Sunday, 29 June 2008

Nevermind the urine

I have never been cool. I have never been one of those people who flows with the latest trends. I was always running madly behind trends trying to catch up. When I finally caught up with them, everyone else was flowing off with the next one.

So, it is not that surprising that events that other people think are cool, I don’t quite get. This happened to me when I found myself on a road trip with people I didn’t know very well, and they decided to go to: Oxbraai.

Oxbraai is an institution amongst South African youth. And what I ask is: WHY??! People drive from all over the country to this tiny town in the middle of nowhere in the Eastern Cape, that, apart from this mudfest, is famous for: a giant fibreglass pineapple. It is true, I have seen it with my own eyes.

Once in Bathurst, this metropolis of pineapples, you drive to a place where (I think) they auction off cattle. Here you are charged actual money for the privilege of bringing your own music and your own alcohol. You park your car wherever you have space. Millions of other people arrive. They all play their own music out of their car radios. They start to drink. Then at some point, you all queue up for a piece of meat and a roll ( the meat is not even ox!).

Now really, I do not understand this. South Africans are famous for their braais, we do it well. We can have braais in our own backyards, replete with whatever delicious meat we want, and copious amounts of alcohol, and we can do it with our friends, and not have to put up with other people’s crap music if we don’t want to.

So why, why are people driving from all over the country to this backwater for an insipid slice of cow, to be eaten in the pissing rain, with no shelter in sight except your car? The year I attended, they had even brought in a few bands for our entertainment. For the first time. So, I was thinking, you mean to tell me that in previous years people had actually come to this thing and JUST for the piece of meat?!

Well, it rained from the moment we arrived. Everyone had brought beer. I don’t normally drink beer, but I had a feeling that I was going to have to make an exception because I could not see how I would get through this night without a fair whack of alcohol in my bloodstream.

People started drinking and dancing in the rain. We queued for some hours for our meat and piece of lettuce. We checked out the bands. They were not bad, but the dance floor was a mudbath. Everyone was covered head to toe in mud.

Some time in the evening, all the beer caught up with me and I needed to find a bathroom. At the door of the bathroom I found my friend, the only person that I really knew on this trip. She was standing at the door stopping everyone who was heading in. To each person she was announcing: “Urine is sterile. Don’t worry, urine is sterile. Go ahead, seriously, urine is sterile.”

This did not bode well. Now, we studied microbiology together, so I didn’t need to be told that urine is sterile, but why did these other souls need to be told?

I peered into the bathroom. The floor was awash with…stuff. Yes, I thought, urine is indeed sterile, but all that other… stuff, is not.
I considered my options. I was not that steady on my feet. I decided that there was really no choice. I held my breath. I narrowed my eyes to slits so that I wouldn’t have to see too much of what I was wading through. I waded. I made it a cubicle and shut the door.

Once in, I surveyed the situation. The toilet bowl was a fountain, overflowing with…stuff. Oh God. (whywhywhywhy?!!) I realised that whatever I did in that cubicle would merely contribute to the fountain. I thought about it for some time. What could I do? I contributed.

The rest of the evening provided me with a dilemma. My first instinct was to get as drunk as possible in order to forget what had just happened. But that would inevitably lead to me needing to revisit that chamber of delights. After a while I gave in, curled up in my friend’s car, twitching sporadically, and prayed for morning.

Now, I know thousands of people love Oxbraai, and that is fine, I am not dissing it. I just don’t get it. I hope that one day someone will explain it to me. Either way, if you ever find yourself at the Oxbraai just remember:

urine is sterile

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