Wednesday, March 31, 2004

My Flat, Cresta

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Service: N/A
Food: N/A
Ambience: *
Babe Count: N/A

Sitting at home listening my UNCUT, Best of 2003 cd on repeat. Feeling lonely, and wishing Jacqui were with me.

My phone vibrates, and gives off the cuckoo sound. An incoming sms. It's from Jacqui.

She says that her cd is an exquisite set of songs, and that she feels loved. She also thanks me for our beautiful and soul-full goodbye.

A huge part of me is beaming. That cd I made for her is bursting with love and light. Another part of me is wailing. Tears of loss. I'm wishing that she and I can be together. That this space she's in is filled with healing. May she find herself, and in doing that, find me.

M&A, Hyde Park

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

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

Phone: +27 11 325 2727

Yup, the babe count is full to overflowing tonight. That's cos the babe sitting across from me is Jacqui. It's our meeting, the one where we hand things to each other and say goodbye. She's looking beautiful tonight, in a red-Japanese-sunburst-on-white cotton blouse, oriental-cut. "I bought it on the Woolworth's sale," she says.

We've both been crying intermittently since Jacqui arrived. But there are amazing amounts of love flowing between us. This woman really loves me, really finds me precious. And the same from me. We've hugged a few times. Touched each others hands. I've held her face.

I've got this little condom pouch in my cargo pants. It's right near the ankle, inconspicuous. And I've got it loaded tonight.

I reach in and pull out a candle. And a lighter. "I brought this in case they didn't have candles for us." And they certainly didn't. This place is VERY brightly lit.

When I asked the maitre d'hotel if he could perhaps dim the lights, he said, "Hmm. We don't have a dimmer, but I'll see what I can do. But, just out of curiosity, are you saying the restaurant is overlit?"

Jacqui lights the candle, and I breathe white light into it as she does so. Then I reach into my condom pocket and pull out a blue rectangle of glass. It's a piece of mosaic that's fallen off the wall of my block of flats. Jacqui's a Gaudi-lover, and has done a mosaic course, and is about to make a mosaic. As she realises what it is, and where it comes from, the tears flow again.

I hold it to my heart, and breathe light and love into it. I ask God to enter it, so that it may guide Jacqui on her search for her soul, and that she may be free. I kiss it three times and give it to her. She touches my face, smiles through the tears. "Thank you."

Yet another dipping into the pocket. A smooth, round, white pebble. Quartz. I do the same with it. "This one's just for you to keep somewhere, to remind you of me. The mosaic is for your next project."

All this while, the waiter is hovering. As Jacqui bursts into tears and reaches for a serviette, he braves the table. "Would you like to order?" he asks.

"No, not right now," I say. I'm also on the verge of crying.

Jacqui puts the stones in her bag. "I want to keep the energy in them," she says. And my floodgates break.

The maitre d arrives as I'm pressing a sodden serviette to my eyes. "Uh, sorry to, uh, interrupt. But, uhm, I'd like to offer you an hors-d'oeuvre on the house, just to keep you going till you order." He then goes on to describe it. Something to do with olives, bread, basil. I dunno. I'm crying. Leave me alone! Jacqui nods a yes to him, and he leaves.

The lights slide down a couple of notches. "That's strange," I say, and Jacqui's thinking the same thing.

"I thought they didn't have a dimmer," she says.

And we're onto some other topic. And I start to cry again. And the maitre d pops into my distorted field of vision. "Sorry to interrupt," he says, "but is this level of lighting now acceptable?"

I almost start laughing, but the sorrow's just a little too throaty for me. So I just blub while Jacqui says the lighting's cool. He leaves.

Then Jacqui starts crying for one reason or another. And the waiter appears with the hors-d'oeuvre. Jeeez. The service here would receive five stars, but only if they added a touch of sensitivity to the mix. As it is, four stars is a little generous, but that's okay, cos Jacqui and I are here in a loving space, and we're creating a beautiful breakup. So I'll be generous to the service. But I can't easily forgive the ambience. The lighting, even mysteriously dimmed a notch or two is still daylight-bright.

We talk about things. "Are you seeing anybody?" I ask.

"I don't think I'll be seeing anybody for a long time," she says. Then, "This poet of yours. I don't like the sound of her. I would like to request that you let me interview any of your potential lovers. You deserve only the best," she says.

I touch her arm, delicately, sincerely, tenderly. "That's you," I say.

So we yo-yo through our emotions, with the dude appearing as the tears break. Weird man.

My tuna salad is delicious, and superbly presented. It's just that the knot in my stomach is leaving me a tad un-hungry. Jacqui's ravioli is satisfying to her. I ask the waiter to put more than half of mine into a doggie bag. I'll have it for lunch tomorrow at work.

At the end of the evening, I tell Jacqui that I love her, and that I set her free. "This is what I wish for you," I say. "I wish for you to have a beautiful journey to finding your soul. And if you find a soulmate, I wish that your soul will recognise him as your home. I have found my soul's home, and she is you." She cries. For once, nobody comes to bother us.

"You're so generous, Roy. I feel amazed that you can say this after I've hurt you so badly."

I consider this. I say, "Jacqui, I don't really understand why we can't be together, but I'm coming to understand that you need to be where you are, and you need to have this space, and you need to be free. You've done nothing aimed at hurting me, and you're doing the right thing. For yourself. And if there's ever going to be a you and me, you're doing the right thing for us."

We hug.

And the evening comes to an end. We pay, head out into the night, go to her car. Things of mine in the boot. It's freezing outside. Rain spitting. I offer her my jacket. "It'll give me an excuse to come visit," I say. We laugh. Part of what we've agreed is that we might go on Vitality-points-earning fitness walks together once a month or so. We'll keep contact. And we'll hold a space open so that our mutual friends don't need to be awkward about inviting us to functions.

We put the boxes in my boot. Hug one more time, both sobbing wildly. The cold is nudging Jacqui's nipples into my chest. I love these nipples. I love this woman. I want her! And we say goodbye, and get into our cars before the maitre d'hotel can find some reason to come into the cold-cold night to interrupt us again.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Mugg & Bean, Cresta

Sunday, March 28, 2004

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

I'm trying the Chinese Chicken Salad with Glass Noodles. Basheer, my waiter, is damn good. I reckon if he were working at Primi Piatti, he'd be one of their highest-earning waiters. Instead, he's here at Cresta, getting tipped by students and West Rand dwellers. A tough life.

Last night, after I met with Mandy, the poet, I went to gym, then hit Rosebank for a movie. Saw BIG FISH, which made me cry, cos it's all about undying and unfailing love over an entire lifetime. I wanted to sms Jacqui a hundred times during the movie to ask her to see it with me.

But I was very disciplined. I didn't sms her at all. And around 7 o'clock, I'd even begun to stop checking the screen every thirty seconds to see if she'd replied to my morning message.

So I was quite surprised to find a message from her when I exited the cinema:

Hello Roy, thanks for your lovely msg. I am in the Drakensberg with Clair and Erich etc... for Bear's birthday. I miss you terribly too and the walk on the mountain today reminded me of our walk on Table Mountain. I love you too Roy, and I pray that we will heal totally. Sleep well! Jacqui.

So when I went to sleep last night, sobbing viciously, drool running into my ears, I spoke aloud to the universe. I said, "God, if there is such a thing, if you really do exist, I need your help. I don't know what is going on with me and Jacqui, and I would really like some clarity. Please send me some message, some course I can take, to resolve this. I love this woman. She loves me. If it's for the greatest good, please let us be together!"

I listened carefully, but all I could hear was my duvet getting tear-logged.

Fell asleep.

Woke this morning on a mission. I sat down before my cd collection and started looking for songs that would make a great love collection to compile for Jacqui. Switched my computer on and started popping tracks onto the hard drive. How's this for a playlist???

Who knows whether or not she's wearing panties. Quite young. Her legs spread in a kinda innocent-young-girl way, as though she wasn't yet eighteen and bonkable. Compulsive stuff.INTO MY ARMS by Nick Cave. NIGHTSWIMMING by R.E.M. IN THE COLD, COLD NIGHT by The White Stripes. EVERYDAY I WRITE THE BOOK by Elvis Costello. I'M YOUR MAN by Bill Pritchard (a Leonard Cohen song). CAUGHT IN A CRAVING by Wendy New. FLOWERS IN THE WINDOW by Travis. DON'T MARRY HER by The Beautiful South. YOUR GHOST by Kristin Hersh (with Michael Stipe). BORN TO RUN by Bruce Springstein. UNIVERSAL HALL by The Waterboys. BE MY NUMBER TWO by Joe Jackson. THERE SHE GOES by the La's. HALLELUJAH by John Cale (another Leonard Cohen song). And finally, (I'LL LOVE YOU) TILL THE END OF THE WORLD by Nick Cave again.

Made it into a cd, and have done the packaging. I'm hoping that with space and perspective, Jacqui will be able to see that this breakup is actually based on an incident, and that the incident doesn't have to mean the end of our relationship. I don't think I was insane in finding Jacqui to be the woman of my dreams. She actually IS that woman! Remains so! And I don't think she spent ten months with me in abject misery. We had great times together, and she's found me wonderful. These are not illusions.

So I'm hoping that when we do the handing-back-of-Roy's-things ceremony some time this week, she'll appreciate the cd, and might actually even listen to it. My propaganda is subtle, but I think persuasive.

So anyway, I'm in Mugg & Bean, and a very large-boned student type girl walks in with her buddies. Sits at the table next to mine. And proceeds to sit with her legs gaping.

Don't do that to me!!!!!! It means I have to fixate on finding out whether or not she's wearing any underwear. Oh man. Hard-on territory.

Only one thing to do. I whip out my trusty sketch book, and record the dark shadow of her womanhood for posterity.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

JB Rivers, Hyde Park

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Service: * *
Food: N/A
Ambience: * * * *
Babe Count: * * * *

Three o'clock, and all's well. This morning, after a long time lying in bed thinking, I sent Jacqui an sms.

It said:

Hullo Jacqui... Just letting you know I love you, and am missing you. The anxiety is gone, and now I'm able to mourn the loss of us. Feeling sore, but it's a clean pain. I hope you're having a peaceful, healing time. And I want you to know that I wish you the very best. I also hope that one day in a couple of months, you might decide that I'm a guy you might want to date. And maybe we can start afresh. I love you, Jacqui. Roy.

And of course, shreds of the anxiety are still active, so I'm only checking my phone every fifteen minutes for a response. And there isn't one. She's mentioned that she'd "be away" this weekend, which is why we couldn't do the handing over ceremony where she gives me my underpants and socks and tshirts and trousers and books and keys and we kiss dry-lipped and hug awkwardly and cry. I can look forward to that next week.

But right now, I've got an excuse to keep checking my cellphone for messages. I'm meeting a young poet who moved to Joburg from Cape Town, and is keen to hook up with fellow poets. She's sent one of her poems to the UCT PoetryWeb for comment, and I see great potential in it. It's got some rough spots, but it's got some seriously cool observations in it.

I've spent part of the morning analysing it, and working out what I would do to fix it, and, more importantly, making notes about how a young poet might get from one draft to the next.

I send Mandy an sms:

Hi Mandy... I'm wearing a lilac t-shirt, and I'm sitting in JB Rivers at the end closest to the CNA. Leather satchel on the chair beside me.

Something to that effect.

My phone beeps back almost immediately. The message tone is a cuckoo. Could it somehow be Jacqui messaging me? Of course not. Don't be an anxious obsessive compulsive, Roy. Come on! It's Mandy. She's on her way.

Which is darn exciting. I have a soft spot for poets. Especially good ones. Especially ones who have the courage to meet a strange dude at a coffee shop and entrust him with their words. Especially female ones, what with me being newly single and all that.

She arrives. Amazing striped top. Wild black hair. Slightly mismatched brown eyes, but piercing and alive and intelligent. Yummy.

She's in advertising -- a creative strategist. Loves her work. But loves the power of words. I probe a bit, and find out that her first love is actually music. She's a pianist, and loves the romantics like Chopin and Rachmaninov. Has even heard a recording of him playing. Regards him as one of her heroes.

I can tell that she's a little rattled. It's quite easy to know that, since she says, "I'm a bit uncomfortable talking about myself like this. I've told you things that I've never told anyone else. You won't put them on your website, will you?"

Of course I won't. This site isn't here to damage anyone. It's a romp. And it's supposed to entertain.

Then she says, "But aren't you a bit nervous about what you write here? I mean, knowing Jacqui might be reading this, will you write about our meeting?"

I'm not sure about this. As I sit and write the site, I certainly do edit stuff out. You're reading the highlights package. And yes, I'm very nervous about Jacqui reading this. I want Jacqui to be my one-true-love, the woman who has my kids, the woman who I spend the rest of my life with. Even though I broke up with her last Tuesday in the couples therapy session that was meant to be my commitment to doing whatever it took to support her through the space she needed to take.

And I'm aware that Jacqui reading about my meeting a nubile young poet who I'd looooove to shag right this second might not make it any easier in a couple of months when she finally works out that I'm the dude she wants.

But the thing is, WANTING to shag Mandy is not the same as actually shagging her. And I'm not doing that. (Now naturally, I'm being extremely presumptuous here. I'm sort of assuming that I have enough animal magnetism and charisma and poetic insight for Mandy to be interested in shagging ME. But hey. I've gotta allow myself SOME delusions in this tear-stained space I find myself in.)

I pull out my notes, and run Mandy through her poem, as seen through my eyes. And I show her a pared down draft that I've prepared to show her what I think she really intended to be in the poem. And she's really chuffed with my poetic insight. Now I've just gotta work on the animal magnetism and charisma.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Piaceri, The Wedge, Rivonia

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

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

Troy Bentley called me this afternoon as soon as he heard about my breakup. "We're having dinner tonight in Rivonia. Join us." I'm up for it, and I tell him.

"Oh, by the way," he says, "I don't mean to be insensitive about your breakup or anything, but I've got a new girlfriend."

I get to the place twenty minutes later than 8pm. That's cos I had an hour to kill before, and headed off to the Morningside gym for a workout. In this Jacqui-separation period, I've clocked up 24 hours in the Toyota Virgin Quest, which puts me in line to win a car or a bicycle or a cap. But I've also found that my mass has come down from an overweight 84 kilograms a year ago to an astounding 78 kilograms as of last night! Still got about four to go before I'm sleek, but I'm quite impressed with myself.

Which is why I'm twenty minutes late. Cos I've been watching babes butts jiggling on the running machines. Couldn't tear myself away.

Think I'm going to have to muster the courage to go into one of those adult entertainment shops and buy myself a masturbation machine. That way I can lie back and think of Taiwan, and not feel guilty about whispering Jacqui's name.

But I digress.

So, anyway, when I get out of my car at The Wedge, it's with the grunt of having just done 56 stomach crunches in under a minute so I could qualify for 3 bonus Quest hours, and I'm still sodden with sweat. Luckily my sweat is of the non-smelly variety. So when Troy's 6'1" blonde babe buddy rushes out to greet me, and gives me a hug, and crouches down to get her lips level with mine, and gives me a soft, deliciously spongy-lipped kiss, no tongue or moisture, I have to apologise. "Sorry I'm all wet," I say.

"That's how I like my men," says Renee. She has an awe-inspiring body, and very yummy breasts. And her butt is just yelling out my name. I'd LOVE to see her on a running machine.

Damn. Pity she's got a boyfriend. And she smokes. And she's not Jacqui. Sigh.

But she IS a babe. And because of her, the babe count would have been five stars, but in honour of Jacqui and the fact that I still love her and want to maintain my own illusion that there's still some kind of hope for us, I've had to knock off a star.

And I go into the restaurant, which is one of those modern-styled places with no patrons. There are about thirty tables, and only three sets of people eating there.

"Hey, Troy!" He gets up, and hugs me. I give him the same schpiel about being wet. He just shrugs. We've been hiking together. We've outfarted each other on bunk beds.

And there's his girlfriend. Redhead. Slim. Angular face. I know it's only been a week for Troy and Linda, but they actually look like a couple. And they look damn good together. Especially with their sickeningly entwined fingers. And the little kissy moments of neck nuzzling. And even though Linda's beautiful too, I can't add that fifth star. That would be dissing Jacqui. I know they're holding back, out of respect for my bereavement.

And yes, this is a bereavement. Losing Jacqui has been a very bad jolt to my system.

But I've come to one or two realisations through this.

The first is this: No matter how much I love her, I really do have to put my own needs first. The space she asked for was impossible for me to give her, and I was suffering quite serious anxiety as a result, with trembling and sleeplessness and near-panic-attacks.

The second is this: her needing space has nothing to do with me. We had a good relationship. The best I've had so far. But it wasn't where she needed to be.

And there's a funny little side effect to all of this. Last night I was looking at her photo, and I decided to put it in a frame. And then I thought, "Hang on! This is curious! I've had four very significant relationships in my life, and I don't have photos of any of my previous loves on my walls!"

So I went through my photo albums and pulled out photies of my previous babes.

Miriam was my first serious love. That was a three year relationship.

Ingrid was next. Two years.

Then came Antoinette. Two years and four months.

And now Jacqui. Ten months.

So now all four of them are on my wall, in an honoured space.

Cos I've realised that there is no reason to hide them from myself or from my next lover. They're a proud part of who I am today, and the insights and changes I've made are really part of their legacy. My previous relationships are hugely important to what I take into my next one. So, Miriam, Ingrid, Antoinette, Jacqui... I salute you, I honour you, I love you. And I'm grateful to you for the learning.

Which brings me back to Piaceri. The waiter is extremely attentive, and brings me my Chicken Tika salad, which would be seriously enjoyable if I had any appetite, and if I weren't filling Troy, Renee, and Linda in on the details of my breakup. They make cooing sounds of support, and make it acceptable for me to feel all right about being bleary-eyed and shuddery of breath.

Finally, I finish my story, and half my salad, and the rest are ready to order dessert. I turn to look at the cake stand. "What on earth's THAT!??" I say.

"Salami cake," says the waiter. It's chocolate, with little bits of shortbread speckling it. From where I'm sitting, it looks like an ACTUAL salami.

"Gotta do it," I say, and add a decaf cappuccino to my order. Malva puddings for Troy and Linda. Nothing for Renee.

When my pudding comes, it's in thin slices, just like real salami. Adds a star to this place. I'll come back for this cake.

"Renee," I say. "I've been reading between the lines tonight, and I want to say something. I'm not sure if I'm outta line here, but I just want you to know that you have a beautiful body. You are mouthwatering."

"Listen to Roy!!!" says Troy. And I know that I've hit some or other button on the head. This beautiful woman doesn't believe she's beautiful.

"Okay," she says, "I'll have a bite of your salami."

"Ditch the boyfriend first," I say. "And can I call you Jacqui?"

The Park Hiatt, Rosebank

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

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

It's around ten-fifteen in the morning, and my eyes are swollen and scratchy, and I'm feeling drained. I've just finished therapy with Zahava, and it's been a rough session. We've been talking about me and Jacqui, and the stuff that's been coming up for me.

So I've phoned my production manager at work and told her I'll be coming in around lunchtime, that I'm taking the morning to recover from therapy. She's sympathetic. "Have some Hiatt cake for me," she says.

I'm not in the mood for cake. What I need is a good pot of tea.

I'm outside in the garden area, sitting on a wrought iron chair, feeling as though I might be a visitor to zis vunderfull kuntry, Sous Afrika, ya? And the inevitable plane load of German air hostesses arrives. They've just spilled off their shuttle from the airport, and they're in full uniform. Blue hems. Hmmmmmmmm.

They all join their pilots and co-pilots and diplomats at a table nearby. Which means that FINALLLLLLY a waitress saunters over. For one of South Africa's premier hotels, the service here is remarkably unremarkable. She takes their order, and starts sauntering away.

"Excuse me!!!" I say, and a German air hostess does the polite thing and calls her back. I smile at her. She smiles back, her lips stretched back in that, "Enjoy your flight, sir!" kinda way. I wonder what jet lag does to one's sex drive?

The waitress is wearing a name tag. I say, "May I please have a pot of tea, Confidence?" I kid you not. That's her name. It says so on her name tag.

She turns out to be very sweet, just busy, and the tea arrives quite quickly. She's given me two biscuits, which is pretty darn generous, seeing as the pot of tea only costs a trivial R15, a mere R9 more expensive than any of the other twenty or so coffee shops in the area.

She's about to walk away when I ask her where the tea strainer is. Cos last time I had tea here, the pot had loose tea leaves in it, and a dinky little silver strainer. "Oh," says Confidence, "if you want the loose tea you need to ask for it. This one is made with tea bags."

Ah well. It's a bit like a relationship. You can't always predict what you're going to get, and you've got to be very specific about what you ask for.

The German air crew continue behaving like cigarette commercial extras, and I sip my tea, considering faking my accent.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

My Flat, Cresta

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Service: *
Food: *
Ambience: *
Babe Count: N/A

Sheepy used to keep Jacqui and me company on hot nights. She's seen a good few bits of anatomy, and she knows just how amazing our sex life has been. Sheepy misses Jacqui, and you'll notice how tear-stained her ears are.I'm tear soaked and sapped right now. Just came home from couples therapy. I had decided that I couldn't take more of this space, and handed Jacqui all of her things before the session started. We'll be seeing each other one more time for her to hand me my stuff.

I've been wondering if there's anything I could have done differently. And I'll certainly be exploring this with my therapist in the months to come.

In the meantime, supper is a handful of stale CHEEZ NAKS. They're on the other side of the flat, and I can't really be bothered to get up and get them. My car's parked outside. I had intended to come upstairs, grab my gym stuff, and head out for a vigorous workout. But I'm gutted.

I wonder what this is all about. I've spent all of my adult life learning how to be a better person. I've spent tons of time in therapy learning about myself. I'm normally a pretty astute judge of human nature. So what makes it so difficult to stay in a beautiful relationship? (And from what I've gleaned in couples therapy, Jacqui also found it beautiful.)

Anyway. I'm going to be very sore for a while. And Jacqui is too. And I wish we were able to reach out and comfort each other. And be with each other. She said in therapy today that she thinks it may very well have been a factor of timing for her. Maybe we started our journey together a little too early.

I know this is soppy, but at the end of the session, I told her that I would like her to know that the door is open, and that maybe we're both incredibly reactive right now, and that maybe given time, some possibility might open up.

Ah well. I think I'd best go and watch some soppy movie. Even popcorn is better than stale CHEEZ NAKS.

And who knows, maybe I'll meet the new love of my life in the cinema?

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Mugg & Bean, Cresta

Thursday, March 11, 2004

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

My t-shirt is a little clammy. That's because I've just gotten out of the Virgin Active gym down across the parking lot, seconds before closing time. That's cos I got there late, due to having been at work late. But hey. I'm dedicating myself to getting to gym three times a week now.

Back at the gym there was a pleasant dude in the changeroom who turns out to be a property development construction mogul. We got to chatting cos of the good-natured grunts and groans he was making while changing.

"Rough workout?" I ask.

"Two hours," he says. "Arms and stomach. Yesterday I overdid it a bit."

Two hours! Jeepers! The longest I've stayed in gym has been two hours, but an hour of that was over a cup of Kauai coffee!!!

He tells me he makes his living by building places like shopping centres, holding them for a few years, and then selling them at a profit. I ask him if we can get together so I can pick his brain. I've been taking tentative steps in this direction for some time now, spurred mostly by the Rich Dad, Poor Dad books.

"I'm rushing to get to the rowing machine before this place closes," I say. "My name's Roy, by the way."

"Jeff," he says, and we shake hands.

I write his name and number down in my notebook. And yup, I carry it with me wherever I am. If I don't have my palmtop and my notebook with me, you know there's something really odd happening in my life. "I'll sms you my business card later, and we can connect," I say. He's happy with this, and I rush for the rowing machine.

Which is why I'm sweatily sitting in Mugg & Bean picking at their smoked chicken salad, and sipping at the biggest strawberry juice in the world. Mugg & Bean likes big.

The salad is unfortunately sub-standard. The chicken slices a quite thick, and it's from some kind of pressed loaf, which has a gristly rind which hasn't been removed. It squeeks against my teeth when I chew. But I'm hungry, and it's okay. And the honey mustard dressing makes up for it.

I call my brother, who's in town from the Transkei (or whatever it's called these days). He's doing some wheeler-dealing, and leaves on Sunday. So I arrange to have breakfast with him on Saturday. "Gimme a call on my cell at about ten," he says. "I sleep on the Buddhist principle. Sleep when I need. Wake up when I wake up."

I call my mom. Her cellphone's broken, and the only way to use it is with one of those walk & talk handsfree earpieces. Which means that all the ambient noise in Mugg & Bean is amplified on her side. "Who's laughing like that???" she says.

I have to look around to know what she's talking about. Some dude at a table about ten metres away is chortling. I tell my mom how far away he is. "It's Joburg," she says. "Everyone lives so fast there. You should move to Cape Town. Much more laid back."

She tells me about being rained in, and unable to get into Port St Johns in the morning. The roads are made of clay, which, as one might guess if one were a qualified civil engineer, is extremely slippery when wet. So she can't travel. Very frustrating for her, cos she lives on top of a very, very, very big hill (someone from Joburg might call it a mountain; someone from Holland would be unable to call it anything at all, since no Dutch references exist for such tall things). And there are lots of big hills between her and Port St Johns. And her car literally slides down the roads.

I tell her about the situation between me and Jacqui. I'm not all that sure I understand it myself. We went to our second couples therapy session on Tuesday, and it was very hard for me. Basically, Jacqui needs space. Lots of it. She's willing to see me twice a week for the next while... once at couples therapy, and then a Friday movie date, or something of equivalent lightness.

There are two parts of me that respond to this request. The pleasing, logical side of me, the part that says, "Roy, there's a beautiful relationship here waiting to be healed!", absolutely agrees to whatever request Jacqui makes. The vulnerable, damaged, scared side of me says, "What the hell is WITH this woman!!??? Is she insane? Has she lost touch with reality??? How did I go to sleep one night blissfully in love with her and her with me, and wake up the next morning seeing her twice a week????"

My mom says, "She's got beautiful, kind eyes." She's looking at the photo I sent her in a book parcel.

I say goodnight, and an sms comes through. "Roy why the word love?" says Jeff, the property mogul. I had sent him my details, and signed off with my habitual and regular "Blue skies, love, Roy" signature. He's probably freaking out now about handing his number out to some dude in a gym changeroom.

But hey. It's not the Houghton branch, and I'm very much NOT interested in dudes. So I send him an sms explaining that it's about spreading light and joy in this weird, soulfree universe we find ourselves in. No reply. There's a good chance he thinks I'm a total flake. Damn. I really wanna pick his brain about becoming a property mogul.

Noma, my waitress at Mugg & Bean, is one of the more attentive waitresses I've encountered in a long time. She's there when the plate is somewhat bare. She's there when the strawberry juice is at last finished. Definitely worth a 20% tip.

Now the sweat has cooled, and the rain is spattering down. Jersey on. Time to go home to my empty flat to be anxious about my date with Jacqui tomorrow night.

Jacqui bought me a little toy sheep for me to use as a gimmick to give to my voice-over clients. It -- she -- has a little bell attached to her collar. And we call her "Sleepy Sheepy". I'll cuddle up to her tonight. Luckily I haven't inserted the voice recording device into her gut which says, in my voice, "Tired of BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD voice artists? Give Roy Blumenthal a bleat on 082 659 3165!"

Saturday, March 06, 2004

The Radium Beer Hall, Orange Grove

Saturday, March 06, 2004

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

Tonight at the Radium there's no-one too worthwhile looking to start with. But that's gonna change as the night wears on. Wendy New definitely pushes the babe count over the threshold.

I'm here cos Wendy's doing a gig, and her supporting act is the Durban whizzkid, Ian Henderson. It's quite glum not having Jacqui here with me. But I'm feeling confident-ish that she and I may be able to work something out in this relationship of ours. Last night's date has given me hope. Still, it would be ever so cool to be enjoying the music with her.


Ian Henderson gets introduced by Damon Berry in his most showmanly Master of Ceremonies mode. I've seen a few MCs in my time, and even been introduced by several of them in my time as a standup poet. But Damon must be the most rousing of all of them. He can whip a rotten banana into an enthusiastic roar.

Damon says, "Ladies and gentlemen... all the way from Durban. He's single! He's sizzling! He's Ian Henderson!!! Any groupies here, please give generously!!! Put it together for Ian Henderson!" And the applause rises.

Ian Henderson, a young Tom Waits lookalike. Major musician. Keep your ears tuned.And Ian doesn't disappoint. I've got his CD, and I've given it many a spin on a Sunday afternoon and on late nights at the computer. And he's bloody good.

Looks-wise, he's incredibly similar to Tom Waits. Long, horse-like face. Brown hair. Craggy face. Dazzling smile. Musically, I think he's a bit of a mix between Dave Matthews, David Grey and Joshua Rouse.

Very quirky, very listenable. And very cool live. Tonight is his first gig as a new Johannesburg resident. He's moved up from the coast. "I didn't think I'd ever like living here," he says, "but I have to admit that I'm kinda enjoying it." Starts his set. Just him and a guitar. And a time delay pedal so that he can do some experimental stuff a little later.

Damon buys me an imported Orange juice. Ten bucks I don't have to pay. And it doesn't take TOOOOOO long for the bartender to get it.

Everyone's very supportive of me in my bereavement. Shoulder massages from Wendy. Pats on the arm from Damon. But it's not really bereavement anymore. It feels like I'm really just giving Jacqui space. I figure that if we're going to go the distance, I'd like to wake up forty years from now saying, "I gave this woman space to be herself. The Jacqui I love is the real deal. It's HER. It's not some projection. It's not her acting out a version of herself that she thinks will please me. It's the Jacqui who had space to discover herself, with me supporting her in that."

And you know, if it doesn't happen, if in this space, she finds that she needs to be alone, that's cool. That's real. And reality is what I'm keen on. What's more, she's worth it. Every dip and peak in the roller coaster trip I'm strapped to at the moment is fine. Cos she's still the woman of my dreams.

Ian's set is over. "Hey!" he says when he gets off stage to join us. "Let's go compare babies." He's just bought a brand new Mazda MX5. And I've got the original model. Managed to park opposite his.

"So you're going through some stuff," he says. He's just bust up with his babe, and it's been hard on him too. We get to the cars. His is a midnight blue. Killer colour. A true beaut. Mine's red, and has pop-up lights.

Wendy's tuning up. We go back in and I order tea before the set starts. Frances Charlton has stepped onto the stage to tune her ultra-chic didgeridoo. That ups the babe count. A babe with a didge. And she doesn't even have dreadlocks. And her didge is a thing to behold. It's brushed aluminium, with a high-tech mouthpiece. And she's truly tuning the thing! It's a two-piece tube, and it's got stops for the different notes. Very slinky, Ms Charlton.

And then the set starts. And the tea arrives. And it's warm and fine.

Wendy New live at The Radium Beer Hall. Hooboy. I've got her cd. I play it often. On repeat. For hours at a time. This babe's got it. Get her cd. Get it now.And Wendy is at her best, even though she's been dreading this evening with all her heart, cos her wrist is wrecked. She's a shiatsu practitioner, and she's developed some type of tendonitis which has flared up in the last two weeks to such an extent that she can hardly hold her guitar.

But she's been psyching herself all day, and she's ready to burst past the pain threshold in the name of art. And she does. And she's rocking as good as I've heard her. Beware... if you don't have her cd, you're missing out bigtime. It's at CD Wherehouse and Look 'n Listen, I believe. And if it's not, ask for it. And force those suckers to stock it.

Inevitably, the evening wears down. There's a Dublin rain that's been dribbling down like an old man's prostate discharge all day and night. And it's just reminding me totally that I'm all alone tonight. Jacqui's been watching Charlize Theron winning her Oscar in MONSTERS. I haven't seen it yet, but my editor at the Ethiopean Educational TV project, Stephen Foster, tells me that it's hardcore, and brilliant, and a humungous downer. I hope Jacqui's okay after it. Sigh. Would love to be there to hug and comfort her. And get some of that hugging and comfort for myself.

Damon and Ian start applying the peer pressure. "Come on," says Damon. Come to the Blue Naartjie. You're single. There'll be babes."

"I'm not single," I say, suddenly grumpy and snarling. "I'm just giving her space. And I'm not going to the Blue Naartjie." It's almost one in the morning, and I've got to work tomorrow, cos of the day I had to take off last Tuesday because of the breakup.

Damon and Ian smile. That's the answer they've been looking for.

Friday, March 05, 2004

The Ocean Basket, Sandton City

Friday, March 05, 2004

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

Tonight the babe count is at maximum. That's cos the babe sitting across the table from me is Jacqui, love-of-my-life, looking gorgeous. And what's more, she's smiling tenderly at me.

Now I know I'm reading WAY too much into this, but that's what I wanna do for the moment. I WANT my hopes up there. I WANT to feel that maybe she and I will be able to sort things out and love each other for ever.

We're on a date, one we arranged to go on back at couples therapy on Tuesday.

I admit to having felt terrified of tonight. I feared the worst.

This morning, driving to work, tears welling, I phone my shrink. Ask her if I should cancel this evening. Chicken out. "Roy," says Zahava, her kid screaming in the background, "I think you should go with it. Feel the fear, but have supper and see a movie with her. Whatever you feel tonight will be a good teacher for your future."

As I'm listening, a beep sounds in my earpiece. It's a message. "Uh, hang on, Zahava," I say. "There's a message. It could be from Jacqui."

I look at the phone while driving in the rain. And yes... it IS from Jacqui! And she's very keen to meet tonight, and she's looking forward to seeing me. And she's suggesting a nice light movie... RUNAWAY JURY. And suddenly I'm feeling unbelievably relieved. But still petrified.

I tell Zahava, and read the message to her. "Go tonight," she says. "And phone me if you need me. Are you okay? Getting through work?"

We end the conversation when Saul shouts at his mom. He screams, "It's not fair!!!"

"Zahava," I say, "I have to agree with Saul. It's not fair."

So here I am with Jacqui, eating the fish and chips special at The Ocean Basket. We're upstairs, and it's surprisingly noisy. But the fish tastes fresh. I've forgotten once again about the standard option they offer... if you just ask them, they'll do a Cajun burn on the dish you order. So I just have to settle for the normal grilled hake. Which is very nice. And I'm astounded to find that I'm able to eat. Cos my tummy's been queazy all day today, and I haven't been able to eat very well.

And Jacqui looks so lovely. I just want to reach over the table and kiss her. And them make love with her. And all that sorta stuff. Which I don't mention, seeing as we're kinda in break-up mode.

But she's very clear about some stuff. Namely she loves me. Adores me. Thinks I'm one of the most special men around. And thanks me for giving her space. Specifically thanks me for not sending her any messages yesterday.

Phshew. I set myself the goal of refraining from sending her any SMSs yesterday. Not cos I didn't want to contact her. But simply to prove to myself and to her that I could honour her need for space.

It was a very very very very difficult day to get through.

And she tells me, "Roy, I've been forcing myself not to get into my car and drive over to your flat. I've been forcing myself not to send you any messages too. But I've really needed the space. Thank you."

I raise the serviette to my eyes. Swallow hard about five times. I don't want to break down here. I don't want to start crying. If I do, I can tell that it'll be the whooping howling version, the type that comes from deep despair and violent relief. This woman loves me! And she might even want me.

We watch the movie. I nice, workmanlike legal thriller that doesn't challenge too much, and only preaches a bit about gun control. And it's fun, and just what a strained couple might need.

We go walking around Sandton City after, and sit down on one of the benches outside Loads of Living.

It's time for a bit of heart to heart. "Roy," she says, "I feel so guilty."

"Because you feel you're stringing me along, and you don't want to hurt me, but you know I'm hurting. Because you're in a hectically ambivalent space."

She's agreeing.

And I say, "But you're not hurting me, Jacqui. I'm hurting, sure. But it's not YOU causing the hurt. It's the situation. What you're doing, what YOU'RE doing, is giving yourself the space to find out what you want. And you HAVE to do that. If you don't do that, you won't know what you want. And I'll go through any hurt to know at the end that it's me you want."

Or words to that effect. I don't recall exactly. It's a tad emotional here in Sandton City tonight on this bench.

"Roy," says Jacqui. And this time, I recall exactly what she says, cos it's burned into my brain stem. "Roy, if it's okay to ask this without getting your hopes up, I'd like to ask you to wait for me through this. And I'm committed to doing whatever work we need to go through."

We hug. I say, "I'll wait."

Monday, March 01, 2004

Piatto, Cresta

Monday, March 01, 2004

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

A dude sitting at the next table. Totally engrossed in smug happiness while all around him hearts are thudding in despair. Okay... not hearts plural. My heart. And maybe Jacqui's back in her spot in Fourways.If sorrow is supposed to be such an aphrodisiac, why'm I not feeling horny?

Jacqui and I met an hour or so ago at Graasroots in Village Walk. We were going to have supper, but things went a little pear shaped. As things do when break up speeches are delivered.

Got an sms from my shrink this morning. She's sick, so she was unable to have our inaugural couples' therapy session this afternoon. Which meant that Jacqui and I got to meet this evening without the benefit of mediation.

This is where we've left things... we'll be in touch with each other next at the rescheduled therapy session, whenever that might be. Jacqui has agreed to my request that she keep an open mind as to the slim possibility of this relationship resuming. I've agreed to her request that I start thinking of letting go.

Who knows? Surely there must be something at least one of us can change to make this a successful relationship?

My artist buddy, Alfred Hilton. Absolutely awe-inspiring portraitist. One of his versions of me sits on the wall above my desk. He's one of my artistic inspirations.What's really bewildering for me is that I truly don't know what went wrong. I mean, there are the obvious reasons. Pressure from outside sources. Blah blah blah.

But I got it profoundly wrong.

For me, this was the relationship of my dreams. This babe was a full five-star wonder for me. Was? Make that IS. She IS my full five-star wonder! My fantasies had li'l babies running around. Cats. A house in Tuscany. All that mushy stuff. And I can say with full conviction that this is the only woman I've ever felt broody with. She can be the mom of my kids anytime she wants.

For her, this was not the relationship of her dreams. This was a beautiful ten-month journey that has now ended.

Okay. I'll admit to being a little alarmist. Maybe she's just premenstrual. Maybe this'll all blow over somehow. But I'm also aware of being way too optimistic. So I'm fearing the worst, even though I'm hoping for the best.

And my Cajun chicken salad arrives. The Piatto philosophy seems to be about offering abundance. So there's a LOT of Danish feta cheese, and delicious, tender chicken strips. But a heck of a lot of dressing, which I'm not fond of at the best of times. So I plod through the eating, thinking about Jacqui.

I wonder if yearning has some kind of energetic impact on the universe? D'you think that if I yearn hard enough, God might prod Jacqui in the arm and say, "Hey, haven't you noticed how much you love this bloke??? Give him a try! And change the way you two do things together so you don't feel trapped!"

Okay. I'm going to give the yearning my very best shot.