If You Go Down to The Arch Tonight

by Roxana Bouwer

I have a five-kilometer radius around my house that serves me well. True story. This self-made micro-metropolis fulfills all my 20-something needs. Suffice to say, I rarely cross the boundary line. The wheels on my car just won’t go round and round. My Fiat just says no.

You see, my ‘four Fs’ condition for a happy life is satisfied within my mini-Joburg. I’m surrounded by top crop friends, food, fun and fashion.

That said, I should have known better than to try fix what ain’t broke but I only remembered that axiom after the incident had occurred.

The thing is, I was invited to a birthday dinner at one of Melrose Arch’s swanky panky eateries. On receiving the invite I thought, “Yay! New people, new place. Fresh blood. Nom nom nom.” But that was just the right side of my brain. The left side went, “Eek, I’m dressed like an androgynous punk and I have just cut all my hair off”.

But ignoring my hesitant intuitive side I pointed my car in the upper class direction and white knuckled it way over my precious perimeter line.

Yikes.

First I got lost in the underground parking lot and ended up parking as far away from the restaurant as is possible. When did parking on the curb become a faux pas, huh? Then, on what seemed like a 5km hike to meet everybody I stopped and asked three people for directions. Two of them didn’t speak English and the one who did sent me the wrong way. Not one for accepting defeat, I missioned onwards.

Finally, I arrived at a table with but one familiar face smiling at me and all the other mugs scanning me north to south, east to west. I don’t drive a Beamer. I don’t wear labels. The only stock market I can talk about is the one where my aunt sells off her sheep and cows. I only own one pair of heels and, ‘No thanks, I don’t do botox’.

That said. Once all our differences had been highlighted, they were gracefully swept aside and an unexpected thing began to happen. I started enjoying the company of these white-collared folk. Heck, I even had them laughing at my little quips.

Four hours later we were all hugging each other goodbye. I walked away (in the right direction) feeling energised after an evening away from my comfort zone. I had even made a new friend or two.

I still revel in my creature comforts. But every so often I venture out beyond the indies, punks, creatives and art fags. And I find that it can be just as much fun over there as it is over here.