Rugby and Humankind

Rugby is not really my thing. I love the spirit. South Africans are so good at sporting spirit. And I love beer drinking. So I should be an ideal candidate for rugby watching, except for the fact that I don’t really like rugby. Watching thick-necked men chase a not-round ball across a field while man-handling each other (dare I say homoerotically?) is not my idea of how to spend a Saturday afternoon well.

Being a good South African girl, however, I have had to devise a cunning way of making it highly pleasurable. I take my book. I read it while my compatriots watch. I look up when they roar, thus catching the good bits and sharing in the cheer and, in-between, I read my book, thus freeing up said compatriots to pay attention to the game, and not have me wittering in their ears trying to make conversation.

On Saturday we played against the New Zealand boys – may I also just slide in there that there are some rather delectable creatures on their team, if one blocks out their thick necks. I had decided on Saturday morning that I would skip this one, planning on reading my book happily at home. Sometimes the best-made plans are turned on their heads.

Instead, I found myself making new friends with a rowdy crowd in a small bar in the Lower Main Road of Obz. I knew, once I saw the crowd, that there would be no book-reading for me. Let’s just say that it would just not have gone down well. It’d been a long week, with some loss of faith in humankind for me and sitting there, in that place thronging with humanity and patriotism, I felt it coming back, slowly weaving its way around me.

And then we headed down the road toward the wrong side, the area where you go to score drugs late at night from people who own guns and knives and stuff. We didn’t go that far, though, having no desire to either score drugs nor bump into people with weapons hidden on their being. Stepping off a relatively grimy pavement and entering through the door, we landed in a place with elaborate wallpaper and crystalesque chandeliers that made me feel like I was in the Palace of Versailles.

We ate delicious dinner and chatted amongst a crowd who, while we weren’t exactly their demographic, didn’t seem to mind us sitting in the corner, telling stories, chatting. One of our party, in particular, restored the faith I’d lost in humankind last week. His story was beautiful and surprising and surpassed prejudices – my own, and his real-life character’s – and left me feeling that, maybe, we’d all be okay in the end.

It’s often surprising what you find if you just go a couple of street lights toward the wrong end of town.

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