Just another Cape Town adventure
The power goes down with the sun and we shoot pool by the digital-blue haze of a smartphone. Later, with the return of the electricity, music oozes out of the speakers like cheap vodka: exotic, eager and slightly oily. Frank observes that he feels like a character in a film. Yeah, I think, something directed by Wes Anderson and written by Wes Craven. Right on cue, the playlist veers into Balkan territory as a long-haired bearded stranger in a trench coat wanders up to our table…the sunglasses on his face and the smoldering cigarette between his lips appear to be glued in place. He communicates with non-verbal gestures at once devoid of emotional content and yet clearly comprehensible. Overtly his needs are simple — alcohol, tobacco and darkness, but is he sad, or angry or yearning for something more? As if to compensate, his companion is an Irishman as garrulous as he is plastered. The next two hours are marked not by passing seconds and minutes, but a succession of puns and inside jokes that ricochet off each other like the balls on the pool table. I keep expecting the mysterious one to pass me a brick of hashish with instructions to smuggle it across the border. What else? There’s a pretty woman — isn’t there always? Well, there are many pretty women, it is Cape Town after all, but this one’s at our table and laughing at our jokes. Knows how to shoot pool too, instant new friend. Meanwhile an online friend from the other side of the world wanders in and gives me a hug; ain’t no hashtag, tweet or ‘like’ that compares to that. There are European girls on the couches watching us play, their cute accents standing out from the general background noise. Wherever they hide the sound system in the catacombs of The Shack, someone finally breaches the barricaded door and evicts the tripping playlist operator, because we are abruptly treated to more of the usual rock and metal. The foreigners on the couches go from cute to annoying in the space of 5 seconds when they loudly butcher “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns’n’Roses…don’t fuck with Axl, man. On the pool table some extraordinary shots are played; mostly unplanned and usually extraordinarily bad. The Irishman wants to play for money; I say we play for fun. He looks at me like I’m some sort of anarchist. At some point I buy a stuffed tiger soft toy for a child on another continent whom I’ve never met, thinking: “Hey kid, you may never meet me, but I’m friends with your mom and I think she’s kinda cool, and I hope before you get much older you’ll realise that when life presents you with a surreal summer night in a beautiful city, you may as well respond with a random act of kindness.” (Ain’t No Hashtag is this installment’s addition to Ye Stupendous Compendium of Free* Potential Band Names)
See more of these adventures at A History of Marks.