Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The universe and how it zigzagged through my weekend

Last Friday I resigned from a contract I’ve held for over two years. It paid well and I enjoyed the work (and I must have done it well because it won a few accolades) but ultimately I realised that working for a corporation does two awful things to you: 1, it requires much more from you (and not only monetarily) than it pays you for; and 2, it requires you to absorb denigration and humiliation on an almost-daily basis.

Obviously I was very concerned about where my next bucks were to come from, but the universe is a strange thing, I’ve found: when you need it most, it throws you a lifeline (which is, mainly, how I’ve been able to raise two kids single-handed over almost two decades).

What the universe also does is show you, just when you most need to see it, the wonderful interconnectedness and ridiculousness of life. Which is exactly what it showed me this past weekend.

The ex-FB and the Letter of Demand

My ex Fuck-Buddy, in pursuit of something we shall, for simplicity’s sake, call ‘The Document’ (a sheaf of three foolscap pages awash with psychotic lies, long since consigned to my living-room fire), served a summons on me on Friday evening. (That the ‘summons’ was clearly thrown together by him with help from a photocopier and a bottle of Tipp-Ex we shall, for the moment, ignore.)

Not an hour later, when I was sitting down for dinner at a local restaurant with my dear friends Johann and the priest-turned-masseur, my ex-FB turned up and indicated, by the simple expedient of seating himself with us, that he would be joining us. While I closed my eyes to stop my eyeballs from falling out of my head, Johann told him to piss off.

The minority non-smokers in the restaurant

Seated in the restaurant were nine people (not counting the ex-FB, who had by then pissed off). Two of them – a couple so young and fresh and gorgeous that Johann couldn’t stop himself tripping over to their table, putting his hands on his knees as if talking to babies (which, okay, they were) and saying, ‘Goodness me, but you two make a lovely couple!’ – wanted to smoke.

They asked our permission. We were game (we’re all smokers). They asked the other two tables around us – although none was a smoker, all said it wouldn’t bother them.

And so the five of us lit up.

After we’d all smoked a cigarette, another couple arrived and were seated in a corner nearby.

When the young fresh lovely couple wished for another cigarette, they were polite enough to ask the new arrivals if they objected. They did, as it happened.

So we all – five of us who were smoking – traipsed outside into the icy night air to indulge our habit.

As we passed one of the tables that had been occupied since our arrival (and the occupants of which had, despite being non-smokers, said they didn’t mind), the man sitting there said, ‘Where are you all going? I hope it wasn’t anything we said?’

We laughed and explained that there was a couple who didn’t want smokers around them.

The man looked astonished. He said, ‘There are nine people here who don’t mind, and two who do.’

We agreed with his calculations, but nonetheless retired outdoors for our nicotine fixes.

The harmonica man blows back into my life

After dinner, while Johann followed the sound of music to a next-door venue, the priest-turned-masseur and I sat outside the restaurant for another few glasses of wine and another few cigarettes (joined, for a short while, by my Pilates teacher – ooh, I do so love a pure soul turned momentarily bad).

But shortly Johann was back, leaping around in excitement and exhorting us to come and see the amazing musician performing next door.

It did sound good – very deeply bluesy material, clearly played and sung by someone in, probably, his late 40s who’d seen a good deal of life and knew how to blow heart into music – so a short while later we gathered up our goods and chattels and moved to the music venue.

The musician turned out to be not someone in his 40s (or even vaguely close to it) – but he did turn out to be someone who rang all sorts of berserk bells in my brain.

When his set was finished I asked him if he remembered me. He did – 15 years ago we had a one-night stand. And not only did he remember it, he remembered the venue (which I sure didn’t) and the aftermath (apparently, running across him again in a different sleazy night spot, I propositioned him a second time – and, sensibly, he ran for his life).

I obviously have no wish to compromise the reputation of this wildly talented young man (who is now married with two kids), so unfortunately I can’t tell you who he was, but suffice to say that if you’re ever audience to a rangy muso who looks like he stepped out of the Wild West and plays music that makes your hair stand on end, you’ll have met him.

(Johann’s comment, when I admitted I’d had carnal knowledge of the musician 15 years before: ‘Ye gods, woman, what did you do? Take him out of his pram?’)

Dazzle and the dip

Much later we washed up at a local hot spot where, past midnight and with the shooters flowing freely, cultures were beginning to mix and merge. Dazzle, a slightly built young man with more chutzpah than muscle, offered to lang-arm with me. (‘Lang-arm’, for non-South Africans, is a form of ballroom dance, very fast and energetic, and interspersed with acrobatics performed by the woman but largely choreographed by the man.)

He wanted to ‘dip’ me – bend me over his arm backwards so that my head almost touched the floor – and when I professed doubt he could do it (there is at least 20kg difference in our body weights), said, ‘C’mon, try me.’

I did, and he dropped me on the floor.

I was so consumed by giggles that unfortunately I couldn’t immediately get up, and had to lie there in a foetal position while dancers swirled dangerously around me.

Dazzle and the ladder

Much later still, the same Dazzle meandered back with a group of tail-enders to my place, where we intended to drink coffee and warm up. Arriving first, he let himself in and made a roaring fire. Then, with no explanation or so much as a ‘by your leave’, he went to bed (in the priest-turned-masseur’s billet, but fortunately there were several alternative available beds since my kids were in the city with the father for the weekend.)

But before he did, he did a strange thing: he brought his two-metre ladder inside and installed it in a corner of the living room, where it observed all happenings from then on.

The next day, leaning over the kitchen sink filling the percolator for strong morning coffee, I witnessed Dazzle tenderly laying the ladder down in the back of his bakkie; he may even have given it an affectionate pat.

I’m not sure yet of his relationship with this ladder but will tell you as soon as I find out.

The game ranger and Neil Diamond

Finally, at 3am, there was only me and the game ranger left. (Most people had found beds; Johann was installed, as usual, on the sofa, in a warm and loving embrace with the Wobbly Dog.)

When I put on Neil Diamond (as I always will do at this time of night), the game ranger asked who it was. ‘Neil Diamond, of course,’ I said.

‘I’ve never heard his stuff,’ he told me (look, he spends three weeks out of every four with antelope, okay?), and of course I took the bait – hook, line and sinker – and spent the next two hours educating him on Neil and his wonders.

In the cold light of day I realised that irony had been at play, and that I’d spectacularly missed it. I was embarrassed, but not overwhelmingly so – the game ranger only left at 5.30am, so while he may have been stringing me a line, he was clearly enjoying it. And ‘Cracklin’ Rosie’, ‘Solitary Man’, ‘Holly Holy’, and more.

The disappearing post-office box keys

I lost my post-office box keys some time last week (we don’t get street deliveries here in the dorengone so this was something of a mini-crisis). I asked the local postmistress (a darling creature) if she could cut me new ones. ‘It costs R75 and you’ll probably find them if you look hard enough,’ she said by way of refusal.

On Sunday morning I found them outside, next to my car, in the mud – dirty but intact.


See? The universe works in mysterious ways.

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1 comment:

meggie said...

Great sounding weekend.