Part the One:
I'm driving by myself, with a mild hangover, and that niggly feeling that my hair is not as clean as it could be, through Parklands (est. 2000). A sprawl of a 'burb with endless same-same streets of 'modern' 'architecture' and bland gardens.
I'm on my way to a 'Girl's Morning'. A tea, hosted by a not-awfully-close-but-nice-friend, to which a bunch of us have been invited to eat cake and hang out and hear a couple of 'low-key' presentations by other acquaintances of this not-awfully-close-but-nice-friend who sell things. You know, like a Tupperware party. (Omg you guys! While googling that link I stumbled upon this fascinating fact I had to share: Did you know that somewhere in the world, a Tupperware party starts every 2.2 seconds? - wtf?!).
Anyhoo, it sounded harmless enough, and who'd turn down an opportunity to hang out, sans child, with a bunch of other chicks and eat cake on a rainy Saturday morning right? Also, the morning was to culminate in a promised pole-dancing lesson (yup, dancing. around a pole. all erotic like. in front of a bunch of strangers). Hmmm. Cake + girls + pole-dancing. It all kinda sparked my curiousity.
So I finally get there, after a couple of wrong turns and a low-blood sugar moment which forced me to consume 2 of the cupcakes I was taking to the tea, I get there and after a glass of champagne and a cup of coffee simultaneously, I'm feeling much better. Until the first presentation that is.
Now I'm not really a big body-image girl. I'm not big into make-up and treatments and grooming and suchlike. I live in Cape Town see. And maybe I've been living under a big ole rock but I'd never before heard of Nu Skin. I didn't know about the home Galv@nic Spa System (and, no jokes, I'm using that '@' on purpose 'cos I've got a nasty feeling this might just be the anti-christ and I don't want them finding me), and I'd been blissfully unaware of Age-Loc(k) technology. And I really, really wish I'd stayed that way.
I could've done without an hour of horse-shit by two women who looked not-unlike plastic dolls, with unnaturally smooth and unlined, unmarked, unreal skin, telling me that they worked for a company who had discovered the 'science' of stopping the aging process completely. That I was no longer doomed to a future of looking 'old and haggard like my grandmother'. That I should go home and take a really good look at my face in the mirror that night and 'decide what my youth is worth to me'. It sounded like something from Oryx and Crake. And it gave me the chills.
And it went on for what seemed like days. Thereby making me run out of time to attend the pole-dancing lesson. Which was, however, maybe not such a bad thing.
As the Nu-skin clones went on and on and on and on and on and on and on.... the pole-dancing 'team' arrived, and luckily from where I was sitting I could see into the front hall to witness this fascinating ensemble. First came a tall attractive young thing clad in Lycra (the pole dancer), then came a middle-aged creepy looking dude with the pole (her handler?), then came a trashy looking blond middle-aged woman with really, really bad
genes jeans (um... her mother?) and then came an even trashier looking stringy-haired ancient looking crone with too-red smeared lipstick (her grandmother??). Is it a family business and they travel in a pack, pimping their youngest whilst the others go around with a hat? Did they all come along for the free cake?
Have I entered an alternate reality in which everyone has become either a genetically enhanced version of Meryl Streep with bad plastic surgery or a wizen and tasteless parody of that overly-tanned old woman in There's Something About Mary? Is this Oryx & Crake??
I eat two bite-sized chicken pies, a revoltingly delicious glacéd cherry wrapped in bacon, a slice of lemon meringue pie and a chocolate brownie and leave, a little shaken.
Part the Two (later that day):
I'm driving, with Frieda, hangover has left in search of fresh victim, hair is starting to behave. I'm driving through Athlone, an old CT suburb, one filled with history and controversy.
I'm on my way to a Baby Shower for an old colleague. We've been out of touch the last few years, but once worked (and played) really well together. She's had a rocky history of a semi-arranged marriage, adultery and divorce and has finally married her true love (after some resistance from her family and his conversion to Islam) and is expecting their first child after a long battle to conceive. It feels like a bit of a modern day fairytale to me.
The Shower is a surprise and I arrive knowing no-one. But Frieda and I are welcomed into the hostesses home and instantly plied with food and tea and entertainment from the young cousins. The aunties and friends steadily arrive, all bearing platters and pots and baskets of food, and the room quickly fills to capacity, Frieda being indulged and kissed and made to walk around in a tiny pair of pink plastic heels (provided especially for her, I despaired but obviously she loved them).
The mum-to-be arrived and wept to see us all. The women of her family (ranging in age from 13 to 78) embraced her and cried as well. A few made spontaneous speeches about how they welcomed this child and rejoiced that the couple would finally be blessed. We all cried. And ate. And laughed. And reminisced.
We were a funny old bunch of mixed faces and lifestyles, but we easily found enough in common to while away an afternoon, and when the cousins revealed with much giggling that some beauty-school graduate friends of theirs had arrived to give us all pedicures and facials, the whole room erupted in squeals. And soon all of us, some of whom clearly had weekly grooming appointments and some who had never had anyone else wash their feet, were lounging around in states of undress, being pampered and spoiled. Even Frieda had a little foot scrub (walking in heels is hard work as any gal will tell you!).
I got my toenails painted, ate two chocolate eclairs, a heap of fresh fruit, any number of chilli-bites and a couple of hundred pretzels and left.
Reeling in the bizarreness of this diverse city, the oddness of my day, and the fact that despite everything, all girls like a little pampering!