Friday 8 May 2015

Not my best day

“Oh no.” 



And this is how it starts. My least favourite game with my husband. I call it “Guess what’s gone wrong when he goes quiet”. I hate it even more than when he turns the light on in the dead of night to read, because he can’t sleep.

“No, no, no, no.”

I didn’t ask again. He said it quietly, which made it more alarming. He was trying not to panic the already hysterical teenage girls behind us in the back seat. They had not stopped giggling or shrieking since we’d left the villa half an hour earlier.

I leaned over and scanned the dashboard for clues. You can tell I’ve played this game before. The little picture of the car that I could see through the steering wheel had a circle on the top right that was flashing. A number next to it counted down – 2.8, 2.5, 2.3, 1.8, and I realized just as Wayne told me – the game a dead heat.

“We’ve got a puncture.”

My youngest nephew on the biggest slide
It was never going to be my best day ever. I knew that from the moment that my baby, turning 15 this week, told us that all she wanted for her birthday was to go to uShaka, meet her three young cousins there and spend the rest of the day, wet and wild, running about in a swimming costume to queue for rides, slides and other methods of torture.

“Of course.” I gushed at the same moment that Wayne responded – “No way, we are so over that.” Well if we weren't over it, we are now.

It was about 8am. In the morning. We had left early, so that we didn't have to queue for too long. We were driving north to Durban on the N2, which meant that the sun was shining towards us. Wayne pulled off the two lane highway onto the narrow shoulder of road, halfway up a blind rise. The girls briefly paused tapping on their phones and talking to ask what the matter was, shrugged because there was nothing they could do, and resumed their babble of exclamations, still tapping.

Wayne and I surveyed the boot, laden with bags of clothing and supplies (queue standing in South Africa requires sustenance), and started to unpack. We found the spare tyre, and searched in vain for the danger triangle to place a short distance behind the car to warn approaching motorists, staring into the rising sun, that we were there.
Not finding it, we reverted to plan B, which involved me flapping a brightly striped towel at the motorists, to warn them not to hit my husband’s ever so cute butt, which stuck out into the traffic as he started to employ the jack to raise the car and change the tyre.

I started flapping at the cars, all travelling at least 120km/hour. In SA, we take speed limits very seriously – you can’t drive at any speed less than 120km/hour if that is what the law says. So many thoughts pounded through my head as I flapped:

“Don’t flap too hard, it won’t do if someone pulls over to help.”

“Flap hard enough – imagine if someone takes out cute-butted Wayne because no one saw me flapping.”

“This towel is bright, people will see me.”

“The brightest of towels looks grey when the rising sun is behind you – flap.”

“This is not cool.”

“When, since having kids, have I thought I was cool, and do I really care?”

“Imagine if my husband dies, because I am trying to be cool. How will I live with myself?” Flapflapflapflapflap.

I developed a little strategy (it’s what I do, most of my life).

Step 1: Listen for approaching cars.

Step 2: If I hear them, start flapping.

Step 3: Watch the drivers. If I see them notice me, stop flapping and go back to step 1. If they don’t notice me, flap harder until they do.

Step 4: (Done concurrently as I revert to Step 1) Send messages on phone – to the cousins – we will be late. To my eldest daughter – you made the right decision staying at home. To the parents of the child we were picking up on the way – we will be late. To those same parents – no, thanks for offering to help, but we are experts on punctures. (Translation – we don’t handle stress very well, and having more people around here could push us over the edge.)

Wayne kept working, as our friend was climbing in his car to come and meet us. Fortunately, I am very good at finding nails, building debris and other sharp objects in the road. I don’t see them; I find them by driving over them, and finding them in my tyres. I have perfected that look of disbelief when they show me what I managed to transfer from the tarmac onto my tyre, without noticing. Wayne and I joke (but sadly it is true) that one of our first “dates” was when he came to my house to drop off something, and I asked him to change my tyre. These days, I don’t even call him anymore, I drive straight to Minty’s. But he has had years of practice. Within about 20 minutes, we were on our way again. Not only does he have a attractive behind, the man has many talents.

I had already – prior to the puncture – commented that the day couldn't possibly get any worse. Having learned my lesson, I refrained from making any further such observations.

As often happens, everything did start going better. From the uncle who bought our tickets so we didn’t have to queue, the amazing dolphins who always make me happy, to the lovely lunch, even better bottle of wine that I shared with my sister-in-law, to the delicious Dom Pedros that ended the meal, it really all didn’t seem to matter anymore.

Read more Ramsgate Ramblings 


Wayne said...

I laughed my way through this blog but talk about 'Revisionist History'.

Regarding the 1st date incident. Being the gentleman trying to impress the young lady I clearly remember 'volunteering' to change the tyre. Her dad had taught her but she has never changed one since and as mentioned there have been many too many!

Bev Bouwer said...

You are quite right, I would never have dared to ask you - you volunteered.