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One of the most embarrassing experiences for me is to bump into an "old friend" whose name I hardly know.
I had the (mis)fortune to run into one such fellow at a funeral recently.
Initially he irritated the crap out of me, but as we warmed up to each other, I decided to relax and enjoy the comic relief he brought to the sombre mood of the funeral.
I had decided to dislike him when he tried to kiss me when we hugged and shook hands. I am no homophobe, but sorry, I do not kiss men, even if they are long-lost friends.
I gathered from his talk that we grew up in the same township and went to the same primary school. It was clear, though, that he was traversing a rough patch in his life and was trying his damnedest to keep the chin up.
His multi-coloured suit looked like it had been chewed and spat out by a cow, his tie dangled down until it almost reached his knees and his yellow rugby socks all but burst out of his badly worn, green John Travolta boots. He wore a Moroka Swallows cap which he doffed to expose a greasy perm that desperately needed a redo.
He insisted on speaking English with me, and my attempts to respond in Setswana did not help. I speak too much English at work, and when I am off I appreciate some normalcy, but he would give me none. At the graveyard I tried to shake him off, but he stayed on my tail. And he talked - almost out-talked the priest.
And then it came: "Skuif ..."
I do not smoke, so I bummed a ciggie to give him. Moments later: "Make two."
Perhaps this would get him off my back, so I gave him enough to buy two beers.
It worked for a while. He disappeared, probably to a shebeen in the neighbourhood.
Just when I had forgotten about him, he reappeared, obviously sozzled. Traipsing next to him was a skinny woman in an oversized dress 'n coat outfit that reminded me of the queen mother. She sported a wig that was famous for its outrageous price when we grew up, dubbed the R-Fifty. Her thick lips were smudged with red-lips and her make up was as thick as peanut butter. She too was not too sober.
He introduced me: "This is my brother. He is a World reporter."
Damn it, did I look that old?
There was no point in correcting him. I nodded and shook hands,
"Give me a boost ..." He was going for an interview on Monday and needed taxi fare.
Well tried boet. Skuif, make two and boost all in quick succession ...
I told him that the World was banned, so I was not working. He pretended to laugh.
Before he could argue, I "answered" my un-ringing cellphone, and bolted from the scene.