I met a celebrity. I was at a club, going to the bathroom, crossing through the main bar, when someone called out my name me over the thudding music: “Bikoooo!”
Now, I will admit that there are a few Bikos in this city but I figured, what are the odds one of the other Bikos would be going to the bathroom at the same time as me?
So I looked around and I saw, over the bobbing heads, this old acquaintance leaning against the bar, with a celebrity hanging onto his elbow.
Blue light from the bulb above them fell on his crown and he glowed like the Milky Way.
I tried to part the crowd like the Red Sea to get to him and when that didn’t happen, I elbowed my way to the bar, pushing aside bodies frothing with hedonism.
At the counter we hugged that shoulder hug men do, and I told him that his head reminded me of the Milky Way.
He said, “My God, I last heard of that was in primary school! Hey listen, meet Exe.” (Not the unga ngano. I just don’t feel like writing ‘X’.)
Exe had on a small dress that pushed her breasts all the way up to her chin. She looked great, I will admit, even though I’m hardly ever moved by cleavage and such things.
I must have looked like the manager from the way she shook my hand. She extended the tips of her fingers for me to shake and when our fingers connected, hers felt as limp as strips of carrots that had been soaked in vinegar overnight.
You could tell she didn’t want to shake my hand lest she contracts cholera, or worse, mediocrity. Or maybe my old acquaintance had told her that I’m his employee.
I wouldn’t put anything past that fox. After that she turned her attention to her phone and ignored me.
“This is Biko. You must have read some of his articles,” this guy told her. She responded listlessly with an, “Oh,” and went back to her phone, probably checking her Likes on Instagram. I couldn’t blame her for not recognising my name; it was obvious she only reads the New York Times and The Economist.
Anyway, undeterred, this idiot acquaintance of mine went on, “He writes for the newspaper – it still on Saturdays, Biko?” And I said, “Yeah, Saturdays.” The celebrity, who I will reveal now (because the suspense isn’t working) is a TV newscaster – she reads news and wears nice dresses while at it (don’t they all?) – said, “Oh yeah, I think I have read him. Steve Biko, right?” I said, “That’s right, Steve Biko. Nice to make your acquaintance.”
Then she said, looking around the room – and I’m not making this up – said, “I don’t think I need to say what I do for a living.” “Of course not,” I responded.
“The whole world and its children know you.” Without any humour or sarcasm, she said, “Yeah, it’s tough being a celebrity.” I said, “Must be. I’m surprised you are even here in this bar. Won’t you be mobbed by adoring fans?” She cocked her thumb at my old acquaintance and said, “Oh, yeah, I know, it’s him who wanted to come. I would rather have spent some quiet time at home, to be honest, where I can be myself.”
Maybe that’s where I should have stopped and gone to relieve my bladder. Instead I said, “Can I get an autograph?” and she actually asked if I had a pen! Using the barman’s pen, she signed her name on my guns. (That’s what young people call biceps now). I haven’t showered since, lest the ink comes off.
I was fascinated by that level of ego and complete lack of irony – how she basically felt like the world was literally beating down her door to sit at her feet.
I wondered what it takes to date a woman like that – one who has stepped off the ledge of reality and is now hurtling down an a big, yawning hole of fantasy. I wondered if she’s the same person with her boyfriend at home, when she doesn’t have to have her make-up right or wear the right kind of shoes that cement her status quo.
Does she pull celebrity rank with him? Maybe he likes it.