If there are three words that give me the heebie jeebies, they are “I bet you …”. Trust me, nothing good can ever follow once those words are uttered.
They’re usually spoken as a challenge. It’s a man-to-man test of a friend or relative’s courage or resolve or, in most cases, it’s just stupidity.
Now the best thing a man can do when an I-bet-you challenge is issued, is to laugh or to run away.
But men are strange creatures with an even stranger code of honour. They know they’ll be seen as weak wimps if they don’t accept a challenge.
But being called a wimp for three minutes is certainly better than facing some of the challenges thrown my way.
Many years ago, while enjoying a vacation in the wonderful town of Tofu in Mozambique, I was the victim of a bet. It happened in a restaurant where we were served the most delicious seafood.
Accompanying the food was a seriously hot peri-peri sauce. It was homemade, and appeared in what looked like a mayonnaise bottle.
Right at the bottom of the bottle was an onion, more or less the size of a golf ball.
It was when this onion was discussed, that those dreaded words were uttered.
Well, it took two full days and all the milk in Tofu to extinguish the fire in my mouth. But to digest that onion took a lot longer.
The only reason I wasn’t hospitalised was because Tofu doesn’t have a hospital. Lesson learnt? Not that quickly.
Next was the hair challenge: The short version is that I didn’t cut my hair for seven years. Not even a trim. Nothing. Nada.
I was reminded of these two incidents a couple of weeks back when visiting Mozambique again. The sight of a similar bottle of sauce – complete with the onion – had me shivering.
And while I did prove my capacity for endurance by growing my hair – a feat which still amazes my friends – it was the Mozambican official at the border post who had the last word.
Looking at my passport, with a picture of a long-haired me, he burst out laughing, proclaiming to the world: “Ooooh, you look like your sister!”
I bet nobody’s ever said that to James Bond or Chuck Norris.