I get in from my trip to Table Mountain just as I’m supposed to be on a van headed to a work event for an evening spent with booze and light snacks in one of Cape Town’s most “breathtaking settings.” I need a break. No more wine. No more canapés. No more breathtaking sunsets. I need to sit and do nothing. I want to eat hummus out of a jar with a spoon and watch really awful movies that were never released in the United States. I want to talk to no one but the wall in front of me.
Leah, the Guest Services Director, however, does not see it that way. I see her on my way in. Fuckity fuck. Now what.
“Leah,” I start, thinking that I am somehow going to wrestle my way out of this evening on account of my running late, “I’m supposed to be leaving for Summerton Ridge right now but I haven’t had time to change.”
Leah scans her thick packet of various itineraries. She’s having to deal with two hundred guests going to about six different places, all via different vans and buses. We are like pieces of luggage getting sorted at Heathrow International. She is on the verge of hating everyone.
“Yes,” she says, not quite picking up on where I am going with this (or, maybe, totally picking up on where I am going with this).
“Do I have time to go up to my room and change?”
“You look fine, dear!”
I glance down for an aerial perspective of my outfit: distressed jeans, tattered Brooklyn boots, my black coat, a bag with a giant bottle of water in it slung across my body. I look as though I’ve just come back from some thrifting expedition in Hipster Town.
Leah grabs me by the shoulders and turns me round, sending me through the revolving doors towards a van with “Summerton Ridge” clearly printed on a sign. I climb aboard, reluctantly.
On the van already are people who have taken the time to shower and change. These are proper grown ups with groomed hair and freshly applied lipstick. God, I’m such a child. Modeling has instilled in me a careless whatever-ness that does not make me well suited for the real world. I’m like Anne Hathaway’s character in Rachel Getting Married, here to destroy everything with my inappropriate crop-top and an alcohol problem. I do my best to make up for this with biggish words and an intellectual cadence. Don’t look at me, it says. Listen to my $200k education!
The van takes the long way, getting lost a winding, beautiful road until it deposits us in front of an estate that looks as though it’s undergone one too many renovations. The bones are old, but the surface is suspiciously contemporary. Kind of like the building equivalent of that “Catwoman” beast of botched plastic surgery, Jocelyn Wildenstein.
Someone leads us through a hallway lined with artwork until we are on a patio looking out onto a bay. The sun sets over Cape Town, the lights from expensive condos twinkling into significance as the purple and pink give way to navy, a bluish bruise blackening in time.
We dutifully take pictures.
Tables are set up in a room, covered in full bottles and empty glasses. Two young men play contemporary music on classical instruments. Servers have started to walk around with a whole host of uncomplimentary – and fairly disgusting — snacks: Japanese sushi, Indian samosas, Greek spanokopita. Something for everyone and no one at the same time. In desperation, I start eating fistfuls of almonds and biltong, swiped from little white bowls.
Without my boss to trail around, I am left to fend for myself. I travel from brand new acquaintance to brand new acquaintance with the dutiful peckishness of a hungry little mouse. What did you today? Where are you from? How many hours did it take for you to get here? And you? And you? And you? Right now I am craving — more than anything in the world – a sit-down meal and a meaty conversation.
Just as I suspected, I look like a stowaway who snuck into the event for some free booze. I am the youngest person here by at least ten to fifteen years. There are women in kitten heels and silk blouses.
I find one of my newer friends, a gentleman that reminds me of Stellan Skarsgård, who I met the evening previous. I make some comment about my attire.
“It’s been noted,” he says.
I’m pretty sure he’s kidding. I really hope he’s kidding.
I take another handful of almonds and biltong. The two gentlemen playing in the corner have begun their rendition of “Call Me Maybe,” with no hint of irony. I take this as my cue to leave.
“If anyone asks about me, tell them I’ve gotten food poisoning,” I tell New Friend, and then I escape up a set of stairs, past people drinking wine in weird living rooms, and towards the road, as though I’ve just been freed from an abduction.