Surfers Ear

Good surf, in this part of the world. It’s one of the reasons I visit so often. Okay, it’s the only reason. I recently surfed at Hulett’s for the first time. Weird break in the middle of the ocean. Grizzled longboarders behaving as if they own the spot. Which they probably do, going by the flashy SUVs in the parking lot.

I like the temperature of the sea. Feels like it’s not trying to murder you.

I like the temperature of the sea. Feels like it’s not trying to murder you. Too many years of Kommetjie’s 10°C water put me in hospital once. I had to have a unilateral osteoma removed. You probably know it by its street name – Surfer’s Ear. I also suffer from Surfer’s Aversion to Work, which is fortunately inoperable.

The doc said the inside of my ear looked like the north face of the Eiger and booked me in for an op right away. I wasn’t comfortable poncing about in a lilac frock with my bum hanging out. The nurse made me put it on. Dressing like that is asking for trouble, especially if you’re a single man in Cape Town. What could possibly go wrong in an operation to rebore my ear that the surgeon might need immediate, unobstructed access to my bottom?

I wasn’t comfortable poncing about in a lilac frock with my bum hanging out.

I was the only patient in a five-bed ward. If this was a state hospital, it would have been 15 to a bed with chickens roosting in the cupboards. With nothing better to do, nurses swarmed in to take my blood pressure, look up my skirt and pry into my personal life. Do I want to give the hospital permission to dispose of the remains? Excuse me? Who was treating me, Dr Kevorkian? Apparently they meant the remains of whatever came out of my ear. In that case, I said, I’ll take it home as a gift for my landlady. She likes that sort of thing.

One nurse stared blankly when I told her why I was there. My surprise at discovering that she had never heard of an exostosis was surpassed only by her shock at discovering that I was currently between religions. I was going to say atheist, but at best I would have had to spell it and at worst she would have pinned me down while the resident sangoma performed an emergency exorcism.

A bubbly blonde burst into the room and introduced herself as the anaesthetist. If I were dressed more appropriately, I might have run for the door. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate bubbly blondes as much as the next man. I’m just not sure I want them pumping me full of the stuff they use to execute murderers in Texas, especially not on a Monday morning when everyone is distracted by the perioperative staff swapping dirty weekend stories.

She asked if I wanted a pre-med to relax. This is where it starts. They slip you a couple of pills to loosen you up and the next thing you know, you’re unconscious and they’re swigging bottles of lightly wooded chardonnay and drawing a silly face on your willy. I took the pre-med. Let the girls have their fun.

“Surfer’s Ear,” I said, tapping the side of my head before jabbing myself in the eye.

Another victim was wheeled into the ward, his worried girlfriend at his side. “Surfer’s Ear,” I said, tapping the side of my head before jabbing myself in the eye. With the pre-med kicking in nicely, it probably sounded more like, “Zervazeer.”

An orderly with the rewarding job of wheeling patients between the wards and the butchery dragged me down a corridor and parked me in a corner next to a fridge. The last thing I remember was trying to see if there was beer in it.

I woke up ravenous, unhinged and savagely cotton-mouthed. I expect it was a huge party, with the anaesthetic being administered through a giant bong followed by hits of nitrous oxide for everyone. I checked my willy but they’d already scrubbed the face off.

A nurse said she’d bring me lunch. Since I was paying R35 000 for the day, I was looking forward to a bottle of Dom Perignon followed by a Javanese rhino carpaccio garnished with white truffles and slivers of coelacanth.

I was given a cheese and tomato sandwich and asked if I wouldn’t mind seeing myself out.

See you all soon

Ben Trovato

• Ben Trovato is the author of thirteen books, although you wouldn’t think so if you had to see his living conditions. With a background in print and television journalism, Trovato’s popular newspaper columns have earned him a wicked reputation and a fatty liver. He can often be found surfing instead of meeting his deadlines. Trovato lives alone with two regrets and a hangover.