Monday, 28 October 2013


In the age where signs and symbols have become a major part of our everyday lives, it's in our best interest to be visually literate if not at the very least, competent. Red means stop, green means go, danger: smoking can kill you and BOOM, either someone just got shot or it's five hours away from home time. The ability to understand the intricacies of semiotics is a skill on its own and can be traced back to the very beginning of time. While most signals are as clear as Russia's hate policies towards same-sex unions, a lot of them are far more complicated to decipher, especially the signals between two individuals stuck in a dead-end relationship.

We've all been there before, and the excuse for not breaking off a relationship that has long since reached its sell-by date is always the same. What if I regret this decision? How can I hurt someone who cares so much for me? Will I ever be loved like that again? How many times have we ended up sacrificing our own happiness in order to stay in a relationship that clearly isn't viable? Instead of just grabbing the bull by the horns and acknowledging the fact that it's been over for quite some time, we tend to stay a lot longer than we are welcome. Sometimes the routine of daily life provides comfort and the perfect excuse to ignore the danger signs. Avoidance is after all, just another way of delaying the inevitable.

So how do we know when to let go and how do we do it? Are we meant to follow our intuition again; the same intuition that told us this was a good idea in the first place? Do we scout for missing signs in order to justify our decision? Ten to one they’re probably staring us in the face already and have been for quite some time. Should complacency be a sign that we’ve compromised too much of ourselves or is that just the way the relationship package was designed?  It's perfectly normal to experience a slump every now and then, but when the slump turns into a way of life, then perhaps the efforts of salvaging a particular relationship is an utter waste of time.

A sure-fire way of cracking the code is to assess the communication within your relationship. How well do you communicate with your partner both in and out of the bedroom? Are your conversations limited to heated arguments and how one’s day went or do you actually make the time to talk to your partner about feelings and the future? What about intimacy? Are there still traces and glimpses of appreciation, respect and affection or has that ship sailed along with all the other joys that came in the honeymoon phase? And most importantly, how is the sex life? Is it still going strong or is it at a complete standstill? Are you secretly looking up your exes hoping that one of them will take you back? Are you constantly craving independence and looking for excuses to have alone time, even if that means working extra hours at a job you despise?

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, then it’s probably time to rip the band aid off. The longer you wait the bigger the wound and the longer the scars will take to heal. Break-ups are not easy, especially when you’re the one breaking someone else’s heart. You might feel like the villain at the end of it all but after the smoke and dust settles, I guarantee you, there will be clarity.

When it comes to dead-end relationships, why are we running back into the fire when there is nothing left to save?

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Coven

There are several attributes that make Cape Town such an exquisite place to live in but despite all her graces and charms, the Mother City is not without her flaws. The blustering South-easterly winds, our superior attitude towards the eighth wonder of the world, the fact that our weekends begin at 2pm on a Friday and the yo-bro "more-is-nog-'n-dag" mentality. It's all part of who we are at the end of the day, and while our tardiness ranges from fashionably late to no-show, there is one aspect about Cape Town culture that doesn't seem to click well, especially to a stranger trying to find her feet on a turf as foreign and laid back as ours.

It's no secret. Capetonians are notoriously cliquey, especially the fairer sex who have earned a bad rep for guarding their inner circles like bulldogs. Female friendships are far more permanent and stronger than the bonds of a band of brothers, so when you finally find a group of friends who aren't trying to sleep with your husband or stab you in the back, you're going to be protective. Like thieves, we are thick and rarely let anything or anyone penetrate the fold without a fight or some rite of passage into our exclusive coven of Cape Town camaraderie. On the one hand, it's perfectly normal to form close associations with people who share similar interests with you, but on the other, limiting our interaction to the same bunch of people can be somewhat socially stunting.

So what is it that makes Capetonians clique? Is it our race or social status? Is it our inability to deviate from our comfort zones, our preference to follow and never lead? What's the point of being a rainbow nation if you can't experience every colour in the spectrum? Are adult interactions like high school hierarchies all over again, only this time dating the teacher and smoking in public is socially acceptable as long as they fit in? Why is it so hard to make friends in a city as vibrant and culturally diverse as Cape Town?  

"Whoever said that this was one of the friendliest cities in ZA was seriously talking shit!" Meet Zola; a former Gautengalenger who moved to Cape Town less than a year ago to pursue her career as a sports psychologist. At the tender age of 27, this intelligent, opinionated, sometimes louder-than-life, Nubian coo-girl from Bryanston was offered a dream job with one of the biggest local sports brands in Mzanzi. As hard as the decision was to make, she decided to pack her life into her GP convertible and move to a comfortably-sized apartment in Claremont.

I met Zola earlier this year whilst working on a never-ending Sport's documentary that recently caused the resurgence of my ongoing battle with impetigo. At first I was intimidated by her confidence and giraffe-like presence only to find out that she was actually no taller than me and like most fashionable ladies, had a secret affinity for seven inch heels. It didn't take long for me to warm up to Zola who was actually pretty freaking awesome and hilarious. Her dance moves needed some serious work though and coming from a white girl, that's saying something.

I was finding it hard to believe that Zola, who had been here for 10 months already, had struggled to meet a single decent girlfriend. At first I thought it was geographical. I mean she lived in Claremont, where the general female population is segregated into housewives, mothers, trashy students who whore it up at Tiger Tiger or trust fund intellectuals hanging onto their youth at wine bars such as Oblivion. Zola was definitely not vapid enough to be part of the Camps Bay cult so instead, I introduced her to a group of stable 30-something year old's to dispel the myth of Cape Town elitism.

I thought I was going to burn at the stake for bringing this Voodoo priestess into our midst, and even though Sabrina and Wendy (who have both been banished since) had made the effort to get along with her, the rest of my coven had suddenly turned. The high priestess was not impressed by the fact that Zola wasn't your stereotypical African, and felt threatened by her natural allure. She was schooled, without accent, extremely attractive, in no way a princess and could easily pass for a jock with her knowledge on sport.

Although she tried to get on with the girls, Zola spent most of the afternoon hanging round a cauldron of char-grilled chicken and boerewors, chatting to the boys about rugby. Bubble, bubble, bitch and grumble. I could hear my sisters cursing and hexing beneath their breath. I couldn't believe how cold and inhospitable they were being. I felt the urge to beat them with the broomsticks they rode in on for proving me wrong but unfortunately, there it was. The Cape Town clique-ness that we are so well-known for. Are Cape Town girls really that unwelcoming or are they just selective about the people who pledge their sorority? Either way, Zola and I wriggled our noses and click-clacked the hell out of there.

As bewitching as our beautiful city may be, it's not always easy to conjure up quality friendships, especially when you're the new girl in town. If you don't fit into a certain mould, group or stereotype, you're pretty much screwed, unless you are fortunate enough to find a bunch of rogue souls who aren't afraid to embrace diversity and welcome individuality without prejudice or judgement. When you find them, hold on because we are sadly one in a million.

When it comes to making that magical connection with friends, why are some girls such a bitch about it?


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Dirty little fingers

Invading the privacy of one's partner is a classic mistake that so many of us make at some point in our relationship. Whether it's going through his browser in search of pornographic websites or having a quick scan through her cellphone for salacious texts from an unknown number, breaching the silent clause of confidentiality is never a good idea. Even the most secure relationship is guilty of at least thinking it, regardless of cause or reason. Once that seed of suspicion and doubt has been firmly planted into our minds, there's no telling to what lengths we will go to prove ourselves wrong or, in some instances, right. The fixation of satisfying that gut feeling by extreme measures such as hacking into an abandoned gizmo is somewhat alarming and regrettably, far greater than our ability to fess up to the real issue at hand; trust or the lack thereof.

If you have ever had your heart trampled on by some unscrupulous act of deceit and lived to tell the tale, ten to one you're probably as paranoid as I am. The recent popularisation and trending subject of online cheating doesn't really help this new-age paranoia and can often turn a little curiosity into an unhealthy obsession. The wifi generation has created even more avenues for cheating individuals to thrive, making infidelity about as accessible as Honey-Boo Boo's Youtube clips. Facebook, Linked In, AshleyMadison. There are literally thousands of digital forums that encourage you to betray your spouse without them even knowing, each one readily available at the touch of a button. With so many opportunities just a fingertip away, how do we keep our fears at bay without compromising the trust or privacy that we're all entitled to?

Some people find trust to be extremely overrated. Just ask Nancy, a call-centre administrator who keeps her fiance on a very short leash. She had always been a firm believer in full disclosure and that the key to any successful relationship was not to keep secrets from one another. She had been engaged to a well-respected gynaecologist for nearly five years and to this day insists on daily device checks. iPads, iPhones, laptops. Every night before Nancy retires, she conducts a full cavity search on all gadgets, applications and social media networks to make sure that her husband-to-be is not being unfaithful.  

I could suddenly hear Sweet Brown in my head; "ain't nobody got time for that!" The fact that he was totally fine with this mania was even more bizarre. What could have possibly brought on such an insane breach of trust and more importantly, why hadn't Nancy gone to see professional help. "It's not so much him. It's them." It's hard to take someone like Nancy seriously with such dramatic overtures. "My fiancee is an attractive, successful fanny mechanic. Who wouldn't want a piece of that? A few years ago, he had a patient that got a little bit too friendly with him. She stalked him on Facebook and medical forums and somehow got a hold of his cellphone number which is when the sexting and scandalous nudes began pouring in. When I found out, I confronted him immediately, and even though he swore that he never reciprocated, I decided to lay the law down there and then."

As mad as Nancy's methods were, I couldn't help but wonder whether it was actually better to be safe than sorry, even at the expense of our sanity. Can we really depend on blind trust, hoping that our partner is honest enough to tell us everything before the truth surfaces? Nowadays we don't only have to worry about our partner's dirty little fingers, but also the predators that make instant gratification possible. Can there be love without one hundred percent trust or are technical, consensual spot checks necessary to keep one's mind at ease? 

"There was this girl, 26, who fell in love with this guy from the South. Within a month of dating each other, she moved in with him. Of course they were the perfect couple from the outside but like most of these stories go, he had a little dark secret. She was either blissfully ignorant to the signs or he was just a master of bullshit. It started when she found a stack of porn in his wardrobe that he managed to convince belonged to his former housemate. Then there were the seven o'clock phone calls that he took in the back yard. He'd say they were "work related". She even came across facebook posts that seemed suspect but chose to ignore them because she so badly wanted to trust him." 

"Later that year, she accidentally picked up his phone only to discover that she had been the other woman all this time. It was the girlfriend who had relocated to Jo'burg and had been living there for the past year. She soon discovered that she was not the only girl he had cheated on her with. She found a number of emails that linked to an online dating site where he was clearly getting a little side action, the same dating site that they met nearly a year ago. What's even worse is that he had the audacity to create a fake profile to spy on her to make sure she wasn't cheating. Humans are fucked up. This online business makes it way too convenient for people to cheat. Do you understand why I'm so freaking paranoid?"

With so many security settings that we come across on a daily basis, it's ironic to think that the one thing we're all trying to protect is our own insecurities. Breaking through the firewall that is trust is challenging enough, especially to those who have been burnt by love before. While trust is certainly the foundation of love and any healthy relationship, it can easily be broken. The proof is in the profile, and while it can take years to unravel the mysteries and misdemeanours of an unfaithful partner, poking around when you most expect it does not seem like such a heinous crime after all.  

When it comes to privacy, just how much do we really want to know? 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Les-be-honest: Part 1

Whether you're homosexual, full-on hetero or just cruising through the transit lounge of bisexuality, it's safe to assume that most of us have our sexual preferences figured out by the time we hit our early twenties. Some of us are lucky enough to know immediately (we are, after all, born that way baby) while the rest of us find out through good old-fashioned pre-adolescent sexperimentation. Sometimes the calling only comes much later on in life, when that one time at band camp suddenly brings out a series of suppressed emotions that raises a huge question mark over one's sexual identity. Whether it catches you off-guard or whether it was only a matter of time, crossing over into homosexual territory can be exceptionally puzzling, especially when it challenges everything you thought you were once so certain of.

The road to discovering one’s sexual orientation can be long, confusing and sometimes, horribly delayed. The term "sexual fluidity" is probably the best way to describe these late-bloomers who seem to be hopping off the D-train in search of alternative relationships in the form of same sex unions. Put aside the physical aspects or the stereotype that a lesbian needs to resemble some form of mannish quality in order for a straight woman to find her appealing and what do you have? An intimate, intellectually stimulating, emotionally gratifying connection between two like-minded souls. That's not to say that men are incapable of possessing these qualities, just that a lesbian relationship certainly provides another option to women who claim to be done with men for good.

Interesting, yes, but not as idealistic or easy as it sounds, especially for a true-blooded lesbian who is having to take a risk on dating someone who is still so sexually insecure. She has to wonder whether this is this just an angry, anti-men phase that will pass or an actual shot at a long-term relationship and future. And then of course there's the common complications faced by the virgin lesbian. Entering the fold, coming out when you're not 100% sure, telling family and friends (including the local minister) about your lifestyle change, adversity, judgement. With so many factors to consider, do these relationships actually stand a chance at having a happy ending?

My lesbian oracle had come to my much-needed rescue on the subject. Claire was an attractive, intelligent lesbian with a high profile career that afforded her a house in Constantia and a sleek convertible that could turn even the straightest of women on. We met at a running marathon a couple of years back and instantly connected. Naturally she breezed through the marathon whereas I opted for a light stroll. This sister had it going on and if at any point I were to become a lesbian, Claire would be my kind of woman. She refuses to wear anything checked, finds Angelina Jolie as overrated as I do and hasn't a clue what to do with a power-tool.

I invited her round for a bottle of Pinot and asked whether she had ever been in a relationship with a virgin lesbian before. She proceeded to tell me about her most recent relationship with a "straight" woman called Lexie (36), an equally attractive fitness instructor who was non-lesbionic in the stereotypical sense. They met at a triathlon about a year after she had gotten divorced, and lived in the Southern Suburbs with her four-year old daughter, Tasha.

After spending a significant amount of time getting to know one another, Lexie had started developing romantic feelings for Claire. At first she thought it was just a moment of temporary insanity and tried to keep her distance to see whether her emotions would eventually subside but there was no doubt about it. Lexie was in love. For the first time in her life, she had found a soul mate, someone she felt was her equal in every sense, someone she was not afraid to share her innermost intricacies with. After about a month, she finally gave in to her heart and agreed to go out on their first official date.

The experience of dating a woman awakened something that Lexie had rejected a long time ago, and even though their relationship is on hiatus, Lexie would never look at relationships the same way ever again. Had she been a lesbian all this time or had being in such a mature relationship with another woman opened her mind to new and unconventional possibilities? Had the thought of being judged by society and straying from heterosexual lines prevented this from happening sooner or do all women have the potential of enjoying a same-sex relationship without the pressures of being boxed or labeled?

"You're probably wondering about the sex, aren't you? Well, it was amazing. It was the first time she had ever orgasmed because the intimacy had been so intense. I miss the sex, God do I miss the sex. We're sort of taking a break now because of the kid. Her family is super-religious and they're not too crazy about the two mommy business. I admire the fact that she is putting the child's needs first and sorting out her baggage. She needs this time to think about how serious she wants this relationship to be or whether she's just another lipstick lesbian. Either way. Great gal. Cheers to the queers love."

P!nk, Michelle Rodriguez, Eva Mendes. Les-be-honest: we all have one secret girl crush and while most of us would never dream of acting upon it, we cannot disregard or judge those who suddenly do. Maybe it is just a phase or maybe they'll go back to penis after a while but when a woman finds that special person she loves and adores, that person she connects with and hopes to share the rest of her life with, why should it matter whether they're Arthur or Martha? 

When it comes to the L word, I couldn't help but wonder...does love need to have a particular a-gender? 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Ex and the City

When you're living in a city as small as Cape Town, the chances of running into your ex are about as high as the people you meet in Purple Turtle, and just like the exterior of Long Street's most infamous building, is met with mixed emotions. Nostalgia, confusion, attraction, disgust. The reaction of bumping into someone that used to be part of your existence differs from one individual to the next and depends entirely on circumstance and the manner in which the relationship ended. The impromptu sighting could welcome a gentle smile that says "I'm happy for you" or even a smouldering eye-fuck that says "do me baby one more time," and while most cases of the ex are usually met with some colorful sledging, I couldn't help but wonder about the possibility of being friends with your ex?

It's a topic that raises many eyebrows and much debate; can one maintain a completely platonic relationship with an ex partner? On the one extreme, abso-freaking-lutely, hell to the no, no, not! An ex is an ex and the past should in no way interfere with one's present or future, especially when they've already moved on to the next relationship. One can easily argue the unwarranted side-effects and complications that such a friendship may have on your current relationship status. Jealousy, resentment, questions around whether or not you're actually over it. Is it fair to your present partner and more importantly, is it fair to you? 

But what about those rare romantic relationships that have managed to salvage the good, whose separation, unlike seventy percent of relationships happened to have an amicable ending? Are they exponentially setting themselves up for failure, another round of pain and disappointment or have they simply progressed beyond the realm of conventional expectations? Are they so secure in their own skins and relationships to be able to afford this kind of optimism or do they need a serious reality check? Are there certain rules and conditions that one should stick to in order to prevent the "inevitable"? When all is forgiven but not completely forgotten, can one still remain friends with a former lover?

Earlier this year, I received an unexpected email (formerly known as a "letter") that was probably about two years overdue. An open apology from an ex-boyfriend who had reached out to me after years of inexplicable silence. Our last encounter was just another one of those typical tragedies only without the Swedish pop quartet. Boy meets girl, girl likes boy, boy says I love you, boy changes his mind and disappears off the face of the planet. It could have been far worse than any of Lindsay Lohan's recent performances but unlike many of my ghosts of ex-mas past, I did not feel anger or resentment. Only immense sadness that lasted four months before dragging myself out of bed and into the arms of another loving man.

I was at a happy place in my life and felt confident enough to respond to him without compromising my feelings towards my current relationship. One phone call later and all those memories came flooding back only this time, uncomplicated by feelings of love, lust and longing. "I'm going to be in town next week and would love to see you." Mmmm...I wondered. On the one hand, this could be a recipe for disaster and on the other, a successful coup d'etat against single-minded mentalities. I saw this as the ideal opportunity to conduct a potentially hazardous social experiment; one that would prove the masses wrong and solidify my love for Aiden. I decided to invite him to spend the week with us in our cosy, one bedroomed studio apartment.    

He came, he stayed but he did not conquer, except for our living room of course which had become "his space" for the duration of his stay. The conversation flowed as quickly as the red wine and for the first time in two years, I got to know my friend again. The most gratifying part about the whole situation was how well he got along with Aiden who at first was hesitant but soon warmed up to the idea.

My ex could see how happy I was and even asked for advice on how to deal with his own baby-mamma drama's. We were even brave enough to bring up the past and had a good laugh at it although it was no laughing matter at the time. We we're both genuinely happy for one another and revelled in each other's company. Had I achieved the impossible? Was the key to just being friends the ability to learn from the pain and grow better instead of growing bitter or was this new-found friendship one in a million?

Break-ups are exhausting and excruciating especially when you're the one getting burnt, and while parting circumstances are not always favourable, sometimes there's room for miracles. We all process break-ups differently, and while some of us have mastered the art of living side by side with our mortal enemy, others would rather take their chances in Chinese torture chambers. It's a risk that requires serious consideration and a higher level of maturity, free from any questionable motives. Does your desire to reconnect with an ex carry some hidden agenda or are your intentions truly honourable? 

When it comes to ex's:  friend or foe?