Gatecrashing has its dangers

Writing this column as well as keeping my friends is becoming more and more difficult.

Writing this column as well as keeping my friends is becoming more and more difficult.

Still, I can't resist the temptation to share my fascination with a friend (I still have) who happens to be an accomplished gatecrasher of high society.

He literally forces himself into the socialite circles of so-called celebrities, taking pride in dropping names at the slightest opportunity.

Nobody in society's upper crust actually knows him, but he rocks up at their homes nevertheless and insists on sitting next to anyone who has been in the news lately.

He has now even taken to lying to bolster his imagined popularity. For a diehard Motswana. who can't speak two words in an Nguni language, he has taken to speaking like this: "Last night I was with uKaizer. He tells me that uJomo and uHotstix ba batla go mpona (want to see me) ... crap, crap, crap."

Someone must have told him it is hip to preface every name with "u", no matter what language you are speaking.

Gatecrashing, I should warn him, has its perils. Years back, shortly after the end of apartheid rule, my friend Stan Mhlongo - may his soul rest in peace - came a cropper when he gatecrashed a bar in Vereeniging frequented by biltong-chewing, brandy-loving rugby-type white folks.

The bar patrons were obviously not amused that blacks could now enter their hallowed watering hole.

Stan was a short man. He had a Percy Sledge afro, wore big glasses that looked like huge windows, and had oversized false teeth that he struggled to keep in his mouth when he spoke. But for a pocket-sized man, he had the cheek of an army commander.

So on this Saturday afternoon Stan waltzed into the hitherto whites-only bar. The racial laws had long been abolished, but the owner and patrons were in no rush to change their ways.

When he arrived, he told me later, the patrons must have first thought he was a hawker. (Stan always carried paper bags loaded with everything). He perched on a chair at the counter, beamed a sunny smile and ordered a beer.

The barman stared at him in disbelief.

Stan did not remember who struck him first. What he did remember, though, was the drunken patrons playing throw-the-dwarf with him.

They hurled him around until they got tired and then one of them grabbed his neck with his banana fingers and squeezed until poor Stan thought he was about to die.

One guy then hurled him out onto the pavement.

Back at work on Monday, Stan looked ill until I realised he did not have his false teeth.

What happened, I asked.

"Maburu (boers)," he said dismissively.

Stan, being Stan, eventually thought it was all a big joke. But he was lucky that all he lost was his false teeth.

My Motswana friend had better take heed.