I wanted to look different. You know those days? When you’re just bored of your same old self?
So I pulled out the pair of shorts. The ones I swore I would wear when I felt like feeling different. When I felt like being brave. The ones that still had the tag on. From three years ago.
These little babies had lived in four different countries, but had never seen any of them. It was time.
Now before you start picturing me on a street corner with ripped fishnets and transparent twelve-inch heels, they weren’t exactly those kind of shorts. Ok, so you still wear them with tights and just-below-the-knee boots, which I did. But the classier versions.
My mirror self looked my real self up and down. “Yeah, this is advertising agency-appropriate. I can pull this off,” they thought simultaneously, and off to work we went.
Not really being one for the limelight, I had to give myself a much-needed pep talk in the car. “Own the look!” my mouth said to my head. So, on arrival, I took confident strides down the runway (I mean passageway) that divides our office. And as I did, so too did my boss.
As if in slow motion, his arm left the side of his body, his finger pointed to the ceiling and gestured a swiveling motion.
I twirled, landing in an awkward fashion-y pose. He looked uncomfortable. And then said, “Um, can you turn around and go to my office. I need you to proofread something for me.
I looked uncomfortable.
Blinded by the total ‘blindness’ of it all, I sat at my desk wishing the world would swallow me up, along with my bad-decision shorts, and spit me out into an alternate universe where the other me had just stuck with her normal, everyday attire.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. This world clearly had more in store for me and my shorts, because just then my phone rang.
It was my domestic worker. With an emergency. The cat we had spent months trying to convince that life within the confines of our walls was so much better than outside of them, had finally made a break for it. And now she was out there. There amongst the Bo Kaap gangster bobcats, with her soft, pink paws and fluffy, groomed tail. Prissy, pampered Oliver*. There was no telling what they would do to her.
So I raced back. And without hesitation began to walk the Bo Kaap streets in my shorts, tights, and just-below-the-knee boots. In a mostly Muslim area? At lunch time. On a Friday.
I was faced with the ultimate catch-22. I needed to call for my cat, but every yell of “Oliver” only garnered more attention. In next to no time I had brought every disapproving, head-shaking curtain twitcher out of hiding within a five-block radius, and gathered an army of inquisitive youths.
I had inadvertently become the Pied Piper (in shorts, tights and just-below-the-knee boots). Without the pipe. Or the sadistic tendencies towards children.
I needed this situation to come to an abrupt halt. I needed to get out of this advertising-appropriate, but Bo Kaap-inappropriate outfit. And I needed to find my cat. There was only one thing to do.
Mobilise the troops.
Within seconds of the promise of a sweet reward (literally) I had a chaotically organised search party. Oliver’s, name was being sung by a cacophony of unbroken voices, and there were little people everywhere. The very tops of trees were rustling with intent, gardens were being ransacked and no wall was safe.
It was quite a sight. And one that must have scared the living daylights out of Oliver, because she came bounding down a hot tin roof with a look in her eyes that seemed to beg forgiveness and plead “Save me,” all at the same time.
One of the littlest little ones nabbed her before her feet could touch the ground. Most of the street erupted into applause and shrieks of delight as he presented her to me. The rest of them still shook their heads and ‘tutted’ under their breath.
I turned an unattractive shade of scarlet, waved awkwardly at my audience, and let my shorts take their final bow before announcing full retirement.
*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the feline involved.