So, I might’ve mentioned this before, but I have an interesting relationship, on a not-strictly superficial, yet strangely ubiquitous acquaintancy with the café owner across from my apartment.
Convenience comes standard in my suburb; chit chat notwithstanding.
If you’re in a hurry, don’t go in there. It’s really quicker to drive to the Thrupps Centre and back.
He’s Portuguese and has a problem with serving any other customers in the store when I breeze in for ciggies, mainly because he is too busy telling me stories about land reform in his home town of Beira, or his boat stationed in Lisbon, or his frenetic children. Not to mention the messy divorce from his wife, with whom he proudly acknowledged to having an open relationship with. From what I can tell, the open-door policy was wholly one sided, until the day she decided to partake on a bout of casual shagging sans husband.
These conversations haven’t changed in all of three years. A candid fellow, perhaps, but I really believe I am the only one within my community that bears the brunt of his sexual exploits and anchor-moorings on the Algarve.
I made the mistake of asking him how he was last night. “Do you have time?” he says, shooing away his other customers, as per usual. The biased preference for talking to and serving only me is so blatant, I always kind of turn around, and address the queue by mouthing “sorry,” face etched in guilt.
He asks me, quite loudly and unperturbed about listening ears around us, the same questions every time I go in there – and full knowing my time will be compromised, and chances are I’ll miss the first twenty minutes of Home & Away:
1) Do I have a boyfriend?
2) [If the answer is no,] Why not?
3) Depending on my answer, ranging over the years from “all men are c$nts” to “I don’t have the time for a reasonable man”, it’ll go “Don’t you miss the sex?’ all while customers look on, tapping their feet impatiently to pay for his [questionably hygienic] House Espetada.
4) Then, Do I perhaps want to have sex with him?
5) Then, predictably, I’ll laugh, tell him he’s too flattering, really, and push my twenty ront towards him, staring hopefully at my Marlboro Lights and orange juice.
6) Oh but he has a wine farm in Cape Agulhas.
Which brings to me to, with a straight face, as always: “Being a corner café franchisee with your brother definitely has its perks, Joao.”
If I do have a boyfriend, he steers the conversation towards work. “You. You’re going to be famous. I can see it.” The fact that Joao the horny corner café owner can see it and Hollywood can’t isn’t tremendously uplifting. He knows I’m a writer in food and beverage. He sets his goals high, I see. Then he’ll rattle on about his kitchen cabinet instalment, and how his wife doesn’t want to settle out of court.
Occasionally, no I lie, very frequently, especially after hours, when booze has embellished my koppel to the point of unreason; I stumble in there giggling with C, The Ant or Third Roommate. And for shits, we’ll buy the Farmer’s Weekly or Combine Harvester’s Tatler, because we think it’s kinda funny.
He’s never put off by the fact I often come in without my face on, in my red 101 Dalmatians pyjamas or, often in the clothes I was wearing, dancing in and schvitzing in the night before. Bless his little heart.
Or like how I’ve walked in crying, after a man has broken my heart. He’s always very sympathetic, but then I suppose he’s thinking beyond the doondie-line. But bless all the same.