Wednesday, October 24, 2007
21 x 2007, Sunday afternoon
It’s now quite a bit after 3pm and I’ve just arrived home from work! My colleague, predictably unreliable, was sick with stomach cramps (probably anxiety-induced as she’s terribly neurotic at the best of times!) so I had to fill in for her… My Sundays are precious and I can’t remember the last time I worked on one, but I thought I’d make an exception today. (Not entirely a wise or informed decision considering last night was my boss’s pole-dancing farewell party AND the rugby World Cup final…)
Almost 8pm. It’s hot here in my little piece of heaven I call home. But while I have the lights on I keep the windows and doors to outside because the area I live in has a terrible midge and mosquito problem – especially in the warmer months. If I had to open the window now, the roof and light fixtures would be obscured by clouds of mozzies and pesky midges which then end up in my food, the food simmering on the stove – and then on my skin so they can bite me and suck my blood all night so that I sleep badly and wake up very, very grumpy. And in the morning, they’ve all died and coat the worksurfaces and tabletops in grey weightless bodies.
About a month ago, I committed myself to look after a friend’s two little children so her and husband could attempt their first romantic evening in 3 or more years. Stupidly, I just said yes and didn’t consider the date – but realised early last week that it was the night of the rugby World Cup final!! Not that I’m a rugby fan – but I’m a fan of my country – and how could I miss watching 30+ men running around in tight tops and short shorts?! Thankfully she phoned to cancel yesterday morning. And this meant, of course, that now I could also go to my boss’s farewell party. She’s headed to Saudi for a couple of months – and so she organised a pole-dancing party… I’m no prude – but the thought of learning a stripper’s basic moves and performing my own little dance in front of my boss, colleagues and a sprinkling of our clients just didn’t have me jumping up and down with enthusiasm. I have the reputation of being an incredibly erotic dancer in the belly-dancing manner, but this comes from a deep place of visceral desire (as well as maybe too much red wine!) And it’s spontaneous!
The thought of this premeditated dancing made me suddenly feel like a wallflower who wished she had an excuse to cancel! As I got ready for the evening, my biggest problem was choosing what to wear. I don’t possess a single item of questionable virtue or made from black fishnet or red satin – I don’t even own pair of raunchy stilettos! Issues I had to take into consideration :
1. I wasn’t in the mood for my amply plump thighs and tummy to be on wobbly exhibit for a group of drunk moms / colleagues.
2. Socialising with my clients in such a starkly different context left me feeling dry-mouthed and quite anxious indeed : I teach them, their husbands and babies --- I am the ‘sweet, knowledgeable, nurturing and motherly teacher’ who they ask for help regarding why their child isn’t crawling yet or do I think their child has the potential to be a bully… So me dressing up as a prancing, dancing whore just didn’t gel with me.
And so, I chose low-slung, wide-legged black jeans, a lowish-cut black top and the highest heels I possess. Certainly I was the most conservatively dressed woman there – besides my boss in her old-fashioned slacks and long turquoise top! One of the moms (of twin girls) arrived in knee-high leopard print, high heel, pointy-toed boots, tight black pants, pink corset and a long black wig – and enough eyeliner and mascara to render her completely unrecognisable! The other mom is the local ‘sister’ of her own pre/antenatal clinic who everyone speaks about in tones of hushed awe. Her fishnets and shiny black peep-toe stilettos competed for attention with so much glitter on her eyes, lips and cheeks that she put Priscilla Queen of the Desert to shame! Both in their VERY late 30s, these two provided all the fireworks and fun necessary to make the evening a spectacular (though not very sexy!) success!
Having been to Teazers and Mavericks a couple of times, once on a solo mission of discovery and adventure, and then once with an older male friend, I found the idea of learning what seems to be a universal repertoire of choreographed ‘sexiness’ both boring and just a little distasteful. The first time I went to Teazers I was newly married (only JUST!) , twenty one years old and doing my Masters degree in sculpture (my work having a definite feminist dogma driving it.) I popped in on my way home one day because I was incurably inquisitive about this idea of men going in groups to strip-clubs – both as an almost rabid feminist and a young little wife. My husband had apparently been ‘dragged’ into the Moulin Rouge in town on the night of his bachelor’s party – his hands even bound with insulation tape! (The backs of his hands were black with bruising even a week later on the day of our wedding… And he broke down in tears when he ‘confessed’ having gone to the stripclub the night before… When I left him last year, he told me one night on the phone that he’d licked salt off one of the girl’s nipples before knocking back a tequila. Perhaps he thought it would hurt me by telling me 6 years later? I remember how violently anti he was about even having a bachelor’s party. In retrospect, it’s no damn wonder!!)
I parked my car outside Teazers in the blazing late afternoon summer sun, sweaty and tired after a day in the library and mentally preparing to cook supper, iron clothes etc. What was I wearing? Oh yes. A long black dress – pretty ordinary in style, I suppose. Black Birckenstock sandals (orthopaedically flat, ultra-conservative and super-unsexy!) My hair in a rough bird’s nest of a bun, glasses and no make-up. And under my arm, my journal and constant companion. As a woman, the bouncer said I didn’t need to pay a cover charge. It was surreal, entering such a dark (in both senses of the word) and smoky space as a young, fairly innocent wife who had to still go home to perform her domestic duties… My eyes took a few moments to adjust to the darkness – seeing the bar to my right, a table full of overweight married men – the rest of the room scattered about with solitary men sitting at tables stuck through with thick floor-to-ceiling poles. Half-fascinated and half afraid, I felt disgust creeping in at the outer edges of my mind like approaching nausea… But still, my curiosity propelled me forward to buy a drink (it was an icy Savanna with a twist of lemon) and find a corner where I could sit and observe. ( I don’t have time to finish writing about this right now – have to prepare some extra work for tomorrow… And I’m also meant to go to my Al Anon meeting, but what with the weather being so foul, all I want to do is climb into bed with my book…)
My very excitable, considerably younger colleague poured all of us a MOER of a shooter to get us out of our tightly-laced inhibitions and get down and dirty as wannabe stripper-sluts. All I remember was its foul taste and colour – much like apple-green cough mixture – and an entire glass of it : not just a shot or two!! It did the job though, and I participated with ample gusto. I sipped red wine for the rest of the evening until we headed down to ‘my local’ on the beachfront to witness the second-half of the Boks thrashing England. The whole afternoon and evening had been filled with the sounds of cars hooting and people shouting out their car windows. It was as if a kind of nationalistic lunacy had possessed us as a whole – and, admittedly, I was a little concerned about being on the road that night even though my drive home was a mere 3km. I fell into bed at midnight – feeling a bit like a reverse-Cinderella as I kicked my heels off, my feet aching and red. All I can remember is lying, collapsed, in bed (I’m sure I was smiling) my bedroom window open wide – and hearing a veritable symphony of victorious shouting, exuberant hooting and police sirens : the sounds of national triumph!! Like a lullaby almost.
In the luminous grey of pre-dawn, I woke up thirsty and with an oncoming truck of a headache, only to find my front door left wide open to catch the cool night air – and any potential intruder! Two Disprin dissolved in a deep glass of cool water and a couple more hours of sleep did the trick, and I woke up feeling almost as fresh as a daisy – except for my allergies which had my eyes red and watering, my nose snotty and blocked – and my chest tight and begging for my asthma pump and a dose of cortisone! I rushed off to work and actually ended up enjoying the day – though it was MUCH longer and much harder work than I anticipated! Have you ever watched Vanilla Sky (an American re-make with Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz of a Spanish art film ) ? The main character wakes up to find he is utterly alone in the middle of New York City. The silence is eerie and heavy. He is SURE it’s a dream. And this is what it felt like this morning as I drove to work in the grey overcast aftermath of Our Win. Completely surreal.
Arriving home just after 3pm, I let myself into my flat – hands full of packets and a one-track mind: I was in critical need of a nap! Putting my packets down, I felt, intuitively, something amiss. Near the door where I keep my keys, there was a yellowish-brown little puddle of what looked like bird-poo – but I couldn’t be sure. I looked up to see I’d left the window above the basin wide open, so it WAS quite possible a bird had been in the flat. Then I noticed one of favourite antique paper-thin glass vases was lying smashed over a sinkful of dishes. There were three other vintage antique glasses on the sill, two which’d also been knocked off the shelf. Mercifully the turquoise one, also quite fragile, lay unscathed in the rinsing bowl! I found another 2 places where the bird had obviously dispelled his guts in a state of claustrophobic fright. Walking carefully and quietly through the house, I half hoped to find the little thing – having had a quiet passion for little brown songbirds over the last few years – using them as part of my self-portrait since 2003… But, it must found its way out to the hot afternoon sky at last. But what I cannot explain is a profound sense of having been visited. Like an omen. A good one. And though one of my favourite vases had been shattered and I had to clean up a good deal of gooey bird poo, a residual glow remains with me even now - knowing that a little bird had been here.
Almost 1am. The bottle of Pinotage I opened at 6pm now sits with its last few drops in my smoky grey wine glass. And Maria de Souza schmoozes scrumptiously in the air all around me – a voice like chocolate and jazzy guitar falling all around me like warm syncopated summer rain…