This is a true story – the last time I ever got asked to go somewhere with an invitation that was actually on paper, it was an anonymous note written in red fineliner and stuffed under my door by someone who supposedly ‘wanted to meet me by the hockey fields for a good time’.
Because I’m a disgusting coward (I was like 12, okay? Even if I had gone, I wouldn’t have known what the hell to do to have a good time anyway, maybe listen to some Roxette albums? I don’t know…) I didn’t want to go, fearing maybe that it was a trap and that someone was going to try and pull my pants down. Anyway, a friend of mine who had a bicycle said he’d go and check it out, because then at least he’d have the means for a quick getaway if ‘the good time’ was a setup.
After being gone for about an hour, he eventually reported back that he’d snuck up to the hockey fields and seen some dark-haired girl hanging around looking disappointed. To this day I have this faint suspicions that he was either fibbing, or that there really was a ‘good time’ involved, but he’d had it instead of me. The little shit.
So naturally – when I do get invited to things these days, and the invitations are actually printed on paper and the word ‘mystery’ is included and there’s a specific dress-code, my suspicions become immediately awakened. Although, to be fair, it was highly unlikely that the editors of House and Leisure were going to get me all dressed up and to a secret location in Braamfontein just so that they could pull my pants down and have older boys point, laugh and take photographs.
Quite the opposite in fact.
First, they gave me some champagne, then fed me duck, more champagne, some pinot noir (from the excellent Creation – who honestly do make the best Pinot in the country but whose labels look like they’ve been designed by a dolphin in Windows Paint), then salmon, then Chardonnay and pumpkin pie, then asked me to try some artisanal tequila that had been wooded in oak barrels for 5 years.
Godammit. If that stupid mystery girl who left me the note when I was twelve had just said that this was what was going to happen on those hockey fields, I would never had sent Jeff Nathanson instead of going myself.
The purpose of the evening was to have those of us who don’t know about these things (although considering the good looking, well-dressed and high-powered nature of the people in the room, that might have been only me) awakened to the biggest lifestyle trends for the coming year. Mystery Dinners were one of them (which explained a lot), as was ‘things made out of cardboard’. This was a relief to hear, because it means that all the home-made cards I’d given for my family for Christmas instead of presents, could be justified by an apparent and new-found adherence to decor trends.
Jenny Crwys-Williams was a good sport, not so much as blinking an eye when I started to say fuck a lot after dropping most of my fig and yoghurt tart into my artisanal tequila, because no matter how delicious my fig and yoghurt tart might have been, it had certainly not been wooded in oak for five years and kind of diluted the one trend I’d really been looking forward to.
Thanks H&L people, I’m a slightly better person because of you, and the next opportunity I get to have a good time done to me, I’m totally going to be a lot more ready for it.
House and Leisure’s trends issue should be everywhere round about now. In it you can learn about how black flowers are cool and that you can apparently serve tea on a Bunsen Burner.