Hammocks and other disappointments

Some things promise the world and then deliver very little. Take hammocks. Please. There’s a reason you see them in op shops. My daughter was waxing lyrical about the relaxation possibilities of a hammock the other day as she wistfully eyed the hooks on her back patio. She spoke of how wonderful it would be to lie cosily cocooned in the hammock, lazily swinging in the breeze.

Who was I (the much older, wiser one) to burst her bubble? I’ve rocked a few hammocks in my day, desperately hoping not to tumble out. Trust me, they’re not all they’re cracked up to be. Ask nineteenth century sailor Paul Roesler, who, when attempting to crawl into his hammock at sea, fell straight out again. This has happened to me many times. There may have been alcohol involved. Or another human. I reckon Herr Roesler probably had a couple of Liebfraumilchs on board as well.

Blame Christopher Columbus for introducing Europe to the humble hammock. He brought hammocks back to Spain from the Bahamas and they became de rigeur on board ships.

Apparently they were considered safer than the filthy, lice-infested, water and urine-sodden bags of straw previously masquerading as beds. The suspended sleeper was protected from snakes and rats, as well as water, dirt, and their own excrement. Although you wouldn’t want to be in the hammock below. Thanks Senor Columbus!

Oh yes, I have no problem getting on board with the ideathe hope – of a hammock. The reality though is something else. Getting into the damn thing is an act of Olympic-level gymnastics, requiring determination and an inbuilt gyroscope. Once you manage to get yourself entangled in the not-so-tender embrace of the hammock, one slight move could send you hurtling groundward. Trust me: this is about as relaxing as a bout of diarrhea. As soon as you wrestle your undignified way into the blasted thing, you realise you forgot your book/ipad/glasses/drink. And where do you put that drink once you’re well and truly hung? And have you ever tried reading in a hammock?

I discovered that some South American tribes did everything in hammocks: slept, ate, nursed children, dreamed and, yes – made love. Have you ever tried to share a hammock with another human being? No wonder these tribes are extinct.

I’m sorry but the hammock falls into the ‘it was a good idea at the time’ category. Reality trumps hope.

Other things that seem like fun but always disappoint are school reunions. Each time one comes around (now these functions require wheelchair access) I seem to develop amnesia about the previous times. What school did I go to again? Did I enjoy it?

These occasions elicit the five stages of grief, only backwards. Stage one is acceptance, and dare I say it, hope. Yes, I will go. It will be fun. Depression sets in when I read the bios of the school pals who are attending. They all seem so much more successful than me. Stage three is bargaining – where I ask an old school friend (who is still a friend) to come with me. I’ll pay.

Once we get there I start to feel angry. What? Twenty-six dollars for a chicken parmigiana? Plus I’m sitting next to the class clown I couldn’t stand fifty years ago? Good grief. Get me outta here.

Then there’s the denial phase. Old school friends tell hilarious stories of my exploits – none of which I recall. In fact, I categorically deny them. ‘Really? I absolutely did not: egg the headmaster’s car/ kiss you behind the netball sheds/ sing the lead role in The Pyjama Game!’

Once again, I assert I will never go to another school reunion. This is a moot point as I feel the stealthy, inevitable approach of Alzheimer’s.

Some foods promise lots and deliver little. Strawberries for example. They look luscious in the shops. So, full of hope and anticipation, you buy a punnet and some cream of course. Only to discover these beautiful, red, babies are woody and tasteless. Avocados, ditto. Promising on the outside, good in theory, but nasty, brown and tasteless in reality.

Perhaps the two best tips for dealing with life’s promising disappointments are 1. Lower the bar and 2. Never give up. So, at my upcoming school reunion, you’ll find me swinging in a hammock (close to the ground) strawberry daquiri in one hand and avocado dip precariously balanced on my stomach.

Hope springs eternal. Just please, don’t rock my hammock.

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