Sunday, 27 July 2014

Say Yes to the Dress...

Planning something as epic as your wedding day can be just as joyous as the day you decided to say yes. Who knew that a proposal as sweet as any would essentially become the first official step along this rollercoaster ride known as wedding planning?

While most girls have had their special day figured out since the day they could walk in their mother’s heels, modern day career girls have been too busy living their lives to give a proverbial hoot about their big day. The whole concept is quite an overwhelming mindset to consider. There’s the catering and the samples, the colour schemes and bridesmaids dresses. The venue and possible accommodation options, invitations and save the dates, the wedding cake.  The vows and the Vicar, the guest list and the gifts. And yes, oh yes, the perfect dress.  With so much matrimonial mayhem to coordinate before the big event, is it any wonder why so many brides-to-be turn into vile versions of Bridezilla? What’s a bride to do? 

They say that behind every great bride there has to be a great bridesmaid, and fortunately for Brenda, she had not one; not two, but five amazing bridesmaids. Five belles of the ball at her beck and call, each one with their own strength and responsibility that would essentially guide and assist Brenda through all these tedious choices in the months to come. Brenda was a less-is-more kind of girl and if she had her way, she would have married in court yesterday but alas, even she knew that certain ceremonials had to be considered to keep everyone happy. What would become of Brenda in the next five months? Would she rise above the stresses and pressures that came with planning the perfect wedding or would she lash out at the slightest sign of imperfection? 

Fortunately for the Bridesmaids of West Coast Village, Brenda was anything but your typical Bridezilla beast. No, she was probably what you’d call the anti-Bridezilla; cool, calm and most definitely collected.  If anything, it was her honorary self-appointed head Bridesmaid with OCD that required anxiety medication to overcome the fact that Brenda had so much to do in so little time. With only 5 months away from the ceremony, Brenda’s Bridesmaids had to find inventive ways of getting her A into G, and what better way to build up the pending excitement than trying on a couple of dresses...

It was a chilly Saturday morning when the four bridesmaids of West Coast Village decided to meet up at Bridal Boutique for Brenda’s first official dress fitting. Five dresses, four bridesmaids (the fifth would tune in on skype), one Bride and one hour. What felt like mission impossible turned out to be the perfect solution for a bride that had no idea where to begin. With a little help from the shop owner and her assistant, Charlotte, Miranda, Annie and I felt like we were in our own private episode of “Say Yes to the Dress”.

The welcome bubbles helped set the tone and calmed Brenda’s nerves who had no idea what to expect.  It wasn’t long before we found ourselves immersed in a movie montage sequence of crushed lace, organza and A-line waist drops.  

Seeing herself in a wedding dress made her realise that shit just got real, and even though none of the five selections had the X-factor, it gave Brenda a wake-up call and some insight into what she could and couldn’t pull off. “We’re not 22 anymore, hey!” Miranda playfully jibed as we ruled out the possibility of the open boob tube. Dress #2 ruled out any kind of champagne sash or rosette while dress #4 opened up Brenda’s mind to the possibility of having a princess cut, a look she had never dreamed of pulling off. She loved the lace and oh boy did she look flawless in a full length veil.   

While Brenda twirled and posed for “Happy Bride” selfies, she started to appreciate the amazing support she had before her. While she may not have a clear idea as to what her perfect dress might be, she had five amazing friends that would never allow her walk down the aisle looking like an oversized cupcake. “Your time is up!” That was quick. Knowing that Brenda would need a snack on her way to the next location, I quickly shoved a handful of complimentary Lindt balls inside my purse.
When it comes to all the fuss and muss that goes with wedding planning, I couldn’t help but wonder, why all this stress when it comes to a dress?        

Thursday, 17 July 2014


In this fast-paced world of information technology and ubiquitous upgrades, survival of the fittest depends on our ability to keep up with the ever-changing times. It’s a mutinous battlefield out there where the old and faithful are often replaced with new and shinier versions of the same gizmo designed to make our lives simpler, better and sometimes faster. Walk-men, wedding invitations, VHS, vinyl and print media. All it takes is one generation to render another obsolete, and while most things in this digital day and age are as quickly discarded as they are packed, shelved and sold, how does one remain relevant within these rapid waves of innovation?

It’s a tale as old as the floppy disk: Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy has mid-life crisis and cheats on wife with younger woman. Boy leaves wife for younger home-wrecker who in turn leaves him for someone richer and older, until one day it’s too late for him to realise that he made the biggest mistake of his life. Unlike modern-day technology, some men are incapable of advancing into higher forms of intelligence. They become temporarily blinded by visions of their former youths, a fantasy that got lost somewhere along the way as a result of being with you. Like Blu Ray, they require something a bit more visually stimulating, and even though the clarity of a care-free single life sounds far more appealing, it’s only a matter of time before they realise they’ve: same shit, different package.

In a perfect world the ex would die a lonely death and call for you at his deathbed whispering regrets about you being the best thing that ever happened to him, but in reality, being tossed aside and traded in for a newer, younger model can have devastating side-effects. Not only is your confidence and self-esteem tried and questioned, but for the first time in a long time, you find yourself alone in a dating matrix that now seems so foreign to you; a digital space where conventional modes of courtship no longer seem current.

Friday night at the Ruby Bar brought together all sorts of fabulous gays and gals, single, coupled and aged between 28 and 40. It was happy hour which meant cocktails were cheap and conversation was dirty. By the time I sank into my third glass of Boschendal Blanc de Noir, the conversation had switched over to something called Tinder. At first I thought they were talking about Ke$ha and Pitbull’s latest single, but it didn’t take long before I realised exactly what was app...

“It’s the heterosexual version of Grinder, love. The mobile dating application? You have heard of it, right? It came out the same time Ricky Martin did.”

My gayest of all Minute-Maid Marcy, had just opened my eyes and ears into another dimension. To me, it seemed like online dating on steroids but to hopeful singles everywhere, it was an addictive catalyst to one-night stands, promising potentials and even second chances. I couldn't believe it. Some genius had actually created a smart phone app that could detect respective homo and heterosexual prospects within a specific radius of one’s location. And you could pinpoint them too! A mosaic of bite-sized profiles divided into tribes and groups, likes and dislikes, dating expectations and chat windows, complete with a mini-visual all for your convenience.

“Yip. This is what it’s come down to. It's fun at first but it can also get tiring.” I had met Sasha that evening, a 40-year old divorcee, professional athlete who reminded me of Carrie Bradshaw. She’s one of those many incredible gals that leaves you wondering, ‘how the hell can you still be single?’ “The worst is when you start chatting to a guy you like prior to any kind of real date. You start chatting, and really hit it off and you probably start liking him a bit more than you should, only for him to do a complete Houdini on your ass. Poof. Like that. Gone. That’s when you realise that you were probably one of ten chicks he was chatting to. Don’t worry. Online rejection is nowhere near as bad as the real thing.”

Had online dating evolved into the next generation making traditional dating conventions dated and prehistoric? Were such high-tech modifications easy to adapt to and if so, how does one navigate through all the lies and bullshit? My knowledge on the subject was clearly limited to the online horror stories I’d read about catfish killers and NSA PDA’s in the back of rusty Chevrolets, but perhaps there was more than meets the "i". Was it more than just sex? Did conventional dating methods need to evolve in order to survive? Could we really find love in a cyber space?

Marcy and Kevin did. Lauren and Jerry did. "I know it seems daunting and very new age for most people especially the older generations but anyone that can send an sms can certainly mac this shit. It's all about adapting. Old-school dating is like Betamax. It's Vintage." Oh Marcy. "I know the perception out there is that it's all about sex, which it can be, but it really is what you want it to be. Our first conversation on Grinder went something like this: "Hey. Musc? Yeah. *Dick Pic* Hook up? Fuck yeah. Cum over!" For real. And now look at us. Three years down the line, still going strong and couldn't be happier."  

When it comes to being single in a digital world, I couldn’t help but wonder, what was the download?    

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Godfather: Part 1

When you grow up in a strong Catholic household, being asked to become someone’s godparent is something that’s not to be taken lightly. Not only are you responsible for a child’s care in the unlikely and unthinkable event that anything should happen to the parents but you are also responsible for the spiritual guidance and growth of this tiny individual who at this point knows nothing more than boob, sleep and poop. While most godparents abandon their pious duties the minute the squirming infant gets dunked and freed of original sin, there are some that actually stay well beyond the buffet brunch.  Accepting the title is almost as important as making the decision and commitment itself, which is why every parent should consider their choice wisely…

It’s very rare to have a sibling that would literally die for you. Ever since I was little, the only person I could trust whole-heartedly was my youngest sister, Jasmine. No matter what predicament I found myself in, and there have been many, Jazz would be there without a doubt or question. From bailing me out of DUI’s in my wasted youth to standing up for me even when her own moral fibre was being tested, Jazz was and always will be my hero and protector.  Of course our rivalries weren’t short of tears and bloodshed, but there was never an issue big enough that we could not overcome.  

At the back of my cynical mind I kept thinking that her eternal kindness would one day come at a price. I always felt this way about my sister or anyone that showed kindness; mainly because of my resistance to the concept of unconditional love but also because my sister was the kind of good that I could never be. You don’t get something for nothing you know, and even though my sister did more for me than I could ever do for her, I couldn’t help but wonder….would she eventually expect something in return and if she did, would I be as able and willing to say yes? 

“Well, my friend, are you ready to do me this service?” The Godfather came to mind recently when my sister asked if I would accept the position of being Izzy’s godparent. Any normal, rational sibling would have said yes, but in a family full of potential Emmy nominees, I simply said, “can I get back to you on that?” Yes. The look of horror on her face mirrored my mothers. Just another disappointment I guess. 

Here it was. The one thing my sister asked me to do for her and I couldn’t even say yes.  You’d think after all those years of being my personal bodyguard, assistant and in a way, my only true godparent, I would have jumped at the honour. Instead, I found myself questioning her motives. Why me? Is it simply because I was her sibling, or was it because she truly thought me competent of taking on such an important role? How could she entrust me with such an important duty?

I found the situation slightly ironic considering that my sister, a devout Catholic (but also human) would ask me, a fallen angel to take over the reins of her daughter’s secular journey. On the one hand I did not want to disappoint her (which is why I said yes, then no, but yes, then no) but on the other I certainly wasn’t ready to take on such a significant responsibility. I was in a lot of ways still a child myself in need of spiritual guidance, and didn’t feel as if I was in the position to pass down any kind of wisdom, especially when it came to the big G. My over opinionated stance on religion would only end up disappointing my sister as it had our father the day I decided to become agnostic. Surely my sister could see this. Surely she wanted to immerse Izzy in the same belief pools and values as her own? Was she following her heart again?   

After careful consideration and much debate, I decided to decline my sister’s offer. Of course, she did not take it well at first but I know she’ll understand one day.  “No hard feelings”, she said. Well that only made me feel even more wretched for not being able to grant my sister the one thing she had ever asked me. Had I said yes, it would have purely been out of love for her and not the child, who I was still learning to love. Perhaps there was an underlying jealousy, a subconscious envy that my protector had abandoned me in favour of her own flesh and blood. Either way, my acceptance would not have been the right decision. 

My dearest Izzy. One day, you will come across this post and wonder why I could reject the opportunity of being your godparent.  I will tell you because you asked and I will always be honest with you no matter how much the truth hurts sometimes. I know that you are going to grow up to be as kind and beautiful as your mother and I will be there as your fairy godmother to help reinforce what’s important in life.

I’ve never been one for titles but know that I will always be there for you…when a boy breaks your heart, I’ll be there. When some skitch gives you a hard time at school, I’ll be there. When you need a shoulder to cry on, I currently have two. When you and your mother fail to see eye-to-eye, you can look into mine. The love I have for you will be epic because of the endless love I have for your mother and you will be an example of that love. To quote one the best lines ever written: "Always remember: You is kind. You is smart. You is important."     

When it comes to choosing the ideal godparent, should we decide with our head or with our heart?

Thursday, 3 July 2014

The Perfect Match

It takes a culinary genius to truly appreciate the delicate craftsmanship that goes into a good food and wine pairing. Most of us, myself included, simply nod in agreement when a wine connoisseur questions our ability to detect the subtle hints of green peppers and figs in his latest vintage of his Sauvignon Blah. To be honest, all I've ever smelt was alcohol and a guaranteed good time ahead, but just like any good Merlot or block of Grana Padamo, our tastes and maturity become more refined and discernible with age. It takes quite a bit of swirling and swishing, sniffing and sampling before we are able to find that perfect blend, a balance between an individually unique flavour and someone else's intensity.

Grilled fish with Sauvignon Blanc. Slow roasted pork belly with a hearty Cabernet. Oysters and Champagne. If only the same guidelines that apply to gastronomy could apply to romance, imagine how easy it would be to find our own perfect match. But alas, love does not always provide the perfect combination first time around. It’s far more complex and often requires a bit of searching before the ideal fit can be found. Most of the time, romance can leave a bitter taste, but for the lucky few that are brave enough to stomach and endure the ups and downs, finding a soul mate to compliment one’s own personality can be well worth the wait.

There's nothing like a little couples weekend in some remote wine country to get one's inspiration going. Christmas in July was upon us and what better way to spend it than with the love of your life in a romantic retreat nestled far away in the hidden valley known as Tulbagh. Over hill and over river we went, through vast landscapes of muddy dirt roads and acres of deep forestation. The two hour trek was well worth the wait, as most things in life generally are, as we approached the gates of this magnanimous guesthouse situated in the middle of nowhere. Guinevere was her name and she would be our host for the next two nights of fine wining and dining.

Love was literally all around us, from old love to new love, rekindled love and still desperately searching love, but the couple that stood out the most was definitely Brenda and Tommy. With only months away from their wedding date, it was refreshing to see a young couple that truly complimented each other in every single way.  My first reaction to their engagement was tears, a horrible habit I had picked up whenever one of my single girlfriends expressed so much joy. I guess Miranda was right…when you know, you know.

Whether they were tears of happiness or tears of sorrow, I envied them for their evident compatibility. From their morning symphonies in methane minor to the way in which they kept each other guessing, it was apparent that these two individuals were clearly fermenting in each other's love. Even in their bickering which would usually annoy the shit out of me, there was a sense of tolerance and comfort. Yes, they pushed buttons and constantly tested one another's patience, but even their quarrelling seemed cute. Was it pre-marital bliss that made them the “it” couple to be or had they finally found the yin to each other’s yang?

I looked to my own relationship which at present felt a bit like chalk and cheese. My relationship was less than perfect but still preserved in bitter sweet love. So many opportune moments presented themselves this weekend to rekindle a romantic flame that once burned so brightly, all ruined by my own sour disposition. It certainly wasn’t Aiden. It was me. I had tasted love so many times before that I’d actually grown intolerant to its entangled essence. Why was I so afraid to let it back in? 

Looking at these two peas in their pod, I wanted so badly to have what Brenda and Tommy had found. The sad thing is that I had been there before; that place where an innocent game of head stand or thirty seconds turns into a laughing fit, where mockery of one's flaws was done in jest and not in pain, where laughter was louder than any snore humanly possible. Do relationships need to go through a bad vintage before it can produce something fruitful or are some couples simply more compatible than others?  

No matter how cynical love can make us feel, we cannot deny that some people are simply meant to be together. When you see it in others, appreciate it and look to it as a sign of hope. Whether your existing pairing requires a bit more maturity and nurturing or whether you're still searching for something to whet your romantic appetite, it's out there. You just have to keep that heart open like it's your very own test kitchen.     

When it comes to perfect matches, how do we know if he's the Brie to our Chardonnay?