I took my kids to a petting zoo. My daughter reacted exactly as expected. She looked for a quiet corner where she could observe from afar. My son dived right into the rabbit den and chased the bunnies, giggling along.
A woman was standing right next to me. So close that our handbags touched each other on the floor. Hers was a fake Louis Vuitton and mine was an old, worn leather Vintage no name brand. They were completely incompatible but had no choice. They had to share a space.
She called out to her son in Dutch. Bad Dutch.
I found it lovely. Afterall, we were in South Africa. Dutch is not something you hear every day. At that moment, her son ran up to my son and grabbed the bunny away from him. My daughter screamed “Stop that!” in Dutch to the boy. It was hard for her. She doesn’t shout easily. I felt proud.
The woman responded to her son in very broken Dutch, asking him to find his own bunny.
I looked in the direction of the woman and said “Wow, small world huh?! You speak Dutch too?” I had a big smile. She said “Yes! We are from overseas, just visiting”. She had no expression on her face.
She was South African. Dead straight.
She moved her handbag to another part of the playground.
I put on my shades and thought “Strange woman! Believe me, I am NOT in the market for new friends”.
From afar, she said “Your kids also speak Dutch? Where you from?” and I said “Well, yes. We are South African but have been spending some time in Amsterdam, so yes, they do speak Dutch. Kids learn so fast!” She put on her sunglasses too.
She was very skinny, lots of makeup, tight yellow pants, very high heels, hair like Amy Winehouse and her son wore a bright yellow GAP branded top with yellow trainers. The family clearly liked yellow. Friendship was ruled out right there forever.
I persisted. “How about you? Do you live in The Netherlands?” She nodded and flicked her hair. It didn’t move.
I persisted some more “Oh right!? Where exactly”. Her answer astounded me. “Next to the airport” she said. The airport? Really?
She put her handbag on her shoulder and modelled a little further away from me.
I enjoyed her discomfort. It intrigued me.
For once, I was not the one shying away from someone. For once, I was not the one putting up the wall. For once, I was not the one running away from some random woman. It felt good to be on the other side.
She spent the rest of the morning, trying to convince her son not to follow mine. I spent the rest of the morning, observing her and wishing our sons would be magnetised further. We both kept our sunglasses on. Talking further was not an option. The feeling was mutual.
I saw her leave the venue along a longgggggg stretch of grass in high heels and thought “I wonder what her story is”.
About 15 minutes later, there was an announcement on the intercom with my car registration. When I reported to reception, guess who I found waiting for me? Yes, she reversed her car into mine.
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