Soon after Matric I left the country to be an au pair in Holland. I was looking forward to being in a place of tolerance. Living in the home of the family I worked for, I quickly realized that my sexual orientation was viewed as irrelevant; which was a welcome relief.
Many girls from SA went to work as au pairs and I met quite a few. I wasted no time to join in the fun they were having together over off-weekends and it so happened that I was in Amsterdam on 1 January 2000. I still view it as a milestone in my personal history. The parties were sometimes harder than they should have been but I clicked with the smaller group of girls who were just about sharing the experience, not about being wasted most of the time. One of these girls was Alyson.
In SA Alyson would have been a Cape Coloured, I think, in my uninformed Afrikaans small-mindedness regarding the cultures within our country. I liked her skin colour – it just looked like it wanted to be licked right from the start – and her hair’s coarseness made her customary ponytail funky with little sticky-outy-bits. She had beautiful teeth, much whiter and straighter than mine, breaking my clichéd idea of a mouth without front teeth, to give better oral sex with apparently. She was more educated than I was and she spoke better English. But she was coloured and she was from Cape Town.
The rest of us were all white, some brighter white, others about to lose their tans to bleak weather. It didn’t seem to bother Alyson that she was coloured. In Holland it didn’t bother any of us either, but unfortunately I have into admit that I doubt we would’ve been part of the same circle of friends in our mutual home country, the reason eluding me.
Alyson found it entertaining that I was gay and joked around with trying it. I knew that if something ever happened it would mean nothing, it would just be fun and it wouldn’t change the world for either of us, as she was clearly straight. So some fun was to be had, no strings attached, no hurt on the horizon.
One night out we started moving in circles tighter and tighter around each other, moving in on personal space, showing interest in physical closeness. Eventually she invited me to go back home with her instead of catching a tram back to mine. I felt the little tingles of sexual excitement as I followed her up the stairs to the tiny triangular room typically assigned to au pairs. Alyson’s bed was tucked into the tightest part of the triangle and in semi-darkness, with me on top, we fooled around a bit. It was nothing near lovemaking. It was pleasant, relaxed, she tasted good and felt great and kissed even better.
I smiled at the idea of being with a coloured girl. I promise it wasn’t a fetish-thing for me, like breaking the ultimate taboo and getting off on it. I think we just both got our fair share of delight out of being intimate with someone we would definitely not have been intimate with back home.
Unfortunately we never had the time to cultivate a friendship, as I was relieved of my duties and sent back to SA after only two months. I kept a journal and my employer believed it fair to go through my personal stuff and found something she didn’t like. Alyson and I didn’t keep contact but I regret that now. She was interesting. I would have liked to be friends with her for many years. We clicked, especially intellectually.
I regret having missed out on the many other possible friendships and even romantic involvements I shielded myself from on the basis of colour or culture. It’s quite plainly stupid. For instance, it doesn’t make sense now that for most of my school years I shared classes with white kids only – the first year that “others” were allowed into the school I was in standard 7 (grade 9). Two black boys and three black girls were added to my class. They all took English First Language Higher Grade with me (their home language being Xhosa, mine Afrikaans) and their grades compared well with mine, in the top spots.
But why the comparison? Why do I even mention that they were clever? To oppose a prejudiced idea? Don’t I necessarily show how prejudiced I am deep down inside by even implying that I’m not? Don’t we all contradict ourselves constantly because our Apartheid-past changed us so profoundly that we can never think thoughts completely unaffected ever again?