Midnight shuffle

2010-10-19 00:00

OF all the complex chemicals coursing through the mammalian body, adrenaline has to be the most influential. Without it we humans would all have been eaten by sabre-toothed beasties a long time ago. Its effect on the body is pronounced and immediate. Pupils dilate, heart and respiratory rates increase, the brain becomes instantly more alert and various sphincters relax to allow the body to run faster without excess weight.

How we handle this effect is invariably a product of time. The youth embrace it and indulge in all sorts of adventure activities that promote its release. The older one gets, however, the more we try to avoid it.

In my business it is, unfortunately, a frequent and unwelcome visitor. The boerbul who objects to having his prostate palpated. The cheetah who emerges prematurely from anaesthesia and starts gnawing on the arm of the surgeon. The whine of the respiratory monitor during surgery. These all open the floodgates.

It is not often, however, that I am the instigator, but an incident happened recently that reminded me that the view is far better from the other side.

My cellphone clock said 1.30 am. My bladder insisted I pay attention, so I quietly slipped out of bed. Eight soft steps over the carpeted floor, a right turn at the doorway, a gentle pirouette­ and a silent retreat onto the wooden seat. A routine perfected over scores of years. (For a boy, sitting is not necessarily considered to be overly masculine, but it is a technique I have adopted at night in preference to mopping up the misguided puddles in the morning. Toilet bowls were obviously designed by a girl.)

Anyway, there I was sitting quietly, my mind as fertile as a mielie pip on the N3, concentrating on the darkness of the insides of my eyelids, when I hear a faint stirring of the covers of my nuptial couch. I have been married to the love of my life for near on 30 years now and consider myself to be an expert in my wife’s nocturnal habits, and as I quietly sit in my dark cocoon, the routine is firmly etched in my memory.

Eight soft steps over the carpeted floor, broeks to the knees, a right turn at the doorway and a gentle pirouette.

Dappled moonlight sifts through the open window as I gaze, almost in slow motion now, at the two pink cheeks being gently lowered toward my lap.

Softly, slowly, in my best Boris Karloff­ voice, I murmer: “Can I help you?”

Have you ever visualised the scene when a firewalker comes out of his trance in the middle of a bed of coals. That night I saw it with my very eyes, right in front of me. And the screaming set off a burglar alarm across the road.

What has this got to do with animals, you may ask?

Well, the dogs ran for cover, the budgie fell off his perch, the hadedas started squawking in their roost in a tree in the neighbours’ yard and a number of rats died in the ceiling from fright.

And I have a smile on my face like a cat drinking cream.

• The author is a practising vet with a passion for his profession and a giggle in his heart.


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