Thursday, August 01, 2002

Primi Piatti, The Zone, Rosebank

Thursday, August 01, 2002

It's wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. There's a woman sitting behind me to my left, her back to the big glass door at the coolest coffee-shop in Johannesburg. But this is no ordinary woman. This is sweetheart-material. You know -- beautiful face, a slightly offset nose (for interest), rich blonde hair, silky voice, curves.


She's wearing low-slung blue jeans. So low-slung that I can see the whole top of her lacy g-string, as well as at least four centimetres of the single strand that descends into the furnaces. She's leaning forward, talking to a lunk, a jerk with a smirk. And I'm staring at this woman, twisting my neck. And so's a passerby. He's standing with his nose smeared against the glass. Sheesh.

This isn't even nearly a representation of Damon Berry. He looks a heck of a lot like Billy Idol right now, what with his dyed white hair. And he's trying a facial hair experiment. Aside from a blonde moustache and some fluff masquerading as burns, he's also got a bit of a beard. It looks like a bleached version of an Oral B toothbrush, recommended by dentists. I'm sure Wendy New, his talented musician girlfriend loves him for it.Of course, I didn't notice her on my own. It took Damon's dropped jaw and mumbled alert for me to turn around and look. Damon Berry is my good buddy who is about to head for Cape Town for six months to be a puppeteer on the next season of Takalane Sesame Street. We're having a late night cheerio session.

I'll see him tomorrow at ten, since he does voice-over work for my promos. Tomorrow, I'm punishing him for leaving Joburg for so long by giving him a serious tongue-twister. He'll attempt to say: "Should Schwartz schmooze with the schmaltzy schmucks? Get Inside Schwartz, Wednesday at nine, only on Three."

But back to the babe. She gets up, and her top rides right up too. This is shameless. I think she should be reported to the SPCA for Roy-abuse. After all, I'm just an animal at heart.

Earlier, I was at home playing backgammon on my computer against Jellyfish, an artificial-intelligence neural-net simulation of the best backgammon player ever. It's beating me to a pulp approximately eighty percent of the time. Not bad. Even the best human players only beat it fifty percent of the time. So I'm playing when someone knocks on my door.

Knocking on my door is different to ringing the buzzer. If you knock, it means you're actually standing right outside my front door on the third floor. It means you're in the building. If you hit the buzzer, you're outside in the freezing wind. If you hit the buzzer, I ignore you if I'm not expecting you. And I hope you freeze to death. If you're outside my door, standing on my welcome mat, I can't easily ignore you, cos I know you can hear the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing loudly on my hifi. If you're standing outside my door, you probably want to speak to me, and you know that I'm home. There's just no hiding.

So I take a guess at who it is and open the door. Yup. Gillian is standing there. She's a distant neighbour from around the corner, also on the third floor. She borrowed my hammer the other day, so she could hang up pictures. She's only been in the block for about two months. I think she may possibly be attracted to me. I know I find her almost irresistible. Not that she's ultra-babe-material. She's a normal, flesh-and-blood woman. But there's something about her that I warm to.

Which is a hassle, really, since I have this policy of not having sex with neighbours or people I work with. Or sisters of friends. Or wives of friends. It's an inconvenient policy, actually, since I find so many of those people almost irresistibly attractive.

So Gill tells me that she's sorry to disturb me, and asks if I'd mind helping her out with something. Her nostrils are pink and flared, and I can swear that she's a little hot and bothered. I invite her in, and she asks what's new, and I send her into my bedroom to admire the framed print I got from Ray Coombs this morning. It's the artist's proof of my rubber stamp edition of coffee-shop drawings. She asks me why I chose those three images.

Now Gill has a very loud voice. And she talks quite a lot. I consider just kissing her to shut her up, but I reckon that would probably count as rape. Anyway, I'm NOT going to do anything like that, since it goes way against my policy. You know the one. About not sleeping with neighbours. But there's a kicker to this. She's also a devout Christian, and she's probably not interested in the deed anyway. So I'm not even going to try. While I might be a lout, I try not to be an offensive lout.

Turns out the favour she's asking is for me to help her take a vast pile of books down to her car. She's a teacher, and she's got about eighty files. As we walk to her flat, she explains that she doesn't want to make two trips in the morning. She also says, "I'm sorry! I have to admit something -- I might be a little bit tipsy. I've had a bit of wine to drink." She giggles.

I wish I didn't have this policy. But nah. I'm resolute. I take the files down to the car, and I race off to Primi Piatti before I can persuade myself to knock on her door.

A narrow escape. And then a reminder of just how single I am when the g-string goddess leans forward to talk to her pet gorilla.

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