June 20, 2003

Gay zen

It was a Friday night, and Adrian and I were on our way to Jethro’s birthday party. For reason’s best known to Jethro, he lives in a neighbourhood that is, well, not close.

Which is great, because half the fun is getting there, and we had the neurological equivalent of one hand tied behind our backs. Well, not literally, of course, because we were driving, and that would have made this article, and our trip, tragically short.

But the monkeys had just reached for the nitrous valve, and the ventilation in the barrel was not great. Things were looking good -- when they were in focus. In fact, Hunter S. Thompson would have been proud. Fear and loathing in Johannesburg. OK, perhaps trepidation and mild distaste in Edenvale. Close enough.

Which we weren’t. We took a wrong turn. (Actually, I should point out that we took this wrong turn about 12 years ago, and have been merrily traipsing down the back alleys of life ever since.) But on this particular evening, we took a wrong turn, courtesy of the Johannesburg Highway Authority. At least, I think that it was Johannesburg. Memory, thankfully, does not allow recollection of exactly which off ramp provided us with a delightful detour, and some might argue that just leaving our familiar neighbourhood was the first and most important wrong turn of all. In fact, I think we did.

But by then it was too late, we were on the road, the lights were streaming past us, and I’m pretty sure the car was moving.

“It’s only illegal if you get caught,” I said to the car in general, and Adrian in particular, and he proceeded to place us bodily, and at right angles, to the path of oncoming traffic.

Some small part of my mind began to turn up the valve on the nitrous. I mused gently, in the face of certain death, how wide the road was, and how slowly we seemed to be moving.

The G-forces took hold as we completed the U-turn, and swung back merrily on our way, determined this time to not do that again.

Well, at least not that far away from home. Because we were navigating by the drag-honoured force of gay Zen. And after unanimously deciding that while straight Zen was white, gay Zen was mauve. And it was not a reliable force in Kempton Park, where you are extremely likely, after briefly turning your back (or that of some local boy’s), to find your Zen’s chassis dropped, its delicate bodywork spray painted, and its windows tinted.

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