The chair in which I spend most of my… let’s call it “work time” (mainly because
“staring-at-the-ceiling-wondering-who’d-win-in-a-death-match-between-Silvio-Berlusconi-and-a-sentient-banana time” isn’t quite as concise, even if it has the benefit of being more accurate) is made of wicker.
It’s a fairly odd thing to have as one’s office chair, I know this. Especially because the design of this ‘chair’, makes it look like someone once saw a crumpled picture of one back in their early childhood and then decided to make a chair from that memory, out of not very bendy bits of twig – 65 years later when they were beginning to struggle with early-onset dementia.
It makes alarming noises when you sit down or get up from it – and I have it on good authority from really skinny, small people that the experience of sitting in it is mostly an exercise in controlling the anxiety created by feeling like the thing you’re on is less a chair and, more simply, a device designed to drop you on your ass at a random moment of its choosing. Now, I weigh pretty much double your average small skinny person, and so you can imagine how having to be on this thing for about six hours a day is an experience utterly devoid of tranquility, dignity or comfort. As I write this, there is an inexplicably rusty nail that’s sort of prized loose from the wood in which it’s meant to be buried, doing its best to rid me of one (or possibly both) of my testicles, and the four legs are of such dissimilar lengths that it means that you constantly feel like you’re at one of those restaurant tables that needs a crumbled up bit of paper jammed under it to keep it from spilling your vodka tonic all the time.
I like this chair though, which is why I haven’t replaced it. I keep it around to remind me that life isn’t always meant to be easy, pleasant or enjoyable – my version of Catholic Guilt or supporting the Lions or West Ham I guess. It makes it easier to deal with things like cars breaking down, or cats vomiting on my brand-new Adidas – because from an emotional point of view, the chair has already prepped me. I am sufficiently soaked in an expectation that somehow things are not meant to go smoothly, that life has very few unpleasant surprises left that I can’t shrug off – if the chair hasn’t irreparably ruined my posture by then. I’d imagine that it’s quite similar to the day-to-day experience of being Russian.
This is a fairly long and unnecessary way of saying that somehow chaos creeps into all of our lives – and not necessarily in ways that we’d like. And we all need our little ways of dealing with it, either practically or in less productive but more fun ways, like drinking two bottles of Pinot Grigio and deciding that this meeting is ‘pants optional’.
Which is how I was able to cope with arriving at House and Leisure’s wonderful, pretty and refreshing Trends Evening up on the beach rooftop above Juta street in Braamfontein, after having spent the previous 5 hours in un-air-conditioned meetings held in small, hot rooms with lots of people in them, and as a result had sweated just about the body-weight of a sea-elephant into my denim shirt and stupid black pants (I know, in summer – I’m a moron) over the course of an afternoon. I was honestly no better off than a character from the Walking Dead or a Michael Bay movie (where the primary performance directive to any of the actors always just seems to be to sweat a lot). I suppose we can all agree, that these are not ideal conditions under which to arrive at a dinner hosted by a magazine dictated to identifying and highlighting all things cutting-edge, fashionable and generally awesome, where there are likely to be people who write on the Internet for a living and swarms of other people taking photographs.
And of course I was late by about 2 hours.
On a sliding scale of Grand Entrances, I was less Louis XIV entering the court of the Sun King flanked by trumpeters and simpering, cleavagy maidens, and more the Homeless Guy who’d accidentally stumbled into the party while trying to find a place to have a quiet pee. It is a testament to the excellent and sophisticated people at H&L that, under these circumstances, I was welcomed to their party without so much as a bat of an eyelid. Upon which I proceeded to eat about seven chicken kebabs in a row, just to settle the nerves, which is when they probably started to silently question their judgement.
The key to being around people when you were sweating heavily on train about 20 minutes before-hand, is to find that sweet-spot of positioning oneself juuust far enough away from them that they can’t tell you were just in the equivalent of a 40-degree Mumbai marketplace, but then not so far away that they think you’re being bizarrely disinterested in their recent charitable trip to Kenya. It also helps if you’ve got an anecdote about almost being gored to death by a semi-professional racing ostrich to distract people from the giant damp-patches under your arms. The problem is, that at a well-populated party, your ‘sweet-spot’ for one person, is always going to compromise you in terms of all of the other people around you trying to get to the bar or discussing artisanal boerie rolls or whatnot. It essentially means that you’ve got to keep on the move, the cocktail party equivalent of an agitated molecule in a beaker being used to demonstrate Brownian Motion for a high school science class. This is why a lot of people think I have enviable amounts of energy and dynamism, when in reality I’m just trying to stay backlit and downwind.
Luckily the party ended before I could declare it ‘pants-free’.
Thanks to House and Leisure for inviting me back after last year’s debacle where I dropped pudding into a glass of hand-crafted tequila.
Also, I really do promise to write about food next time. Or at the very least have a picture of some food, even if the blog is about Armenian sock design.