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You can’t fight the laws of Langbroek

Kate Langbroek, Sunday Style

THERE are some immutable laws in this world, and a lot of respect is paid to those scientists who discovered them.

Newton, who I gather had an apple fall on his head, worked out gravity. Of course, any woman who had borne 17 Viking children and surveyed the toll on her body in a full-length piece of pillaged tin as she emerged from a hickory sauna knew that long before him, but, hey, he’s the one who stamped his name on it. 

Then there was the fella who flew a kite with a key attached to it in an electrical storm, which was, I believe, an electrifying experience. The most well-known of all, of course, is that brainiac Einstein, who came up with the oft-referred-to theory of relativity, which sounds daunting until you hear that he once explained it this way: “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”

Anyway, my point is this: some laws of nature are simple; some are far more complex, have been refined by the patina of time, yet rarely get the credit they deserve. Nerdlingers who are desperate for new stuff to write PhD theses about routinely ignore them. Really, however, as you forge your way through the tussocks and divots of life, and occasionally find yourself skidding over a patch of black ice while negotiating the hairpin bend of a tricky social situation, they are invaluable. 

Here, then, are some of my theories. You may, if you so choose, think of them as Langbroek’s Laws.

1. If you have just broken up with someone you really, really, really liked, you will bump into them at 2am at the 7-Eleven, where you, hair matted and face streaked with mascara from a nine-hour crying jag, have ducked out to buy your late-night dinner-for-one: Cheetos Cheese & Bacon Balls, chicken-flavoured Cup Noodles and a Sara Lee frozen French cheesecake. On the basis that it is only a two-minute walk from your house, you will be wearing a pilling, stained brown T-shirt, a trucker’s cap that says “Who Cut The Cheese?” and no pants.

He, of course, will have pulled up in a limousine wearing a velvet jacket, one of Mick Jagger’s supermodel daughters and his familiar devastating smile. When you scuttle past him, like a sewer rat startled by the light, you will notice he smells like cognac and the Pink Palace of Monte Carlo. You, by contrast, have the stench of despair about you, like a balled-up tennis sock in a mouldy corner of a gym locker.

2. Never, ever, EVER ask a woman if she is pregnant. Even if you are a gynaecologist. Or an obstetrician. Even if she is wearing an empire-line dress, has fallen to her knees clutching her hugely distended stomach, is screaming: “MY WATERS HAVE BROKEN!” and you believe you see a baby’s head crowning, DO NOT ASK. As the second you politely and/or excitedly assume a woman is with child, she will glare at you frostily and hiss: “I’m not pregnant. I’ve just put on some weight. But thanks a lot.” Then her eyes will sparkle with angry tears and, commensurate with her (ahem) elephantine girth, she will NEVER FORGET. Neither will her friends. Neither, for that matter, will you.

Next week, we shall study part two of Langbroek’s Laws: why you mustn’t tell a person you’ve met their look-alike. Or, how a mother in the schoolyard ruined my day.

She may as well have piffed an apple at my head.

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