Truth, lies and exercise

I hear lots of crazy stuff all day long and it’s not always just in my head either. For instance, I heard that the reason the government is keeping its Covid-19 modelling data from the public is because it wants to avoid sowing panic.

Fair enough. Nothing frightens South Africans more than hearing the truth. We have grown accustomed to being lied to – from the National Party warning us about the communists to the ANC claiming they are anti-corruption. We’re comfortable with deceit, dishonesty and distortion.

But the truth? We can’t handle the truth. The government is right. In this country, the truth won’t set us free. It will only make us panic. At the same time, we are South Africans. We live in a permanent state of low-grade panic.

Maybe the real truth is that it’s the government panicking because there is no data modelling going on at all. Maybe the Command Council is just a bunch of people behind closed doors eating snacks, yawning and staring out of the window. Occasionally someone sits up, shouts a random number and reaches for another vol-au-vent before slumping back into his chair, while the others chew vacuously and flick through their phones.

A lot of people seem to be worrying about their health these days, or whatever they are. Are we still calling them days? Two aeons ago, these same people would circle a mall’s parking lot for an hour looking for a spot near the entrance just to avoid walking an extra fifty metres.

Now they are setting their alarm clocks for 5.30am. Even though our state-sanctioned exercise period only starts at 6am, they are terrified of missing a minute of it. They use the 30-minute build-up to do stretching exercises and colour-code their masks and outfits while the father feeds the brats. It is the women who have claimed the exercise time as their own. The men can tag along if they wish, and the kids if they have to, but the hours of 6am to 9am belong to the women. That’s okay. Rather have them pounding the pavement than their loved ones.

I don’t have an alarm clock. They are bad for one’s health. Worse than heroin. The sound scares the bejesus out of the central nervous system and sends adrenalin coursing through the body, putting it into a full-blown fight or flight frenzy. I can’t use alarm clocks because it triggers a fight and flight response in my body. As a child, I would regularly destroy my bedroom while simultaneously fighting and fleeing the invisible furies. Eventually my mother realised it was better for all concerned if I woke up naturally, even if it meant being late for school. I once slept through an entire grade.

My pathological aversion to bells or sirens shattering my sleep means that I frequently miss our morning freedom altogether. Some days I wake up to find that I have only five minutes in which to cram three hours of exercise. Often there is no time to even put clothes on. I burst from my front gate, willy a-flap in the breeze, and run at top speed for two and a half minutes in any direction, then turn around and run home at an even more top speed because the police are chasing me. I don’t think it’s doing me much good. When I get home I have to drink rum and coke to slow my heart down. Sometimes I get the dosage wrong and it slows down too much and then I lie on the floor for the rest of the day waiting to die.

One thing is certain. The huddled masses are growing restless. Look at the state we’re in, we cry. Open the hairdressers! Let the beauticians operate! Even Trevor Manuel is saying the lockdown is turning into a bad idea, and this is a man who fought his way out of the Cape Flats with nothing more than an Okapi knife and a head for figures.

Some unions are saying that nobody should return to work unless it’s completely safe. That makes no sense. Work has always been the least safe place on earth. You can get trapped in the elevator, poisoned by cafeteria food, accused of arson and attempted frottage, hauled before a disciplinary committee and run out of town. I’m not saying this happened to me. Well, not all in one job, anyway.

A lot of people are also going a bit mental with this incarceration lark. Sure, most of them were probably mental to start with. But there’s nothing like being forced to stay indoors with people you increasingly want to murder to push you over the edge. It’s probably good for some marriages, though. There can’t be too many people still shouting, “Where have you been?” at their partners.

Living alone definitely has its pros and cons. As does living in general, I suppose.

Here’s an interesting thing to think about. In a 2014 study, participants were given a choice between sitting in silence with their own thoughts for fifteen minutes or giving themselves electric shocks. Most chose to shock themselves. It should be said that the study was conducted in Charlottesville, Virginia, home to neo-Nazis, white supremacists and, in the words of Donald Trump, other “very fine people”.

Trump is not the kind of man who could be left alone with his thoughts for very long, but only because he doesn’t have any. Well, not the kind that you or I might consider to be thoughts. I imagine if you could tap into what passes for his brain, you’d hear a rush of static. Or something like the sound of a burger and onions being fried in hot oil.

Anyway. Here I am, adjusting my heart rate with various medications, and it occurs to me that writing and prostitution are quite possibly the only two ways of making money while lying in bed. If you know of any others, do let me know.

32 thoughts on “Truth, lies and exercise

  1. Warwick Richter says:

    That reference to Trump is hilarious! As a teacher, one of my favourite lines to a bumbling, fumbling student who is battling to articulate anything sensible, is the following: “Take it easy … gather your thought!” 🙂

  2. Charli says:

    Simply splendiferous writing – specially during these long “daze” of Lockdown 2020.

  3. Sandy says:

    Willy a-flap and rum and coke to slow down your heart…..hahaha my kind of man!🤣

    1. sharon goss says:

      Mine too!

  4. Apart from prostitution and writing, one can also do web programming from bed. But then again, that does contain a healthy dose of prostitution and writing…

  5. Paul says:

    Ben is crazy. He missed a whole grade because he could not wake up!!! LOL This is probably his best blog. I envy his writing skills. He should be teaching it from mid-high school level. The world is losing writing skills.

  6. kelly schlesinger says:

    When i read your stuff, every word, every line is like medicine! I love every bit of it, some paragraphs i have to read twice, they are just so yummy! Thank you for your blogs, i cant get enough of them!!

      1. Jane says:

        Justin Bieber has a song called ‘Yummy” – if its what his meaning is then I think you might be chuffed. But Im with Kelly.

      2. kelly schlesinger says:


  7. Avril says:

    Where did you get the rum? Mmm? I want some.

    1. Ben Trovato says:

      Got it from my local minister of trade and industry.

  8. Saffer says:

    Sorry, wasn’t aware that we had met.

    1. Ben Trovato says:

      No need to. There’s no middle ground when it comes to supporting Trump. You hoisted your colours. I know who you are.

  9. Saffer says:

    Please cut out the Trump bashing. He is doing a great job overall for the USA. I would rather have a President who generally does the right thing, but with a terrible personality than someone (think Obama) who has a great personality but who’s progressive policies hurt us. Don’t rely on the the drivel churned out by the Trump-hating media. Otherwise, I’m a recent subscriber and really enjoy your blogs.

    1. Ben Trovato says:

      Don’t tell me what to do, you MAGA moron.

      1. Jeanette says:

        can I have that? “MAGA Moron”? I’m tired of all my others……sheesh. I live in California. Your writings keep me relatively sane.

      2. Dorothy Peters says:

        MAGA moron? Is that like an “illiterate fucking imbecile” ? As our esteemed senator down here in Oz, Pauline PantsDown, would cry: “please explain!”

        1. Saffer says:

          It’s someone who’s able to understand that actions are more important than personality when judging a president, while at the same time acknowledging that great scores in both areas would be preferable.

      3. Debbie Procter says:

        Hahahahaha, love it!

      4. Motloli says:

        MAGA Moron lol. That’s great Ben. Americans are very strange people. And you should note, I live in Lesotho…

      5. Carol says:

        Thank you Ben ! 👏

      6. Jane says:

        Whats a MEGA vs a MAGA moron? How do I know which one to use?

        1. Tanya Edwards says:

          MAGA stands for Make America Great Again..,. eish

    2. Niek Joubert says:

      I fully agree. I think the people bashing Trump are brainless people with a sheep mentality, wanting to be seen to be leftist intellectuals. We all agree Trump is not a nice person, but he does the right thing; politically correct or not.

      1. Vic de Valdorf says:

        Shem. You mustn’t think so much, its painful for the rest of us.

    3. Spot on – you are either in pro Rump camp or against. I’m an americano living in SA – I know all too well how f-ing crazy that other clan is. Loved this article

    4. Vic says:

      Oh FFS. Geez there are more white trump supporters in SA than in Alabama.

    5. Jane says:

      I’m with you in that everyone wants to scapegoat someone or other but unfortunately Mr T does a pretty good job of shooting himself in the foot and making himself an easy target. He talked about the State of Kansas recently which doesn’t say much for his own geographical knowledge.

      1. Saffer says:

        It’s called a lapsus linguae or slip of the tongue. We all do it from time to time. When Trump does it, the media can’t stop reporting on it to make him look stupid, which fits their narrative. When someone on the left does it, they ignore it because it doesn’t fit their agenda. I don’t think anyone really believes that Trump thought Kansas as a state, just as no one really believed that Obama thought there were 54 states in the USA.

    6. phillip joffe says:

      88 000 Dead & counting. Great job indeed!

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