I generally divide family occasions into 3 main categories: compulsory with low voltage which generally include: birthdays and anniversaries, compulsory with a good chance of death and destruction which always include: Christmas, funerals and divorce after – parties, and cracker- lekker which is any event that includes willing parties attending an afternoon of either catching up or celebrating an important event.
Fortunately the ‘Baboon Ball’ was just such an event ! We were gathering in Scarborough and were being hosted by a wonderful couple – Let’s call them the ‘Earth Angel’ and ‘ The Dude’.
The occasion was officially my new niece’s (The Doc’s) 26th Birthday – and unofficially the extended family reunion and catch up.
For those of you that know me, also know that my M.O. for family events is the last minute cancellation. I’m hectically Anti -social, and pathologically lazy after 2 in the afternoon. We’d spent the morning dragging our bored children around the Hout Bay market, in the docks, in the pouring rain.
Driving all the way to Scarbs which is about 4 days outside of Cape Town at the other end of a hazardous mountain pass patrolled by rapid toll collectors and surfers – while dodging falling rocks, was definitely NOT on my to-do list. I wanted nothing more than to be left to die in peace.
So by the time we arrived in cold and overcast Scarbs I was tired, grumpy and frozen – perfect cancellation circumstances or so I thought!
Of course the universe being what it is, conspired against me, and within minutes of arriving the sun burst out and burnt the mist and fog away to reveal the town in all it’s magnificence.
So with my baboon radar on high alert and clutching my daughters’ completely non-nutritious mac and cheese TV dinner I decided to attempt to get over myself and have fun.
Now the house we were going to was built high into the mountains by The Earth Angel and The Dude, and on its own would have been the perfect setting for our party, but when we arrived we found that my cousin Speedy and The Scarby’s had decided to up –the- ante and set this incredible table complete with The Docs name spelt out in shells on a board, mussel shells on the plates and colour everywhere!
So armed with a glass of vino and a ciggy things were definitely looking up!
Now being part Scottish, part Jewish and all the way single mother I was expecting something simple – crayfish and a little bubbly. I underestimated the Scarby’s.
They had gone down in the morning and hand – picked mussels off the rocks for our starter…….really! My sister Stretch had made a strawberry salad you would sell your kids for, there was garlic bread, crayfish and yellowtail (which we never got to) and for dessert we gorged on Lemoncello and bubbly.
We even had this terrifying but rather delicious Irish coffee to round it all off.
Stretch’s kids – Wheels and Doc were in heaven eating all this new and exciting food for the first time.
My daughter, ‘The Diva’, ate her mac and cheese………..
Now in – between all the gorging there was the conversation, and actually and eventuall , the point of this story.
All I knew about baboons was what I’d read in the papers -‘dangerous, violent, crazed creatures who smashed and destroyed’. At different times in the afternoon The Dude and The Earth Angel had spoken to me about these creatures with such respect and understanding that I realised that I had created a massive fear and loathing based on a complete lack of knowledge. The question was where else had I made this same mistake. Later in the evening I caught myself whining about my life and how I hadn’t achieved anything boohoohoo…….and I realised that again I had chosen fear and was reaping the rewards. While glancing over at my daughter half – heartedly scoffing her mac and cheese I saw a third area where I had given up without a fight, without the slightest effort – again based on fear.
Later my cousin Speedy went mad and decided to phone the overseas Scots and forced me to speak to them! Kill me now! I wanted to die, funnily enough I didn’t, and even stranger, once I had finished, I was actually feeling all warm and fuzzy- after all, I have looked for my family for the better part of 3 decades!
Most life changing moments are unexpected, and I guess it’s better that way, well it certainly is for me. The day was perfect, great friends and family, great food, beautiful setting and wonderful conversation. The true beauty however, was that when I least expected it, I learnt 3 very important lessons:
1: Always make Irish’s with dodgy cream – it’s far more interesting
2: Your life is the result of all of your choices – live consciously
3: If a baboon wants to rob you – let it!!!