Debonair pair

Yesterday evening, Salman and I had just concluded our usual fortnightly meeting to discuss new and exciting ways to rid the world of politicians and hippies, when we were approached by one of the eating establishment’s odd-looking members of staff. I am normally a bit suspicious when people I don’t know try to engage me in conversation, because they invariably end up wasting their time and mine by asking me for money*. This, on the other hand, was just plain weird – Mr Freaky Stranger asked us if we were from Cape Town.

It was vaguely surreal – a bit like being asked what gender you are. Salman and I exchanged “WTF?” glances and asked him to repeat the question. He explained that he thought we were from somewhere overseas**. Obviously our South African accents were insufficiently convincing, because he went on to apply the litmus test for separating locals from tourists – he addressed us in Afrikaans. His interest in us completely evaporated when it became clear that we could actually understand him.

I’m guessing that Mr Freaky Stranger probably enjoys doing a bit of recreational body-cavity spelunking with foreigners and it’s quite likely that locals just don’t do it for him.

* If you have designs on the contents of my wallet, you may as well put that thought away right now. It’s just not going to happen, okay?

** which in hindsight perhaps isn’t such an unusual idea. There are so many South Africans living in the UK and continental Europe, it is entirely possible that our unique style of speech will start affecting them sooner or later.


27 thoughts on “Debonair pair

  1. Probably one of those strange local individuals who has taken it upon himself to terrorise tourists in the name of (in his view) fostering foreign relations…while getting them to pay for his food/drinks


  2. Andrew: Seconded. All in favour? Motion carried (although this is perhaps a poor choice of words in view of the subject matter).

    Rev: Ah, that would explain why he was so thin.

    Luke: I’m just glad we didn’t fit the required envelope. I have to deal with more than my fair share of creepy weird people at work and I certainly don’t want any of them following me home.


  3. erm… maybe u look like a german? or maybe the freak has a thing for foreigners and he wanted to buy u a drink then drug u and do freaky things to u and steal ur wallet and all ur foriegn moneys….
    ok pam, time to stop eating so much chocolate…


  4. If the UK is anything to go by, where everyone in the service industry (hotels, restaurants) is foreign, your man was probably from the northern part of The Netherlands.

    The particular flavour of Dutch (Flemish) in that area is very like Afrikaans.

    Maybe he was just showing off.


  5. Shortypam: Have we not been paying attention, hm? Katt thinks I’m a ringer for Johnny Depp. I’ve even updated my CV to say so. Look. I’m holding it up to the screen.

    Inyoka: He was most definitely local. Maybe Freaky Joe thought I was Johnny Depp?

    other-duke: It works, too.


  6. I just had a similar experience today, of all days. Met a South African here in Miami, I was introduced to him as a fellow South African, and I got the ‘Verstaan jy Afrikaans?’ litmus test. It’s bizarre.

    In SA, people often ask me if I’m American. In America, people ask me if I’m Australian. I guess my SA accent is also insufficient 😦


  7. People speak Polish to me all the time over here in the UK! Just ‘cos I’m blonde doesn’t make me Eastern European!

    My favourite trick is to speak Italian to unsuspecting Italian tourists. This confuses the crap out of them ‘cos I look, well, Eastern European and speak English like an Aussie (the girlfriend’s influence!)


  8. LiVEwiRe: Hey, not me. Boredom is something you have to work at here.

    angel: He didn’t ask. Obviously not a fan.

    Chitty: Our tip was that he should avoid talking to strangers.

    anne: I think people who are better looking than Freaky Joe would have more success and you definitely have better looking feet.

    moonflake: At least you didn’t get the “gaan kak in die mielies” treatment.

    DelBoy: I would start learning the Polish equivalent of “gaan kak in die mielies” if I was you.


  9. Similar experience for me yesterday! Had a car full of American hunters whom I had to ferry across the river during a wingshooting excursion. After complimenting me on my house and its setting because it was right there on the other side of the dam, they asked “So where do you come from?” I thought it was pretty obvious. “Over there” pointing to the house sort of fell short of the explanation mark. Maybe I sound foreign… Do I?

    Kyk, next time say “Ich verstehe nicht.”


  10. You too? I get accosted by strangers the whole time asking if I’m foreign.
    I used to get asked whether I was born and bred in Natal (affirmative), but this has turned into “Where are you from abroad?”

    Don’t get it. I’m Saffa through and through. πŸ˜‰


  11. Shortypam: He may also have seen through Salman’s disguise. That happens from time to time.

    Katt: From now on, if people ask me where I come from, I’m going to give them the “When two people love one another very, very much…” speech.

    Peas: You should get all offended and tell them that your mother isn’t a broad.


  12. I reckon he wanted to through a bit of verbal abuse your way in Afrikaans and was just checking to see if he could…. In my waitering days, that was one of the few joys of the job.
    You should have said you were foreign, just to embarass him later – assuming my theory is correct off-course – maybe not all waiters get their kicks this way. For the record I never spat in anybodies food / coffee – thats just grose!


  13. I’ve always had this. Its incredibly annoying.I’m South African by loads of generations, I dont even have foreign relatives! I always get asked where I’m from, and when I say “South Africa”, the conversation tends to go like this: “Ja, but where from originally?”, “South Africa”, “oh, where your folks from?”, “South Africa”, “so why do you talk like that?” to which my final response is best articulated as
    – accompanied by jerky hand movements/miming the shower scene from psycho.


  14. Peas: Yeah!!

    Anon: Maybe he was fooled into thinking we were well-heeled by the size of the tip (the service was good)

    zenstar: Bwahahahaha!

    Kate: It’s something of a pity that we don’t have the old TBVC states any more. I used to enjoy telling people I was from Bophutatswana. It’s not true, but it was always fun watching them try to repeat it.


  15. I understand this guy. As someone who can actually identify the SA accent (but has trouble with others…) your accent *is* ‘inadequate’ (bad choice of words, I know). At least it’s nowhere near as pronounced as others I’ve heard, like my auntie, who’s lived in Canada for, oh, 35 years!


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