What do you mean I’m going to die?

I’ve been doing a bit of adulting and I must say it’s heavily overrated. It started when I saw a doctor for a minor complaint and she began pointing out the importance of taking proper care of one’s body as one traverses this tragic vale of tears. Bit late for that, I thought. Bit rude, too, but then a lot of doctors are these days.

I sighed heavily and advised her against getting old. Her eyes narrowed. “Are you saying I should kill myself now?” That escalated quickly. I tried explaining but it wasn’t easy. I didn’t really know what I meant. I often speak without thinking. It’s a consequence of having read too many of Helen Zille’s tweets.

The doc made me realise that I might not, after all, be immortal. Some people realise this at a fairly young age but I have always been a late starter. You should have seen me do the 100m at school. I’d still be on my haunches when the winner crossed the finish line. Okay, it only happened once. I was waiting for a shongololo to move out of my lane.

You only really consider dying if you have some sort of game plan. You know those people. Perhaps you’re one of them. Right from leaving school, they have an idea of where they want to be in five, 10, 20 years. I lacked a plan because, well, I went into journalism, a profession that involves choices dictated not so much by careful consideration as by happy hours and unhappy relationships.

I frequently don’t know where I’m going to be in 20 minutes. It works for me. That sense of freedom engenders a sense of immortality. Unlike people with jobs, spouses and schedules, my not having to be anywhere or answer to anyone makes my brain believe that I will live forever. My body simply shrugs and goes along with it.

But then you go to the doctor, because this isn’t a toll-free lifestyle, and she tells you that you’re going to die at some point. I found this surprisingly easy to come to terms with. Perhaps because bottle stores were still open.

Then social media started yapping about it being National Wills Week and it all seemed like a massive conspiracy. Did I even have a will? I remember writing something on a serviette once. No, that was a confession. I don’t have a will. I do have a way, though. Especially with the ladies.

I doubt I’m alone in not having a will. Most people only ever think of these things in the context of their aging parents. One of the best ways of avoiding a pauper’s grave is to inherit enough money to get you to the end in relative comfort. Unless my father is hiding something from me, I’m not in this category. If anyone looks for me, I’ll be in a run-down corner of some or other crummy cemetery with a half-brick for a headstone and a cheap plastic rose faded by the sun.

The best thing about Wills Week was the hundreds of lawyers around the country offering their services for free. The Law Society of South Africa even provided a list with names and numbers. One of the aims of the campaign was to to “improve the image of the profession”. It certainly needs it, but, Jacob Zuma’s lawyers aside, I’m not sure that making us confront our own mortality is the way to do it. Then again, it is a free service and we all know that lawyers would sooner sell their first-born than do anything for free. So yeah, that improves their image right away.

I found a lawyer who lives nearby. Her dog tried to bite me as I entered the property. Fair enough. If I was a lawyer, I’d keep honey badgers, hornets and hyenas. The last thing you want is a defendant knowing where you live. Not that I was a defendant, although I did turn quite defensive when it came to listing my assets. She sat there with her pen poised, clearly expecting more, as did all of my schoolteachers, both of my ex-wives and every boss I’ve ever had. It’s not my fault people have unreasonably high standards.

“How about your body?” she said. I smiled coyly. “Not too bad, considering,” I said, wiggling my eyebrows. Did she want me to take my shirt off? Dammit, should’ve worn underwear. She coughed politely into her mask and said, “How would you like your remains disposed of?” Oh, right. Well, donating it to science was clearly out of the question.

“I’d like it strapped to my surfboard, drenched in tequila, pushed into the ocean and have my closest friends fire flaming arrows at me…” I noticed she had stopped writing at “strapped”.

That’s it, I said. Thanks for the help. The dog didn’t even bother getting up on my way out.

It’s not a proper pandemic unless there are zombies

Lockdown is a prison term. It’s when there is trouble afoot and convicts are restricted to their cells. There’s trouble alright, but not from us inmates. No, sir, Mr Ramaphosa. We’re good, obedient citizens who will do whatever you tell us to do. Well, maybe not all of us.

Even though I have nowhere to go, I now feel trapped and desperately want to go out. I don’t know if it’s because I resent the government telling me what to do and how to live or if there’s something wrong with me mentally.

Before corona, I was happy enough to stay in with a cup of tea and a game of rummy with the cat. Now, forced to remain at home, I feel an overwhelming desire to have lashings of unusual sex with strangers while drinking heavily and experimenting with dangerous drugs. I think it’s something to do with the wartime syndrome – a reaction to the idea that we’re all going to die and have nothing to lose. In World War Two, everyone who didn’t go off to fight quickly turned into ravening beasts guzzling amphetamines by day and copulating like rats by night.

To be honest, I don’t really feel like death could be imminent. I do, however, feel a bit infantilised. I went to a friend’s house the other day to leech off her gin supply and she offered me a lesson on how to wash my hands. She’d watched a video, she said, and that if I wanted gin and maybe a small sexual favour then I had to cooperate. I meekly followed her hand-washing ritual and by the end of it I felt like I needed help going for a wee on my potty.

I see messages from people all the time saying they need to go to the supermarket and does anyone have any advice. It’s as if we are no longer confident enough to handle basic everyday stuff. We are going to be utterly helpless and completely malleable by the time this thing is over and we won’t even notice the Illuminati erecting millions of 5G transmitters to control our thoughts and make us slaves to the new world order.

I was hoping for this to be a coronavirus-free column, but when I began the usual ritual of pacing and chain-drinking while thinking of a topic, I found that my brain was coming up empty. Sure, that might have been the beer, but I like to think it was more because the pandemic has so completely overshadowed everything else that writing about local politics or the usual criminal shenanigans in government would seem like a wilful distraction.

On Sunday I wandered up to my local pub, careful to maintain the standard 300m distance between myself and the police. That’s the best thing about this virus. New rules of engagement insist on maintaining a gap to prevent possible arrest.

On a normal weekend, there’d be live music, laughter and braai smoke drifting through the milkwoods. The place was deserted and the gate padlocked. A hadeda looked at me as if to say, “Go home, you idiot.” All that was missing were four horsemen in black hoods cantering down the empty street.

We’ve been told to stay inside even if we are not sick. The point, apparently, is that we might catch it while we are out and give it to someone else. Someone old. I don’t know, man. The elderly shouldn’t be on the streets at the best of times. They’ve had their chance. It’s our turn now. Well, not any longer, obviously. The streets have been turned over to hamsters and chickens and dolphins. When we finally do emerge, it’s going to be quite a shock to find elephants instead of crack dealers loitering on the corner.

We are told that we need to look after the poor and the vulnerable. Let’s not forget that they only became poor and vulnerable because nobody has ever given a shit about them. The indigent don’t particularly care if they live or die, but they must be delighted with all the attention. They risk dying of exposure, disease or boredom every day of their lives, but now that people with cars, jobs and homes are affected, they have been swept up in a global dragnet of concern.

In London, people who sleep on the streets are being given hotel rooms. Here, our homeless are being given a wide berth. No change there, then. We don’t treat the destitute as real humans when there’s not a pandemic on the go and it would be cruel to raise their expectations now. Imagine when it’s all over and London’s dossers have been turfed out of the hotels. What do you say to them? “Now that we all have immunity, you can go back to your cardboard box. No, you can’t take the towels.”

Some governments are bending over backwards to help their citizens. Not ours. Not really. Yes, the president mentioned some numbers on Monday night, all of which pale against the R1.5-trillion lost in the feeding frenzy of greed during the Zupta years.

The corporate world hasn’t exactly been quick to offer a meaningful hand to businesses either. The Oppenheimer and Rupert families tossed some spare change into the effort. Telkom asked its customers to activate debit orders so they don’t risk infecting their staff who are already suffering from non-contagious ennui. A couple of banks have made token gestures. More importantly, though, nobody has asked me if I’m going to be alright. The self-employed are people, too.

They can all suck my stimulus package.