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Casanova’s Mercedes

In my weekly nightmare, dream that I fall to the bottom layer of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  This is a sorry sociological space where Man is reduced to mere survival, concentrating solely on satisfying the three basic needs of food, shelter and sex.  In my dream, I somehow manage to subsist there by scrapping together bits of food and shelter only.

In the disjointed manner of dreams I come across Casanova, who has also fallen on hard times.  Approaching, he asks: “Know where one ones gets food and shelter around here?”  Doesn’t enquire about the all-elusive sex, I notice.  For a moment I instinctively think of trading the first two needs for whereabouts of the third with him, but am suddenly overcome by an intense loathing towards the man.  Why him?  Why do women faint in delirium at the sight of him?  Him?  Casanova is one of history’s most minor, infuriating, insignificant little figures.

Wake up with a bad taste in my mouth to read that the Götheborg is in Cape Town for a few days.  Conquer my general aversion to the Waterfront and go there to look at it.  The Götheborg is an exact replica of a Swedish sailing ship of the same name that ran aground off Sweden in 1745, and is here as part of a Swedish global goodwill mission (see appended pic).

Gotheborg 3 7

At the Waterfront, a weekend holiday feeling reigns.  It’s a beautiful day, ideal to board this splendid vessel from times past at R40 a throw.  Strangely, there’s no queue in sight to board the ship.  Enquire as to the possibility of boarding from a Swedish sailor manning the gangway.
“Sorry, the ship is closed today.  No visitors allowed.”
“But it’s a beautiful day and it’s weekend – it doesn’t make sense – this is when you should be cashing in”.
“Nö, sørry, the ship is clø-sed tødåy.  Nö visitörs ållø-wed ön!”
he stonewalls.  Getting the message, I wander off to the central Waterfront.

There’s a huge commotion at the Afga open air auditorium.  Next to perform is a multi-racial troupe of 14 or so young singers who are introduced at length by a gormless MC.  Hand-in-pocket, with the bored bearing of an over-fed after-dinner speaker, with needless prolixity, he then reads, then recites the troupe’s honours, excellences and competitions won.  The loftier the introduction, the greater the disappointment, so I temper my expectations.  A gauche youth announces their first number as “Mama Mia” by ABBA.  I perk up in relief.  It’s thankfully not going to be rap.  Two French women tourists next to me delight “Ah oui, mais c’est ABBAAA, ils vont chanter Mama Mi-a-a-ah”.  The award winners start up.  It’s bad.  The coloureds can’t sing, the whites can’t move, the blacks can’t keep still.  I now realize why some people consider the original band that good.  “Mama Mia oh-ho here I go ha-ge-hen…” they shriek in jumbled cacophony.  An irrepressible longing for the lower reaches of Maslow’s Triangle arises in my breast.  Do they listen to how they sound or to some imagined idea of the original recording?    No, p-lease!  I leave after a minute.

Thence to the car park, where a parking attendant complements me on my “nice car”.  This never happened with my dependable beige 1989 1300cc Toyota Corolla that I drove for twelve years.  Earlier this year, after withstanding years of accumulated pressure to get another car, my so-called brain did a by-pass and bought a Mercedes SLK.

I’ve since noticed a difference in attitude of people towards me.  Common are the fawning complements from parking attendants ingratiating themselves for bigger tips, since I’m assumed to be “rich” instead of a poorer b*stard for having bought the darned thing.  Petrol attendants no longer make me an offer for my car.  They instead clean both windscreens, and take their time about it.  Even the neighbours have adopted a more indulgent attitude.

Mercedes SLK 350

And then, every so often I’m suddenly challenged.  I’d be gently driving around minding my own business when out of nowhere a road cowboy will roar into the lane beside me at a red traffic light, give me the hard stare, and repeatedly rev up his engine in the clear understanding that he’s taking me on.  Let’s-race!  This is usually done from behind the dashboard of a Ford Cortina/Toyota Cressida/Opel Kadette sedan in say lower Buitengracht Street.  On most occasions I let it go, but at times the extremist within me stirs.  I then hatefully take the bait and the road cowboy eats fumes. My sports car is faster than a Cressida.  It just is.

And oh – difficult as it is to disbelieve – the canard about the SA black taxi who took on the top F1 drivers at Kyalami race track, haphazardly if not hazardously stopping to pick up passengers along the way – but despite that winning the grand prix – is also not true.  Even I beat a fully loaded one the other day just to prove a point.  Ordinarily however, this is not to be recommended to the sane.  Whilst yes, this is entertainment, do not try it in a street near home.

But there’s a disturbing thing.  I’ve perceived a fine resentment from would-be owners of Mercedes SLK’s who don’t have them for whatever reason.  The other night there was a constriction in Kloof Street in front of that large Victorian House that is now Manolo’s Bar.  A huge lorry had stopped dead in the single lane opposite mine.  A parking attendant was directing traffic around this obstacle, but I didn’t see him in the dark commotion and moved slowly ahead, as my lane was free.  As I passed him he banged his fist on my bonnet and shouted.  “Hey maaan, why you don’t stop when I say?  Hey!  Why, why?”  To which the woman driver in the car behind the truck whose turn to drive I had inadvertently edged out, screeched sarcastically from her family-filled sedan: “It’s because he’s got a Merce-e-e-e d–e-e-e-s!!!”

I knew exactly how she felt.  It was the same loathing I felt towards Casanova in my dream.