I KNEW something was wrong when I reached the place in which I normally double-park outside the Grassy Park Hotel, only to see a souped-up Ford Capri parked at an angle in my spot.
I shouted out to Angus the car-guard: ‘Aweh, Angus, what kine?
He sauntered over to me and said: ‘Jy’s uitgevote. Hullete niewe ou in jou plek – Mr Jêck. Hy’s nogal grên. Jy gie my ‘n skrale R5 om agter jou kar te kyk virrie hele fokkien aand. Hy gie my ‘n Mandela.’
En hy’t styl hare…’
I won’t go into detail here, but that’s how I lost my male grooming gig on klawerjas night at the hotel. What irks me, is that I lost it to a fraud called Mr Jack.
It’s been tough, I must admit.
But I’m hanging in there.
Most of my new clients have come to me via word of mouth. And I’ve had to meet many of them in the strangest places – for instance, in the 5.45 MyCiti bus from Milnerton to Cape Town, outside Raji’s Barbershop in Heathfield and in the parking lot of KC in Fish Hoek.
Of course, having to use my own petrol is pushing up my overheads big time, so much so that I’ve had to moonlight teaching double-left-footed people to dance.
But anyway, my last meeting place wasn’t too bad: the client wanted to meet me in the St George’s Mall Food Lovers in the aisle starting from the giant redskin peanuts and ending at the jube-jubes.
I shook my head when I saw him. These guys want to act as if they’re incognito, but I knew immediately he was the man who wanted to see me. FFS, who looks at redskin peanuts as if they are pages of Hustler magazine?
I sauntered over to him and said: ‘Hi, I’m Mr Dougie.’
He looked at me and smiled nervously. Then he said: ‘I’m glad you could make it, Mr Dougie. I’m Timothy. Can I get you a samoosa?’
‘No thanks,’ I replied. ‘They don’t sell samoosas here.’
‘What’s your problem?’ I asked.
My girlfriend has just moved in with me – and it’s been hell,’ he replied.
‘We’ve been fighting over a towel ever since she moved in. She’s been sneaking off to shower first every night, and she leaves the towel soaking wet.
When I realized what she was doing, I decided to beat her to it to shower, but it led to a big shouting match between us.
Everyone in the block was standing outside, wanting to hear what was going on.
She complained that I leave the towel wet– and that it smells like man after I use it.
‘Courtroom dramas are my favourite TV shows, so I gooied like a lawyer to her: ‘Define ‘man-smell’, I said. ‘Armpit’, she replied, pulling up her nose. Then she spat out: ‘What planet are you from if you don’t know that?’
I haven’t showered now for three days … and, well, you know it’s summer…
‘Erm,’ I interjected, ‘do you have only one towel?’
‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘and it’s mine. When her previous boyfriend kicked her out, she was left with only the clothes on her back, a hairdryer and a spare panty.’
‘Do you want to see a photo of her?’ he asked.
I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I said ‘Yes’.
He pulled out an ID-sized pic of her. ‘She calls the mole on her face her beauty spot,’ he said, smiling broadly for the first time.
‘Listen,’ I started … and then stopped to usher away a Daily Voice reporter. ‘This is private business – Tsek!’ I said to her.
And then I continued. ‘Here’s what you must do, Timothy. Please save up for another towel. There’s a sale on at Home Choice. But in the meantime, let her use your towel.
‘You use her hairdryer. You will enjoy it. It will be like you’re getting a light, light fingertip massage.
It was like a great weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
‘Mr Dougie,’ he said, holding both my hands and looking into my eyes. ‘You are a great South African, much greater even than, than … Patricia de Lille…’