I have no idea what goes on at the pool. I can’t see it from the DJ booth. And even if I did know, I would not tell because what happens in Johannesburg – at least the wildest stuff—stays in Johannesburg.
Anyway, everyone’s gone for an hour. I stay in the living room spinning. I do an R. Kelly set—TP2—to help out whatever situation is going on in the pool. At 7:30, a new group of people show up, ask where everyone is, and head down for their own dip. I still get the feeling that something is up, something I can’t put my finger on. I’m up because I’m jet lagged and my body thinks it’s midnight. Why is everyone else up?
CBW wants to know the same. “Are you at a sex party or a drug party?” he BBMs
Neither one of those crossed my mind, but it would explain a lot, wouldn’t it?
At 8 AM, the DJ relives me. I head back to the kitchen to rummage through the bottles for more champagne. One of the guys, a regular at Leroy’s parties, finds me and asks what I’m looking for. I tell him. He smirks, opens the fridge and pulls out a fresh bottle of bubbly. This goes against everything I know to be okay as a guest. You don’t just open someone’s fridge and drink their liquor. He assures me it is A-Ok.
“What’s the deal here?” I ask. “Like dude just invites a bunch of Black folk to his house to party?”
He doesn’t get why this would be odd. “Yeah. He does it all the time.”
“And he just goes to bed and leaves us in his house?!”
He laughs. “He’s in bed, but he isn’t sleeping.”
We sit in the kitchen and talk about life. He’s married. His wife if pissed because it’s New Year’s Eve, or, er, Day, and he hasn’t made it home yet. He says he offered to pick her up and bring her to the party. She just wants him to come home and stay. He’s not willing to do that. Um… okay. So here he is in the kitchen chatting with me.
Now he has questions for me, like “where’s your man?” He’s not hitting on me. It’s a genuine question. Like there’s the ring, but here’s the woman thousands of miles from home without the significant other. “What are you running from?” he follows up with.
I’ll never see him again. And if I did, he has no stake in the story, so I spill. I’m stressed, at a crossroads, can’t figure out how much is too much, whether this next venture I’m attempting is brave or just plumb dumb.
He listens, remains silent long after I’m done. I finally ask, “What do you think?” to fill the silence.
He pours the rest of the bottle into his glass. Yes, we’ve finished the bottle already. He has a taste, drawing out my suspense.
“I think you’ve come too far to give up now.”
Other people come into the kitchen to forage for more alcohol. Somehow I end up in a conversation about relationships, my least favorite topic when I’m not working. (Imagine yourself talking about your job in your off hours.) The music is blasting so we head out by the pool. We’re talking about the differing expectations of men and women and how we’ll never see eye-to-eye. If this guy is the barometer for South African men, they’re not so different from the general American Black man. Go figure.
As we’re talking, I notice the dust on his nostrils. Coke. I’ll mention it to someone later and get a run down that as far as drugs go, the upper echelon of South Africa is currently operating like it’s 1980. Cocaine is huge and finally, I have a partial explanation for why everyone is wide-eyed at damn near 10AM. (For clarity, some folks are running on adrenaline only)
At 10:30, my sense of decency has kicked in. I know I’m in another culture. I know the same rules don’t apply. But now it just seems uncivil to still be at someone’s house at this hour. That and I’m finally crashing. I have to go home.
It’s also Tuesday and I have to write. My job as a freelance writer allows me to write anywhere in the world where I have a computer and Internet access. The downside is there are no days off. I don’t write? I don’t get paid. I don’t get paid, I don’t eat. At it’s core, this is an “you eat what you kill” operation.
Some guy helpfully suggests I take a nap in one of the bedrooms. There are two downstairs and there’s only one person in each of the beds and I can just crash until I’m ready to go.
Uh… no. I’m sure everyone will be on their best behavior, but that’s just not going to happen. I find Stephie tanning in her party dress down by the pool. I don’t know if it’s the lack of sleep or the affront to decency that has me imploring her to get me “home”, ie, back to her place. She seems to get it though and finds us a ride.
I’m expecting her to crash with me—we’ve been up the same length of time, but at her loft, she’s switching from heels to flats.
“I have FOMO,” she says by way of explanation.
I cock my head. FOMO?
“Fear of missing out.”
When she leaves, I attempt to pass out in the bed so I can sleep before I write. Stephie has gigantic windows like mine back in Brooklyn, but with a much better (and brighter) view as she doesn’t have curtains. I can see the iconic Telkom Tower and Vodacom building from where I’m laying. Back in BK, I can see a building across the street.
I roll over, pull a pillow over my head to block out the midday light, and I giggle. I didn’t stay out till 11AM even in college. But this isn’t college; this is Africa.
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk