Grant Clark laments being made to exercise
Muffin top…moi? | Photo: Tonya Hester

‘It is a well-established fact that Exercise and I are not particularly good friends. I would say that we view each other with suspicion. I’m not entirely sure what Exercise is really up to and, frankly, I question its supposed altruistic motives. Exercise, in turn, views me as belligerent and unsatisfactorily soft in the middle. Unfortunately for me, TLJ (The Lovely Jacs) and my girls think Exercise is brilliant. In my mind, this is a strong argument for the superiority of male thinking. According to TLJ, I am a misogynist (I think they make furniture), and I am belligerent and unsatisfactorily soft in the middle.

The other day she turned to me and said, ‘Muffin Top!’ I replied, ‘Yes please!’, enthusiastically thinking I was actually going to get the top part of a muffin, which really is the best bit. I was handed nothing delicious and instead TLJ persisted with her mantra of ‘Muffin Top’ while pointing at my midriff. I had to Google it afterwards. Have you seen the pictures that come up on Google if you search muffin top?! Don’t do it. It’s enough to put you off muffins for life. I am most certainly not one.

Anyway, that’s how my girls got me into the water. They convinced me surfing was the way to go. I would shed my alleged (but still denied) muffin top in no time, and be instantly cool at the same time. And in any event, how hard could it be? They taught Keanu Reeves to do it in that Point Break movie and, according to heat magazine, he isn’t the shiniest spoon in the dishwasher.


So this is how I found myself squeezed into an inappropriately tight black sausage casing on Muizenberg Beach. As I looked around at other similarly encased people, it dawned on me that had I chosen to lie down on the beach for a brief rest, I would have looked remarkably like a beached seal or even a very small athletic whale. This was particularly concerning for the simple reason that above my head fluttered a flag with a picture of a shark on it. I was told the flag was there to let me know that conditions were such that while probably hundreds of sharks were out there waiting for me, the people assigned and paid to see them couldn’t.

As I discussed this with TLJ, she suggested I was being a giant sissy, and that according to posters at the aquarium, toasters kill more people every year than sharks do. Well, that may be the case, but given the choice I think I’d still rather go down in a blaze of glory fighting an enraged toaster than as an amuse-bouche to Jaws. Going into the water cunningly disguised as a shark’s favourite meal really didn’t seem like such a good idea to me. TLJ told me to suck it up and that, anyway, there was a siren which sounded if anyone saw a shark. When I tried to point out that the black flag above my head meant no one was going to see the shark until it was too late, she called me Muffin Top again. Jeez.

stupid sharks

Well, the whole thing didn’t go well. The board TLJ rented for me was broken and didn’t work at all. Her board was brilliant and she had these long cool rides, while mine just made me look stupid. On top of that, it took me ages to paddle out to where TLJ was and when I got there she disappeared, leaving me alone in the deep water surrounded by millions of sharks trying to figure out what type of seal I was before they ate me. Then my worst fear came true and the shark siren went off. I screamed in a pitch slightly higher than the siren and paddled for my life. I think I was still paddling 10 metres up the beach and about to enter the parking lot when an embarrassed-looking teenage boy (not even my kid and he was embarrassed!) pointed out that I’d reacted to a passing train hooter. Why did they build the beach so close to the station anyway? Stupid trains. Stupid sharks. Stupid teenage boys. Stupid muffins.

I’ve been told I’ll have to go back and, until I do, TLJ and the girls are going to keep calling me Muffin Top. Which I think is very unfair, and also kind of makes me want a muffin.’

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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