David Moseley

Say something nice today

2014-03-12 10:46

David Moseley

Listening to a best man's speech at a wedding last December it dawned on me that people only ever say something nice about you on two occasions: at your funeral and on your wedding day. I'm talking mainly about men here.

I'm not so sure about women, but judging by the way they are portrayed in movies and television ads, I imagine they loll about in their undies all day, confessing their undying love for one and other in between bouts of expressing their sheer ecstasy at the revolutionary feminine hygiene products they've just purchased after walking out of a hair salon.

As the speech progressed I decided that in 2014 I would strive to write about pleasant topics, rather than the obvious targets of politicians and crime. There are enough dreary columnists in South Africa tackling those sombre issues. I thought I could spend portions of this column saying nice things about my friends and family, and hopefully encourage you to do the same.

Today then, I'd like to say something nice about my friend Justin.

A quirk of junior school brought us together, where we sat next to each other only because our surnames both started with "M-O".  After school I went to Grahamstown and he went to Stellenbosch.

I sent him an e-mail from the Rhodes campus once and he replied a year later - partly because e-mail was still a mystery back then, but mostly because anything more technologically advanced than a toaster terrifies him. Two years ago he got smartphone, which he finally took out of the box last week.

He's a man of very particular eccentricities. The night before the Test match between South Africa and Australia at Newlands I told a dinner party how Justin would most definitely arrive at the cricket the next day with a packed lunch – not with Woolies sandwiches and smoothies, but rather marmite and Oros. At the cricket, as the lunch break neared, he duly whipped out his cooler box and started tucking into his marmite sandwiched.

He thinks nothing of taking solo adventures to the Orange River or even Asia, but trying to get him to leave his suburb for a braai just around the corner is harder than getting a smile out of Helen Zille.

His timekeeping is deplorable, so over the years I've spent countless hours sitting alone at bars, insisting to worried waiters that my friend is "almost here".

But he's a friend to the end, as a silver mug which he had engraved for my 21st tells me, and someone who always arrives with a smile and an offer of support. Like this weekend at the Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour (try saying that with a mouth full of peanut butter).

I don't mean to oversell my abilities on a bicycle, but the Cycle Tour is not that much of a stretch for me. It's a fun day out on the bike. But Justin insisted that he'd be at Noordhoek, just before Chapman's Peak, with juice and some food (never mind that there are about 9 000 feeding and water stations on the course of this world class event).

Chasing a personal best time on the day I thought that I'd just wave if I saw him on the side of the road. But as I got closer I realised that he would only be there because he told me he'd be there. I had to stop.

True to his word, there he was, waiting with a bottle of Powerade and an apple. A vast improvement since the time he chucked an unpeeled orange at me during the Gun Run a few years ago.

Even more impressive was his dedication a few years back, when I ran my one and only Two Oceans Ultra Marathon. The night before the race he said he'd be at Kirstenbosch to cheer me on.

The race day was apocalyptic, with rain that never seemed to stop. With 6km to go of the 56km race, I needed a friendly face to get me home. And there he was, standing in the pouring rain, soaked to the core, waiting for me to shuffle past. A back slap, a bum tap and a few words of encouragement sent me on my way.

This is a friend that every man should have.

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