Shebeening at Someone Else’s Mercy


Elvis Mboya According to Shebeen, as I earlier wrote, these are mainly broke boys and girls who are eager to have a good time courtesy of their friends. You will spot them at the back seat of the car and capitalizing on the slimmest opportunity. For example, when you visit the bathroom he tells Lewinsky’s alias potential appetizer that you (owner of the car) are his driver. Alternatively, they will hang out with dad’s car full of fellow broke buddies hoping they will find a way of contributing for fuel – trying hard to be knowledgeable and classy to please their hosts provided the drinks are flowing. Meet Joey, aged 19, who just matriculated. His mother who flew to meet business clients in Cape Town left him behind to look after their plush Olympia house and two movable toys he has been eyeing for a long time – a Toyota RAV 4 and a Volvo S70. The single mother of one who brought up her son ‘responsibly’ knew very little of his longing appetite for such an opportunity. That very evening after she left, he calls his buddies for a small fundraising to quench the two fuel guzzlers and hopefully there would be surplus for a weekend bash. Fortunately, they managed some cash to move them from point A to B with a high risk of running out of gas in the middle of nowhere. Cladding to impress, in Sean John and G-Unit that a cousin sent from abroad as birthday presents coupled with imported accents, you may mistake them for Western pop stars. I may as well safely say that they watch lots of MTV and Channel O, and ‘local is lekker’ sounds like some old Greek inventions to them. Later, they will stop at a bottle store to compete emptying cheap vodka before they head for Club Heaven. Inside, they can only afford a dumpy each. They settle for Heineken since they heard it’s rapper Eminem’s favourite drink, hence the fad. They will download ridiculously slowly and only finish long after heavy drinkers have lost their way home heading to Rehoboth. During this time they ‘hustle’ vigorously for the next drinks, unfortunately, from the same people whom they share the same fate with. One of them, being a grounded St Paul’s Natasha who narrowly escaped unscathed through her bedroom window to have a glimpse at what Heaven looks like. Across the other side of the city, a friend text-messages Wallah aged 18, that there is a braai at his neighbour’s, hence the invite. So, he walks from Khomasdal where he lives to Herero location in the hope that there will be plenty to munch and swallow. True, Onyama were plentiful so were Katutura bottles alias three-quarters. And no party is complete without the mouth-watering Lewinskys. I mean the non-dieting type who live strictly on Omaere, over-spiced meat and frothy beverages. Coke zero-sugar is foreign to them and walking a dog in the evening might well be an insult. The end-product: JLo’s envy. Don’t mistake me for being partial here folks. Being a bachelor, I am free to ‘look’ around without expecting a slap and knowing that time is not on my side. And the good thing about looking is it’s free until you open your mouth or wink in her direction. Well, that’s the mistake that Walla made – opening a forum for talking without means. He forgot that he was wetting his throat at someone else’s mercy and could not risk defying the protocols of the Shebeen: Lewinskys will smile and swagger before your eyes only after evaluating your purchasing power and having made precise comparisons with other potential candidates. If you are Walla’s case, the queue will be longer, I promise you. But one thing I can bet on with anything alcoholic is that it brings out the ‘never give up’ attitude – that is never give up downloading and never give up your mission. And Walla’s mission was to do more than ‘looking’. As is synonymous with bachelors; he is tired of an empty room filled with some fable Lewinsky pictures on the wall. Therefore, now that opportunity has presented itself to make loneliness history. In this case, he has the following options: lower his taste without necessarily compromising on the features of his prey or fight on. Sadly, as he tries to reason with a glass of Tafel, the world suddenly turns black and the next thing he remembers is waking up in a cold bed again staring at the wall, with a punctured body as if he has been fighting Harry Simon and still broke. Joey’s mother being a middle-class entrepreneur can comfortably afford a good living for her family including hosting strings of braais on their lonely lawns. But the bank account isn’t Joey’s. The point is ‘mommy is rich and you are not’. So after using all the pocket money hurriedly, he will starve until mommy comes back. On the other hand, Walla’s friends can afford a simple braai courtesy of their hard-earned savings. While he yearns for good time beyond his reach, he ends up washed away in free booze as if there is no tomorrow. You can bet that after the ugly scene, friends will hesitate for his next invite. The two should learn that a shebeen accommodates only adults. In a shebeen context, an adult means a human being who earns a paycheck, supports another with needs, Lewinsky or Mswati and follows the muted shebeen protocols. Both failed the test. Joey, Walla and their peers come from two different worlds in the ‘Land of the Brave’ in terms of the environment and economic status. However, they share the same thirst, short-term excitements, age-bracket and definition in Shebeen dictionary – Scrubs.