The Wild Life: Unlikely rugby fans

2013-10-08 11:55

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“What is this bullshits?” asks Attila the Horizontal on Saturday evening.

We were engaged in another battle over the TV.

Rewind to mid-afternoon, when we had just enjoyed Turkish kebab for lunch at Burhan’s Butchery in Mayfair, where the signs are written in what I call Turklish.

“We don’t accept dinner club cards,” reads one.

“We are close October 12 and 13. We will be on Turkish Festival,” reads another.

They may screw up English, but they don’t screw up the food.

When I’m working on Saturdays, my colleagues and I order Adana kebap, peynirli pide and chicken chops from them. (When I asked for a menu, they took a photograph of it with one of their phones and sent it via Attila on Whatsapp.)

I call up and order in Turkish. It’s safer that way.

They’re not into email, and they’re less into décor. The black-and-white wallpaper lies hideously against the puffy-white-clouds-on-blue-sky stuff they’ve plastered over the ceiling. No matter, the food is great. And cheap.

So we’re leaving and Dramatix (8) sees a plane overhead, flying low.

“Why does it say ‘Go Springboks’?” she asks.

“Argh! The match is starting!”

We leave Burhan’s in a hurry but not quickly enough to catch my favourite bit, the haka. That’s because Attila, a foodie and excellent cook when he gets around to it, has little regard for time.

He was in the main butchery, amassing a supply of cekirdek (sunflower seeds in salted shells), pirinc (Turkish rice), Turkish biscuits and other essentials which we in South Africa can’t match in quality, he insists.

(Soon after we met 12 years ago, I served him feta cheese. Big mistake. “You call this feta? I show you what is feta. Wallahi, Nicki, you don’t know what is feta!”)

We eventually get home to the rugby and I’m yelling on the couch. There’s nothing like two tries by Bryan Habana to get a sportophobe interested.

The last time I watched rugby was during the World Cup in France – the one we won – not the most recent tournament in New Zealand, which we lost.

Rugby, however, is unknown in Turkey, and Attila, a football hooligan, knows nothing about the sport.

The ball is not round and players carry it in their arms.

The only thing he knows about it is that a school teacher someday will force his son, Romantix (5), into a scrum.

Romantix is huge – towering head and shoulders above his classmates – and weighs about three times as much. He looks like a little Os du Randt but has more hair. He is also set to near the height of Eben Etzebeth.

He is a natural-born bulldozer who, instead of hitting back, dives on top of and flattens his cousin, Megaphonix (also 5) when he klaps him. He looks like a boerseun, not like a Turk.

He’s not going to be a nimble soccer star. No ways.

Attila looks bored – until Jean de Villiers scores a try.

“Walla helal olsun!” (Well done) Attila raves, clapping. He thinks there could be something in this “bullshits” after all.

Meanwhile, Romantix looks nervously at the sort of people he’ll one day be expected to bulldoze. He says he doesn’t want to hurt anybody and will feel too guilty if he flattens them.

His rugby career ends before it begins, thanks to the complete absence of a mean streak.

In the end, of course, we were outplayed.

“We lost,” I tell Dramatix, who emerges from the garden, after a game with Romantix that involved Barbie dolls and making mud pies on the lawn.

“Say ‘effers’,” she whispers into my ear.

“F***ers?” I say.

“Thanks mom!”

That’s how the children in my house swear at the opposing team. By proxy.

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