Thursday, 27 September 2007

My Auntie Janet invites a stranger to our table

I know I’m being snobbish and I hope you will forgive me, but there is a certain type that ‘canned safaris’ attracts. One of them is, for instance, a bespectacled, sweating, slightly overweight, alarmingly talkative prosecuting attorney from Dishwater, Alabama.

Because, oh lordie-be, let us not be thrown into ‘real’ Africa – you know, the place where you die of dengue fever or have your toes chewed off by chiggers. Let us rather (if we have the money, the time and the inclination) visit an ‘African’ reserve in the western Cape – which, and let us make no bones about this, has always been nodded to as the ‘most European’ little sector of our vast, dark continent.

(As an aside, let me say that bespectacled, sweating, slightly overweight, alarmingly talkative men have always been attracted to me. They think, because I wear no makeup and dress in clothes that would be better suited to a tramp, I am unaware of my ‘inner beauty’, and that they alone will be able to find that gorgeous lost soul somewhere deep inside. But the nasty truth is that I like men who appear to recently have murdered their grandmothers and made off with their best silver, on a motorbike; or who have just been paroled; or who have recently escaped a lunatic asylum by bodily uprooting an airconditioner and throwing it through a window. And, god knows why, those kinds of men like me too.)

This dear prosecuting attorney (let’s call him Ralph and be done with it) ended up on our early-morning ‘game drive’ (see post below) with us. My Auntie Janet, a woman of deep compassion, took pity on him during a hiatus between the rhino and the giraffe, to engage him in conversation. From which point he never shut up.

Not content with having heard his entire life story, delivered LA Law-style in the short gap he had to present his opening arguments (between getting off the Land Rover) and his closing arguments (getting back on again, after a quick refresher of coffee and rusks), Auntie Janet sought to include him in our party.

Which led to a bit of bewildering body language in the restaurant for breakfast back at the camp.

‘A table for… five,’ said Auntie Janet, clocking Ralph, who was hanging out at the back of our party (of four), looking lonely.

The waitress looked at me, because I twitched – perceptibly. I shook my head.

‘For… four?’ said the waitress.

‘No, no,’ sang Auntie Janet. ‘For five. Five!’

The waitress looked back at me. I shook my head a bit harder. ‘For four, I think?’ the waitress said, slightly strangled.

‘No, five!’ said Auntie Janet. ‘Five, I say!’

And five it was.

I seated myself as far from Ralph as possible, without actually moving outside and eating with the cheetahs, and took refuge in enormous helpings of food.

And Ralph talked.

In the 20 minutes it took me to eat (with concentration) a bowl of peaches and yoghurt, a fried egg, two rashers of bacon, some pork sausages, a couple of fritters, a spoon of baked beans, two fried tomatoes, and a slice of toast heaped with butter and marmalade, we learnt more of Ralph’s life than I’ve ever shared of mine with some of my best friends.

Yet I was put to shame when, as Ralph stood up to vacate the table, he said, with genuine grace, ‘Thank you for allowing me to join you. I really appreciate it.’

And let it be said: not once, in any way, shape or form, did he put any moves on me at all.

Which just goes to show: it’s only criminal bikers, jailbirds and psychopaths who really do appreciate my inner beauty.

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2 comments:

meggie said...

My daughter, mournfully told me today, that the men who adored her, left after a time, but the men she adored were *f*ing tain wreck types, that she ended up with.
I am inclined to agree.

angel said...

that was very funny... and i can so see the body language whilst organising a table!
i seem to have one of those "don't talk to me or approach me i'm pissed off" faces, and judging from experience i seem to look at people with such disdane if they come near me i am assumed to be a lesbian when in social situations...