Sunday, May 16, 2004

The Spaza Gallery, Troyeville

Sunday, May 16, 2004

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

Phone: +27 11 614 9354

I'm at the opening of my first art exhibition. I am now officially an exhibited artist. Back in the old days when I defined myself strictly as a poet, I had no idea such a thing could happen to me.

But looking back, I was always peeking over the shoulders of my artist buddies and learning their tricks. I definitely have Miriam to thank for the grounding, and Lionel Murcott for commenting on my stuff, and taking it seriously, and engaging with it over the years.

I've been at the Spaza Gallery since about 3pm, and I'm bored out of my skull waiting for the official opening time of 5pm. Four coffee-coloured children are sitting around me drawing, asking me questions about what it's like being an artist.

Rosa Mabaso, daughter of the artist, Dumisani Mabaso. She loves my work. But doesn't really think this sketch looks much like her. She helps out at the gallery. So I take out one of the extra prints I've made. Show it to her. "Do you like this one?" I say. "Yes," she says. I flip it over, write, "For Rosa, love Roy," and hand it to her. "This is for you," I say. "Wow!!!! Thanks!!!!!" she says.Suddenly there's a stomping sound down the passage, and John appears at the door, wild-eyed.

"HAAAAAAA!!!" shouts John. He's a tall chap with a moustache. Looks like there could be a touch of brain damage there. "HAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!" he shouts again. He's very tall, with black hair, a Beatles-style mop. But he's also very skinny. With vast, bony hands.

A very plump woman runs down the passage and tackles him. "Shut up, John! You're getting excited, and you're not allowed to get excited! Shoooosh!!!"

"I'M NOT GETTING EXCITED!!!!" shouts John.

"When you get excited you shout, and you're shouting," she says, her arms still wrapped around him. He leans down and kisses her on the mouth.

"I'M NOT SHOUTING!" he shouts. "I mean," he says, "I'm not shouting."

"That's better," she says. "Now just calm down, okay?"

He bends down and kisses her again. This time, when he bends, his butt sticks through the door. Maya grabs my arm to show me, and she giggles. All of the kids start giggling, pointing at John's bony backside.

My part of the exhibition consists of 78 prints of my digitally originated sketches, the ones I draw on my iPAQ 2210, using NeFa Studio's MOBILE ATELIER freeware. (These pics are the full colour ones you see on this site. The black and white ones are done in ink, in a sketchbook, and those don't get exhibited.) The gallery is selling them at R95 per print, which I'm happy about, cos I just want to get some of them out there into the world.

The opening is quite weird for me. A mixture of terror, banality, boredom, blather, indifference, joy, pride.

The terror comes from knowing that Jacqui will be joining me. After quite a lot of hard thought, I sent her an sms asking her to come to my opening. She's the most significant person to have entered my life in recent history, and I want to share this with her.

My phone warbles. It's Jacqui. "Oh Roy," she says, "I'm lost!"

Dumisani Mabaso, one of the artists exhibiting at the show. Two of his works are the standout pictures. When I show him this sketch, he says, "That colour blue is my favourite colour. In all my pictures, if they don't have that blue in them, then they're not complete."I talk her through getting to the place, and walk out into the street, down to the corner. I see her car and thrust my thumb out. "Turn left at the corner, and give the hitchhiker a lift," I say.

"I see you!!!" she says, and stops to pick me up.

Oh man. Oh me oh my. She is looking so darn fine. Jeeeez. Ouch. Oh.

Tears immediately before she even manages to park.

I decide that I've got to lay things on the line. I don't really care if she wants to hear this or not, but I have to say it. I've told her in the past that I'm not one for giving up easily. And she knows that I love her. And from our few conversations through the breakup, I know that she loves me. So I say what I need her to know.

"Jacqui," I say, "I want you to know this. I want to be with you. I love you and you love me."

"I love you too, Roy," she says. Her hand is on my cheek, tender. "But I don't want to be your girlfriend. I want to be your friend."

"Are you absolutely sure that we can't try?" I ask.

"I'm not sure," she says.

"Was it something I did?" I ask.

Little Maya, sitting with her buddies on the gallery floor, drawing. "Here!" she says, thrusting a picture under my nose. "Can I hang it on the wall next to your's?" she says. "Hmmm," I say, "very nice. Maybe you must go and ask Drew." "Who's Drew?" "He's the gallery owner. That big guy with the beard." She makes a gesture over her tummy, describing a pregnant tummy. "Yeah," I say, "the guy with the very big stomach." All the kids giggle.She hesitates. Changes the position of her hand on my face. "It's been almost three months," she says, "and I've had time to get some perspective. And I think one of the things that makes you not right for me is that you're very in touch with your feminine side, and it brings out my masculine side, and I'm not comfortable with that."

Jeepers! This is an eye-opener, a jaw-dropper, a ball-breaker. Women want men to be sensitive. They want them to be in touch. She gets one who's sensitive, in touch, and it's too much for her. But this can't really be it, cos in terms of our sexuality, we're a magical combination. Well, for me, anyway. But from what I can tell, lovemaking for her was also supreme. I dunno. This is weird-out time for me.

I DO know that in the beginning of our relationship, she was a bit of a John Gray adherent, he of the book, MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS. I happen to be of the school that believes John Gray should be hanged and all of his books burned, because he's really about gender stereotyping, and he causes beautiful women like Jacqui to doubt their own femininity if it doesn't fit within his prescriptive mould. The bastard!

"I've been thinking though," says Jacqui, "that maybe we should go back to Zahava for a few more sessions of couples therapy?"

"I've been thinking that too," I say. Of course, I haven't said anything like this to her before, because I've been giving her the time and space and distance and no-contact that she's asked for. In a very manly kinda way, I thought.

"But I just want you to know that my intention in going to Zahava with you isn't to resume the relationship. It's to decode the things I've been thinking and feeling."

"I understand," I say. "But you're not completely closed to the possibility of us getting back together?" Clutching at bubbles.

She looks at me with a flinch of pity. "Not completely closed to the possibility," she says. She rummages around in her bag. "I've got something special for you," she says. It's a posy of flowers, heart-red, fragrant. "They're the very first sweetpeas from my window-box," she says.

More tears. The window box is her project that I was helping her plan just as we broke up. She's told me that the Travis song on the cd I made for her makes her think of me. It's called "Flowers in the Window", and it's about love and growing old together.

I want to shake her, and get some sense into her. Can't she SEE that she wants to be with me??? Doesn't she KNOW it? Can't she HEAR herself??? Ayee!!! Maybe I can ask John to get excited around her, and she'll see what a catch I am in comparison.

We go into the exhibition, and she's thoroughly proud of me, loves the way the work's been hung. "I helped hang it," says John, his moustache slightly damp with drool.

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