Friday, April 25, 2003

Da Vincenzo's, Sunninghill

Friday, April 25, 2003

Service: * *
Food: * *
Ambience: * *
Babe Count: * *

Hmmm. Troy has persuaded me to come to this birthday party. It's a buddy of his who he does laser shows with, and he's just turned some ludicrous age like twenty-five or something equally feeble. Troy has promised me that there'll be lots of babes, and that the place is really cool, and that I can't miss it.

I drove around for an hour trying to not miss it. Even with Troy giving me explicit directions, I almost landed up behind bars by driving into the Sunninghill Prison twice. My car doesn't have a GPS like his Landrover Defender does.

Anyway. The place is appalling. One of those lapa-style places that can seat about 500 paying guests. The type of place cheap people with lots of money take wedding guests to. Or hair-oil salespeople. And sure. There certainly ARE babes. Joy and Renee, Troy's babe and close childhood friend respectively. Problem is, they're both attached. Where's Janine from Nelspruit when I need her? Or Heidi, for that matter.

So sue me. I'm not over the breakup yet. And even if we did only ever see each other in the flesh twice, those two occasions were huge and lovely. And it was about half a year's worth of emailing, SMSing, phoning, longing, fantasising. Sigh. Here's some advice for free... avoid the long distance relationship stuff, okay? Only tears at the end.

Back to Da Vincenzo's. I take the lead in ordering, cos I'm starving after being lost for an hour. But the host is waiting for just one more couple to arrive. They've been waiting for two hours (not only was I lost for an hour, but I was also an hour late).

"Waiter!!!" I shout. It's necessary to shout, cos they're so far on the other end of this cavernous room that they can't see me waving the menu around. In fact, they can't even hear me shout. It's another diner halfway to my target who hears me and shouts on my behalf. A waiter scurries over to him. He points to me. The waiter looks in my direction. Can't see me waving my menu and shouting. Eventually pinpoints me and sprints over ten minutes later.

"Are you ready to order?" he says.

I say, "Yes, I'd like the..."

But Troy's birthday buddy, Christo, cuts me off. "No!" he shrieks. "We're still waiting for another couple!!!" The waiter starts vamoosing into the distance, faster than a crab in an oil slick.

I stand up. "WAIT!"

The guy skids.

I say, "I'll have the pumpkin panzerotti in Napoletana sauce!"

And with that, the whole table starts ordering. Christo, who in later life will turn out not to like women as much as he thinks he does now, puts his head in his hands rather camply and sighs his order to the waiter. But he's too far away for me to hear what he's having.

Now the interesting thing for me about this gathering is that most of the guys look like the closet has been their home for many years, probably under the draconian regime of Afrikaans fathers who would bash any gayness out of their boys. But they all seem to have girlfriends who don't talk. And these boys are all wearing technical laser equipment branded t-shirts.

I suppose I shouldn't talk. I'm wearing my bright orange SABC3 t-shirt, showing my solidarity for the place I'm contracted to.

And with a serious dearth of babes in the place, I'm starting to eye the boys, and wonder if I'm in a closet myself.

But then I remember Janine in Nelspruit, who will hopefully be moving to Joburg one of these fine days to pursue her love of acting. I'll be her understudy.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

The Green Venus, Kaapschehoop

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Service: * * *
Food: * * *
Ambience: * * *
Babe Count: * * * *

Bloody hell. Back when I was twenty-nine or so, I did the Blyde River Canyon hike for the fourth time. Sure, there was a bit of pain and all that, but it wasn't the worst thing I'd ever done in my life. Now that I'm all of thirty-five, I think I have to admit that I'm not a frisky young being anymore.

Which is all my way of excusing the fact that instead of hiking 15.4km today, Damon, Wendy, Troy, Joy, and I took the short cut along the road, and went to fetch Troy's green Landrover Defender (it's got one of those snorkel devices up the side, so you can drive into lakes that are 1.8 metres deep). We then drove that to the last hut, the one in Kaapschehoop. And we decided not to eat camp food. So we're out on the town.

And it's a slightly rundown town tonight. Cos yesterday there was an all night music festival, and everybody is totally hung over. It's so bad that the pool players in The Green Venus are playing with no balls on the tables. The smacks were too loud, so they're miming.

The good news is that Janine Groenewald, the star of Damon's first movie, ENGAGE, has driven from Nelspruit to be with us. And I can reveal here, now, that my gut tells me she and I have some journeying to do. I'm smitten. Not only is she beautiful and gorgeous and vivacious with a sense of humour and intelligence, but she's an actress. So she understands the casting couch. And I'm a producer.

Which reminds me of my favourite movie joke. Stop me if you've heard me tell it before...

A producer and a director are walking along the beach at Cannes during the film festival. The director tugs on the producer's arm and says, "Hey, look at all those naked women on the beach! Let's go down and f*ck them!!!" And the producer, wild eyed and fervent, says, "F*ck them out of what???"

Unfortunately, Janine has brought along her special friend, Matthew. I say unfortunately, when I actually mean, "unfortunately for HIM". Cos soon, the hikers who are still awake at midnight on a Sunday in the middle of nowhere after a hard day's trek to fetch the car, those hikers being me and Damon, are somewhat manic. And I'm being spurred on by testosterone generated by exposure to Janine.

So, one thing leads to another, and Damon and I pretend to be filmmakers, and she pretends to be an actress, and Matthew pretends to be an innocent bystander who's never encountered such lunatics ever, and never will again. And of course, the sex scene starts being enacted. In the restaurant. With me rolling a fake camera. And Damon yelling direction.

And of course, like any self-respecting artist, I've got the tools of my trade with me. I never leave home without a sketchbook, a bottle of ink, and my trusty Maped Ruling Pen. The pen resembles a gynaecological excavation device, with two incredibly sharp, strong, metallic points held together by a little spring steel caliper. With this pen, it's possible to circumcise somebody if you should happen to slip and stab them in the groin.

I'm not pointing any fingers at Damon here. He IS a director, and as such, he must be afforded the ultimate respect. Suffice to say that he's demanding a less-controlled performance from young Matthew. "Loosen up, Matthew!" screams Damon while Janine is mounting Matthew's leg, her skirt falling open for the camera, revealing the most delicious white panties I've ever seen up close and personal in a small, Lowveld town. Matthew's being open-mouth kissed, and he's sitting there unable to find anything to do with his hands. Damon shouts, "CUT!!!"

He leans in towards Matthew. "Listen," he says, earnest, ready to pull director tricks out of his bag, "I need you to really feel the part." He points at Janine's crotch. "That part."

At which point, I get a great idea, no doubt spurred on by the word, "Cut!" so cavalierly used by Damon. I figure I'll help Matthew to loosen up. So I grab my trusty Maped Ruling Pen, the one with the twin points made of spring steel, and I jab the thing right between the poor fellow's legs, piercing his jeans clear through to the chair. I remove my hand, and the pen stays there quivering like Excalibur. "Now he's loose," I say.

Damon snaps his finger under the guy's nose. The bloke has turned extremely white. And he's not breathing. Finally, Matthew says, "Uh... that was a lot closer than you might have thought." And that's the last thing he says all night.

Oh... I have to recommend the pizzas. They're brilliant.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

The Wattles, Kaapschehoop

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Service: * * * * *
Food: * * * * *
Ambience: * * * * *
Babe Count: * * * * *

All right. So I overcatered. I'm Jewish. What can I say? Which is why my shoulders are sore and the ring of pain most people call their waistline is sensitive even to my underpants.

It's the second night of a three-night hike, out in Kaapschehoop, near Nelspruit. Seven buddies and I have done the heroic thing, believing we're superheroes, and walking up hill, down dale, kilometre after stinking kilometre. We've gone hiking.

And you know, it's not really all that bad. Except for the pain. And the heat. And the fact that my pack is a good eight kilograms too heavy.

Now you will have noticed that my rating for this establishment, The Wattles, is a little on the generous side. That's cos tonight is my turn to cook for the eight of us. And boy have I cooked well. And it's been service with a smile too. So send me large tips.

I cooked Lionel Murcott's famous lentil briyani. It's an incredible rice dish he taught me involving baby potatoes, herbs and spices and curry powder, ginger, broad beans, and, of course, the indispensible lentils.

Except, of course, that Wendy New -- famous Joburg/New York singer/songwriter phenomenon, Damon Berry's gorgeous babe -- decided earlier this morning that her pack was too heavy. So she ditched the lentils back at Barrett's Coaches. But that's all right. I've improvised with Troy Bentley's Soya Mince concoction and some turnips and tiny gemsquashes.

The dish turns out to be amazing, thanks to Alfred Hilton's exceptional curry powder mix. Alfred is an awesome artist. His portrait of me hangs above my study desk.

People line up, and I dish the steaming rice into their camp plates, and they invariably go "Yummy!!!" on taking the first bite. This is probably because the hike has allowed me to access my inner Hitler, and they're probably just scared that I'm going to gas one of them. (And with hiking food, the gas is very apparent, let me assure you. Yes Troy. Yes Damon. I AM referring to you two.)