Rowan Cloete
Just a few thoughts

     Posted on Wed ,01/12/2010 by rowan

From the archives: I wrote this a few years ago, before I got married!

So you wanna get married huh? So you’ve been dating that girl/guy/rhesus monkey for a while now and the reality of tying the knot/getting hitched/taking on the ball and chain is imminent. Whoopdidoo! Considering that the modern marriage has a worse track record than drunks with guns, and that South Africa is particularly highly afflicted with that most foul of modern day STD’s – Divorce – it might be prudent of me to rip off those rose-colored spectacles and let you in on the real deal about marriage.

The history of marriage is steeped in deeply religious history, and the general idea has evolved from the notion of two people figuratively becoming one (which normally pre-empted the literal, although often in modern day this process has been reversed…) through a sacrament made to whatever deity was in fashion at the given time/place. What has become kinda downplayed in the era of Elvis Chapel Drive-Thru’s and DIY Divorces is that implicit in the vows undertaken by star-struck lovers lays also a covenant of death. Death? Yes, death. The part that goes “until death do us part”, remember? This is pretty much a recurring thread in all the flavours of marriage practiced around the world and through recorded history. In fact, in modern day India it is still the practice to perch a widow on the funeral pyre next to a deceased hubby for a religious barbie and the whole village is invited! How lovely… but I digress.

There’s also loads of gushy, peachy-sounding stuff in the vows, that sound good at the time but goes from better to worse as soon as the budget payments for that honeymoon trip start reflecting on the bank statement. That’s when the moon is definitely over the cow, and you settle into a lifelong cycle contending for the duvet and finding pubes on your razor (which has its own charm, kinda, but definitely part of the fine print you neglected to peruse).

The question is: what in the name of Mary, Jesus and Joseph is going on? Why do  people get married (and eventually divorced)? Let’s see…

  1. You’re in love with your high school sweetheart and are convinced that you are going of spend the rest of you life together. It also might be that she believes that having sex out of wedlock is the ultimate no-no, and her being the captain of the netball team, you’ve spent the last 3 years dreaming about tapping that ass… deciding to get married so you scratch your itchy balls can’t be a good idea.
  2. You’re the ultimate couple, and people keep on telling you so. You compliment each other in career, looks, and basically marriage is a good PR move – the ultimate accessory is the ultimate partner. Accessories however have a way of falling out of fashion as there is always a smaller, better, and more expensive model on the way.
  3. You think “fuckit, let’s get married” and off you tear in drug-crazed haze to the closest pastor that will marry you for 50 bucks. Hey, why not? We can get divorced on Monday, right?
  4. You got her pregnant and her dad’s got a shotgun to your balls. He’s gonna blow your nuts off (not like that!) Unless off course you do the right thing…
  5. You’re scared she’s going to leave you if you don’t marry her. You’ve been co-habiting – god, what are we now, pigs? Er… – and she’s been threatening to leave you if you don’t make an honest woman out of her. That of course is rooted in her insecurity and fear of being deserted after wasting her blooming early 20-something flower on your raggedy ass. That in turn is rooted in the fact that she can smell your intentions before even you know what they are, and c’mon, if you ever intended to marry her you would’ve done so already. “Why fix it if it ain’t broken?” you ask yourself. But there’s nothing as comfortable as a broken-in bicycle… what to do?
  6. You found the one. You’ve actually gone and found what is in your opinion your soul mate, and in the face of overwhelming statistics you are going to be the exception to the what could be Newton’s next irrefutable law of physics – if you walk the isle, you got a 82% chance of pissing out your eyes like a baby at some point in your mutual future. You get along like Fred and Ginger, and after a year she’s putting out the same as she did the night you met! As a rule you feel like a bowl of peaches and cream around her – even better, you have that whole trust and openness thing going which lets you discover parts of your inner reality that you never knew were there or were possible. She completes you. So, 4 years down the line, what went wrong? Well, throw together a little breakdown of communication with some domesticity and add a dash of workplace impropriety, and divorce seems like a much more streamlined solution that actually fixing the problem. It’s just too damn drive-thru.

Even though we might turn around, shake our fists at the heavens and insist that we didn’t mean it, the fact is, through a solemn promise we create a new reality for ourselves when we say those vows – morally, legally and it’s out there for the universe to bear witness to. You don’t tell the pope “Fuck you!” and fix it with “I was only joking…” Even though today we have to option of trading in when the motor plan runs out, the fact remains that you can never walk away from the experience unchanged. That, in a sense, is “until death do us part” – death to the person you’ve were before, hello to the new, married you. Next step is “Hi, I’m Bob, and I’m a divorcee!” (so tres chic, so statistical…). There’s no going back.

If you really want to get married, don’t look at other married people for how to do it – the only thing they’ve perfected is getting horribly, acrimoniously divorced. I do believe there is tremendous value in choosing someone to share this glorious experience of being alive and human with – this is an opportunity to create a new context for a dated, defunct, demented and dying institution. Forget trying to complete each other – an exercise in futility, considering if you can’t do it for yourself, you can’t do it for him/her. Screw becoming one – if you’re going to shoot for teddy bears at the carnival of life, two guns are better than one. Be happy and complete, and choose somebody who is happy and complete. Then be happy and complete together.

Ass-eblief.

     Posted on Thu ,04/11/2010 by rowan

When an editor I know insisted that some straight guy should write a piece on anal sex, all the came to mind was “er…?”

That, I imagine, is a fairly pedestrian straight man’s response when confronted with his own chocolate starfish-ness. Then I thought arseholes are like opinions – we all got one, right? So why the sudden blushing and stubbing the toe in the ground when the subject of going greek arises? Ok then.

It’s an open secret that husbands want to shag their wives in the bum. Boyfriends want up the chute with their girlfriends. We even want to fuck people we don’t know in the ass – sometimes for business, and sometimes for pleasure.

This pass time has been around since the first time a cave woman bent over to stoke the fire, and has even unofficially been condoned by some archaic religious trains of thought as the god-given preferential method of birth control, beating condoms to pole position. This cultural entrenchment might very well be the reason why so many men so often are told: “What you doing honey? That’s not the right hole…” Who knows?

Raising the subject of anal sex is often quite a thorny issue for wannabe junk-jockeys, often contemplated and agonized over weeks before popping the question. It’s normally pre-empted by flowery declarations of love and talking about taking the relationship to the next level. Which is all really just about buttering her up. Figuratively, and with some luck the literal will follow.

Yep, even though it is spoken of only in hushed terms and veiled in crude jokes, there’s always a jittery excitement that runs through around the braaivleis vuur when the conversation turns to this most nefarious of acts, that which is standard practice in Pornoland but not in the ol’ chambre.

And then one happy day she succumbs to your whining. You can’t believe it! You immediately start wondering when she’ll let you do it again. Nevermind the fact that the whole thing was painfully akward, and it took you about 20 minutes to get in there, and that she kept saying slowly slowly slowly all the time. And that now you have to make good on all those promises you made when she insisted that you stop ’cause your killing her. See, for her there is no ruby-cheeked apple from the tree of knowledge waiting up there – that fruit that once tasted would leave her irrevocably convinced of the illicit pleasures of anal love. ‘Cause she ain’t got no g-spot up there mate, no prostate. In fact, the whole thing leaves her more prostrate than satisfied. She’d much rather you go to the same amount of trouble to find the sweet spot that lies on the other side of the fleshy fence that is her perineum. But she loves you too much to tell you that. At least not while you’re basking in the warm afterglow of satisfying your dirty little fantasy of measuring her with the chocolate dipstick.

I suspect that it is only in Pornoland where women really enjoy anal sex, but this is only speculation (I’ve heard whispered that on the other side of forty things change dramatically). Women writhing and moaning on celluloid as they get it all this morning is in all probability more likely the spawning ground of this boys’ dorm fetish than Sunday school. Porn is overwhelmingly by men for men, as is anal sex, regardless of the recipient being male or female.

- The above of course not taking into account the horizon-flipping time when you both were left thinking and feeling that you’ve shared something sexy, very intimate and special… but that is the verily the exception and the seldomly emulated -

But I’m harping on one side of the coin. What is good for the gander should be good for the goose, no?

This is where the information gets a little sketchy. See, a guy will giggle and wring his hands and tell his mates about the nasty girl who took it “in the boot-ay”, but will never admit to the same girl whipping out the strap-on and riding him screaming all the way to the July finish line. Nosiree! That’s just too goddamn gay for bar-counter conversation.

There does crop up though the singular and far-separated admission of liking to be toyed with down there while shagging or how freakily strange but oddly nice it felt when the girlfriend did that thing with her tongue…

So in answer to that editor: men of all persuasions are dead fascinated by their arseholes. And those of others. Have always been, since we were small and proudly showed our mamas the big turds we’ve made in the bowl. We’ve just forgotten why. But we’re singularly curious to find out what’s up there. Starting with yours?

Margate Madness

     Posted on Thu ,28/10/2010 by rowan

When people ask me where I hail from I am inclined to skip a huge chunk of that answer by omitting where I spent my teenage years. It is not only as pedestrianly named as our great republic, but it parts with geographical accuracy just south of Durban when it becomes the South Coast, lacking the appendix “… of Kwazulu/Natal”. Very confusing for tourists who inevitably will end up in a much prettier part of the world (thank the god of travel Hermes) if they follow the instruction “seriously bru, you should check aaaht the South Coast – it’s kiff…” Oh yes, anyone that has made the trek down to that part of the world to imbibe in the stupor of post-matric holidays will be familiar with that road that curves to the left (just before you hit the croc park), goes up a short hill and plateaus into Margate. Which is an anagram for Armgat-e. This is the chunk of childhood that gets lost when on the odd occasion I am cornered on the question of my origins.

Departing from Joburg, for practical reasons a 3 day sabbatical precludes a trip to and at Coffee Bay. This really is the only reason that I found myself heading through this childhood haunt on the way to Leisure Bay with my good friend Lamont Erasmus. Leisure Bay is a little farther south on this misnomed South Coast, and I have no youthful memories of it, being too far to get to on a Yamaha DT50 with a surfboard strapped to the side. It is morbid curiosity that prompted our premature exit from the toll road. The very same toll road that would safely have zipped us to our chosen destination and past the rinky dinky sprawl of mom-and-pop estate agencies,  fishing tackle shops, tv and hifi-repair places, mini-malls and an endless litany of holiday flats with charming names like Erika Blok 3 and La Terra Mer. The toll road that was not there 18 years ago to offer an alternative route to the one through this relentless assault of un-glamour.

As we turned onto Marine Drive and crested the hill at Manaba Beach, a rush of memories washed over me much like the shore break on the West Coast of Kowloon would do – oily and polluted. If my pre-teens in the Northern Cape was rural idyll, coming of age on the South Coast was jagged and psychotic by comparison. I noticed that it even managed to look more depressing than I remembered – there are more pawn shops and vacant store fronts now, though a Spar and it’s annexed Tops does brisk business. Needless to say, the recession had been at work here with as much abandon as the most intent mid-rush mid-December raver at the Backline Bar and Disco Bistro. At this point Lamont suggested we start drinking furiously, which is the only appropriate reaction to being regaled with another’s pubescent-rhymes-with-anti-depressant memories. So Tops made clients of us in short fashion and we spent the next few days deepening friendship and fortitude in the age old fashion of men, which included braaiing in gale force winds and crying in our beers when the situation demanded it.

I omit this locale from my tale or origin for this reason:  this time, this place – it really was an unhappy combination of puberty and prostration, broken homes and stepparents, hopelessness, boredom, dagga, 50cc motorbikes, polyshorts and paisley, working at the Spur, holiday traffic, sniffing benzene, hitch-hiking, waterskiing at the Umtamvuna River (a highlight) and immigrant Vaalies. I never felt like I was from here, only that I wanted to get away.

Three days later I had new and better memories of this South Coast of the East Coast (thank you Lamont, you are a wonderful friend). On our departure, heading back north towards Durban I felt moved to visit the home where I experienced the worst of these years, to lay my teenage sadness and angst down in the driveway and bid it goodbye and forgiven (which happened under the puzzled countenance of it’s present owner). As I was when I left this love-forsaken part of the world then, I was happier and lighter when later the bakkie’s nose was pointing north on the N2 past Hiberdene, heading anywhere.

Carnival impromptu

     Posted on Thu ,13/05/2010 by rowan

Wow! What a great night it was at Carnival City of all places. So there I was this afternoon trying to wrest sense out of a difficult edit when my bra G calls up to remind me that we’re going to see Wayne Brady tonight at the Big Top. I think the last time I ventured that far Spring-way was Ms SA Teen 1999. But that’s another story (ag shame, those girls are all pushing 30…) cutting a long story short, the man was brilliant. Even better than on TV. Well, just about. He did fly for 21 hours to be here.. The best moment of the night was when Jennifer, 50ish, black, overcome and weeping, declared her love for Wayne crying into his neck and then pulled out her camera phone from her brassiere. She was wearing a polo necked jersey. It was classic and South African. If you can, now or in the future, go see him. A class of his own.

Thoughts on coastal living

     Posted on Tue ,11/05/2010 by rowan

Well, there is not really that much to think about is there? Just came back from the Durban International Film Festival where Kim’s recent feature film, Crime was screened (go Kimmy!). And it was, as always, just fantastic. Durban that is. The movie was great too, much to my relief – we saw a previous cut a while ago which wasn’t all that great,  but that’s the topic of another post…

I don’t know if you get to spend much time in Durban. Having spent my angstige teenage years in Kwazulu/Natal, there wasn’t much that drew me back to this part of the world – my experience of Durban was a few very mediocre nights out on town with other angstige teenagers, all of us severely underage. Nowadays it rocks.