Three tens and seven.
Three shy of two score.
Three dozen, plus one.
Thelathini na saba.
There is no way to make 37 sound good, is there? It feels like a transition number, the number between 36 (product of 3 and therefore all kinds of meaning attached) and 40 (the point at which I really must stop drinking cask wine in the bar. What? Don’t judge me, I am nothing if not cheap…). 37 sounds like a knock-off, right? In college we had Club 36 (everyone reading this who was in Main Campus back in the day just smiled, yes?), and then some idiot came along and set up Club 37 and we were like, ‘No, no, no! Don’t fuck with the original, man…’ 37 doesn’t even roll off the tongue proper, especially for an idiot like me with MTI (mother tongue interference). I keep getting the urge to drop the ‘ven’ at the end but ‘thaate seeeee’ makes no sense. This number is not working for me. I propose to remain at 36 until I get to 39, or just jump right ahead to 39 and kill this vibe for the next three years. All in favour say aye…
Then again (yes, there’s always a then again), 37 degrees Celsius is the normal body temperature, which in theory makes it a significant number, no? No, not really. It’s still a dubious number, but at least now I know it serves a purpose. Next time someone asks me how old I am, I’ll tell them I’m as old as I am hot. Then I’ll watch them struggle to decipher my riddle, hoping that they (a he in this case) don’t say something silly like, ‘You’re so hot you must be really old, baibee…’ On second thoughts, I won’t use that line.
Listen to me, baby
Hear ev’ry word I say
No one could love you the way I do
‘Cause they don’t know how to love you my way
You give me fever…
I have only one grey hair still. Save for the ‘laugh lines’ around my eyes, aka wrinkles, I don’t see that age in the mirror. I know I keep saying this, but I really don’t feel as old as I am. I sound my age when I speak out loud, although that has more to do with peculiar reading habits and a lifetime of overindulgence in, shall we say, legal drugs, but I suspect I don’t really look it, seeing as how I’m in dodgy jeans pretty much always, and not those expensive designer jeans mature women with serious jobs wear, the ones that are always pressed and never faded, I mean regular jeans, always wrinkled and sometimes frayed. A couple of months back, I was going through photos from around 1999 with a friend from college and he remarked, ‘You haven’t changed at all!’ My first response was a big grin, because I was somewhat smaller back then, but not by much (don’t worry, I’m not saying I’m skinny now, I’m saying I was not much skinnier back then…). Then I looked at the picture again and frowned. In the photo I was wearing random jeans and a shirt, tackies, hair pulled back into what would be a pig tail if I was white, and a quick glance in the mirror told me I was wearing almost the exact same ensemble, except the tackies have since been replaced with flip flops. Now either I have a distinct sense of style that is timeless…I shall pause to give you time to laugh at me…or I am stuck in a time warp, and I do not look my age. I don’t look like I’ve grown up.
Is this a bad thing?
When we’re kids we keep being told, ‘When you grow up…’ When we’re in our misguided 20’s, ‘You need to grow up…’ In your 30’s, ‘You’ve grown up now…’ I assume in our 40’s and beyond it becomes, ‘You’re too grown up for that now…’ Thing is, who decides what’s grown up? I think men who drink all weekend haven’t grown up, but I know many older, grown men who do exactly that. I think women obsessed with the car their date drives need to grow up, but I have older friends who call me to tell me their hubby has a new car. I lie, I don’t have friends like that, but my friends do and they tell me it happens so… I think people who believe, believe I tell you, that their employer truly cares for their well-being are naïve idiots in need of a serious reality check, the likes of which you can only get from living a few more years. Then I meet a 50 something year old career bureaucrat who thinks his employer has taken such exemplary care of him for so many years, he can’t imagine working for anyone else, ever. Old age and wisdom are not synonymous, is my point, and growing up is not nearly as essential as they make it sound.
I think it’s a ruse.
I think ‘grow up’ is used to get us to conform to whatever acceptable standards someone else thinks we should meet. You don’t want to settle down and get married? Grow up, you won’t be young forever. You don’t want kids? Grow up, stop being selfish. You don’t want a stable 9 to 5 job with a secure income? Grow up, you need to buy a house. You want to party like it’s 1999, every year? You really need to grow up, your liver won’t last much longer. You want to keep reading Harry Potter novels, or watching The Expendables? Grow up, get some interests that suit your age. (Slight detour. Expendables 3. Fuck yes! Detour over.) You want to take time off for a month and see the world, or something like it? Grow up, you have a family to take care of. Grow up, grow up, grow the fuck up.
I went for karaoke, my pre birthday ritual for three years now. I didn’t tell anyone of this brilliant plan, even as I was meeting a pal I am proud to say I have converted to the dubious exercise of singing off key in front of strangers. Hang on, this pal deserves special mention. This lovely gentleman has featured on these here pages previously. Remember Obadiah? He of the romantic sensibilities quite unlike my own. I first took him to the almost local last year, and despite his continued insistence that he was unwilling and unable to sing, at round about 3 a.m. I recall him doing a stirring rendition of ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’. He’s reading this right now and frowning, worried that I’m about to mulika him further. You damn skippy I’ll mulika your ass, my friend, you need to tell that ‘very good friend’ of yours you dragged along that you penda her ass like a nonsense. Useless bugger pretending he’s not smitten…nkt! And then you both need to come back to the bar, ’twas a good night, no? And there you have it folks, this is what happens when you go drinking with a blogger, you end up on the interwebs.
Where was I?
I went out singing, such as I do, and because this year I was feeling like a boss (not really, but I’m a firm believer in the ‘fake it till you make it’ mantra), I had my friend John with me. Not too much John mind you, I am now reluctantly cognisant of the fact that my ageing body can no longer tolerate the alcohol the way it used to, which is to say these days tequila shots are not an option. And water is bought by the litre. I had some John, and I also had my heels on, because nothing says ‘do not fuck with me tonight’ better than heels, yes? Yes. Incidentally, I’ve seen the flaw in this plan, heels put your bosom and ass at just the right height for the wrong man sitting on a bar stool. Stand just so and the man can grab ass and boob at the same time. What the hell, man? I’m all for grabbing, but it is never the man you want to grab who grabs, is it? True story.
I should point out that I have John with me here right now. I am booze blogging, kinda. Don’t look at me like that. I assume that you always have a drink in hand when you read me. Trust me, I sound much better when you’re tipsy. I put that in as a joke, but I fear I may be right. Ah well…
So I was sitting at the counter, looking at the people around me, new friends and old friends, bar BFF’s and random strangers, a barman who knows more about my bank account than my accountant and a DJ who knows to play Bobby Brown at 2 am, just because. That was my birthday celebration, with people who had no clue it was a celebration of anything other than the fact it was Thursday. I had a fancy lunch thing with the family on the actual day, and it was brilliant, but that night, the random midweek plan, that was when I came to terms with 37. Always with the bloody 37…
Today’s soundtrack is a song I absolutely love to, and I use this term most loosely, sing, partly because it’s short, but mostly because it’s easy to use and abuse. You can sing ‘Fever’ pretty much however you want, and it will still sound good, that’s how good a song it is. I’ve heard June Gachui do a jazzy version that brings tears to my eyes. I remember the house/dance Madonna version from the 90’s and the classic Ella version I first heard in the early noughties. Sometime last year, the Wolf sent me the Buddy Guy version, waxing lyrical about the man, and after listening it’s hard to deny that it really is a most excellent cover. But when all is said and done, the ‘original’ by Peggy Lee, that’s the shit. Yes people, the ‘original’ is not the original. Damn you google, damn you to hell! I’ve put up the Peggy Lee version, that’s the version almost everyone has covered, and understandably so, she did a version with modified lyrics and a laid back sound, sultry yet not. It’s quite restrained when you think about it. Thing is, and this should have been a dead give-away that this was not her song, a song about someone giving you fever should be anything but laid back. It needs to be kinda hot, no? (I do not mean to pun, and yet I do.) The original by Little Willie John is…well, it’s fever, no? Listen to it. It’s a smidgen faster, a little less fluffy (no Pocahantas nonsense story) and a lot more swing… If that’s not fever, then I don’t know what is.
When you kiss me
Fever when you hold me tight
Fever (fever, burn through) in the mornin’
An’ fever all through the night…
I think part of the reason I don’t feel 37 is because I’ve refused to ‘grow up’. I’m not immature, not really, I do have my moments, but don’t we all? I’m no longer naïve, if anything I’m too cynical. What it is is I reject the notion that my age should dictate the decisions I make. I figure, if I am old enough to vote, drive, fuck, reproduce, pay rent, pay tax, pay my bloody bill at the bar (for real though, young girls, pay your bloody tab, you’re making us all look bad…), pay for my hair and my jeans and my flip flops, if I am old enough to be responsible for people other than myself, be they employees or ageing parents or friends with more issues than I care to deal with most days, then I am old enough to say to hell with all the bullshit standards and limits they, whoever they are, try to impose on me. I’m not refusing to grow up, I’m simply asking, ‘And then?’ Say I wake up tomorrow the model of grown perfection, how will that change the price of your bread?
I didn’t think so.
I realise that at my age birthdays usually aren’t a cause for celebration, what with the encroaching middle aged status of over 40 fast approaching. That combined with the lack of the requisite house in the leafy suburbs with husband and 2.5 children to match; and the ka-plot in shags with 5 cows, 25 chicken and 3 goats; and the lifetime membership of Women’s Guild; and the successful business and/or career that takes me around the country/world; and the alleged peace of mind that comes from having everything you’ve ever wanted, save for the house by the beach. At 37, as a single woman with next to no prospects and next to no inclination to look for any, one might say my life is somewhat unfulfilled. At 37, one might say that I am fast approaching the point of no return, the point at which the promise of youth gives way to the meaningless obscurity of old age.
One might say that, but I wouldn’t.
I would say that 37 is the time you stop counting the years, because it’s such a silly sounding number you can’t help but ignore it, normal body temperature notwithstanding…
Bless my soul, I love you
Take this heart away
Take these arms I’ll never use
An’ just believe in what my lips have to say
You give me fever…
Little Willie John. Go figure.