if you add me as a friend, you make the effort… and secondly…just because we went to nursery school doesn’t mean I’m excited to hear from you. In fact, I may not remember you now that you’re 30 years older, so don’t get sensitive. Just mail me and tell me that we used to swim naked together as children.

3. I hate being woken up. I will be mean. I will snap… and I may not remember doing it.

4. I hate losing at Scrabble. Or any game. I will moan and accuse you of cheating… I’m a terrible sport. Unless I drink while we play. Then I have an excuse to lose.

5. I hate people phoning me and asking me how I am before they’ve told me who they are. Generally means you are a salesperson and means I will speak a bit faster and less warmly. Okay, let’s call it cold.

6. Actually I feel sorry for tele-sales people. Until they phone me.

7. I hate cooked fruit. Unless it’s called apple pie. Then I like it.

8. I hate tequila. It likes me though.

9. I hate when I can’t remember your name, even though I’ve met you before. I think we should all wear name tags. All the time…

10. I hate that I feel average… even though I know I’m not… I’m speshul.

11. And I hate Mondays. They make me feel like moaning.

And to even it out, I’ll tell you what I like. But not now. I feel like moaning.

The gay issue steps into the light… finally!

This is a review of a book I’ve written about before… I think it’s worth reading and ordering, especially if you are a Christ-follower with an interest in homosexuality and the church…

I was given the book by a friend. She knew my struggles with my sexuality and my belief in the Christian doctrine as defined by the Bible, and hoped that it would ease the wrestling between my seemingly incongruous characteristics.

I received the book with the usual scepticism a gay person would when receiving a book that offers to “help” by a Christian. I expected to get two chapters into the book, yawn and throw it amongst the heap of books I already had calling homosexuality a sin, or showing me steps to free myself of the “homosexual neurosis”, strangely similar to the alcoholics 12 steps. Both are diseases, after all.

I sat down to get through what I hoped wouldn’t be complete drivel and started Graham Ingram’s book Out of the Shadows. The first thing I noticed was the by-line: “Let’s get real about the gay issue”. “Let’s get real about your school of thought about the issue,” was my immediate response.

A few pages in, I realised I needed to rethink my expectations of this book. This was stuff I had never seen in published writing before. I had thought some of it, had discussed some of it with friends, but never had someone with a theological degree and the title of minister been so frank about homosexuality and the church, or his own journey as a homosexual man.

Graham Ingram has been a church pastor for more than 40 years, and is well-respected in this role. For years, Ingram wrestled with being gay and being a pastor, often in silence. In this ground-breaking candidness, he tells of this journey and, in a very real and relatable way, builds a bridge between conservative Christ-followers and gay people. Well, for those prepared to listen, anyway.

I’ve spoken about homosexuality and Christianity before, and have been criticised by some for attempting to reconcile the two and present this on a public platform. So, let me say out right, this book is aimed at people who have a fundamental belief in the Bible and in Christ as the son of God. If you disagree with this, then the book is not aimed at you, and no need to add silly comments at the end of this about your lack of belief in God as presented in the Bible. You’re allowed your belief, as are Christians.

On the other hand, I understand the criticism, because, well let’s face it – some Christians deserve a good kick up the butt. Their judgement of lifestyles other than their own seems to deserve a response as viper-like as their own lashings. And this is what is so refreshing about Ingram’s book. He presents a very even, balanced and non-judgemental response to defamatory comments about gays – comments he has experienced in his own life, and more so, since writing this book.

Ingram starts by telling his story – being from a boy’s school, this is Spud with a huge difference – the protagonist is dealing with his attraction to men, rather than trying to avoid Pike in the dorms.

Ingram has never had sex with a man – something the Church should applaud. After all, that is the first option for gay men – to commit to a life of celibacy. Ingram explains his stance on this without judging those who have decided to commit to a same-sex partner, even though the assumption would be that he would expect you to follow his lead. Even though he had never “sinned” by acting on his attractions, the revelation of his homosexuality created a stir amongst the church in which he served and became his first experience of rejection within this context. His response, rather than to run was to live in his truth – as he says: “In admitting the truth I was free. I had actually harmed myself a great deal by trying to suppress for so many years what I knew to be true. I had to bring it out, move out of the shadows, and take a good look at it, and come to terms with what it meant.”

It’s this reflection that led to the book Out of the Shadows.

The book deals with many things never really discussed before – why is the evangelical church having such a hard time dealing with homosexuality? What does the bible really say about homosexuality? And then moves on to the good stuff – how do you deal with being a Christian who is gay? How do parents deal with a child coming out?

Finally, he asks – “where do we go from here?” This is probably my biggest frustration with the book, although I understand why Ingram takes the stance he does. Ingram doesn’t make demands of the Church to change. In fact, he got me thinking. That’s his aim. You see, so often we, as gay people want it all now. We demand change. We demand to be seen as equal. We demand marriage. Understandably so, but sometimes demanding is not the way forward. Ingram seems to suggest that we tread this one lightly. That we start building the bridges slowly. Hell, we’ll never change some of the conservatives minds – there will be those who yell “God hates fags” for many years to come, just as there are those who are appalled that women are allowed to be leaders in a church. But, for some, dialogue will build the bridge. It will allow people to see gay people as humans and not “types” of people different from them.

Ingram has written a powerful and deeply personal book, which I hope will be met with the respect due to it. This is a man who is prepared to open the door to friendly discussion, where judgement has no place, but a way forward is the aim.

In later contact with Ingram, I have been pleased to hear that his book, which has struggled to find distribution, has been received favourably by members of the church, resulting in invitations for him to speak to congregations and leaders of churches.

Gay men who believe in the Christian doctrine that Jesus is the Messiah will find a lot of comfort and hope in this book, something denied by many in this context. I hope many get to read it, and really hear what he has to say.

The book is available at some book stores, but can be ordered for R80 + postage by emailing me at clivevdw@gmail.com – I’ll pass on your details to the publisher.

skinny skiiiinnnyyy jeans

I bought a pair of skinny jeans – as an act of defiance. An attempt to prove that even though I’m about to embark on my 20-year high school reunion, I can still pull off trends that make me feel young.

Call me mutton-dressed-as-lamb if you want, but I’ll defy my age for as long as I can.

I won’t consider plastic surgery… I’m not a fan of pain or needles, so cutting away my age is not an option.

I am rather fortunate though. Although I’m closer to 40 than I am to 20 (wwaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy closer), I apparently don’t look my age. And, Lord knows, I don’t feel my age. Inside this middle-aged (gaaaaaaaaaasssssssssssppp) body beats the thoughts of a whipper snapper.

Now, you see, I called myself a whipper snapper… Always do something to show my age… no one calls themselves a whipper snapper… *whacks head on desk*

So, inside this middle-aged body, is far younger person. I feel like I’m around 20. Part of me thinks it’s because, I only allowed myself to be discovered a lot later than most do…

I went to a party the other night, and I got a very familiar response – the person had been told I was heading on the road to 40-ville, and expressed their surprise at my age, telling me I looked like I was mid-20’s. After hugging her for 30-minutes she wriggled away to find a drink and the safety of real closer-to-20-year-olds, while I told everyone in the room what she said.

Now I suspect it may be the fact that I was singing a Britney Spears song at the top of my voice on the couch at the party, that made her think I was a, um, whipper snapper… but who can tell?

The reality is that I have a fat face – which hides wrinkles… It was the curse of my teenage and young adult years and seems to be my saving grace in middle-age. In fact a lot of stuff I beat myself up for in school seems to be my saving grace now… I have full lips, and when I was in school I was told that if I didn’t keep quiet they would lick my lips and stick me to the window, like a Garfield suction cup to the car (all the rage in the 80s). Then Angelina Jolie came along and the lips I hid for so long (I used to have a technique of sucking on my lower lip so it appeared smaller) were suddenly all the rage…

I also used to get teased about my “bushman bum”… well, that’s what they called it at school… I apparently looked like one of those bushmen painted on rock walls. Years later, this was renamed the “bubble butt”, and is apparently worth looking at…

Feel free…

And then, my fat face, well, fleshy would be the less offensive term… my fleshy face has now reached a good proportion to the rest of my features and has effectively puffed out the lines that I see on so many people my age…

Now, I haven’t missed the ageing curse. I played a tennis tournament on Sunday and hobbled around for two days afterwards. My feet felt arthritic, and my thighs felt like sumo wrestlers were trying to rip me apart by placing me on my back and spreading my legs. How on earth do you get a sore gooch from tennis? My forearm felt like I had been arm-wrestling lesbians… and I had the un-coolest sunglass tan. No one else got burnt, but my ageing almost-40-year-old skin.

So my body certainly doesn’t bounce back like it used to…

But!

I will not let that stop me in my endeavour to stay young, positive and bouncy… I will continue to dress like a lamb, even though I’m starting to look like biltong… and I will follow trends, even when those around me are searching for mom-jeans…. And I will wear skinny jeans even though I’m almost 40…

Laugh all you like – or join me…

Its been 20 flipping years… *#$^#$%&^#%^

I knew it was coming, but I’d kept the reality of it from entering my mind. But now I can not avoid it… for you see, in my inbox was the damning mail announcing what should never have been mentioned, let alone sent through cyberspace…

Howzit Clive

Believe it or not, next year sees the 20th Year Anniversary of our Matric Year – deny it all you want but the fading hairline and expanding waist are tell-tale signs that this milestone is fast approaching and we therefore might as well greet it with the mother of all parties !!

Ha!

Its my gosh-darn 20-year high school reunion in April next year. They’re giving us advance notice so that there are no excuses. Um, thanks… but I plan tidying my sock draw waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay in advance people…

You see, I never really enjoyed the majority of my class when I was at school. I was at a school where classmates became Springbok coaches and rugby players, while I donned tights and learnt how to breath through my bum in acting class. We’re just polar opposites.

And the invite says that we should discuss whether wives are allowed or not…

Cut to me asking if my husband-to-be can be there…

Wonder how the boys will take that?

You see, boys schools are all about being as manly as possible. And that often means putting down those that aren’t as, um, manly. I wonder if anything has changed…

Actually, I really do wonder if anything has changed! I’ve seen some of my alumni on facebook, and I can tell you that their foreheads are higher, their waistlines have expanded, and most have profile pics with beers in their hands (perhaps to explain the waistlines). Some have pictures of their wives, and one or two have their toddlers, but most demonstrate their affinity to lager.

I on the other hand, am as skinny as I was back then. Thank the Lord. Have retained most of my hair (thanks to many, many drugs that I shan’t tell you about) and have no affinity to lager (hence, my lack of girth). So it seems we’re still polar opposites.

How would they respond with the truth about my sexuality?

Maybe I should go…

Arrrggghhhh… back to my point. It’s my twenty year reunion. I have spent more years out of school than in them. I could have fathered the matrics of today.

Can you hear my crisis?

Can you hear me lathering moisturiser on my face?

Can you hear me injecting botox into my eyelids.

Ew…

I took it too far…

Oh well, glad I got the mail on a Friday, so I can spend the weekend sticky-taping my eyebrows to my hairline…

Fear of missing out…

As you may know I’m a bit of a facebook addict. Not having access to facebook only adds fear into my life – fear of missing out. Not that I ever miss out on anything, but I won’t know… I was like that with Big Brother. I watched them sleep. Just in case they did something that got media and peer attention, so I could say “I know, I saw”.

I remember one of the Big Brother contests in South Africa – I think it was the one where that horrible gorilla-like man defecated on the lawns for all to see (*gags) – and I remember it was during the time of 9/11. They got out of the house, after not having access to the outside world, and had to hear about it from reporters, who scrutinised their every reaction. I wouldn’t be able to do Big Brother or Survivor for exactly that reason – that something huge may happen and I wouldn’t know, until the hype had died down. After all, sometimes the hype is more enthralling than the news. I would only do reality shows if they let me take my blackberry, and Survivor would have to let me take a toothbrush and have an accessible porta-loo. Foef people. I’ll leave crapping on the lawn to drunk gorilla-like men.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnywaaaaaaaaaaay…

There are certain things I will never forget in my lifetime. My response to them is etched in my memory, as is the hype that followed.

I’ll never forget Charles and Di getting engaged. I had the engagement pic of them cut out (in a heart-shape) on my wall. My parents had no idea I was gay.

Seriously.

And then, their wedding… ah. We even got the day off school to watch it. The Royal Wedding was huge in Benoni.

Huge.

Holidays all round. I sat and watched Di with my brother, as she got his names wrong and gave that infamous kiss on the balcony. I look at it now, and can see he was picturing Camilla in his mind… He was devious like that…


And then, of course, I remember her death. I was dressed as a clown about to do a skit in a church on the East Rand. I remember what was supposed to be a funny skit flopping because most of the audience were in tears or at least emotionally charged. I cried when she died. Clown make-up everywhere.

And I remember 9/11. Who could forget? I was at work and sat scanning the internet and mailing friends in New York to see if they were okay.

Then of course the terror attacks on London – I was on the tube – how could I forget? Or let you forget…

I remember my mom crying because Elvis had died.

I remember watching Mandela being released… not knowing what was in store for us as a nation, but pretty pleased that times were changing…

And I remember driving to work in Cape Town hearing that Britney and Madonna had just snogged at the VMA awards… It’s moments like that you can’t miss out on… the passing of the baton, with a bit of tongue… Can’t pay for that kind of memory…