Tips on maintaining a successful relationship

Have you ever seen a hungry woman clear a bar? A few years back during a paragliding competition in the Western Cape the majority of the field went to the town’s hotel to eat dinner and socialise post a great task. My priorities were clear – I needed to eat, and as quickly as possible. It had been a long day, which predated my practice of flying with a picnic basket in my harness, and the wait on the mountain, the flying, the wind, the heat and fresh air at altitude had made me ravenous… 

We ordered and we waited. The drinks at the bar were flowing and as usual, post a good task, everyone was in high spirits. After waiting for an hour and a half for our food the folks at my table wandered into the bar and joined in the fun. I popped into the kitchen to enquire if they needed any assistance, and was rudely shown the swinging kitchen doors. 

After another hour’s wait I could feel my body going into starvation mode and just as my metabolism started slowing down I used the very last of my energy to enquire of the bartender, if he thought his establishment may still serve a meal that night.  He of course jumped straight to the kitchen’s defence, and we exchanged some unfortunately timed words that hit crescendo right about the time the jukebox stopped playing its tune. Now, no one likes an ‘hysterical’ woman, and one by one the patrons filed out of the bar, drink in hand, with eyes downcast or exchanging the ‘awkward!’ upwards eye-roll… Everyone that is, except for my wide-eyed boyfriend, caught like a hare in the lights…

At this point I must have fainted with hunger, because I simply can’t remember if I got food there or went elsewhere, and am frankly still too embarrassed to ask anyone who may still remember that evening… It was clearly not my proudest moment.

A friend of mine believes that three simple things are required to ensure the success of a relationship. Chris maintains that a woman must never be hungry, never be cold, and never be sleep deprived. I’ve obviously illustrated what can go wrong when she goes hungry, so what happens if she get’s cold?

It was early June and a gaggle of us had taken off from Barberton on a beautiful, crisp winters day. It gets cold in the air, but we weren’t expecting it to be unbearable, so hadn’t dressed the part. About half an hour into the flight I was at cloud base with a Cloudbuster contingent and all the signs indicated that it was going to be an epic Barberton to Badplaas day! About five minutes later my teeth were chattering so hard, I was beyond freezing and shaking so violently that there was slim chance of glider control if required… I lost height to where it was warmer, defrosted, and thermaled up again. I lasted all of three minutes before I had to bail out again, eventually going to land and forlornly watching my mates go over the back at Barbs. They arrived back many hours later in extremely high spirits after their epic flights, and I sat listening to their heroic tales of braving the cold and going the distance… and tried so very hard to be happy for them. Was I the life of the party that evening? I think not…

When the boys started doing balloon roll-overs many moons back I was invited to participate. I decided not to do the YouTube research and simply asked how it compared to a normal launch off a mountain. Friends Joe and Marinus said the glider inflation wasn’t that much more violent than a strong wind launch, which sounded acceptable, so I committed. My only other preparation included a lot of visualisation the night before, during which of course I didn’t sleep a wink. 

We left home in the dark to travel to Parys, where we hopped into a balloon basket at first light. Up up up we went. Joe had taken his mom along on this trip – it was Mother’s Day and he wanted to give her a special gift. I’m not sure how she felt about her son exiting the balloon 700-metres up, as I was too preoccupied with my own predicament at the time. What was I doing there? What had I agreed to? This wasn’t quite as I’d pictured it in my head the night before. Nevertheless, I climbed out the side of the basket on shaky, sleep-deprived legs and prepared for exit.

Just a little higher please. Just a little higher. Reserve check. Bravery check. Sanity check. Riser check. Just a little higher please. And then, accompanied by an uncharacteristically foul mouth, I executed a perfect dive over the glider into nothingness. The glider inflated, it came up over my head, and I caught it. Indeed, bar the three seconds of sheer terror up front, it had been a pretty non-violent launch. During the rest of the flight down I felt incredible, and after we were all collected from landing we celebrated Mother’s Day with a picnic on the banks of the Vaal.

I ate. I lay down in the warm sun. I slept. It had been an absolutely exhilarating experience. Would I do it again? Never.

So gents, it’s really very simple. All a woman needs is Food. Warmth. Rest. And she will stay sane.


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