Four left feet

“I want to stand with you on a mountain…”

My immediate reaction to the sound was this: “Who the hell has that annoying song as a ringtone?”

Turned out that it was me.

My husband, in a pique of romance changed my ringtone to our wedding song.

It wasn’t our choice.

It went down like this…

Four days before the “I do” section of our marriage, I woke up, sat bolt upright in bed and shook my husband-to-be rudely awake.

“The dance”, I hissed.

“What dance?”

“THE dance. The wedding dance!”

“I can’t dance.”

“Neither can I.”

“Oh shit.”

Some frantic flipping through the Yellow Pages (yes, they still printed them then) and we found a dance instructor willing to give us 4 days of intense instruction.

The poor man.

Even now, after all these years, my heart aches for him.

Four left feet arrived for dance class and proved that despite what people say, everyone cannot dance.

We found it quite funny.

He did not.

He was dumbfounded. We weren’t so much uncoordinated as discombobulated with all four feet doing completely different dances.

I think we were the biggest challenge of his career.

After watching us trip over our own feet and each other’s for a bit, he sighed, a deep heartfelt sigh and got down to business.

We were to learn the rumba.

It’s a square, how badly could we mess it up?

To our credit, and his, we managed to get the steps sorted out even if we did have to count each step out aloud. 1 and 2 and whatever comes after that.

We’d made it through 2 days with no music.  

On day 3, there was still no music.

We unanimously hated every piece of music we could do the rumba too.

At that stage of our lives we were more likely to be waving glow sticks at an underground rave in an abandoned warehouse then prancing through a ballroom.

Boy bands were (and still are) objects of intense derision.

After witnessing the rejection of every contemporary rumba song in 2000, the dance instructor finally blew his fuse.

We weren’t really surprised. We were more amazed that he had kept it together for so long.

It was also less than 12 hours to the wedding.

He presented, as a fait accompli, Savage Garden’s ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’.

We were told, in no uncertain terms, that we would be dancing to this song.

We cringed, but succumbed.

Our first married dance went off okay, we counted all the steps under our breaths, did a twirl or two and avoided the stifled giggles from our friends at the choice of music.

It was also the longest song of our lives.

And, now it’s apparently my ring tone.

For better or worse, right?

It could have been worse. He could have made us dance to Dolly Parton’s “Islands in the Stream”.

Friday Fictioneers: To queue or not to queue

PHOTO PROMPT © Na’ama Yehuda

“Mum. Why are we standing here?”

“Because it is a queue and to queue is the way of our people.”

“But, what is at the end?”

“I don’t know. It’s part of the surprise.”

“What if it’s something gross?”

“What if it isn’t?”

“Can I go and look?”

“No! That is not how this works. One must stand in the queue come rain or snow. One must show patience and stoicism in the face of adversity.”

“I’m going.”

“Mum. It’s a mime. Everyone is standing behind a mime. For no reason whatsoever.’

“That is what it means to be British.”

Daily Writing Prompt: Ricochet

Image by Peter Pruzina from Pixabay

I’m trying something new. Something to get me through a classic case of writer’s block. A daily challenge around relationships. Wish me luck.

Ricochet: To bounce off a surface wildly

A bullet ricochets. A squash ball ricochets. People do not ricochet. I am not most people. I ricochet off everything and everything. Getting from point A to point B takes me through the entire alphabet.

As I bumped into a waiter, careened off a side table and narrowly missed a glass of wine, I knew the inevitable.

This date was going to be a disaster.

For some reason, probably their own amusement, my colleagues saw fit to set me up on a blind date. I knew it was futile, but I lacked the backbone to point this out.

Hence, why I am stuck in a slow-motion remake of an action movie trying to make it to my date at a table at the far end of a crowded bar.   

He watched with ill-concealed mirth. Said colleagues had also insisted on the heels. Some people look like graceful swans in heels. I look like an accident waiting to happen.

I tottered and teetered and finally came to a halt, where upon the chair leg tripped me up and I sprawled inelegantly over my date. My very good-looking date. Who smelt of new leather and sandalwood.

Mortification rose like the sunset up my face. You’d think by 25 years of this, I’d just shake it off like water from a duck’s back. Somehow, I don’t.

A solid hand prevented me from the indignity of landing on the floor. I gathered the tangled ends of my wits together and fell into the chair like a storm-tossed sailing ship making harbour.

I reached for the glass before me and downed it. Then my throat caught on fire, I breathed in the fumes and only by the grace of a heavenly omniscience, managed not to choke.   

At this point my dinner companion was no longer concealing his mirth. His shoulders were shuddering, and tears were sneaking their way out of his eyes. Very blue ones. Like azure island seas.

“I wasn’t sure you were going to make it,” he drawled.

“I’m never quite sure myself,” I heard my voice through the roaring of blood in my ears.

“I’m Liam. Pleased to meet you.”

“Sara. No ‘h’. You too.” Apparently, single staccato verbalisations were all I had right now.

“Is it always like that?”

“Yes. I’d leave now, but I can’t face the return journey quite yet.”  

“Do you want to leave?”

“Not really. I want lasagna. And cannoli. And a yashmak.”

“I can help out with the first two, but the yashmak you’re going have to order in.”

I was vaguely aware of him ordering for me and a new glass of the venomous liquid being paced before me.

“Try sipping it this time. Lagavulin is generally meant to be savoured. This one’s taken 16 years to mature, so you need to take at least 16 minutes to drink it.”

“Oh. I thought it was… something else.”

“Like what”

“icetea,”

“Excuse me?”

“I thought it was iced tea.”

The laughter took me off guard. Great waves of laughter that boomed around the too small space.

“I don’t drink, usually,” I stuttered.

“You drink unusually then?”

“You’d think it might balance out the human pinball thing, but it just makes it worse.”

“You’re a bit like a bumble bee, you know. Scientifically, there is no way you should have been able to get to this table without causing an accident. It was like a synchronised dance of wine glasses and waiters. I was utterly transfixed.”

This was not going to plan. I knew how this worked. By the time I got to meet a date, he has no doubt seen me coming and done a runner. I wasn’t sure about what happened after that point, but I was pretty certain that this bizarre conversation wasn’t it.

Something tickled at the edge of my awareness. A knowledge that something was off. Something was wrong. Something I’d forgotten.

“I’m so sorry, what was your name again?”

“Liam.”

“Liam?”

“Yes.”

“Not Paul.”

“No. Whose Paul?”

“I don’t know, but you’re not him.”

“No, I’m not,” those damn blue eyes were twinkling again and my tenuous hold on speech was slipping. Probably helped along by the whisky.

“Paul, is my blind date.”

“Ah. I think he left just as you arrived. A panicked looking young man with a face like a pilchard.”

I sighed, “Probably.”

We’re going on holiday – eventually

via GIPHY

When it comes to going on holiday

I like to get there faster

I want to leave at 3 am

5, if there’s a disaster

My family doesn’t give a hoot

They’ll sleep in until 10

As long as they get there

They don’t really care about when

I need to pack the night before

And have a list to help me

They’ll pack as we walk out the door

Because we’re a normal family

I need to be on the road

The sooner is the better

But they have to go to the store

And maybe write a letter

The car is packed and ready

But the tyre is pancake flat

So we wait a little longer

While Dad takes of that

When finally we hit the street

And drive a little way

Something’s got forgotten

So, we have to start again

Embracing the woo

I signed up for a mediumship course. If you have no sense of humour about this, don’t read any further, just saddle up your high horse and trot right off.

Me: “So, I’m doing a course on Saturday  morning, could you handle the kids for me?”

Husband: “Mmm? Okay.”

I thought I’d carried it off quite well.

Me: “I’m leaving now, you’ll remember to do the kids?”

Husband: “Okay. What kind of course is it anyway?”

Shit. I had hoped this question wouldn’t arise.

Me: ”I’m not telling you, because you’ll just make fun of me.”

Husband: “It’s one of those crystal things, isn’t it?”

Me walking away.

Ever think that maybe you’re just too pragmatic?

Or just have a really dark sense of humour?

Or just have a daily struggle to take life too seriously, or seriously at all?

These are the questions that plagued me at my first session. As I sat in a circle of sock-clad esoterics, I pondered how I came be here and deeply wished my mother was with me, so we could have one of those eye-meets where you know the other person totally gets where you’re coming from.

(As an aside, she is the only person I’d go on a silent retreat with, because we don’t need to speak to know exactly what the other person is thinking.)

The time came to do the dreaded “Hi, my name is XXX, and I’m here to XXX.”

There were two starting options. Me and the girl on the other side of the table.

I took the split-second advantage and pointed, “She will.”

‘She’ looked at me in horror.

I shrugged, “It’s either you or me and it’s not going to be me.”

As the introductions went around, my trepidation grew. Each added a new spiritual tag on the one before.

I am an empath.

I am empath and an intuitive.

I am an intuitive empath and spiritual healer.

I am an intuitive empath, spiritual healer and reiki master.

I am an intuitive empath, spiritual healer, reiki master and tarot reader.

Bugger. I had nothing. Absolutely nothing. I should’ve gone first.

I also have the opinion that, if you’re learning something new, don’t go in there saying you already have a PhD in the subject. You’re setting yourself up for failure.

“Hi, I’m me, and I thought it would be fun to do something different.”

Sound of lead balloon crashing to Earth.

The silence of judgement lay heavy until the door opened and a new person bustled in cheerfully. She tripped over a chair and a handbag and her phone rang, repeatedly. I’ve never been so grateful to meet anyone in my life. She is my spirit twin.

Swiftly moving along, we had to do our first exercise.

You rub your hands together fast and when they’re hot you pull them apart and feel the energy between them. Then, you imagine the energy is a ball of coloured light. Then you toss the ball at someone else and they have to intuit it’s colour.

Panic attack number 2.

I suck at throwing and catching.

I pictured spiritual balls of light smashing between my feet as my butterfingers failed to grab onto them.

And, then there’s the colour recognition.

I was going to suck at this, big time.

The tension ramped up as balls were thrown around the circle and the first three colours were named correctly. Then, a sliver of hope, the next person had three tries to get the colour. I was going to be okay. It took me four and a few hints, but I got there. Then I lobbed mine across the room to the next person.

“Is it yellow?” she asked.

“Um, it wasn’t meant to be,” I said helpfully, “But maybe it changed colour on the way to you.”

“What colour did you mean for it to be,” asked the course teacher.

“Purple,” I squeaked.

“It was purple,” he said with finality.

Alrighty then.

Round two, was marginally better for me, but Ms PhD in Tarot couldn’t get the colour and lost her Zen. It was all everyone else’s and whatever planet is currently in retrograde’s fault. I caught a good eye roll from the ladies across the circle and stifled a smile behind a little cough (as one does).  

Mediumship is not all M. Night. Shyamalan, talking to dead people. In fact, you don’t have to talk to dead people at all. There are apparently all sorts of other ways to be a medium.

Jokes aside, it was a very illuminating session and I learned a lot. All the meditation did me good too.

Things I learned:

Find your strength.

Also, don’t let your ego write checks your body can’t cash.

Be patient.

Breathing

To do this, you have to breathe in at the back of your throat and out making a sort of “gghhh” noise. We sounded like a room full of pervy heavy breathers, but focusing on my breathing helped with some focus and a little less self-consciousness. When you’re in a room of strangers all going “gghhh” it’s a great leveler.

Grounding

The 5-minute tree technique

Take three deep breaths (the “gghhh” ones).

Visualise yourself as a tree.

Put your roots down deep and feel yourself becoming anchored to the Earth.

Focus on taking your stress and pushing it out of your feet and into the ground. (Yes, I know that roots suck in and not out, but it’s a bloody metaphor so go with it.)

Then suck in the energy of the Earth into your body, trunk – whatever.

This will create grounding energy around you that will affect everyone with you and help you avoid conflict.  

The exercise is meant to help you put ego aside and focus on the present so that pride doesn’t fuck with you.

Protection

Authenticity. The deal here is that you can’t be authentic in the light, without also being authentic in the dark. It’s not a black and white, good and evil thing. It’s just balance. You have to acknowledge and respect both sides of the coin.

In the morning

Take 3 “gghhh” breaths (I have to find a cool word for these).

Visualise a blue bubble of light around you.

Visualise a white bubble around the blue one.

Visualise hundreds of little flakes of mirror floating in between the two layers.

Say aloud, “Whatever negativity sent to me, I send back with unconditional love and harming none.”

It sounds pretty passive aggressive, but kill them with kindness, right?

In the evening

Do the “gghhh” breathing again.

Call the seven archangels to protect you as you sleep.

Archangel Michael to stand at my right.

Archangel Uriel to stand at my left.

Archangel Gabriel to stand before me.

Archangel Raphael to stand behind me.

Archangel Sandalphon to stand above me.

Archangel Tzakiel to stand below me.

Archangel Metatron to surround me.

Keep me safe in perfect love and perfect trust.

The golden rule

Use this when you sense something hinky nearby. (By that I mean non-corporeal entities, people.)  

Use a no nonsense, take no prisoners, Mother is talking voice, and say, “Do you walk in the light?” three times.

Basically, despite what I thought, hinky things from the dark side can’t tell an outright lie. So, they tend to say, “Oh bugger,” and go poof. And they don’t bring cookies.

Ritual consciousness

This is a good one, especially if, like me, you’re a nervous wreck of anxiety and looming panic for no reason. Taking a minute to just bring yourself towards yourself and pull up your big girl panties is never a bad thing.

Ritual consciousness is a state of hyper-awareness. It helps you be calmer, focused and creative. You can use this at any time, any day.

Do 3 “gghhh” breaths.

Visualise a countdown screen in front of you.

The countdown starts at 13 and moves to 1.

With each number remind yourself to relax and hold your awareness between your eyebrows.

And then go get ‘em, tiger.

Third eye exercises

  1. Light a candle and watch the flame. Gradually relax your eyes, do your ‘gghhh’ breathing and watch the energy expand from the flame.
  2. Ask someone (who will humour you) to stand in front of a white wall and stare at a space above their shoulder. As your eyes relax, you should start to see a shimmer of energy around them.
  3. Hide under the duvet. Rub your hands together and as you pull them apart stare at the space between your hands. Do not, I repeat, do not, fart.

The last I time I had a medium do a reading for me, she told me that my great-granny said that I made her tomato sandwiches wrong. It’s probably the most accurate reading I’ll ever receive.

It sure sounds like my family. We’re the type who’ll manifest from the other side just to tell our great grandchild that their ass looks fat in those jeans.

Anyway, it isn’t the jeans, it’s the size of my ass.

The flat earth and unicorns

I thought the flat earth was an internet meme. One of those stupid conspiracy things.

No-one really believes that the earth is flat. Do they?

And then I was proved wrong.

A teary daughter arrived home from school devastated after a blazing row with a friend in the school yard.

The argument:

Dinosaurs aren’t real.

The Earth is a flat disk.

The sun and moon orbit the flat Earth.

Gravity is not a thing.

And, here’s the kicker…

Unicorns are real.

“That’s okay if you believe that,” said the daughter, “But, I know dinosaurs existed, the Earth is, in fact, a globe, we are not the center of the universe and gravity doesn’t care if you believe in it or not, it’s just there. And… unicorns are mythological creatures. Currently, we have no proof that they exist or fart rainbows.”

To start with, I found it amusing. Until the reality of it dawned on me.

Here is a bright, intelligent young woman whose mind is already closed off to the enormity of the world and universe in which we live.

It’s pointless trying to argue facts against dogma. Every day we discover new things about our world that challenge how we see ourselves and our place in it. Once you discover something, you can’t simply undiscover it just because you don’t like it.

I’d like unicorns to be real, who wouldn’t? If we discover their existence in a multiverse that would be awesome.

However, you can’t believe they exist in an alternate reality if you think that the Earth is a dinner plate.

Close encounters of the WTF kind

If you attract what you put out in the world, I must be putting out some very crazy vibes.

I can say this with confidence, because I seem to have a magnetic attraction for batshit crazy.

I imagine that most people go to a party, meet someone and bond over the rugby score or a shared love of Chilean Chardonnay. Not me.

I walk in the door and I can pick out the crazy with unerring accuracy and make a subconscious beeline right for it. Think of it like Gaydar, only more Psychodar. Some people have it, some people don’t. I can’t tell you someone’s sexual preference, but I can tell you if they’re a couple of crayons short of a rainbow. This is easy, because they walk right up to me and start oversharing.

Case in point: The Alien Sex Fiend

About 5”9, wearing the nondescript uniform of the suburbs (chinos and a blue shirt), leaning nonchalantly against the bar, stood a man of about 35. Perfectly normal on the outside. A barrel of monkeys hidden behind his mild-mannered exterior.

I should have known the moment I saw him drinking a long, tall glass of Strawberry Lips. (if you don’t have this where you are, be thankful. It’s the alcohol equivalent of Indecent Obsessions’ vocal version. It’s described as gold tequila mixed with strawberry cream liquor.)

Regardless, I missed the cues, largely because I was fascinated by his ability to down the pink concoction like it was a milkshake (that would be Cue 1).

While I helped myself to a much more conservative cider, he kicked off the conversation.

“I work in a dynamite factory.”

Cue 2.

This was not an ordinary opening gambit. I was intrigued.

“Some people have a life filled with challenges, but you’re one of those people who have an easy life. (PAUSE). That’s okay. They say that you’ve earned it.”

Cue 3.

Who said that?

From here on out it was a swan dive into the rabbit hole.

“I’m sorry if I sometimes stop talking. I have to stop to listen to the Greys. If I ignore them, they just talk louder.”

Okay.

Wait. What does Strawberry Lips have in it? LSD? Bath Salts?

“The CIA wants to kill me. I have to make sure that I can get from one side of house to the other in case I have to escape.”

At this point, I was done for, transfixed and unable to tear myself away.

Also, he was on his second bottle of Strawberry Lips.

“My wife was a CIA spy and she set me up to be kidnapped and experimented on.”

Grounds for divorce?

Let me contextualise. We live in South Africa, not South Carolina. The CIA have about as much interest in this small suburban enclave as a sperm whale has in a minnow.

“I may have to run at any time.”

Not, with that much alcohol in you, you won’t.  

Then things went even too far for me.

“I can’t wait for us to have sex in the astral plane. It’s not cheating when we share such a deep spiritual connection.”

Wait! WHAT?

This was one cue I couldn’t have missed. I diverted to the bathroom and out the back door, stopping only to impress on the host that he would never, even under torture from the Greys, reveal my contact information.

A few weeks afterwards, I got a call from the party host with an update.

The Alien Sex Fiend crashed through his bedroom window, leapt over the wall separating their houses, barreled through their home, jumped the gate and ran down the road. Did I mention that he was stark naked and waving a bread knife?

I guess that’s why we have the phrase, stark, raving mad.

In retrospect, perhaps I should have told him to visit stopalienabductions.com to find out how to make a tin foil hat.

The poltergeist

My teenager (one of them) is a poltergeist.

Mainly invisible, his presence is only made known by the movement and disappearance of items in the kitchen, a damp towel on the floor and by following the occasional screams from his siblings.

He shuns the light, preferring to live as a denizen of the darkness, rising at night to pilfer snacks and stomp through the house. Sometimes, you may hear the dulcet tones of YouTube, the clacking of a keyboard or the chiming of a WhatsApp notification.

I can only laugh. I was exactly the same. Teenage angst was my middle name. I lived entirely in my room, playing melodramatic, soul searching music and reading Nietsche (why?).

I haunted my home like a wraith, stopping to only to drop pearls of wisdom in front of the ignorant swine that were my parents. (Sorry, parents, but it’s just a metaphor).

They could never understand the depth of emotion that I was feeling, how put upon by the world I was and how it was impossible for them to ever plumb the depths of the trauma of being such a spiritually enlightened teenager.

Now, I erupt in gales of laughter with my long-suffering parents over my utter self-indulgence, but it’s all part of being a teenager.

So, I’ll let him sleep and dwell on the deep existential questions of his time. I’ll stock up on snacks and feed him on demand. Periodically, like some hothouse plant, I’ll drag him into the sunlight and open the curtains of his room.

One day he will emerge like a butterfly and hopefully not as a twinkly vampire with illusions of grandeur.

In all honesty, I’m quiet enjoying it. It makes a difference from his younger years when I was unable to pee by myself.

Of course, these days, the only downside is that his poltergeist senses can sniff out a hidden chocolate bar like a beagle can a fox.

Jack and Jill went up the hill…

 

Falling down the stairs

Jack and Jill went up the hill…

Except that his name wasn’t Jack, it was James. And her name wasn’t Jill either. And the pail was a cup of coffee.

Okay, aside from the tumbling down the hill, our stories don’t have much more in common.

Perhaps, ‘Pride comes before a fall’, would be more accurate.

I was on top of my morning. I was up in the dark to take Firstborn to training. I was even dressed and not in my pyjamas. I don’t know why I bothered.

I strode down the dark stairs to the garage toting my cellphone in one hand and my brand-new coffee cup in the other.

And then I wasn’t.

Then, like Alice, I fell.

There was no white rabbit, but a lot of slow motion.

I could have put my coffee cup down on the way.

I didn’t realise just how many steps there were, until I hit each one on the way down.

Every single, bone jarring one.

I ended up, a crumpled heap, in the small space between the last step and the door.

Firstborn leapt lightly like a gazelle down to where I lay in numb humiliation.

“Are you okay? Are you okay? Mom!”

“Ow.”

And the dog quivered in laughter.

He got me back on my feet, rescued the cellphone and I got into the car and drove him to training.

And the trainer overslept and didn’t arrive.

Asshole.

By the time we got home again, my knee looked like some distorted genetics experiment and my leg had locked up like a mannequin.

The skinny jeans are now artfully ripped in such a way that if I bought them like that, I would’ve paid twice the amount.

I was peeled out of their remains and got back into my lounge pants, aka my pyjamas, and a pair of fluffy slippers.

And then I went to work.

In my PJs and my fluffy slippers.

Too a client presentation.

I had a severe case of FML.

Limping upstairs to our tame chiropractor and sports rehab office, a lovely young lady said she’d take a look.

I’ve now reached an age when I could have given birth to the medical professionals treating me.

This sweet girl, with her dewy fresh skin and caring smile has the hands of a demon lord.

I didn’t cry when I fell down the stairs, but I cannot lie, my eyes did prickle as she kneaded around my knee cap.

Anyhow she strapped my knee up with neon pink tape that looks quite jazzy and sent me home saying “Avoid stairs and don’t drive.”

I looked at her with the eyes of middle-aged mother of three and thought about saying something like, “You don’t have children do you? One day you’ll know that lying with your leg up, not driving and avoiding stairs in a house built on the side of a mountain with three teenagers running wild is about as impossible as teaching pigs to fly.”

But I bit my tongue and just nodded.

Then I went home, dug out Great-Granny’s cane and hobbled up the stairs to make dinner.