The Prancing Transvestites Want Your Money For A Reason
This is always one of the most surreal days of the year in the city, and god help any conservative tourists who happen to touch down at Cape Town International airport on this morning, as they will probably think we are all a nation of transvestites.
Those who can avoid going to work on this morning usually do so, as the minute you get out onto the street in your car you are surrounded by the campy students all competing for your - this year, anyway - R15; nevermind the fact that R15 is a awkward amount to have at the ready, because, at the minimum, you need a R10 note and a R5 coin, which is hard to handle while you're trying to drive, so I'm sure most people are evil and just throw random change at the students, or pay too much and demand lots of change in return from a poor, inexperienced sucker whose trying to balance a stack of magazines and a change purse while he counts your money and tries to give you change, all in (sometimes) high heels.
Assuming you manage to go through this entire procedure and purchase a magazine before the robots[*] turn green, the immediate thing that you have to do is wedge the magazine between your windshield and dashboard. This action produces the following three very beneficial effects:
1) Any other campy students that approach to try to sell you a magazine can see that you have already bought one, and will then promptly leave you alone - some with a "You bought one! Yay!" smile and others with a "You bought one from someone else! Dammit!" frown. The reaction is always fun to gauge.
2) Anyone else driving or passing by your car will see that you have bought a magazine, and will immediately feel bad because they, instead, spent their time in traffic pretending to be unaware of the campy students prancing around their car, and didn't buy one.
3) You instantly form a unique Cape Town cultural connection with anyone else driving past who also has a magazine wedged between the windshield and the dashboard. It's just one of those great bonding moments.
The Cape Town public is notoriously fickle (and jaded), so it must be quite difficult to sell the magazine to us every year - hence the antics, which are, to some degree, a right of passage - and it was worsened in the last decade because the magazine's content, for a very long time, was, well, pretty crap. I don't know when it eventually got better, because I stopped reading it, but last year, encouraged by various efforts I had noticed by that magazine's editor to acquire better content, I bought a copy, and it was really, really good. With a lot of initiative and ingenuity last year's team managed to break the curse on the magazine, and I hope that it still holds true for this year (I haven't had time to read this year's issue yet, and will do so tonight).
Nevertheless, if you ever happen to be in the city in February, and a horde of transvestites corners you, this is why. Give them money, take the magazine, and feel good in the knowledge that you have, actually, helped the less fortunate.
*I'm sure there is a science to the date, but after all these years I still don't know what it is - probably something like the "third Thursday of February" - so to me it still seems like some random date.
Labels: Cape Town