Friday, July 30, 2004

Primi Piatti, The Zone, Rosebank

Friday, July 30, 2004

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

Phone: +27 11 447 0300

Friday night, and all the models and glamour babes are out in force. They're sitting lithely at the be-seen tables here at Primi. And N. and I have miraculously found a table out on the balcony. Ringside seats.

But she and I aren't model-watching. We're fully absorbed in each other.

I can't tell you who she is, cos she has a boyfriend. And what we're talking about is stuff that might just freak him out and mess up her relationship. So she'll remain N. She's a girl I'd like to get to know a LOT better. Let's leave it at that. And lemme just say that I've wanted her from the very first time I saw her. And that she smsed me earlier to say, "Hey Roy, long time no see! How about coffee??"

I knew from the presence of two question marks that she's keen on me. Okay. I'll admit it... I didn't exactly KNOW. It was more like I WISHED that she was keen on me.

"But Roy!!!" you may be shrieking, "what about Karen!!!"

Well, two things. Firstly, I'm SEEING her, and learning about her, and finding out if we like each other enough to commit to a relationship. Secondly, I've made it clear to her that I'm currently monogamous with her, even though I'm uncomfortable with this. And I don't break my word. So I'm fine being here with N. And I'm fine about wanting to fuck her. Cos I know I'm not going to. Simple as that. But I WANT to. Okay? Got this outta the way? Good. Let's move on.

We started out our coffee meeting earlier at Seattle Coffee Company.

"Tell me everything about this new girl in your life," she said. She follows this site, so she's seen the stuff about D/s. "I want DETAILS!" she says.

So I tell her about making love the D/s way. I tell her about tying Karen up. And various other things. And with every detail, she's kinda gasping.

"Wow!" she says. "Sounds liberating."

"Now you're in a new relationship?" I say. She's alluded to the presence of a dude on the scene.

"Well, it's only been a few weeks," she says. "And he's a really nice guy. Really very nice. Treats me very well. A gentleman. Very... uh... kind and considerate. Gentle." She's looking at me very oddly. Her head is cocked to one side, and there's a kind of pain in her eyes. Her black hair frames her cheeks, and sitting here in the leather armchair in Seattle Coffee Co, I want to comfort her for making the wrong choice.

"Is he giving you what you want?" I ask.

She pauses, her head still cocked. She says, "No, he's not."

"What do you want?" I ask.

She leans forward, and the pain leaves her face. She whispers, "D/s."

I don't hear her properly. "Did you say, 'D/s'?" I ask.

"Yes."

She's looking at me hard, leaning forward. She's reaching for me. I feel her soul stretching for mine. I take my sarong in my hands. I use it as a scarf usually. But I've employed it effectively in restraining Karen before.

"N.," I say, looking hard into her eyes, "put your hands together in front of you."

She does.

I put my sarong around her wrists, do a complicated little jig, and she's tied up. I grasp the knot, and tug gently. "Is this what you want?"

She's been gasping as I've been tying, and now, in the coffee shop, she tilts her head back, her chin angled, her eyes fixed to mine. "Yes!" she breathes. And I can see from the way her body's poised and from the look on her face that she's hit subspace. It's uncanny. This is exactly the space that Karen lives for. It's the space that submissives around the world crave. And now, the first time it's ever been done to her, N. experiences the zone.

"Let's go and eat," I say. And I undo the knot.

"Oh!" she gasps as I release her.

Jesus. I want to fuck her right now. Right this second. I want to consume this woman. Damn this monogamy stuff!!!!!! Ugh! Why the hell do I have such a strict moral code? What's WRONG with me??? Sigh.

We go to Primi Piatti.

En route, we stop off at Stone Cherry, the designer boutique. There's an outfit on display that I feel compelled to praise the shop assistant for. I tell her, "Sissie, I just want to say that any woman wearing that outfit can have me anytime she wants!"

The shop woman says, "Oh! If only I had your number! There could have been many women who would have had you!"

N. is wandering around touching fabrics. "Wow!" she says. "This is a skirt!" It's a mock suede, and it's just divine. Ayee. I want to wear this skirt! I put my sarong around N.'s neck. I use it to choke her, very gently, increasing the pressure. She tilts her head back, and goes into subspace again. It's uncanny. The lust in her eyes is just unbelievable. I can't believe this.

I let her go.

"Sissie," I say to the shop assistant. "I'm a man who likes to wear skirts. But I need pockets. Is there anything you guys make that I can wear on top of a skirt to give it pockets?"

She pulls out something. "This is a sample, and they're not making anymore of them, and it's only got one pocket. Try it."

So I put it on over my cargo pants. It's like a skirt, but has a long thin section that hangs down the front, mirrored at the back. The front bit has a pocket on it. "Ooooooooooo!" I say. "This would be perfect if it had more pockets. Please can't you speak to the designer and tell her that I'd like to have this with more pockets?"

"I'll speak to her," she says.

I hand her my Coffee-Shop Schmuck business card, and she writes on it, 'Apron. Six pockets.'

N. and I finally get to Primi. The manager recognises me somehow. "Roy!" he says. "Where you wanna sit?"

"Ah!" I say. "I recognise you! You and I had a tussle about my beret, didn't we?"

"Yeah," he says, showing us to a prime table. He and I had a fight when I was sitting in the Primi Piatti lounge some weeks ago. They have a 'no-head-gear-for-men' policy, which I think is crazy and dumb. So I refused to take my hat off when three waiters made the request. Finally, the manager arrived, and explained that it was national policy for Primi. And I said, "If Michael Jackson came here to fuck little boys, would you make HIM take off his hat?"

"Michael Jackson?" he said. "Of course! We've had Hollywood film stars here and we've asked THEM to take off their hats!"

So now he recognises me, and I'm getting some kind of VIP treatment for some strange reason. Could be cos I'm with the beautiful N. People take beauty very seriously indeed.

We order a California pizza and a grilled vegetable salad to share. The pizza is delicious. I'm less enamoured with the salad, but N. digs it.

"You've gone into subspace twice now," I say to her. "Looks like you kinda like this?"

"I do."

"You're a natural. Are you going to ditch this boyfriend of yours? Or are you going to see if he can get into this?"

"Maybe he'll be able to get into it," she says.

"Well," I say, "if you're going to do it, I've got some pointers for you."

I spend the evening giving her tips that I've picked up in my brief exposure to this stuff. And in telling her, I realise that I know a lot about it. It's as though I've been in touch with this for years, but just didn't know it. I've gone from virgin to guru in just two or three D/s fuck sessions! Wild.

Near the end of the evening, I say to N., "Would you like me to pull your hair?"

"Oh! Oh yes please!" she purrs.

I pour her hair into my hand, wrapping it slowly around my fingers. With the other hand, I stroke her face, her neck. And I gradually apply force to her black hair. Delicately, I take her head backwards, forcing her chin to point at the ceiling. She's in the damned subspace zone. She's fully there. If I keep this up, she'll be coming without any sexual contact whatsoever. This is the biggest frigging rush! Oh man.

"Ditch the boyfriend," I say. I want to do stuff with this woman. Oh yeah. Oh.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Cafe Ove Flo, Greenside

Thursday, July 29, 2004

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

Phone: +27 11 486 4576

On the table beside my plate is a book that Erich has hauled out of his library for me. "Have it," he says. "I'm married. I won't be needing it anymore."

"You sure?" I say. "Janet's not into this?"

He gives me a look. Doesn't answer. Could be a yes. Could be a no. It's a subject not for discussion, is what the look says.

The book is called COME HITHER: A Commonsense Guide to Kinky Sex by Gloria Brame. Wow!

Dean, our waiter, is a little blasé about such literature lying about on the table. He's less blasé about another item Erich's been showing me. "I got the size wrong," Erich says. "Here. See if it fits you."

I try it on. It's got a weird press-stud pattern in the front. "Cool design," I say.

"They've patented it," he says.

"It's a tiny bit too big," I say. "And it would be ideal, but it just doesn't have enough pockets for my needs."

I'm wearing a hand-made Utiliti-kilt that Erich has brought in from the States. "I got the damn size wrong," he says. "So I thought I'd offer it to you before sending it back. I know you want to wear skirts too."

"Erich," I say, patting the black pleats, "more pockets. That's all I can say."

"No prob," he says.

Dean says, "Looks like a great waiter's apron." He tries it on. Looks bloody good.

Maybe I should buy it off Erich. But nah. I've got to be able to put my glasses in it. And my cellphone. And my palmtop. And its keyboard. And my little Moleskine notebook. (People -- there's an 'e' at the end of that word, by the way. It's not MoleSKIN. It's MoleSKINE. With an e. Not without an e. Sheeesh. Get it right, man.) And stuff for my contact lenses when I'm wearing them. And and and.

Which is why I wear cargo pants. And I've got to empty those pockets whenever I go to Kobo Jutsu on a Tuesday night. And when I go to therapy on Thursdays. Which is today. Yikes. "I've gotta get to therapy," I tell Erich.

"Hey, Dean," I say. "I need to write down what Erich and I ate. This place is definitely going onto my website." I hand him a Coffee-Shop Schmuck business card. And I write down the delectable grub we ate. I had the broccoli and pecorino pesto penne. Erich had the gorgonzola gnocchi. I couldn't resist dessert, so I had a kiwifruit cheesecake. And it was awesome. Most cheesecakes in restaurants taste like shaving foam. This one tastes like some kinda heaven. Erich had the strawberry mille feuilles. Lipsmacking wonderland.

I skedaddle to therapy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

JB Rivers, Hyde Park

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

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

Phone: +27 11 325 5055

You know, being a serial monogamist can be a bit of a bitch.

I've been sitting here reading and playing solitaire on my palmtop since after a late lunch with Eran. He's flying to Israel tomorrow for a holiday, and to scout out some filmmaking possibilities for the production company we're forming together.

Yesterday he and I went to see Standard Bank in Sandton to see about opening a business account and getting starting capital of R1.5 million. We're still in extremely preliminary stages, and we may look for a partner. But it was a fun exercise. Near the end of the conversation, I said to the three bankers, "Hey, if we open our account here, we'll just have to invite you to set one day, to see what really goes on behind the scenes. Would you be keen on such a thing?" They almost blew their wads then and there. "Yes! Oh, yes! Please remember us when you have a shoot!" they said.

What a babe. And what bad timing. Here I get a second chance at wooing a serously lovely girl, but I'm now tied up in monogamy. Ah well. It least I got to feast my eyes.Right now, I'm sitting minding my own business, and my glasses are on the table. I'm giving my eyes a rest from contact lenses, which I've now been wearing successfully for the last month. The left eye is feeling a bit deranged, but it's tolerating the lens! Viva!

So, with my specs on the table, I can't really make out the features of the babe who's just sat down two tables away. She's waving at me.

I pop the glasses on, and I recognise her, but I can't figure out where from.

I walk over to her table. She's there with an older guy, in his sixties, and she's in her early thirties. Long blonde hair. Greenish eyes. Incredible cheek bones. Dimples. Bod. This is babe heaven for me. Where the heck do I know her from??

She says, "You drew me one night --"

And before she can finish her sentence, I know where I know her from. She's the one that got away. The delicious woman I sketched at Piatto in Cresta late June. The babe whose number I didn't take. I say, "Piatto in Cresta. My name's Roy."

"Annette," she says, and we shake hands. I'm now only dimly aware of the dude at the table, and I'm kinda locked into her gaze. "And this is Peter," she says.

I shake Peter's hand. "Pleased ta meet ya," he says in a Cockney accent.

"Join us for a drink?" says Annette.

Sigh. Okay. I get my satchel and join them.

The joys of monogamy.

Seeing as I'm exploring a relationship with Karen, I've decided that I'm not going to be pursuing relationships with other women at the moment. But I'm also treading a delicate balance. I don't KNOW that things with Karen will work. And nor do I know whether or not we're really suited to each other. So I don't want to close off possibilities too strongly. But I do want to be honest and upfront and clear. And I don't want anybody getting hurt.

So right now I'm thinking it'll be okay to have coffee with people. Like Annette. And some of the women I'm corresponding with from the internet dating service.

An added complication for me now is the fact that my new sexual journeyings are on this site. And babes I speak to are immediately given the web address. So I'm kinda open book. Which might not be to everyone's taste. But hey. I'm an individual. And I have a broad mind, now even broader, and that's who I am. As Charlotte Kasl says in ZEN AND THE ART OF FALLING IN LOVE: "If you want love and friendship, you must walk the path undisguised."

Monday, July 26, 2004

Wiesenhof, Killarney

Monday, July 26, 2004

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

As usual, Danny's a joy of a waiter. Very pleasant, paying attention to details like ensuring that I have no mushrooms anywhere near anything I eat.

"What's that?" he says, pointing to the huge, obscene trophy sitting beside my backgammon board. I'm playing Ana tonight, my second game of the new cycle. She's top of the B-division, and I'm second.

"This," I say, stroking the trophy suggestively, "is the Phoenix Cup. It's awarded to the most-improved player in the club over a one-year period. And the winner is... tadadadada... me!" I kiss the trophy, and give the handle a gentle lick.

I'm currently beating Ana 14--0. And I'm thinking about how she'd look tied to the railing naked. (Which is kinda how I'm seeing ALL women in this current mind-expanded view I have of the world.)

Ana makes her eyes all big and round and wet, and says to me, "Please stop using this nasty, horrible cube now. Please?" Danny looks at me as if I've slapped Ana a few times. I resolve to NOT stop using the cube. It's one of the most lethal weapons known to a backgammon player, and I'm using it to make Ana beg for mercy.

But heck. Those doleful eyes. Those perky breasts. Some little piece of vicious domineer in me shuts down. Not consciously, of course. I start playing more conservatively, and I start offering the cube less. And I start taking it when Ana offers it. And I start losing, bit by bit.

But I think it's only fair to blame the Wiesenhof cheeseburger I've ordered. True, there are no mushrooms on it. But it's just a vast lump of very finely ground patty. Quite spongy to chew on. Ugh. My least favourite type of burger.

Suddenly, Ana's within spitting distance of overtaking me on the score front.

"Okay," she says. "I've held on for this long. I've GOT to have a cigarette! Will you excuse me?"

Absolutely. I use the five minutes to regroup. I meditate. I locate my inner mastery. I give myself a slight chubby thinking about how much Liz likes me exercising my inner mastery. And when Ana comes back from the smoking room, I'm ready for her. I'm ready to play a steady, hard, wearing game of backgammon, with audacious moves, and serious concentration. I don't WANT her to beg me for mercy. Cos that'd give her too much pleasure.

Thwack thwack thwack thwack thwack. Dice get flung. Power surges out of my wrist. And yeah. I dominate the board. Whack whack whack! And I beat her 21--17. A pretty close match, actually. Much closer than I would have dreamed. But I'm a winner. And the Phoenix Cup loves me and believes in me.

And besides, I beat Sophia last week. Which means I've beaten the two strongest contenders for the money in the B-division. So I'm in with a good chance at being top of the league. Let's just keep the inner resources flowing.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Karen's Place, Northgate

Saturday, July 24, 2004

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

Okay, so I've got some adjustments to make, aside from things sexual.

See, I'm a cat person. And Karen is a dog person. The redeeming factor is that she has a cat, Norman, who makes up for the five Dachshunds waddling around the place. Norman makes up for the five dogs in sheer bulk.

Norman the cat is about the same size as a thirteen-year-old MacDonalds eating choirboy with a stamp collection.

Norman isn't fat. Norman is immense.

So I'm on the couch with Karen. And two of her artworks are on the walls. And they're works I've seen and admired many years ago when they were on the Martiensen student exhibition at Wits. They're large oil paintings, featuring pigs in strange surroundings. One's at a sort of banquet, and the other is in a large room dangling off a circus trapeze. This woman is an awesome artist. Wow stuff.

And there's a steaming scoop of homemade chicken pie on my plate. Along with browned mashed potatoes. She can cook! Brilliantly!

"Is this your seduction dish?" I ask.

"You're going to propose before dessert," she says. "And if you haven't done by then, the dessert will push you over the edge."

We're sitting side by side on the sofa, listening to the ominous sound of the East German heavy metal band, Rammstein. First time I've heard them, and they're not really as hard as their name would seem to imply. Violins and weird choral stuff. Fairly disturbing, but pleasant. It's amazing to me that I've stayed away from most heavy metal just cos of the names of the bands. Well, not JUST cos of the names. A lot of metal just sucks. But in this case, it's kinda okay.

"Can I borrow this?" I ask, flipping through the pages of a book she took out of her cupboard.

"I insist," she says. "But you've got to promise to bring it back to me."

"You have my word," I say. The book is a practical manual, written by a professional dominatirx who switched to being submissive. It's called EROTIC SURRENDER: The Sensual Joys of Female Submission, by Claudia Varrin. (If you have any thoughts as to whether or not this mode of sexuality is in any way for you, buy this book. At the very least, it'll blow your mind. The link here is to Amazon.com, and I make a tiny commission on it if you buy it from here. Yup. I'll be rich, with everyone flocking to explore this side of their sexuality.)

The dessert almost pushes me over the edge. But Liz says, "Nah nah nah! No proposing! Cos if you do, I'll refuse!" Okay. Off the hook. The dessert is a homemade tiramisu. Oh man. This woman's just concentrated babeage.

And she loves the fact that I went trawling the junk shops for paraphernalia for me to use in making love with her. I've found a lovely, thick, soft rope, which I'm kinda working out how best to employ. The real trick is how to attach it to other bits of rope for maximum... uh... pleasure. She fondles a different piece of rope. It's about two metres long, and is ultra soft. Feels like it could be silk. And it's thick enough so that it won't dig into her wrists and hurt her.

She's not so sure about the plastic cable ties I got from the hardware store. "Whenever you use things like this," she says, "you must make sure you've got a knife handy. Always plan for emergencies."

Safety first, basically. I pull out my Swiss Army knife.

We go to the bedroom and shoo the dogs out. We close the door.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Spaza Gallery, Troyeville

Thursday, July 22, 2004

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

Linda, not-yet-twenty, fully prepared to pose naked for us. But I'd rather ask her to do that in the summer. The Spaza Gallery is just too draughty in winter. And I just wouldn't be able to face her mom's accusations if Linda got so much as a tiny sniffle from such a session.Linda, our model for tonight, is late. She got her mom to drive her to the wrong venue by mistake. Assumed that Spaza Gallery in Troyeville was the same as the Spark Gallery in Norwood. I'm on the phone to her mom.

"I'm VERY annoyed! VERY!" says her mom. "This is MOST unprofessional! MOST!"

"I can hear that you're really angry," I say to the shaky-voiced woman hissing into the phone. "Would you like me to meet you in Norwood? I'll hop in my car and be there in a few minutes."

"I don't HAVE a few minutes!" she says. "I've got to get back home. There's FOOD cooking!!!"

I start giving her directions to the Spaza Gallery, but then, halfway through, I change my mind. Spaza is in a SERIOUSLY dingy part of town, and if Linda's mom is THIS pissed off about being in Norwood, a GOOD part of town, I can't imagine how pissed off she'll be driving into the Bronxe.

"I'm going to drive over to New Cafe in Norwood, and I'll pick Linda up there," I say. I'm striding down to the Troyeville Hotel to my car. It's parked there to avoid it being broken into.

Linda's mom says, "I KNOW how to get to Troyeville!!!" and puts the phone down. Even if she KNOWS how to get to Troyeville, she doesn't know where the damn gallery is. I suspect that she's fleeing Norwood, heading for the highway to take her and her daughter back to the cooking food in Bryanston.

I phone back immediately. Linda answers. "I'm so sorry," she says.

In the background, I hear her mom screaming at her. "Who IS this stupid MAN?" she yells. "I want to MEET him. SO unprofessional. This is RIDICULOUS!!!"

"Linda, please tell her to go to the News Cafe."

"Okay," she says, "I'll see you there."

"Nope... confirm it with her, and then tell me it's confirmed."

"Mom," says Linda, "Roy's in his car. He's going to meet us at the News Cafe. Is that okay?"

"NO IT'S NOT OKAY! How DARE he??? How DARE he!!!!???"

I get to the News Cafe minutes later. No sign of Linda. I phone her.

"Uh... we're just round the block," she says. "Mom, he's at the News Cafe. Okay. All right, mom. Okay, Roy, see you in a moment."

The moment lasts five minutes. Linda perkily hops out of the car. I shake her mom's hand. "I apologise for the venue confusion," I say.

"I'm VERY VERY annoyed," says her mom. She's glaring so hard that one of her eyelashes seems to be a little bit singed. "Now WHAT TIME will you be FINISHED with her? We're LEAVING for CAPE TOWN at five in the morning, and Linda hasn't even PACKED!!! She's SO irresponsible. SO irresponsible!!!"

"I'll deliver her to your door," I say, quickly running a mental calculation, thinking of the three posing sessions we need, plus the walk to and from the car when it's parked at the Troyeville Hotel, plus the trip to Bryanston, "at no later than eleven o'clock. Will that be all right?"

"Not a SECOND later than eleven!" she yelps.

She stares straight ahead and drives off.

I load Linda into my car, and we head for Troyeville.

"I'm so sorry," she says.

"How's Varsity?" I ask.

Linda at the end of her third pose. Look ma... fully clothed!!!"Oooooo... the whole campus is totally paranoid."

"Oh yeah!" I say. "You're at Bond. That's where that girl was kidnapped. Leigh. Is there a lot of security there now."

"They're checking car boots now," says Linda. "But the guards are a bit strange. I got into someone's boot, and when they opened it when we were leaving, the one guard said, 'Kidnapped?' I said, 'Yup, kidnapped,' and he smiled and just closed the boot on me. I had to say, 'Only joking!' before he would open it again."

"Uh... your mom hasn't seen my website has she?" I ask. "That could explain why she's so resistant."

"I hope not," says Linda.

"Does she know that we're drawing you?" I ask.

"Well, now she does."

"Linda, what did you tell your mom?"

"Well, I told her I was meeting with some artists."

"Linda."

"I didn't want her to worry about whether or not I was going to pose naked for you."

"Well, you don't have to pose naked for us," I say. "Unless you want to."

"Your site's getting very steamy," she says.

"Yeah," I say. "I think I'm actually going to stop going into details about the sexual side of things. My therapist asked me about it this afternoon in shrinkage. And she's right. If I were seeing a woman who was frigid, would I write about it on the site, going into detail? No, probably not. So I'd rather just talk about the psychological side of things. I mean, this is a huge mindfuck for me. One moment, I'm this dude who believes that he's quite broadminded, and the next, I'm forced to confront what it really means to be broadminded."

"Well," says Linda, and her lips achieve a sort of smoulder that's WAY more attractive than her mom's singed eyelash, "Roy, I'm really quite surprised that you haven't done this sort of thing before."

I'm simply NOT going to ask her if she's done this sort of thing before. We're just going to draw her tonight. And I'm going to drop her home without kidnapping her. Before eleven o'clock.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The Showcase Theatre, Banbury Cross, Northriding

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

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

Alistair Plint has invited me and a partner to an exclusive preview evening of a new standup comedy concept he's created with a bunch of other comedians. THE COMEDY SHOP is the show, and this is its first public outing.

Which is why Karen and I are sitting at a table right near the stage.

And you know what?

It's realllllly hilarious! Vicus, the comedy magician is really enjoyable. He's got an assistant on stage at all times, sitting behind a small drum kit. Whenever he does something funny, he gives her a signal, and she does a nice drum roll and cymbal clash.

Alistair's doing the Master of Ceremonies job tonight, and he's very funny. Much funnier than when I saw him perform at Carnival City on the same bill as Bianca.

I'm kinda bemused about the inclusion in the lineup of Melody Shevlane. Last time I saw her, she bombed really bigtime at Carnival City, and tonight she does the same. I think her material is quite funny. But she hasn't quite focused it yet, and she rambles quite a lot. What's more, it's very culturally specific, and she doesn't offer the audience enough expository information to be able to understand the world she's evoking. So it just falls flat. (She's from Cape Town, and does Cape Coloured material. In Joburg, we have no idea whatsoever what she's talking about.) Ah well. She'll learn or burn.

Alyn Adams is the main highlight of the evening for me. He headlines the first half of the act, and he's just consummately brilliant. Knows his material. Knows his audience. Connects superbly.

The second half opens with Etienne Shardlow, who plays an oversized schoolboy with warped observations about the adult world. He's excellent. But his routine is realllllly short. Less than five minutes. Etienne!!! Write more material, boy!

Mel Miller at his ascerbic hardcore best with Alistair Plint's COMEDY SHOP.And then Mel Miller closes the evening with his scathing brand of killer insults and I-don't-give-a-fuck attitude. Lots and lots of laughter for me and Karen.

After the show, Alistair comes and sits with us. He looks meaningfully at Karen. Nods eight or nine times. Says to me, "I've been following your site. Really excellent." Nods again. He's sizing Karen up for a rope fitting, I reckon. He's thinking, 'Is this the same Karen Roy's been writing about?' The nodding says it all.

"Thanks for the show," we say.

"Oh man," he says, "I've got Mel Miller to thank for my start in this business. I was doing the lighting for a gig at a strip club once, cos my girlfriend at the time was a stripper, and I was just hanging around there, and the lighting guy didn't pitch, so I volunteered. And after the show, Mel Miller came up to me and thanked me for lighting him so well. And we got to talking. And he asked me if I ever wanted to do standup comedy. Next thing, he invited me round to his house the next day, and we did a little workshop. I got a five minute routine together, thanks to him, and rehearsed it a bit. At the end of that week, he said I should come watch him do a gig. So he goes up to the microphone, and announces a new talent, Alistair Plint. Oh man... I didn't expect it at all... but I'd rehearsed the routine, so I just went up and did it, and it worked. People laughed. And I've been doing it ever since."

I don't mention that I've been collecting material myself, and that I'm almost ready to let rip again. I'm addicted, man. Standup is just one of the greatest thrills known to humankind. Aside from tying up your woman before you, uh, do some standup with her.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Doppio Zero, Greenside

Sunday, July 18, 2004

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

Phone: +27 11 646 8740

I've been shopping to prepare for this date with Karen. I have something stuffed into my satchel, away from her prying eyes.

"I have a small symbolic present for you," I say.

This is our second meeting, and she's clearly sceptical about getting a present from me this soon.

I open the bag, and remove a very realistic fake rose that I bought from a cheap-goods store. "A rose," she says.

"Nope," I say. "It's a plastic rose. And I bought it for several reasons. See... the red rose thingy is to signify romance. You know, cliched romance. Secondly, feel these thorns on the stem."

She runs her fingers down the stem. The manufacturers of this particular rose have obviously taken a mould from a real rose stem. It's got tiny sharp thorns on it.

I say, "Those thorns are just to remind you about the pain."

She smiles at me. This is exactly what she needs to hear from me. I'm the 'Master' in this situation, and she's the 'submissive'. I've been doing my homework.

"Lastly," I say, taking the rose from her, and holding it by one of the blossoms, the stem stretching out a meter into the air, "I bought a plastic one because it's very durable, and can be used to remind you of things." As I say this, I whip the table with the stem, and she jumps a tiny bit. Now she's really smiling.

"Definitely done your homework," she says.

I order an omelette, and she tries the roast veg tramezzini. They're both perfectly adequate.

"We need to talk about ground rules," I say.

A friend of mine, who has surprised me by admitting that he's been into bondage for ages, has sent me an email containing some tips and pointers. I'll call him 'My Mate M.', or 'MMM' for short. He doesn't want his real name used in this context. I pull the email out of my bag, and Karen reads it. I reproduce his advice here with his permission.

MMM writes:

It sounds like you're well enough versed in non-standard sex, so I'll just chuck what I know in. It's difficult to settle on many absolutes until you know each other. So let me lay out a few points that I've picked up in my not-too-vast experience, but enough that I feel confident in this type of situation.

So in no particular order:

1) Find out where is her line between excitement and humiliation. (Sorry about the grammar there - just dumping) You can ask her, but as you said, it's more convincing for both of you if you probe for it. Find out where her lines are by pushing them. You don't want to push her too far in the heat of the moment, and you don't want to be tentative when she wants to get off on some serious domination. One girl I saw for a while (who shall remain nameless because you know her) encouraged me to leave her tied to the bed with her hands cuffed behind her back, while I went out to have coffee with another girl she knew I was interested in fucking, and who she knew liked me - provided I came back afterwards, of course. Another one (who shall remain nameless for the same reason), would never have tolerated that kind of stuff, yet was game for absolutely any kind of one-on-one sexual "humiliation". By the way, rule number one... NEVER leave someone restrained. Death can result. With the girl above, she encouraged me to leave, but I untied her, and when I came back, tied her up again.

2) Hone in on the things that really are the crux of their fantasy. What are their real over-the-top button pushers? For some it's sharp pain, for others very tight restraint - slow pain. With the girl in the point above, it was having her air supply cut off at random moments building to the final time coinciding with orgasm.

3) There must always be an environment in the relationship (outside of the sex) that is utterly respectful. Unless she's really into the whole master/slave thing as a complete package.

4) Establish beforehand what the "Stop" word is. Choose a word that she would never use under these circumstances, so that if she accidentally says stop as a reflex reaction it doesn't spoil it by making you actually stop.

5) Establish the level of aggression she prefers. I think it's okay to talk about this beforehand, because it's important for the next point.

6) Be convincing. If she's into role playing then you have to play out the role as well as you can to sustain the fantasy.

7) Learn some basic stuff first. You know, under circumstances you want to avoid tying her feet together for obvious reasons. Under other circumstances you would maybe. But more seriously, what I mean is stuff like, tie the knots efficiently, so you don't spend half an hour fucking with them to get it right. They don't need to be elaborate, but they must be efficient. And familiarise yourself with the possibilities of where to tie on her body. You can make her breasts swell up with blood (and therefore very sensitive), and the just above the knee-on-each-leg-pulling-legs apart technique gives unbelievable access. Learn what cuts off blood flow (and therefore sensation and what doesn't) both so you can use it and so that you don't inadvertently give her gangrene or something. Go to: www.sonofsnake.com - click Enter at the bottom. On the next page you'll see all kinds of porn links (don't worry, this is a user-friendly site). Scroll all the way down to the bottom to the category list, and click the Fetish one. The next page will contain links to free image galleries. Look and learn :)

8) Focus on the psychological aspects - fear, threat, uncertainty, vulnerability, relief, promised relief, denied relief. Use all her senses for this, either exploiting them or cutting them off. Use smell, sound, silence, lack of touch, disorientation.

9) Take your time. Eagerness is death. John Cleese is only funny on TV.

10) There's a fine line between this and torture, dude ;)

Karen reads it, and laughs out loud at MMM's insights. "He's definitely got experience," she says.

We get onto the nitty gritty.

Liz's second-ever sketch on an electronic device. Looks like she's getting used to this palmtop of mine."This is a totally new paradigm for me," I say, "so I need some clarity. What sort of STOP words do you prefer?"

She tells me one word. "That means slow down, don't go further down that route," she says. And the next word. "This one means an immediate stop. If I say this word, it means you stop whatever you're doing immediately."

(I'm not telling you the words we're using, cos they're our words. Private deluxe!)

"Okay," I say. "And what about the parameters of the Mastery/submission space? If we're in a relationship, are you ALWAYS submissive, with me ALWAYS dominant? Cos I don't think that can work for me."

"No," she says. "It's really just during sex. And after a Mastery/submission session, I like to have a bonding time, which ISN'T in the M/s mode at all. Kinda cuddling and just being normal human beings together."

"Okay, and what about how far I can go with you in sex?"

"That's what the safety code words are for," she says. "If I say them, you're going too far. And if I don't, you just keep doing whatever you want to me." She's smiling, and I can see that if I were in a masterful sorta mood right now, I could certainly have my way with her.

"Now what about WHEN to have sex?" I ask. "Are there particular times when you specifically don't want it?"

She says, "When we have sex is entirely up to you. How many men just WISH for a thing like this???"

"Yeah," I say. "But there's a serious amount of responsibility to being masterful. But lemme clarify. You're SPECIFICALLY saying that when I choose to have sex with you, is when we have sex. No consultation? Just my command?"

"Yup."

I call for the bill. "Last thing," I say. "Safe sex and HIV tests." We agree to engage only in safe sex, and to take HIV tests.

The bill comes. We split it.

"I'm coming down with a cold or flu," I tell her. "Do you object to getting either?" I'm coughing, and my chest is wheezing.

"No," she says.

"Excellent," I say. "Now kiss me." And she does, in the restaurant, and people stare. And I'm thinking, 'You guys are all so boooooooorrrrrrrring!!!' Then after the kiss, in which I bite her tongue and lip quite hard, getting a flinch of pleasure from her, I say, "Now we're going to my place, and I'm going to fuck you."

"You're really getting into this, aren't you?" she says.

I raise the plastic rose threateningly. "Oh yes," I say. "Oh yeah."

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Paputzi's, Linden

Saturday, July 17, 2004

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

I've just met S., the third babe from the internet dating service I'm on. She's a babe. Matches her photos nicely. "I don't really like photos," she says. "I don't like sitting over photo albums and reminding myself of the past. Boring."

We're at Paputzi's in Linden, and we're out in the garden during lunchtime. While it's not exactly freezing -- the winter sun is shining -- it's also not entirely sitting-outside weather. So we're both bundled up.

S. is very cute, and has a young teenage daughter, and seems to have her head screwed on right. She's done a copywriting course, and is busy working out how to use that to move to a new level of income.

She asks me how to become a freelance copywriter, seeing as that's what I did for a good portion of my life. I tell her the basics. "First, work out how much money you think you need a month. Then divide that amount by roughly 22 working days. Then divide that by 8 hours per day. That gives you a rough hourly rate to base your charging estimates on." I whip out my palmtop computer, and I do the maths.

"How much do you charge per hour now?" I ask.

"Well... it's not for copywriting work. It's more for admin stuff. If it's for a friend, I'll charge R60 per hour. And if they're horrible, I'll charge R120."

"Hmmmm," I say. "How much do you think your hourly rate is if you want to make R30 grand a month, working eight hours a day, five days a week?"

"Probably a lot!" she says, shying away from the number.

"Nah... it's only R170 per hour. That's just fifty bucks more than your highest rate. I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and start charging R220 per hour."

"Nobody will pay me that!!!" she says. "And I need the income!"

"Yeah, but what are you earning now? Is it enough to give you and your daughter the life you need?"

She ponders. "No," she says. "I'd like more."

"What'll you spend R30 grand a month on?" I ask, helping her make it concrete.

"Well, a better school, for one." And her list grows.

"Okay," I say. "Can you see that you're cheating yourself AND your daughter out of these things by charging so little? You're effectively keeping yourself in a low earning bracket. And you've GOT to revisit this idea of charging friends less. You need to charge your worth. That's why the challenge!"

"I'm not ready to start charging R220 per hour. But I'll think about it."

I go to the toilet. It's incredibly twee. The male side is labelled "Pa". And the female side is "Putzi's". Paputzi's, gettit??? Sheesh. No little diagram of a man under "Pa", though. And anyway, the door's locked. Someone's hogging the pissoir. So after a minute or so of obeying the rules, I think, "Gah! I'm going into the women's side! So I do. And it's very quaint.

When I come back, I notice that S. is wearing some exceedingly slinky looking panties. The hem has ridden out of her jeans. It's one of those black mesh see-through numbers, almost a g-string, but not quite. Very enticing.

It's very clear that this woman isn't just the sensible head-screwed-on-right-responsible-mother she likes to show the world.

But by the time one o'clock comes round, we haven't really talked about each other much at all, and she has to go and give her daughter a lift. We'll definitely need another date. I want to find out about her taste for gothic and heavy metal music. And explore her taste in underwear.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Spaza Gallery, Troyeville

Thursday, July 15, 2004

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

This is the first of my three palmtop sketches of Maria. We settled her into a nice comfortable pose, which she had to hold for thirty-five minutes, and then resume for a second session of the same length.Lionel has sourced a really interesting model for the portrait circle tonight. That's why Linda from Exclusive Books isn't here tonight. She'll be our model next week.

Maria has a fairly heavy jawline, quite jowly, and with really interesting angles to her cheeks. Long hair, with silver showing at the roots.

Maybe it's because I'm thinking about things like Mastery & Submission, but I'm noticing that Maria is being extremely assertive and dominant over Drew's cat. "Come here, cat! I'm talking to you!" she says. "Come here and let me love you to death!!!! Come here or I'll punish you!"

Hmmm.

Maybe there are many many many more people in the world into this than one thinks. I'm debating whether or not to ask Maria if she's into it, but I decide not to. From the way she's treating the cat, I must assume that she gets her kicks from taking the Mastery position. And right now, I'd prefer to be the master of my own destiny, thank you very much.

Maria is here because of a childhood trauma. Some artist was commissioned by her parents to do portraits of her and her two siblings way back when she was a little girl. "He painted my brother and sister," she tells us, "and brought the works round to my parents. They hated the portraits, so they paid him, and told him to forget about the third one -- mine!"

I say, "So did those portraits look like them?"

She thinks for a bit. "No. They were actually horrible."

"So you've been wanting to have your portrait drawn all this time, cos you were jealous of them having their's done??" I ask.

"Well, yes," she says.

"Hmmm," I say. "How can you be sure we'll do a better job than he did?"

"My brother still has his," she says. "And I'll just buy some frames and put all of mine up. Even if they don't look like me."

We put her through the short poses, the three-minute sketches from which she gets to choose one work from each artist.

It seems to have fallen on me to be the timekeeper in this group. Maybe it's cos I'm a natural leader? (I'm NOT overselling myself here, okay, Karen?) So I pose Maria, and keep my eye on my watch. I'm doing ink sketches on paper for these warmups. I'll be working on my palmtop later, during the two long poses.

The third of my portraits of Maria. Decided on a closeup, just cos I wanted to see the angles of her jaw better.In the last of the three-minuters, I decided to practice a bit of the Mastery & Submission stuff I've been thinking about. See, I've figured that with Karen, I can instruct her to adopt some sexually compromising poses, and then I'll draw her, and have sex with her, and draw her some more. Sounds ideal. And she won't really be able to object too much, cos I'm the boss, see? So with Maria, I ask her to lean her head back a bit, ostensibly to get better lighting on her eyes. Actually, it's cos I know that her neck muscles are very quickly going to go nuts, and she'll be uncomfortable quite quickly. However, this is of her own making. She told us earlier that she's prepped herself for some serious pain tonight. So I thought I'd call her bluff.

At the end of the pose, I say, "Are you still comfortable?"

She says, through gritted teeth, "How much longer? My neck's a bit sore."

"Just a minute more," I say.

Then we have soup, made by Dean & Duncan. It's superb. Souperb, actually. These are the dudes who chef for the gallery every Sunday. The chef's plate lunch they serve is often splendid, according to reports from my buddies.

Then we get Maria into a nice and comfortable pose, with a pillow behind her neck. See... I'm a kind and merciful lord.

At the end of the sessions, she looks at the various depictions of her, and chooses her bounty. Drew Lindsay has done the best work of all of us. With Lionel's acrylic coming a close second, and my three palmtop drawings getting a lot of favourable attention.

I'm going to have to go home and think about bondage. Maybe do some research on the internet.

"I'm taking this cat home with me," Maria says to Drew.

"It's not my cat," says Drew. "First time I've ever seen it."

"Excellent," says Maria, rubbing her neck. "Come here cat!!!"

Troyeville Hotel, Troyeville

Thursday, July 15, 2004

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

Phone: +27 11 402 7709

Something I learned from getting food poisoning three times from Ba Pita in Yeoville, back in the day, when I used to live there: If the tomato sauce bottle kinda burps and puffs a cloud of rancid gas at you when you open the lid, rather don't use the tomato sauce. This is a fundamental rule.

I've ordered the Galinha Trinchada, which is a whole baby chicken, roasted, cut up into pieces, and served with potato chips. And I'm thinking about Karen, and what Zahava said in therapy earlier today.

But before I mention Karen or the food, let me explain why I'm here.

There are two reasons.

The most important one is that Lionel Murcott's car got broken into when it was parked outside the Spaza Gallery two Thursdays ago at portrait circle, and it's been recommended that we park down the road here at the Troyeville Hotel. So I've parked my car under the watchful eye of Thulani, the hotel's resident car guard. I'm eating a meal here because I don't want Thulani to get into trouble. Apparently, he gets fined R100 (on a monthly salary of R800) for every car that doesn't belong to a guest of the hotel or restaurant. Maybe it's a story intended to elicit sympathy, but that's okay. I'm game for anything.

The second reason I'm here is that Wolf Weinek, owner of Antiquarian Books in Melville, and one of the authentic patrons of the arts in this city, recommends this place. Comes here every Sunday, he says. Loves the place. Excellent Portuguese cuisine. So I'm here cos he digs the spot.

Right. The food. The chips are... uh... lets just say... greasy. Nah. Let's call a spade a spade. The chips on my plate are about to be annexed by the George Bush regime where oil wells will be sunk and minor despots deposed. They're not edible.

But I try anyway. "May I have some tomato sauce please, Promise?" (My waitress's name is Promise. She speaks Portuguese to one of the patrons, a ropy specimen with gnarled tendons.)

She brings it, walks away. I open it. PHUFF! says the lid. I close it immediately. I obey my own rules.

I eat a few chips. Then focus in on the chicken. It's delicious. I'm eating with my hands, and I'm reading Michael Chabon's ultra irritating book, WONDER BOYS. What a crap book. I have no idea why I'm putting myself through it. Been reading it for the past three weeks. Heavy going. Luckily I've got about eight other books I'm reading simultaneously. But not tonight. Tonight it's chicken and a bad read.

But I can't concentrate on this idiotic book. I've got more important things to think about. When I told Zahava about Karen being into Mastery & Submission, and about my being mightily attracted to her, she said, "Go for it!" Which is bringing up all sorts of feelings in me. One of them being, 'What do I say to all the other women I've been chatting to on the dating service??' This is an example of my long devotion to serial monogamy. In my mind, I'm already dating Karen, running before I can walk, and hence have to NOT see any of the other women. But this is rubbish. This is all just so preliminary. And who knows? I may not be turned on my the Mastery stuff. But I MAY.

So how on earth do I navigate this?? (Karen, uh, if you're reading this, uhm... I COMMMMMMAND you to ignore this display of vulnerability, okay! Hmmm. That felt good. Lemme try that with more attitide... I COMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMANNNNNNDDDDDDDD YOU!!!!" Yeah. That'll do.)

As for the other women who may be reading this... Uhm... uh... I politely request that you be patient with me as I explore myself more fully. And please know that I'm dating cos I'd like to get to know the person, so I can decide and choose whether or not to have a relationship. I'm trying to not indulge my old habit of falling head over heels before I am ready.

As I finish my chicken, Promise arrives with a finger bowl. That's observant. Very proactive. It's a large silver bowl filled with steaming hot water and a quarter lemon. She walks away with the remnants of my meal. "Promise," I call.

She comes back. "May I have a spoon for my soup?" I say.

She smiles. Does a fake laugh.

She's probably heard that one at least a thousand times in this dive.

I'm debating whether or not to have tea when in walks Wolf Weinek with his wife. He introduces me, but her name washes straight out of my ears and settles in my beret. "What brings you here?" he says. (He's Austrian, so what he says is more like, "Vot brinks yu ear?")

"I'm part of Lionel Murcott's portrait circle," I say, "up at Drew Lindsay's gallery down the road."

"Fantastic," he says. His son is one of South Africa's hottest visual artists... Robert Weinek, originator of the now defunct Bob's Bar in Troyeville.

I whip out my little portfolio album, the one I use to store the photo printouts of my digital artworks. I hand it to him.

"I'll sit there," he says. "I won't interrupt you." He takes the album and sits with his wife. I order tea, which arrives as a tea cup with a teabag in it. No pot. No nothing. Eish. Classy joint, this. Wolf and his wife oodle over my doodles while I drink.

Wolf brings the portfolio back. "Excellent," he says. "You really should try working bigger."

"So how're you doing, Wolf?"

"As good as can be expected from someone being treated for cancer," he says.

Ka-tching. Jaw hitting floor. "What??" I say.

"Oh, just prostate cancer," he says. "I've been on the radiation therapy. Side effects. But I'm all right. I hear from the doctor tomorrow if it's been a success."

"Jesus, Wolf. Get better, man."

"What can one do?" he says. Shrugs. Rubs his shaggy beard. Goes back to his wife.

I call for Tony, the manager. "Hi Tony," I say, when he arrives. He's a hard case. Tall, lanky, muscled, scarred. Don't fuck with Tony. That's clear. "I'm just finding out if it's cool to leave my car in the parking lot for an hour or two tonight? I'm part of the portrait circle down the road, at Drew Lindsay's place, and he said it was all right to park here. Just checking with you. I don't want your security guard to get into trouble cos of my car," I say. I deliberately keep the request in one breath, cos I don't want him to interrupt me.

"No problem," he says, after a long pause. "How long you gonna be?"

"About two hours."

"No problem."

Wolf's food arrives just as I'm packing up to leave. Promise comes and takes the tomato sauce bottle off my table, and puts it on Wolf's. He raises it to me in a salute, smiles, and opens the lid.

I haven't got the heart to tell him about my fundamental rule. And heck... he's undergoing radiation therapy. How bad can some rancid tomato sauce be?

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Marco's Coffee Shop & Restaurant, Northgate

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

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

Phone: +27 11 794 2936

Northgate. Home of Johannesburg's horse drivers. Well, not entirely. There are more horse-worshippers living in Bryanston. But this is a close second. Jodhpurs. Very flattering on the inner thigh.

I'm meeting Karen, the second babe I'll be seeing in the flesh from the internet dating site I'm on. We connected via the telephone, and made each other laugh a lot, and have decided to meet.

(I'll state up front that I've clarified my intentions of writing about us on this site, and she's fine with it.)

In her case, I'm a little nervous. I think I may have misread her profile a bit, and may have gotten the wrong end of the stick. Her description of her ideal mate was a tiny bit contradictory. Said something like, "Looking for a partnership of equals with a man who will be my friend, companion, lover, master, protector."

When I read that, I thought, 'Hmm. She's into bondage and discipline.'

So I wrote her an email mentioning the B&D, and telling her that I'd never engaged in it. Hit send, and immediately regretted it. Fired off a quick apology, asking her to overlook my naivete in assuming she might be kinky.

Got a note back from her saying, "Thanks for emailing me, but I have a gut feeling that we're not compatible."

So I sent her a note back saying, "We may very well be incompatible, but how about a strings-free cup of coffee anyway? And maybe you'd like to look at my website to see what kind of dude I am?"

And she mails me back saying the "strings-free" bit appealed to her, and that she had enjoyed my site. So yeah. Coffee would be a reality.

She arrives at Marco's, just after I press send on an sms telling her that I'm wearing my shaggy black beret, a yak's wool jersey, and my position in the restaurant. Her phone beeps as she sees me. We both look like our photos on the site, evidently.

She's an unusual looking woman, with a very smiley face. One eye seems to stay a little more closed than the other. Stunning body. Pretty face. At certain angles, she could easily be Antoinette's sister.

Small talk. And then at a certain point, I say, "Did I misread your profile?"

She looks me in the eye, and murmurs, "No."

Gulp. That's some Milo that almost went down the wrong pipe.

She calls herself kinky. And her brand of kinkiness has a name... MS... Mastery & Submission. She enjoys being submissive. In short, it's a sexual turnon for her to be totally dominated by her man. She loves taking instructions. Loves giving him pleasure. Loves being tied up. Disciplined.

As we're talking, I'm thinking about an ex of mine who once asked me to buy her a set of furry handcuffs for her birthday. Silly boy. It probably wasn't a joke! Maybe SHE was into this stuff too, and I just didn't know?

Turns out Liz is a brilliant artist. This is just a quick sketch she tossed out, trying out my palmtop. She's emailed me some of her paintings. Wow!!! I can't wait to see them in her bedroom!!!! This particular one is the view of Mike's Kitchen from our vantage point in Marco's.And as we're talking, I'm aware that this woman is nobody's cliche stereotype of a kinkster. Heck... I wouldn't even BEGIN to know how a kinky person looks. She's a normal, vivacious, amazing, sexy, intelligent, evolved woman. She's plenty my equal. She's someone I could see myself spending lots and lots of time with.

And here I am, this man who calls himself a maverick. This dude who defines himself as being somewhat left of centre. Broadminded. Open to things. But I've never done anything like this. The closest I've come to anything kinky was with a girlfriend who liked REALLLLLLY hard sex. Like viciously hard. She enjoyed having her hair wrapped around my hand and yanked hard when she was coming. And she dug having me bite hard into her shoulder. And having her nipples brutally squashed. And having her cunni spanked hard with my hand until she came. And in that particular relationship, we both had a lot of blood under the fingernails due to backs being ripped at climax.

But that's really the only properly kinky stuff I've done. (Not that I'm naive. Just that my range has been almost normal.)

So with Karen, I'm sitting here facing a woman who is pushing all sorts of excitement buttons in me. (No, not nipple clips! Not yet, anyway.)

The main buttons are these:

(1) I don't want to be in a relationship with anyone where I am the exclusive decision maker, where I am exclusively in control. (She's been in a relationship before with someone where they did the Mastery & Submission thing across the entire relationship, not just the sex, and it didn't entirely work for her. She's not sure if it was the guy, or the role.)

(2) I'm a non-genderist, so, for me, it would be very difficult (but not necessarily impossible) to see her as being a submissive WOMAN. I can easily see myself ordering her about as a PERSON, one who happens to have a vagina and other orifices at my command, but not as a WOMAN, a female. That stuff just pisses me off.

(3) I'm a virgin in this stuff. And as someone ruthlessly committed to excellence, I feel as though I don't know enough about the paradigm to be able to enter it successfully. I'm firmly aware that Karen requires domination, and that my asking fumbling questions about how to tie her up? and, is she comfortable? and, am I hurting her? might very well run counter to the experience she's after. But I'm also aware that I'll probably only be on training wheels for a short time. I'm a very quick and dedicated learner.

(4) I'm not keen on pain and torture and rape. Turns out she's not keen on that either. She's truly a normal person with a need to be dominated. Not hurt. Not humiliated. Not disregarded.

So hey. I'm gonna take these thoughts to therapy tomorrow, and see what Zahava has to say. I'm not fearing for my sanity here. Instead, I'm trying to work out exactly what I can do to please Karen sexually.

Maybe I'm finally liberating myself into true gender-free malehood.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Seattle Coffee Co, Nelson Mandela Square

Sunday, July 11, 2004

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

I'm not sitting in the coffee-shop section of the store.

I'm at the main counter of the bookshop, chatting to Linda. She used to work at the Rosebank branch, and I was going to hire her as an intern to do marketing for Barefoot Press at some point, back in the days when I still had grandiose ambitions about getting Barefoot Press into the stratosphere.

"How's your love life?" she says. I've bought her a latte with half strawberry, half cinnamon syrup, no coffee. Just milk and the syrup. That's what she wanted. I'm sipping my way through a grande harmless latte. To the uninitiated, that's the biggest mug, with decaff coffee and skim milk.

"Jacqui and I broke up," I say. "About three or four months ago."

"Oh!" she says. "I broke up too. A week ago."

"Why'd you break up?" I ask.

"He broke up. I don't know why."

"Hmmmm," I say, "is THAT why you're flirting with me?"

She strikes a pose and glares at me, half seductively, half outraged. Then she winks.

"I'm turning twenty-one very soon," she says.

"Do you want to model for my portrait circle?" I say.

"Absolutely," she says.

Lets see. I'm only fifteen years older than her.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

The Park Hyatt Foyer Coffee Shop, Rosebank

Saturday, July 10, 2004

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

The Ananzi internet dating service has delivered its first gem. This drawing looks NOTHING like M, but it captures some of her energy and verve.I'm a littttttttttttttle nervous. The woman who's on her way to meet me has only ever seen photos of me. Three photos, to be precise. And two self portraits. She's heard my voice on the phone, cos we've chatted. And she's seen my email style.

I've seen four photos of her. And that's really all I know.

She's my very first date from the Ananzi internet dating service I've signed up for. I've decided that I'm now over Jacqui, and I must move on with my life.

A buddy of mine showed me his profile on the service, and browsed through the gallery, showing me all of these babes. Hundreds of them. And a matching system that takes your preferences into account.

We have to see how well the matching system works. The software claims that M and I are around 97% compatible. (I'm keeping her real name and her online name anonymous, cos I haven't asked her permission yet to reveal those. But there's no reason for you to know her real details, so "M" will have to do.)

My phone rings. "Okay, Roy, I'm approaching the hotel foyer, but I can't see you."

I leap out of the couch, and walk into the open space. A tall woman, glasses, black hair, smart jacket is walking toward me. Matches the photo. It's M.

"Hullo!" I say.

"Hullo!" she says.

And we get on swimmingly. We make each other laugh. We talk about intimate things. We talk about how weird it is to try this internet dating thing. We talk about the odd dudes she's met. I tell her about the time I was forced to use James Small (a rugby player) in a Panasonic commercial, and he stood around for half a day with ad agency girls rubbing his chest while he sent the production assistant around the shoe shops of Sandton to get him the right pair of boots.

Somewhere in the middle of this, I ask the waitress if it's possible to wangle a free slice of chocolate cake. "No," she says, "There's a very complicated system, and we don't have access to the cakes. But what we have got is some tarts. Little ones that we are allowed to give our customers."

"You get a BIG tip tonight," I say.

She brings tea, and four little fruit tarts. Remarkable.

"I'm not going to have any," says M. "I baked blueberry muffins this afternoon. I NEVER bake!"

Next thing, it's 1:30am, and my contact lenses are glued to my eyelids, and it's time to go home.

"Yes, I'd definitely like to see you again," I say.

"Me too," she says.

It's hard to tell whether or not there's chemistry. There's so much pressure on a blind date of this sort. Probably a second date will tell, cos the ice has been broken, and we're both sure that the other one isn't a hag.

I've decided that I'm going to meet pretty much all of the people who I feel some kind of empathy for. Not everyone. But I'm not going to exclude people just cos they're not in my "profile preference range". Who knows what can happen? And who knows WHERE love lives? I dunno. As experienced as I am at having my heart broken, I STILL have no idea what the heck this stuff is all about.

Head for http://ananzi.matchmaker.co.za and sign up for free to be able to check profiles. I'm on as CoffeeShopSchmuck (predictably). If you want to communicate with any of your finds, you've got to pay a trivial subscription fee.

With internet dating, it's really not a matter of clicking with the person. It's more like a double click.

Friday, July 09, 2004

J.B. Rivers, Hyde Park

Friday, July 09, 2004

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

Bianca and I are chatting. It's that awkward chatting before you've gotta say the things that have to be said. Stuff like, "So Cape Town was really cool?"

"Yeah. I really needed the holiday. Had some really cool interactions. One or two dates."

"I felt a twinge of jealousy when you told me about those."

She's ordered nachos, and I'm getting through a chicken sandwich. They can't cook anything that requires frying, cos something's happened to Joburg's gas supply, so restaurants all over are in trouble. The sandwich isn't very inspiring. And Bianca's nachos look revolting. Melted cheese all over.

"Yeah," I say. "So, uh, maybe we should talk about our feelings for each other."

"Hmm, yes, I suppose so," she says.

So we mutually give each other the bullet. No tears, no wrenching jabs to the solar plexus. Nothing really. Just a brief discussion about the fact that we both knew that this wasn't a permanent situation, that we've been waystations for each other in getting over previous breakups, and that we're ready to move on. Very rational.

After, I say, "So does this mean we're not gonna shag anymore?"

"Fraid so," she says. "But you WILL still come shopping for fishnet stockings with me now, won't you?"

She has an audition for a soap opera on Monday, and needs to look slutty and very young.

"Of course I'll come! Can I help you try them on?"

Thursday, July 08, 2004

The Spaza Gallery, Troyeville

Thursday, July 08, 2004

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

Beaujolais lying down in a 5 degree Celsius draft.Back in Joburg. It's my portrait circle, and once again, we've got Beaujolais. When she models for us, she takes her clothes off, and we pay her. All of our other models keep their clothes on, and they get sketches as payment.

It's completely freezing in this place, and Beaujolais is lying on some cushions in front of the heater. "I'm NOT stripping off!" she says. "It's too cold!" Instead, she's taken her top off, leaving her titanic bra in place. This is one big woman. Her skirt is also on.

I'm the time keeper. "Okay, Beaujolais," I say, "first pose will be five different three-minute poses. Happy?"

"Happy," she agrees. And we start. There are only five artists here tonight. Alistair Findlay, the famous cartoonist is one of them. Lionel Murcott is another. Karen. Dan. Me. I'm doing my quick sketches in ink on paper. Lionel's working in ballpoint pen. Alistair has half metre long tree branches with bits of rag tied to the ends. He dips the sticks in ink and scribbles away on a huge sheet of paper. Amazing results.

We finish the five poses, then go for the first of the long ones. "Thirty-five minutes," I say. "Starting... NOW!"

About halfway through, our model starts shivering. "Is time almost up?" she asks.

"Almost," I say. We do our stuff. Lionel's doing an acrylic, and it's taking shape nicely. I'm working onto my palmtop, and taking a lot of care over the colours. I've bought a book on the Exclusive Books sale which deals with colour. Excellent resource.

"A minute left," I say, and Beaujolais shivers. "Okay... time."

Beaujolais puts her top on. "I'm doing the soup tonight," she says, and goes off to dish up for us.

She's been down on her luck, and the modelling and soup fees are the only money she'll see for a while. She's an ex scrub sister, a surgical nurse with serious qualifications. Something mysterious seems to have happened to her, and she's clawing her way back to some form of normality.

She's made vichyssoise, and it's quite peppery. "I meant to get smoked tofu," she says, pointing to a dish of crumbled white stuff. "But this is just normal tofu. You might wanna try it."

Beaujolais freezing her tits off in Troyeville. Literally.I do. The tofu is as bland as water, but it adds bulk to the soup, and I'm ravenous. I need the protein, and it doesn't taste bad. Just different. I'm sweating by the time I finish my second bowl. This stuff's good. A bargain too. I decide to slip her a few bucks extra, just to help her out a bit. I'll give it to her at the end of the evening, when we're all paying her.

She takes her top off again, and lies down in the same pose, to allow Lionel Murcott to continue with his acrylic painting. "Lionel!" says Beaujolais, "Stop mixing your paints now and start painting!!! I'm NOT lying here for thirty-five minutes! It's tooooo cold!"

As the time-keeper, I speak up. "Okay, how long would you like to pose for?"

She considers. "Twelve minutes," she says.

"How about fifteen?" I say.

"Twelve!!!!!!!!!"

"Okay. Starting now."

We do our stuff. She's rubbing her feet together and turning a mild blue. Her breasts are jiggling very distractingly as she shivers. Twelve minutes comes and goes.

"How much longer???" she says.

I pretend to look at my watch. Instead, I look at Lionel's painting. "Uhm..." I say, "about... uh... six minutes left?"

"Eight!" says Lionel. Another twelve minutes go by, and Lionel puts a finishing dab of blue onto his page. "Okay," he says, "I'm done."

"Jeeeeees," says Beaujolais. "It's cold. It's realllllllly cold."

We pay her the modelling fee and add our soup money in.

I hand her my contribution. "I'll get change," she says.

"Nah," I say. "It's for you."

She rushes up to me and hugs me. "Thank you," she says, "thank you!"

Sheesh. It's only about fifteen bucks more than the others have paid. Eish.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

De Malle Madonna, Paarl

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

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

Phone: +27 21 863 3925
Email: mallemadonna@operamail.com

A candidate for the most beautiful homeopath in South Africa -- Marianne.Homeopathy has its delights. Marianne is one of them.

I've just driven the one-hour trip from Cape Town to visit her in the tiny town of Paarl, breeding ground of Boland rugby players.

We're on the back porch of this delightful little bistro, sitting in the winter sun. Deeply pleasant.

I tell Marianne, "I wanted to go into the chemist and say, 'I'm travelling from town to town in search of the most beautiful homeopath in South Africa. Any candidates here?' But I chickened out when this pharmacist walked up to me and said, 'Yes? Can I HELP YOU???' Too aggressive. Thought it wouldn't wash."

Marianne says, "You're a stranger, and they're very curious. This is a VERY small town."

Our waitress walks over. She's very short, very compact, petite, with a gorgeously feral face. I shudder to think about her and the local rugby dating stock. Her name's Viodie.

We ask about the cakes, and she goes through a fairly long list of them. Marianne goes for the chocolate cake. I would normally go for the chocolate cake too, I think. But I'm on holiday. I'm doing unusual things. Like travelling to Paarl to flirt with this gorgeous blonde I met on Friday night with Ian. I figure that the green fig tart will be interesting.

I order normal tea, and Marianne goes for rooibos. "May I have some mint?" I ask.

Viodie says, "We have a mint plant. You can pick your own."

So Marianne and I head for the mint bush and pluck a few sprigs to add to our tea.

We talk about things shamanic, and about how small Paarl is for a single, professional woman looking for love. Everyone's either conservative or a rugby player.

When the cakes arrive, the tart looks a bit sorry for itself. The figs are minced up into a greeny-yellowy-custardy type cheese-cake-ish substance, and it tastes a bit like fig flavoured condensed milk. While the local tannie who made the thing must be pretty proud of it, I give it one and a half stars on the Roy-o-meter.

Marianne's chocolate cake, on the other hand, is worth the trip to Paarl. I end up eating about half of her portion, and she takes a mouthful of mine. I finish more than half of mine, but it's hard work.

Near the end of our time, Marianne looks at her watch. We've been keeping an eye out for time flying, since she's got to be in Hout Bay at 4pm. So she's got a 90-minute drive ahead of her. So we head for my rental car and I drive her down the inordinately long Main Road (it's about 15 kilometres long) back to the pharmacy where she has her consulting practice. Her car's parked back there.

We kiss goodbye.

Yummy. Better than the chocolate cake.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Mugg & Bean, Kloof Street, Cape Town

Monday, July 05, 2004

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

Cape Town. It's the gift that just keeps on giving. I'm sitting right now in Exclusive Books in Tamboerskloof. I'm at a counter which divides the bookshop from the Mugg & Bean next door, and the two places are linked.

This is the first time I've used wifi to connect to the internet. My buddy Charl lent me his wifi card before I came to Cape Town, and I'm now at one of Mweb's free hotspots. (I have 20 hours of access a month free before I start paying. And it's HEAVY payment... R1 per minute once you've hit that 20 hour ceiling.)

I'm using the wireless connection to avoid spending money on my cellphone connecting to the internet. If I used the cell, I'd pay a serious fortune for the privilege of updating this site, seeing as it's charged by the kilobyte.

And the babeage here is extraordinary. But you know that. So I'll just shut up now, wipe the drool off my keyboard, and hit "send".

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Harbour House Restaurant, Kalk Bay, Cape Town

Sunday, July 04, 2004

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

Phone: +27 21 788 4133

Heather's eyes are really astoundingly gorgeous. As is the rest of her. But her eyes, and her thick black eyebrows, are highlights.It's not possible to recommend this place too highly. This is the ultimate restaurant. It has everything. And I urge you to get yourself to it with a romantic partner, and enjoy the sublime.

Tonight, the moon is just past full, and it's sitting above the ocean, smiling in at our window table. Below us, a vast shelf of ocean rock is slick and potent in the silver light. Heather has seen a drunken couple dancing on those rocks. "A wave broke and came up to their knees," she says. "The Polana staff had to go out and save them." (The Polana is downstairs.)

Beyond the rocks, the ocean is raw and excited, and is smashing its way into our hearts, flinging spray at our window, steaming against the floodlight.

"That's weird," I say. "There are airoplanes taking off from Simonstown!" The Cape Town airport is on the OTHER side of the world from where I notice these planes coming from.

Heather looks. No planes. She turns to me, and one takes off.

"There!" I say.

She turns. Nothing. It's gone.

She's busy consulting the homeopathic apothecary in her head, wondering what kind of symptom I'm manifesting, and what remedy might be good for it.

Chantal is an architect. Great archways. Superb domes. Very good symmetry. (I do apologise for building up this cliched metaphor.)Then I figure it out. The planes are reflections of oncoming cars on the road behind us, their headlights assuming the correct takeoff angle in the window. What a relief. Planes taking off from Simonstown would be very uncool. Cos Simonstown is where South Africa's navy resides. Planes would mean war or something.

Heather and I have established that a holiday romance is not on the cards, and we're just enjoying each others company. But what lovely company we're enjoying.

And the food!

We've opted for their three course menu, at R95 per head. We've both gone for the vichyssoise with blood orange and danya as a starter. It's unbelievably delicious. Heather discovers that if she turns the orange slice over so that the skin is facing up, rather than into the soup, it releases an orange scent that mingles with the food in the most remarkable way.

Then the lamb shank arrives. Ayeeeeeee!!!!!! Oh to live here! Oh to eat this whenever I feel a craving for meat! Oh to enjoy a peasant dish so expertly prepared any time I want!!! You've heard the cliche... the meat just "fell off the bone". Mine does. I touch it with the knife, and it falls off the bone. And then when it goes into my mouth, it kinda dissolves, with only a bit of help from my gnashers. We're both doing the meat frenzy tonight, and Heather is enjoying hers as deeply as I am mine.

My dessert is a thin slice of chocolate mousse, with caramel trickled round therim of the plate. Jeepers. It's evil to subject an ex-chocolate fiend to this kind of violence!

Heather has ordered the pear. Oh my goodness. Yummyness.

And then the evening's over, and it's a short walk back along the seafront to Heather's flat (which has a mountain view AND a seaview from THE SAME WINDOW!!!!!!!), and we kiss a chaste goodnight, and I drive back to Leigh's place.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Chantal's Flat, Seapoint, Cape Town

Saturday, July 03, 2004

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

A portrait of me by Chantal Pieterse, Cape Town babe.Ian Henderson, you're the best! You rock, you fine musician fellow, you!

You know why Ian rocks? It's because of his friends.

He's invited me to supper at a buddy of his. His sms to me read, "Supper tonight in Seapoint. Assorted babeage."

Holy moly. He understated. This is not ASSORTED babeage. This is PRIME babeage. This is the whole nine yards.

It's me, Ian, Ian's girlfriend Anneke, and four single, unmarried, available... morsels, delicacies. Ayeeeeeeeeeee!!!

On my right is Chantal, an architect. She's going to be going to Australia in a month or two, to be with a boy she met while travelling. Lucky him! But in the interim, as far as I can tell, she's living in the here and now.

Sitting next to her is Heather, a homeopath, living in Kalk Bay. Fairly quiet, dazzling. Delicious, eat-me-now eyes.

Next to Heather is Fotini, a Greek mega-goddess. This chick is sex on turbo charged pogo stick. Angular face, carved beauty. Lean, muscled. A kite surfer. And studying homeopathy.

Fotini. Greek perfection. Angular beauty. Fit as a kite. Muscled and tiny. "Oh no!!!" she says. "Do I really look that haggard??? It's a good artwork, Roy, but you really don't make women look very beautiful, do you?"And then there's Mariane, curly blonde hair, a satin sarong wrapped casually over her eligible hips, unfortunately marred by the fact that its winter in Cape Town, meaning she's wearing jeans under the sarong instead of just a g-string or nothing. She's also a homeopath, practising in Paarl.

Ian's girlfriend is a lawyer, and she's got long, straight blonde hair, and she's a total slinky being too.

Sigh.

And the conversation is hot.

We're talking about sex, and Ian and I are doing our best to be sincere communicators of the male experience. What we're really doing is a propaganda job, selling the idea that we're simply the most astounding male beings they've ever encountered. And of course, I'm drawing whoever I can, and taking phone numbers and email addresses as a pretext for contacting them.

Chantal looks at my sketch of Heather, and asks for a turn. Seeing as she's an architect and all, I hand over the palmtop, and show her how to use the drawing software. She pumps out a quick portrait of me, and exclaims that she wants a palmtop like mine. But she's saving as much as she can for Australia, so she probably won't be buying one. But hey... if I can persuade her to buy a palmtop, maybe she won't go to Australia, and then she'll ditch the thug she's going to meet, and maybe I'll stand a chance?

Caffe Magnifico, Canal Walk, Cape Town

Saturday, July 03, 2004

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

In Cape Town, there are two types of women. Beautiful women. And extraordinarily beautiful women. There's no such thing as a dog in this town. And because there's a shortage of men, it seems that all of these outrageously gorgeous babes have some sort of self-esteem way going on.

Pick out a supermodel stunner from any mall passage at random, and say, "You're really beautiful," and she'll go, "Oh, no! I'm average at best."

I like competition. Survival of the fittest.

Canal Walk is in Century City near Blouberg Strand. It's in an area that used to be the arse end of Cape Town, but it's the latest area of Growth. This particular shopping mall is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere.

This is NOT a drawing of a Cape Town babe. It's one of the quaint boys with coiffed hair and aftershave.I'm sitting at Caffe Magnifico, slap bang between two escalators. I get to see up the skirts of the babes as they travel up into shoppers' paradise, and I get to see the faces of the beauts coming back down, bathed in radiance and bliss.

I'm here because Leigh has taken Oscar to go and see HARRY POTTER III, which I've already seen. Oscar's been with Leigh since last night, and he had no problem at all with me colonising his bedroom. He's cool to sleep in Leigh's bed.

"How come?" I said to him last night.

"Cos you snore," he says.

"How do you know I snore?" I say.

"My dad told me."

Leigh's nodding hugely. "When I went to work this morning, you were snoring your head off," he says. "I could hear you all the way from the kitchen downstairs."

The film finishes, and Leigh and Oscar approach.

"Do that magic trick!" Oscar commands.

"I can't," I say. "Harry Potter is the magic one."

"Do it! Put the coin in your ear and make it come out of your other ear! DO IT!!!"

I've made the fatal mistake of doing the kind of trick you are expressly forbidden from doing in front of a five year old: any trick which involves the placing of small objects in any body orifice is just verboten. But I forgot to self censor when I first showed him the trick, and now he can't get enough.

"Promise me first that you WILL NEVER PUT ANYTHING IN YOUR EAR, OR MOUTH, OR NOSE!" I say.

"Do the trick!" he says.

"Promise first," I say.

"I promise."

I do the trick. And like all good tricks that involve a coin passing between the ears, straight through the brain, the pain is immense! But I survive.

Friday, July 02, 2004

News Cafe, Cape Town International Airport

Friday, July 02, 2004

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

Chantal V is flying to London this afternoon to meet her new boyfriend's parents. She's an old flame of mine who I inexplicably dumped some years ago. She contacted me recently after seeing my name in Fair Lady magazine, and we agreed to meet.

I've been wracking my brain to work out why on earth I broke it off with her. She's prime babeage. Only thing is, she smokes. Strange thing is that I simply cannot remember that she was a smoker. I do recall that when we started dating, she was earning about eight times more than me, and I felt intimidated and outclassed. I suspect also that our dating was a victim of a strict rule I apply to myself... don't date clients. (The company she worked at in those days was a client of a web design house I co-owned with a buddy of mine.)

When I picked her up this afternoon in my rental car, it was from her mansion in Camps Bay. You don't need to know much about Cape Town to understand that Camps Bay is one of the most desired areas in the world. I don't even want to imagine how much her house must have cost.

I thought I was way over this stuff of being outclassed. But there must be some residual bit of self-image crud sitting in me that needs work. I'll have to tackle this with Zahava next Thursday in therapy. Because sitting here in the News Cafe at the airport, catching up on what's intervened during the years, I feel relieved that she's committed to someone else, and that she's not available for me to hit on. I'm a tad intimidated, and STILL feel like I'm outclassed. Odd. Distinctly odd.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Kulula.com Flight, Johannesburg to Cape Town

Thursday, July 01, 2004

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

I'm on the plane. On an impulse, I've bought a return ticket to completely cement my pact with myself that I really ought to learn to relax. I'm going to be staying at Leigh's house. He's my best buddy from school days. We basically grew up together.

I'll be sleeping on the bottom bunk in Oscar's room, and Oscar will see if he can tolerate sleeping in the same room as a snoring, farting adult. Oscar is five-and-a-half, and he's an expert at Sony PlayStation 2 games.

Bianca met me for coffee at the airport. It's her birthday tomorrow, and I can't make it to her party. So I gave her her presents before I left, rather than after.

Brian, an insurance mogul, flying high on Kulula.com, taking a calculated statistical risk that we'll reach Cape Town safely.Right now, I'm noticing that my knees are touching the seat in front of me. Kulula seems to be packing us in more tightly than ever before. I certainly am not the tallest dude in the world, and if my knees are touching, I can't imagine how awful it must be for the taller specimens.

The dude sitting next to me is lanky, and he's forced to sit with his legs spread as wide as they can go without encroaching too viciously on my space and the dude beside him.

I've got the window seat, and a wicked view of the setting sun on my right all the way to Cape Town. Wild.

The dude beside me hasn't noticed that I've been sketching him, even though I'm literally looking up his nose at his nostril hairs, with long, hard stares every twenty or so seconds. When I finish the picture, I study it.

"Amazing machine that," he says. "Can you do everything you need on that?"

"Yeah," I say. "Writing, email, sketching." I turn the drawing to show him.

"Who's that?" he asks.

"It's you," I say.

"Hahahahahha!!! Did you do that now? Right now??"

"Yup. Would you like me to email it to you?"

"I'd love that," he says.

I get his email address, and we start chatting. He's an insurance dude. Does highly specialised stuff for civil engineering firms. Covering things like walls falling on people, or rain preventing the completion of a shopping mall. Stuff like that.

"September eleven really changed the insurance industry overnight," he says.

And then we start talking about God. He's a reborn Christian, and we spend a long time on how he came to realise that only God can help him and the whole of humanity. I'm not a reborn Christian. I'm more a scurrilous half-Jew with wayward Taoist leanings. But I kinda agree with his position on the whole. Same content, different packaging, I s'pose.

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