Losing my virginity

By: Julie Cotton

I was a 47-year-old “big phat manu” virgin. A “big phat manu” is derived from the Maori word (manu) meaning bomb, which is basically uber-cool speak for “I’m going to do a bommie into the water”.  Of course, I had heard this phrase many times before from my teenagers, but it had never resonated with me until this memorable day.

It was a balmy Sunday afternoon and we had decided to go for a tiki tour and ended up at the Tomarata Lakes. It was the picture-perfect afternoon and certainly one that could have been the envy of millions of people around the world. I laid out the classic tartan picnic rug on the lake shore, and busted open a beer. Whilst being caressed by the afternoon sun, my imagination and senses burst into action. My eyes felt like the biggest sunflowers and they were absorbing the most iconic Kiwi scene that was playing out before me. There were families to my right having a barbecue, my girls had gone for a fossick around the lake, and my son had made a pretend fishing rod from a stick and was pretending to fish.

But the greatest glory was the beautiful family directly in front of me. A father with his three children were holding hands and jumping off the wooden piles into the water – his lovely partner, heavily pregnant, resting on the shore. “Do a big phat manu Dad. Please Dad, go on do a big phat manu,” his children urged. And that’s exactly what that superstar father did, over and over again with all of his children. So beautiful was their happiness and innocence that my eyes were weeping with joy at the sight of it. Never before had I had such a compelling urge to jump fully clothed into the water for no other  reason than just to share in their happiness. That day made me appreciate life so intensely that I just want to eat every bit of it that comes my way.

So, bugger it! I’m not going to spend my Easter this year chopping firewood. For the first time in 10 years, I’m going away. I have rented a bach up north (sorry, that Hill Street intersection does my head in) in a place called Doubtless Bay, where I am going to try to recreate that wonderful day by the lake. I have now come to realise that every precious moment on this earth is ours to have and to hold, so let’s just do it. Let’s bang on the budgie smugglers or hoist up the bikini, because I just don’t think we have a moment to lose. Yes, this Easter I intend to find my inner child. I am going to be just like the kids at the lake. I will be doing the biggest “big phat manu” my heart can carry out. From now on, with this beautiful landscape at my feet, I intend to be living, loving and having till death do I part.

Julie Cotton


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