The boys got together for a late lunch and to bid farewell to the quiet one among us who held a plane ticket to New York tightly in his hand.
The last time I saw the boys was the first time I met any of them except for the quiet ticket holder.
The notion of meeting the boys has always intrigued me but I don't have a circle of boys. Truth is, I don't really want a boys club/gathering to call my own.
So when the quiet one called and said "hey there are few fellas I really want you to meet" I was immediately reluctant but slowly warmed.
The biggest part of my warming had to do with the Bollywood-like beauty sitting next to me. There is nothing nada and niks like showing up at a testosterone fueled cojones gathering with a drop-dead gorgeous woman who makes time stop for the challenged gender.
Instant cudos. Instant credibility. Instant respect.
"My friend just called and asked me to meet him. Do you mind if we just stop by and say Hi?" I asked.
"Oh absolutely Ridwan. You should not even ask. I just love hanging out with you. Let's go I want to meet your good friend," she said with lotus flowers appearing around her beautiful head.
"Cool. You will like him for sure," I said as I checked my rear-view mirror just in case Shahrukh Kahn was trying to crash my Bollywood crush.
"What happened to the Bollywood dream boet," the quiet one said clutching onto his ticket. The boys, still not mine, chimed in a 'please do tell' like in that Grease movie that enthralled me enough to make John Travolta my hero in the summer of too long ago.
"She ummmm ... you know. Well she is not so much Bollywood as much as Delhi and ... ummm she you know ..., we talking but you know Telkom ... and ummm ... "
"Damn boet. She was amazing. I have been to India a couple times and never even came close to a Bollywood beauty and you rock up with one in Pretoria!", one of the boys offered up with residual props and respect.
"Well you know. What can I say? A brutha got it going on like that." I fronted.
"You keeping in touch right? Don't lose that woman. You know people get lost in India. And you won't find that cherry in the mad world of tut-tuts and crazies riding on both sides of the road," another added.
"What you niggaz eating?", I asked in a seafood joint trying in vain to end the interrogation.
"She'll come back boet," the quiet one offered with heartfelt friendship (he can see right through my facade) just as Luther's "Don't want to be your fool" started playing in my consciousness. Again.
"Why are you going to New York? And when will you be back chief?," I asked the quiet one.
He looked down at his plate where a carcass stared back at him almost longing to be put out of its final misery. The rest of his boys were making sport predictions and talking again about the sexy women they gave up to marry the heffa that wants them home before 8pm (it is a worn tale men everywhere pass around after they offer up their cojones to the alter of coupledom).
"I need time to think my outie. It has been a long time coming and I need to break away," he said with a heavy tone.
"But can't you think here my brother. The white people built that f*cking dam we never went to and there is that craddle of humanity sh*t they say proves Tobias is not entirely a f*cked up cracka," I said.
"Thanks boet but it is not far enough. I need miles and miles."
"B*tch are you dying? Is there a woman in New York? You know we have available women here in South Africa. Well most of them in their 20s and bordering on f*cked-up but hell chief why New York?" I pressed.
"I just decided on Monday so I bought a ticket. I will do some shopping and come back on Sunday."
"Are you f*cking serious? How much the ticket cost you?," I said in shocked amazement.
"Seventeen thousand rand but it will be worth every cent and more. I need a new pair of running shoes and maybe a couple of shirts and some nice jeans. Do you need anything Ridwan?"
I turned to look at the "I f*cked her and her friend the night before I got married" crowd as they sucked down triple this and double that and wondered what they talked about inside their sexless coupledoms.
My head turned slowly toward the quiet one and I stared into his eyes with concern.
"Don't worry chief. I got serious news and this is just the time to release a little. Nothing more," the quiet one said.
Being an almost-lawyer I needed to push just a little more toward evidence. To construct plausible meaning this day before that day in 1976 when the white man and his agents went into Soweto and killed children in the name of apartheid.
"Are you dying boet?" The quiet one laughed but his eyes did not twinkle.
"I know. Your ass is in love. Hell boet be like me. I fall in and out of love about twice a week and sometimes more and never need to fly anywhere for space ... " I said trying to press a star into his lackluster eyes.
"No she is in love boet. She told me that weekend when you and Bollywood showed up together."
"But that can't be right my brother. You were laughing and even chatted more than you usually do. Bollywood thought you were a hoot and I had to correct her misconception," I said facing a tired smile and very heavy soul.
Our conversation changed gears. I could see something was wrong before. Now I felt it too.
What does a man say to another man in the middle of boys who are lying about the number of times they got laid?
"Chief I am truly sorry ne. It can't be right hey. She may be mistaken. Just angry. What the f*ck can she be thinking?" I said.
"No boet we closing down. She has already moved," he replied pushing his plate away from him.
"But that was quick. Too quick. I can talk to her. There must be something ... " I said.
"No boet she left two months ago. She called me twice to ask if I would keep the dogs because her new man does not like dogs."
"What the f*ck hey? Is the mutha an Imam? I will kick his f*cking ass for you I promise. Point me in the direction of that dawg chief," I said fronting for a man who holds a big part of my heart.
"No they met at a church social. She said one thing led to another and she did not mean it. It just happened."
"Oh kiss my f*cking grits nigga. If I can count the times a heffa has told me those lines I would be a mathematician," I said too quickly.
I sensed it was time to back off. Cleveland started calling me. A long way from New York but I started to remember that time was not just time. It was also about timing.
"You gonna be awright chief. When you get back we will go to Joburg and eat in Fordsburg. They got all kinds of goodies there I have heard. Food fixes everything. We can give that delusional coloured Guru a call and see if he has muti that can heal your heart too," I said.
"That won't be necessary boet. I'm gonna be OK. We boys ne? We there for each other right?" the quiet one said sipping his Rooibos tea in measured thought.
"You remember when that woman trampled you into a flat pannekoek in Saldanha and then got onto a plane and flew to England? What happened there chief? You guys were so tight and she was wearing your ring too. Two months before she left she was telling everyone you were the best thing that ever happened to her. Then she left. Net so. Finish and klaar," he added.
"People are f*cked up boet. I am the most f*cked up of all and I decided a long time ago to give that sh*t to the universe and walk away from regret. Takes a long time but there is always something else. New beginnings and new feelings. If you let it recreate you," I said doing my best Dr. Phil.
"Ja boeta Ridi it is going to take a long time but I will be ready."
I looked around the large table at the inebriated loverboys who were separately fielding calls from irate spouses with excuses and promises to pick this and that up before they made it home.
Defeated by love? Naaa I don't think so. Sh*t is complicated ne. Everyone has a story. In our quiet moments we tell truths. And in other quiet moments we tell lies.
Getting by is hard. Our condition is fragile. It is the human condition according to Mills and Boon.
"Give Bollywood a call boet," one of the boys said offering me his BlackBerry. He laughed heartily retracting his arm as his cell beeped in distant angst.
"I'm out niggaz," I said getting up and bidding the boys goodbye. I winked at the quiet one and pounded my heart twice with my clenched fist.
"We gonna be all right my brother. I know sh*t and can see into the future," I said as he got up to hug me.
"Leaving already," the chorus of cojone's sounded.
"Yeah you married b*tches. And so should you. And when you get home tell your wife she dresses you funny. Woolworths and Edgars is for white boys," I said walking away.
That ought to teach them to f*ck with a single brutha who can bench press the combined weight of their mother in laws. Right ... ?
I wonder if Bollywood wants to get married?
PS: I got permission to write this story from each and every one of the wives who own the played out cojones above. The quiet one and I go back to that time when Eve grew tired of Adam hanging out with his serpent boys at strip clubs. We both paid the price for that original sin. But he settled and my tab is still open. Geez hey.