Monday, July 21, 2003

Wiesenhof, Killarney

Monday, July 21, 2003

Service: * * *
Food: * * * 1/2
Ambience: * * 1/2
Babe Count: * *

Ah! The taste of victory! I've just thrashed Jonathan 21--14 in my first game in the new cycle of our backgammon club. I've made the cut into the B-division, and life smells like organically grown roses. And my beard smells like chicken breasts with peppadew and sweet-onion topping, served with Greek salad. Which just happens to be the dish on special tonight here in Killarney.

It's definitely a recommendable light supper. For only R22, this is enough to fill the gap caused by a long Monday at work, and it's tasty enough to be called a victor's meal.

"Roy," says Matt, looking up from the pounding he's giving Doc Pete. "How's your relationship with Jacqui progressing?" He throws his dice, shrieks a fist-pumper, slaps Doc Pete's lone blot onto the bar, and says, non-sotto-voce: "Please please please... give us the sordid details. All of them!"

Well, it's gotten to the stage where Jacqui and I are trying to work out pet names for each other.

I've rejected 'Boy Roy', which is what I was called by Stan Katz back in the days I was the sound controller on his afternoon show on 702. I've rejected 'Royco', cos I don't really want to be associated with a brand of instant soup, even though it's hot and steamy and likes being stirred vigorously, whereupon it foams lightly. And I'm uncomfortable with 'Enormous Boy', cos it's untrue. Mostly.

Jacqui has rejected 'Lust Bucket'. I don't really know why. 'Honey Bunny' is just too mundane for both of us. I don't really feel that calling her 'Jax' is appropriate, cos all of her friends call her that, and it seems to me to be too reminiscent of an incident involving a headmaster and a cane when I was in primary school. (I don't know what they called the administration of corporal punishment in your school, but in mine it was called 'Jacks'.) She's given a provisional 'yes' to 'Jacquilicious', but only in private.

"Excuse me," I say to the Wiesenhof waiter in the privacy of Jacqui being in a different part of the world from me, a waiter who I haven't seen for forty-minutes. "I seem to have drooled all over my beard. I've been talking about my girlfriend and she's so Jacquilicious I can't control myself."

He doesn't seem to know what the hell I'm talking about. Which just proves that Jacquilicious could be obscure enough to be uttered in public.

"Please can I have a serviette?" I ask the waiter.

"Ah," he says, handing me one. "Are you Boy Roy from the Four-to-Six-Afternoon-Fix with Stan Katz in 1989?"

Sunday, July 20, 2003

The Garden of My Flat, Cresta

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Service: * * * * *
Food: * * * * 1/2
Ambience: * * * * *
Babe Count: * * * * *

Jacqui and I are lying on a blanket in my garden, covered by a purple sarong. It's mid afternoon, and the winter sun is warm. It feels like spring is almost here.

My next door neighbour -- Pauline, I think is her name -- is sitting on her stoep making a patchwork quilt. She's also preventing Jacqui from allowing me to try to get up to no good under the sarong.

"No, Roy!" she says. "That woman can see us!!!"

"That's okay," I say. "It's her daughter who's the one keen on me." Her daughter stayed with her for a while, but moved out when she got a better job. She sends me religiously inappropriate SMSs like, 'Jesus Loves U2'. I replied to that one, 'That's amazing! Bono must be thrilled!' I didn't get a reply.

We've just been to gym together for the first time. "You know what?" I say, trying to get my leg between hers. "We should make a ritual of this Sunday gym thing. It really felt great being there with you." I'm aware that I'm talking in syrup bubbles, but love will do this to a man.

"Cool!" she says. "That can be one of your three days a week. And maybe it'll spur me to get to yoga more often too."

Sigh. We're so supportive of each other. It's just delicious. Almost as delicious as the rosemary and herb ham on three-corn rye with cumin gouda, tomato and avo sandwiches we're busy digesting. And it's amazing that Steve's Spar on Beyer's Naude Drive sells kosher ham.

"Show me a yoga position," I say, shifting into a position where I can maybe see how lovely her contorted body will look. She's wearing her tracksuit, so I should be able to learn more about the position if I study her carefully enough.

"Pervert," she says, and we nestle together like spoons in the decaying winter sun.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Tokyo Star, Melville

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Service: * *
Food: * * 1/2
Ambience: * * 1/2
Babe Count: * * * * *
Jacqui-Babe Count: * * * * *

Basically, whenever I'm with Jacqui in a public place, I have to modify my babe count scoring system. Cos Jacqui is the babe-ist of them all. But just cos I only have eyes for her doesn't mean I don't notice whether other babes are present. Like tonight, here in Tokyo Star, owned by Matt Hoffman, Antoinette's brother.

Tokyo Star is where young people hang out. It's next door to the Melville barber shop in the premises that used to house the butchery. I haven't asked Matt if it's his sense of irony that caused him to leave the old sign up on the roof. It says, 'FRESH MEAT'. And it really means it. We're talking trainer bras.

Jacqui and I are here because Antoinette is back from New York having a belated birthday- and 'I Love Joburg'-party. She's invited me and Jacqui cos she wants to meet the new love of my life and pass on a message to her.

"Antoinette," I say. "Don't you have something to say to Jacqui?" Antoinette is the last real love of my life, the one before Heidi, who was probably just a surrogate. Antoinette and I had a marathon stretch together. Two years and four months. Give or take a day or two. And we've been broken up for about two years. Give or take three days and two hours. But who's counting?

"Oh ya!" says Antoinette. "Take care of my ex-boyfriend, okay?"

"Uh, no," I say. "That's not what you wanted to say." I prompt her: "Tell her about the kneecaps."

"Ah! Yes! Well, basically, if you hurt him, I'm going to break your kneecaps," says Antoinette. She's looking remarkably like Cleopatra. She hugs Jacqui. "You two look so good together!" And she means it.

She and I had chatted a bit while she was in New York. She had some husband troubles there involving flower pots smashing against walls, a sugar bowl and lid that went through the open window to the street below, her husband deciding to commit suicide by beating himself over the head with an industrial-size rolling pin, the topless ex-girlfriend of mine running down the stairs while trying to put her t-shirt on, a vastly oversized Polish woman shrieking "I'm terribly scared!" in an incomprehensibly thick immigrant accent while this same ex-girlfriend of mine hid behind her, this rolling-pin bloodied husband burying his head in a New York sidewalk rubbish bin screaming, "I'm so worthless; I deserve to die", and the two of them finally resolving their troubles on a park bench with the husband sitting a respectful distance from the ex-girlfriend due to the stench emanating from his head.

"But you're not allowed to tell anyone about this!" she had said.

But tonight, here in her brother's pickup spot for meaty teenagers, she mentions this to all and sundry. So I figure I can mention it too. But just don't tell anyone, okay? Your kneecaps are at risk.

The Question Mark, Melville

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Service: * * * 1/2
Food: * * * *
Ambience: * * * *
Babe Count: * * *
Juacqui-Babe Count: * * * * *

We're taking a chance on the Question Mark. In recent years it turned into a bit of a drug-addled dive, with cruddy food and useless staff.

But Jacqui and I are totally surprised at the transformation.

There's excellent art on the walls, along with a catalogue and price-list. Two of the artists are sitting on a brand new funky couch nursing cocktails. And the menu is enormous. It's like we've discovered a brand new restaurant.

"Wow," I say to the maitre d' hotel, a young man with what could possibly be a wisp of moustache tickling his lip, "this place has changed!"

"Yes," he says, "it used to have somewhat of a communist slant before."

Jacqui and I look at each other. Two things are clear. Firstly, it's possible English is his second language. Secondly, he probably only knows the word 'communist' from Apartheid propaganda days, and is a little out of his depth. After all, he's only about eighteen, and can't be expected to know what such things mean.

I figure he means that because the old place used to have a load of Soviet-realist film posters on the walls, this could be construed to mean that the previous owners were Soviet-realists themselves. In a limited field of experience, this could be interpreted as being of the communist persuasion. But it's fine. We kinda figure that he means that the old Question Mark used to have somewhat of a Bohemian slant.

Jacqui orders the oxtail with veggies. It arrives in a small potjie, and smells delicious. I've ordered the bacon and avo burger, "Welllllllll-done," I tell the waitress, "with no fat on the bacon, and please toast the insides of the bun."

"Is jy eintlik Afrikaans?" she asks.

"No," I say, "I'm English."

"Oh," she says, "you speak with an Afrikaans accent, so I thought you were actually Afrikaans."

"I had an Afrikaans girlfriend," I tell her. And in fact, that's why Jacqui and I are at the Question Mark. We're catching a bite to eat before heading across the road to Tokyo Star for Antoinette's welcome-home party. She's been in New York for several months working on her masters degree and being with her new husband, a writer and filmmaker.

But frankly, I'm baffled. Many people ask me if I'm British, and I'm not aware of having any serious Afrikaans in my vocal makeup. In fact, one of Antoinette's favourite laughs was to ask me to say the word 'strikkie' whenever her other Afrikaans friends were around. And while my spoken Afrikaans is pretty damn good for a scurrilous half-Jew like myself, my mouth just cannot bend around the rolled-R coming after the ST. Yeesh. Hilarity ensues whenever I try that. (But just try getting Antoinette to say the Yiddish word, 'Schmooze'. We'll see who's laughing then.)

My burger arrives just after Jacqui's dish, and I wish I'd ordered hers instead of mine. But the burger's great.

"Would you like a taste?" she asks. I nod, and she assembles an assortment of the veggies and some of the tenderest oxtail I've seen trembling off a bone. The gravy smells divine. She prods the fork into my mouth. And it's delicious.

"Everything all right?" says an older gay-looking man of the straight-looking, straight-acting variety.

"This oxtail is worth coming here for," I say.

"Thank you!" he says. "We're rather famous for it nowadays. I'm Ivan, the owner." He goes on to tell us that he bought the Question Mark in September, and got back from Malaysia, where he owns a factory manufacturing hand-drying machines, to find that the managers he'd installed had run the place into the ground. They'd gone so far as to steal plates of food to get enough money for their next drug fix.

"I love the art," says Jacqui. Which gets us a guided tour around the gallery, and an invitation to the next drag show on Wednesday.

"A very classy act," says Ivan. "And your R120 includes dinner and the show."