I passed May this year in foetal position. My shivers of fear shook the very desk I hid beneath, my left eye twitched out S.O.S in Morse code, my stomach shrank to the size of the metaphorical fist clenched around it. Grievously aware of my toes remaining permanently curled, I devised methods of pulling off ringletted toenails as a trend. 1 month till the dreaded World Cup. The pillars of security hoisting my national pride were threatening collapse, crumbling at the edges like a Marie Biscuit.
I lived all 31 days of May with the fear. What happens when our country is flooded with every race you knew about, maybe even a few you didn't, and every single one of those unsuspecting travellers gets their wallets surgically removed from the safety belt-like contraption constricting their torsos? What happens when the first German tourist gets a gun to the head whilst cruising in his rental Beemer? He may not understand the hollered words, but the gun I'm sure he'll get. He'll spring from the vehicle like a cuckoo bird, watching his car insurance speed away up the foreign freeway.
I thought of the wrong kind of striker. Not the one trying desperately to bend Jabulani, the one with a placard, a war-cry and a vicious forearm. I mused on unfinished roadworks, dysfunctional airports, loud-mouthed arrogant, ignorant adolescent politicians. I was pre-emptively embarrassed for South Africa. I woke up cringing every morning.
The opening ceremony did nothing to untangle my tweaked nerves. The off-key singing, awkward presenters, general-all-round awful music sent spirals of sickness oozing down into my finger tips. I held tight to my shuddering knees, curling closer into my human doughnut of safety. Regretting my decision to be in this country during the Cup, I resignedly watched Finding Nemo instead of Bafana's first game. However, I remember going onto Facebook at one point on the evening the game was on. Shockwaves radiated through my brain. We drew. We actually nearly won a game.
Suddenly a new dawn opened for me. This could be so much more than a mortifying experience for our country. We might pull this whole thing off. After choosing Spain as my team, I began to watch. Obsessively. Soccer dominated my mind and controlled my movements. Hells if Spain didn't pull through for me. The buggers won the whole damn competition. Pride flaked off me like dandruff.
Despite my initial pessimism, (a deadly understatement) I supported, I screamed, I blew a goddamn vuvuzela. I strutted my stuff on the fanwalk, ate Prego rolls the nights Portugal played, wore orange for the first time in my life when Netherlands crumpled Cameroon. I became a global patriot.
Don't get me wrong, I'm never going to be the happy-clappy type, sitting around a camp-fire, melodiously belting out my very best Kumbayah. But I supported. I did my bit. Just waiting now for the bit the world's going to do for me. I'll be here if you're looking for me, World. Waiting. (awkward cough.)