It’s Saturday morning. Every township raised girl knows, you pump that motivational cleaning music. But I lived in the burbs with a kranky old lady who lived downstairs, so I had to invest in an ipod. I was jamming Beyonce because guess what? I was feeling flawless.
I recited the lyrics as I would an anthem. Feeling proud and bold in my pyjamas, I listened to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s words, I was neither thin nor fat, 24, single, ambitious and was not the kind of girl to care about what a man thinks about me or fight for one for that matter. I wondered if my upbringing somehow made me this unconventional person, the opposite of the social standards Chimamanda was speaking about. I never grew up with words like Feminist and thus could not identify with such, but having been brought up by my grandmother (whom I call ma, it’s a black thing don’t ask) I grew up knowing that for people like myself, it’s a tough world and you have to wear your big girl pants to brave it.
My apartment had been cleaned spick and span just like my ma taught me. Zonke, my friend from Joburg was on her way in about 20 minutes to visit for the weekend. At the realisation of this I head to the shower. I turn on the tap, the steam fogs up the bathroom. Darn, I forgot to turn on the extractor. I begin my daily ritual and cleanse my temple clean. What was suppose to be a quick shower becomes an intimate personal moment. My fingers search with every touch around my contours, my mountains, and my delicate sensibilities. There’s a journey pulsating down south of my Africa. I surrender and reach into her depths, I rediscover her over and over and over again. Before I can even reach my destination I hear a- KNOCK KNOCK BANG at the door. Fudge, Zonke’s here!
I grab a towel. “Just a minute!”, I shout. Rushing out of the shower the steam follows me. I open the door in apologetic mutters, to find that she is not alone. The security guard from reception helped her up with her bags. Was she here to stay? I mean two big bags are a bit much for one weekend. I caught myself staring at them and the security guard staring at me all steamy and wet half naked in a towel. I hide behind the door and let Zonke in.
“Yoh mgani, it’s so good to see you. I’m parched do you have anything to drink? iWine or something. “
Wine at 10 in the morning? , “Well we could go to the Old Biscuit Mill next door.”
“Yini leyo manje (what’s that)?”
“Oh it’s like Neighbourgoods in Braam, except this one is full of white tourists.”
“Konje, Cape Town is the Europe Capital of Africa. Get dressed Sanele I have to see this for myself.”
We both changed into something Spring like. Cape Town had just experienced the last of its cold front and Zonke was just in time for a warm beautiful Spring. It seems everyone got the memo because at every corner of the Mill, people were dressed in short skirts, brightly coloured cropped tops, freshly cut hair and sunglasses in abundance. The eyes always wandered as people filtered in and out of the Mill. Food and drink was the order of the day and Bohemian music was the jam.
You always saw someone you knew and perhaps wished you didn’t. That’s when sunglasses were the most valuable accessory to possess. Capetonians are so weird like that. People have amnesia every time you meet. You can bump into the same person at least 3 times and they will pretend that they don’t know you or don’t see you when they know they’ve bummed a cigarette off of you. What’s that about? I don’t smoke, but if you can’t support your addiction surely you have no business smoking. What more asking for a ciggy from a stranger you’re never gonna remember because your broke ass has BEEN bumming off of people’s cigarettes.
“Mmm, who’s that?”, Zonke asks.
“Oh, it’s Mike.”
“Hi, who’s your friend?”, Mike oggles at Zonke.
Zonke answers on her own behalf. She was on the hunt, she was on holiday after all.
“I’m Zonke, I’m here for the weekend. You are?”
“Mike, I live upstairs from Sanele. I’m surprised she didn’t tell me that she’s having a friend over.”
I could see where this was going. Mike has been asking me to pimp my friends to him ever since we met. I decided to let things unfold as they may, I’m no one’s momma after all.
“Yall should come up for some drinks later on.”
“That would be nice.” Zonke looks at me with a grin.
“Cool. Let’s go get some food or something.”, I say.
We leave Mike wagging his tail at the sight of two lovely ladies leaving him behind.
“So do you and Mike have history?”
I laugh. no, I respond.
“Why? Is he a terrible shag?”
I try change the subject.“Look ice cream.”
“Sanele what was that?”
“What was what?”
“Are we 5 years old or something.”
“What do you mean?”
“I just tried to talk to you about a casual fuck with Mike and you froze up like a popcicle.”
“No, I just really like ice cream.”
“More than sex?”, she blurts out.
“Zonke! We’re in public can you be more discreet.”
“Fine, but you and I are going to sit down and talk about this.”
I agree reluctantly, afraid that she’d have another inappropriate Turrets moment.
We find a spot and I explain. “Mike and I don’t have history. He’s too much of a lady’s man. But sometimes it’s difficult to be in this beautiful strange place. Often people are seduced by it’s beauty and are non committal with each other.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well look around you. This place is crawling with tourists, because everyone is mesmerised by this city. So you find that people treat it as a temporary destination a casual shag in way. This is a broad generalisation, but even the locals are not interested in relationships, because it’s more fun to be with a tourist.”
“Listen girl, I know that tourists have changed their flight plans because of Ebola, but that’s really silly because the virus is nowhere near South Africa if anything it’s closer to Europe. Anyway, just because there’s a shortage tourists, it doesn’t mean there’s none. Why aren’t you doing the same? Have your fun, get your slice of Europe.
“I, well I… I have phallaphobia.”
“I’m afraid of new penis.”
I swear I felt a roar of laughter erupt from Zonke’s chest.
“Girl, new penis? When last did you have sex?”
“Well, I have sex just not with men?”
“Oh, are you lesbian?”
“Well then which one is it Sanele?”
“I have mono sex.”
“You and your big words. What?”
“I touch myself Ok.”
Zonke was sure to have a six pack around me with all the laughing she was doing.
“Why would you do that?”
“It’s safer then the incestuous activities people get up to around here. This city, for those who stick to the local dating pool, is way too small. People know each other quite intimately. Besides I had a bad experience.”
“So you did have a bad shag?”
“No, I didn’t stick around long enough to find out. I met this German guy Sven a while back at a club. We got talking via text. Finally after a few weeks, we decided to meet and well he was really attractive and funny.
We hung out and he loved the attention we stirred up him being white and me black. It’s as if he wanted to prove a point and make real some beautiful dark twisted fantasy (Kanye West knew what this man was about). We were only seeing each other for a week and he was talking about kids with his blue eyes and my fro. This made me very skeptical of him. He was pretty convincing though. He’d pick me up at home and take me out for lunch, pay for everything which is something Capetonian guys don’t do. If anything you pay for their drinks, imagine.”
Zonke interrupts me, “I’m still waiting for the nightmare to happen. So far all I’ve heard is that this guy was into you.”
“Well remember how I told you how small this town is? Well, one of my friends knew of him. I was petite back then and bold fitting his profile of model type black girls he targeted to sleep with and ditch thereafter. It all began to make sense, the way he went on about my blackness, touching my head and when I told him to take it slow he started to withdraw. He was not getting what he wanted so he considered me a lost cause.”
“That’s your horror story? That’s why you haven’t tried again Sanele? You need to toughen up girl, Joburg is far worse. The guys there think they own women. They buy you and all 5 of your friends drinks you didn’t ask for; then they think they can get your attention. They’ll roll down they dark tinted windows in their expensive looking cars and think that you’ll jump into their ride and hopefully into their pants. If you do happen to date one of them, you can easily be replaced by any other chicken head who’s just looking for her next source of airtime. I mean the nerve, he moves from a goddess to a cheap skate kid. It’s like Game of Thrones, anyone could be removed off the throne. So the only option is to play the same game. They are non-committal, why do I need to be?”
Zonke says all of this with a straight face. Is this what being in our 20s meant? Was there a wave of singletons sweeping our generation because commitment is a construct that actually does not exist?
“This is why I don’t get involved with men at all.”
“You must have a good vibrator then Sanele.”
“Ammm, yeah.”, I unconvincingly respond.
“Wait, don’t tell me you’re still riding it manually. Girl you’re bound to get carpel tunnel syndrome at this rate, that’s not healthy. We are going shopping for a high range automatic.”
I didn’t like how that sounded. Before I could say anything she grabbed me with one hand and Googled ‘Adult Shops in Cape Town’ with the other. We ended up in Greenpoint, where a review Zonke read promised to titillate the senses. My goodness I thought I had a fear for real penises, silicone ones were not any better. Some of them looked real and scary. Zonke sighed and took me to the section that would be better suited for me.
“Is that a rabbit on the phallus? It’s so cute, how does it work?”, I asked.
The rabbit came alive, a humming droning sound activated it’s ears. The initial moment of innocence shifted to the realisation of carnal knowledge, yes I took a bite of the fruit of knowledge and there was no turning back.
“Ok, I’ll take it.”
“Sanele you haven’t seen anything else.”
“Yes, but I want this one.” Suddenly this was like a candy store and I had identified the piece of candy that I wanted all to myself.
“Alright then, let me just grab a few things and we can go.”
I took a purple version of the rabbit in a box and we were off. I must admit I was a bit excited. I can’t imagine not having to break a sweat ever again at a moment of pleasure. This was a very appealing idea. I was fixated with the droning sound and wondered what it could do.
We got back to the flat. Dropped off the merchandise and we got ready to go out. Zonke was no longer interested in going to Mike’s. “He’ll be my last option if nothing turns up at the end of the night.”, she says.
We go off and land up in Long Street.
“Why does every club here look like Kitcheners? Dodgey and…”
I intercept,” … and fun. Let’s get a drink.”
We pop into Monito’s, I order a Gin and Lemonade, Zonke likes it with Tonic. Moments later, a guy who claims to work at 169 invites us to the club. I may be on Long Street but I am a bit picky about where I hang but hey, fuck it. I already feel Goldi surfacing.
It seems this guy only had eyes for Zonke. They disappeared somewhere, I didn’t mind. It has been ages since I had been out for a dance. With Goldi out on a night about town it was not hard to get noticed. Spinning and twirling about like a tornado I caught a stranger’s eye. He was dark and mysterious, I felt the urge to know his secrets. We lost each other in the crowd, I felt myself becoming alone.
I gained composure and turned around almost slipping but there he was to break my fall. Goldi being who she is turned it into a dance move. He followed suite, he was smooth. The way he held my body, told me he knew what he was doing. I felt like Queen Cleopatra bathed in this man’s splendour. Yes I got all of that from one dance what more if I… Zonke suddenly shows up.
“We have to go!”
“Zonke where were you?”
She pulls me away from my perfect stranger. I didn’t say a single word to him, but our bodies spoke volumes to each other. I lingered on the ‘if’ what if? It was torturous thinking of what could have been. I was pissed and aroused. I didn’t even care why Zonke had to leave all of a sudden.
“Sorry my friend, we have to go home and get my stuff. I have to leave tonight unfortunately.”
“I got a message from my ex. He’s broken into my flat and is threatening to take my stuff.”
Wow, Zonke’s life is too much for me. I helped her get all of her bags and rushed off to the airport. Eventually she got a 3am flight. By the time I got home I could hear the birds sing. Tired and confused about the turn of events I remembered the highlight of the day. Without delay, I run to my room, unwrap my new toy, give it a wash and got ready for the thunder. The moment of truth, I put my thumb on the On switch and guess what? Oh Fudge, I forgot the batteries…