The day I politely asked to use the brothel

“If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up,” wrote Gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson and I guess that is as good an excuse as any to do what I do and justify it.

After all, in what other job do you get to be in the midst of a Tshepisong riot before breakfast, take a shower and then haul your tired body off to a raucous koek-en-tee event of yet another corrupt political party’s women’s league? (Take your pick here. No matter who you voted for, you were a sheep choosing between a lion and a wolf.)

Two Fridays ago it was my afternoon off and I was practicing my shoot-from-the-hip-take-no-prisoners-I-am-your-father-Luke approach to babysitting my baby boy. Just as I settled in and sang Hansie Slim for the umpteenth time, I received a call from one of my excited security company contacts. (Journalists like saying ‘contacts’ a lot. As if we have a monopoly on the word over mere mortals. Go ahead. Say it: I have contacts. Feels good hey?) I must come quick, all hell has broken loose in the quaint not-so-crime-free-anymore suburb of Helderkruin.
In short, out of breath sentences, colourfully punctuated with expletives, he mumbled something about the primary school … we caught one … the area has been closed off … a reaction officer was robbed. (Oops, that one was going to be difficult to explain to his boss and the customer, but hey, this is the Wild West Rand.)

Darn, or a more crude version thereof, I said, I won’t be able to come – last time I checked it was illegal to give a four-month-old baby a ride on a Vespa, and it might solicit strange looks from residents and law enforcement in a potentially volatile situation. “I’ll send someone,” I said and hung up.

I called our sports journalist Sony Antonie. A man fondly known around the office as Sony PlayStation, Sony Balony or the Sonester. After all, man cannot live by balls (of the rugby and cricket variant) alone, but sometimes needs his daily murder and mayhem. At first he could not find the location. How can you not find a simple crime scene that caused the neighbourhood to be in lockdown, with a helicopter searching for the culprits but you can spot an offside by Hoërskool Florida’s flank from the sideline, Sony? Eventually he found it.

My mom called to find out how her dear grandchild, who I suspected has pooped himself during my and Sony’s little FBI exchange, was doing. “I cannot talk now,” I said. “I am helping Sony with a robbery”. She hung up. My family has become used to my saying things like I can’t talk now I am looking for a corpse, I can’t talk now I am at a murder or I can’t talk now, I think they are shooting at me.

But then this morning my lovely dorpie afforded me yet another opportunity to take the absurdity of life in Roodepoort to a whole new level.

The receptionist phoned me and said a resident wanted to speak to me about a brothel in Witpoortjie. “A brothel in Witpoortjie!” I excitedly yelled to my colleagues as I knocked over my coffee and sprinted down the stairs. I couldn’t believe my luck! I was going to a brothel! (See what I mean? There I go again.)

“Yes, yes I want to know more,” I told the woman. “Let’s go and talk somewhere private.” I led her to the packed sales department, consisting of only women. I drew the attention of the sales manager.

And then without missing a beat and all the formal decorum demanded of me as a respected journalist (after all, I wanted to impress my colleagues from sales with yet another ground-breaking exposé I am about to do), I blurted it out, loud and clear:
“Debbie, may the lady and I please use your brothel?” First a stunned silence and then roaring laughter.

I meant to say ‘boardroom’.

Moral of the story? If any of our kind readers calls me with a story, please do not be alarmed if I tell you I’ll call back later because I am at a brothel, bank robbery or busy with stealing motorcycles.

Read previous blog post here: Bleeding at my typewriter

Riaan van Zyl

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