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Lighting a fire is one thing. Throwing a tjoppie and a wors on is another story altogether. From the moment an oke was a pint high, being around a braai has been compulsory. This is where every South African man is truly tested. It is where you will be judged as being a really good oke, or simply a drol. It’s not a simple business this and it’s arguably the toughest test you will ever take – repeatedly. Think of it as going to a job interview every week for the rest of your life. Sometimes twice a week. Even 3 times a week. So here are our braai rules for men.

DRESS CODE: Langbroek are a complete no-no. Fail from the start. So is a jersey over the shoulder. It’s strictly t-shirt and shorts, no matter what. Try to go neutral colours here – you’re not at a fashion show. PT broek is pushing it a bit (unless you’re a student), but they’re certainly better than the skinny jeans option. Wearing shorts that are 2 sizes too tight is also not recommended, unless you’re into cutting off blood supply and all. Lastly, wear shorts with pockets (See STANCE) below.

ARRIVAL: So you arrive at the braai. Greeting is critical here. Don’t overdo your greeting – it’s not all about you. A simple: ‘Yes!’ to your brothers is all you need. A ‘Yes, Yes!’ is also fine and you can briefly touch the tip of your peak cap if you feel it necessary. Stay away from ‘nou gaan die poppe dans.’ And definitely avoid those 13-second-long handshakes followed by pulling each other towards yourselves with the accompanying shoulder crash. This isn’t a pantomime, it’s a braai. When greeting the ladies, be respectful. Call them by name. If it’s the first time you’re meeting a lady, introduce yourself using your real name.

STANCE: Now this is important so pay attention. Your beverage should be held in the hand you write with. Your secondary hand should be placed casually in your shorts pocket. Tight shorts will not allow you to do this and you will then run the risk of being asked to hold a salad. Lean your weight very slightly on one leg. Alternatively, do the ‘both legs apart, straight knee, tighten quads’ position. Don’t rock back and forth because it will make you look like you’ve had too much beverage. Concentrate on pulling in your gut. ‘Boep’ comments are tricky to deal with. If you feel you can’t keep your gut in, wear a bigger t-shirt – plan ahead.

STORIES: This is the crux of the braai. If you don’t have something intelligent to say, then keep quiet. Luckily, there are outstanding tactics you can use to appear in control of the convo. If you are of the older generation, war stories are an excellent way to hold attention and gain followers. In the few days before the braai, think about how you can lie about your ‘grens vegter’ abilities. Aim high here because there’s a 100% chance that someone else will attempt to outdo you – and actually will. Those who do their homework properly always win. Then of course there’s the big one – analyze the last Bok game and provide deep insight. YouTube abounds with brain surgeons giving their 20 cents worth. Think about being specific here as opposed to general.

BRAAI COMMENTARY: Stay away from criticizing the Braai Master (but you already know this). Instead, chose a Karoo town (Three Sisters will do) and make up the name of a butcher. Be creative with the name of your butcher and importantly, make it difficult to remember – you don’t want people trying to find a non-existent butcher on Google. Tell the ‘manne’ about his meat selection and his specialty wors. This is an excellent tactic and there’s a very good chance you’ll start hearing the boys vowing to make a stop there the next time they’re in the area.

LANGUAGE USE: Swearing is just plain poor. Really. It is. Jamming as many expletives as possible into a 20-word sentence makes you look like you have zero grasp of language and even less IQ. Obviously, you’re going to get very excited and hammer the Poms about taking off their medals at the Rugby World Cup, but do it with class.  Yes, it is difficult, but try.

BEVERAGES: Champagne and orange juice in a fluted glass is not visionary at this stage of the proceedings. You’re engulfed in flames and smoke. The aroma of kameeldoring is all around you. Please think! Consider working on new, exciting and interesting ways to open bottles. But make sure you perfect this before the time. Decapitating a decent bottle of wine is not elegant and someone is going to get the moer in with you and have some words about you behind your back.

RELIEVING YOURSELF: There comes a time in every man’s life at a braai when they’re going to have to break the seal. If that happens early-ish, sneak off to the bathroom and do what you have to do. Do not be the first one to water the plants. Wait. Be patient. Let someone else go there first. After a while more and more of the boys will be joining in the fun. This is when you make your move and become a part of the team. In these moments you will find immense fun, joy, laughter and bonding. Be careful of taking on the world distance champ though. If you don’t think you can beat him or at least come very close to beating him, stay humble, do your thing and congratulate him profusely on his amazing effort. You will earn a great deal of respect for this.

Okay, kom ons braai.

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