Grant Clark reveals his struggle to keep his braai-pit* manly

(* readers abroad may care to learn that a braai is a barbeque but the latter term generally gets South Africans giggling in a superior manner, for reasons not always clear)

PHOTO: Tonya Hester

‘I’ve never claimed to be a big thinker, in fact to be perfectly honest with you, I try not to think at all if I can help it. I prefer to live by instinct, kind of half-untamed wild animal and half man, a sort of modern day manimal, if you will. I like to tap into my inner hunter and rely on my God-given instincts to get me through life. The Lovely Jacs (TLJ) says that thinking is probably too much effort for me, and if I tap into my inner manimal one more time and pee on her daffodils, she is going to cull me. And she calls herself a greenie!

Anyway, the point is this. I was recently called on to think when someone asked me how I managed to remain such a robust specimen of masculinity living in a house full of girls. Of course, raising three daughters has affected me. Probably one of the more disturbing changes I have noticed is that my one-liner references have changed. Arnold Schwarzenegger used to be my go-to one-liner guy. Whereas before my conversation was littered with Shwarzenisms such as I’ll be back or Hasta la vista baby, I now find that my one-liner guy is in fact… Judy Garland. Nary a day passes without me spouting an affected Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore (usually when I am lost while driving), which often graduates in a panic situation to There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home’. Quite when Judy insinuated herself into my life I am not sure, but I suspect prolonged exposure to The Wizard of Oz, a movie my girls adore, has not helped.

‘I know too much about ladies’ stuff’

Of course, TLJ hasn’t helped matters much either. I have way too much knowledge about ladies’ stuff in my head that is taking up valuable sport-trivia space. I’m fairly sure that as a man I’m supposed to think that a pashmina is some sort of Ukrainian rodent and that a GHD is a university qualification, yet I don’t, I know exactly what they are.

At least I have my braai, not one of those yuppy metal things that look like Sputnik. I’m talking about my fire pit at the bottom of the garden. The last stand of masculinity at our house! A place where if you return with your eyebrows unsinged, you haven’t done it properly! So what that my room is a girly colour? Sure, my duvet cover has a cherry blossom motif, and of course there’s no watching rugby when it clashes with a Barbie movie rerun,but I have my braai. My braai is where I’m king. It’s where I rule. It’s where Fat Face (my dog) and I can eat an entire big bag of NikNaks without any form of judgement. It’s where I can spill marinade and just leave it where it falls to petrify over time. It’s where I can drop meat on the floor and the five-second rule (pick it up quickly and the germs don’t stick) is still honoured, and sometimes extended arbitrarily without a vote. It’s where I can do what I do best think about absolutely nothing at all.

That being said, the girls did go to a lot of effort to plant all those flowers around my braai, and the Barbie cushions are very comfortable on those hard benches. I also did get that super Jamie Oliver recipe book for my birthday with that wonderful hummus recipe. It’ll make a great pre-braai snack.’

Grant Clark is an attorney specialising in maritime law.

He’s also a pastor at Common Ground Church, Constantiaberg, Cape Town.

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