So, I am not a happy kitty.
Sunday my wallet was stolen. Again.
It had been a pearl of a weekend. Friday afternoon I hung out all afternoon with my Senegalese buddy who I’ll call Idriss. When he had to leave for his night shift I went to the cybercafé (yes I have my laptop back but no internet). After that, I finally got up the nerve to walk into the Cameroonian bar next door. I was standing there staring at the door when a scantily clad drunk chick about my own age asked, “Well, are you coming in or not?” I decided, what the hell, and went in. It turned out that the chick was the boss’s daughter. The boss, who never left her indisputable boss-perch behind the bar, reminded me of Madame Aissatou a little bit. Her name was Madame Rachelle.
“Welcome to the family,” she said. The family was a handful of Cameroonian women a bit older than me, two white ladies who had been to Africa, and two drunk white men. Except for the drunk white men, they were all very friendly.
“What are you drinking?” Madame Rachelle asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “What do you recommend?”
“We have Ivoirian beer, French beer, Dutch beer, or Guinness from Cameroon. I’d recommend you that, but I don’t know if you’d like it.”
“How is Guinness from Cameroon different from Guinness from Ireland?”
She poured me a glass and then added a splash of pineapple juice. “That’s how we drink it,” she said.
It was unexpectedly good.
She turned up the sound on theboom box and all the girls started dancing. I did too, of course. They thought it was hilarious. They even played “Sawa sawa sawa lé.”
I was about to leave when the white women, who had been to Africa, invited me to this African bar in an alley. From the outside it looked like a rowhouse, but on the inside it was a typical, albeit small, glittery disco-lighted nightclub.
I don’t even know what time it was when I left. I slept late, stuck around the house for a nice long time, and then went to meet my friend Rob. He’s one of the very few assistants that I call a real friend. Ithought I was imagining the horrible fakeness of the Plastic Girls until I mentioned it to him one night.
“That suuuuuuuuuuuucks,” he said.
“So I’m not imagining it? I don’t belong to another species?”
“Oh no, they do.”
From then on, we were fast friends. He likes nothing more than good books and obscure movies. On Saturday we went to the Québécois film festival at the Semaphore Theatre. After the movie, which was a trippy sort of horror film called “Curling,” we were going to just go get a relaxed glass of beer. Then we ran into two pretty, smart Belgian chicks who I knew– Brendan’s neighbours. From then on the night was off and running. We got a glass of wine in a corner café, then three rounds of drinks and some tapas at the lesbian trapas bar, then we went to the Fox Tavern where we had two more rounds and picked up two second-year assistants named Zoey and Juan, a Malian friend of Juan’s called Seydou, and two French guys that they seemed to know.
It was a great night. The French have two words for ‘drunk’, ‘saoul’ et ‘ivre.’ ‘Saoul’ means destructive, ridiculous, ugly frat-party drunk. ‘Ivre’ means happy drunk, the same word can also describe just being high on life. We were all ‘ivre.’ Wine, mint liqueur, cherry brandy, vodka tonic, absinthe, pastis, ginger rum, it only made us happier. From the Fox Tavern the growing snowball of people moved on to this bootleg rum bar. Lindsey and Kate were there. Enormous bottles of rum with chunks of fruit floating inside. Pineapple, passionfruit, ginger, and I was just trying the coconut a little while later when I noticed something wasn’t right. My bag had been ripped open again, just like at the club in Bujumbura. The spell was broken in about two seconds. I of course had an entirely useless panic attack. Someone- I think it was Zoey or Lindsey- paid for a cab which Rob and I climbed into. When we got to my place we had sobered up a good bit from the adrenaline; I fixed Rob a cup of tea and we spent a good hour talking about how pathetic people were. The next morning I had a strong sense of Bujumbura déjà vu. I woke up with a killer hangover AGAIN to meet a friend who was equally hungover AGAIN (Kate in this case) to discuss a plan of action, even though there was only so much we could do and our brains were skipping synapses AGAIN.
I was missing Bujumbura. The banks were being as unhelpful as possible. I was up to my chest in deadlines and I didn’t know when I would get the computer back. Pierre just asked me for money, which is rare enough to worry me. And I could not even buy bread. With all this on my mind I autopiloted through my classes. Then I went to go meet my socialist revolutionary friends,a random bunch who call themselves “les Indignés,” the angry people. At the end of the get-together, they surrounded me as I was leaving the café.
“We are the angry people, and we’re very angry that this happened to you!” said Jeanne, the girl who had convinced me to join the group in the first place. Anneke, another lady from the group who is Dutch, opened the coffee can where we all put the drink money and handed me 10 euros. Jean-Claude, the ringleader, who speaks flawless English he picked up in Toronto, handed me 10 more. Jeanne gave me the seven in her pocket.
I could have cried.