Small Towns

There’s not much to a small town. Probably because it’s small. And while they all look a little different, they are pretty much the same. And I’ve been to a few of them lately. I’ve spent the past three weekends in tiny places on the arse end of nowhere.

The road into a small town.

For example, every small town I have been to has a bar. If it’s a tourist trap or some hamlet servicing a farming community, there will ALWAYS be a bar. And it will be a proper, old-school bar that smells of cigarette smoke that never clears and stale beer. The counter will always be dark wood and the barman will always be on duty.

Every small town has a butchery. Some of the bigger small towns will be able to sell you vegetables, but meat is standard fair, three times a day in a little community. And the butcher will be buddies with the locals and sell the bad biltong to the visitors. Unless you know the password, and the password is Klipdrift.

The will be a church. And it will be a big one. And everyone from miles around will gather there on a Sunday morning. After the service they will either go home for Sunday lunch or meet at the bar.

The minister will have the house across from the church. And he will have at least two neighbours (usually the entire population of the town), or in a bigger small town, he will have three neighbours, but will live within 200m from the other five people in the village.

At the petrol station you will be able to purchase Camel Plain cigarettes, matches, fire-lighters and diesel. Depending on how badly lost the truck with the petrol is, you can get your un-leaded fuel next Tuesday or three months from your visit.

The golden rules for visiting a small town are the following:

  1. Avoid the bar. Despite its popularity, all there is on offer is Castle Draught, cheap brandy and coke. Never ask for water, you will be thrown out.
  2. Take plenty of fruit with you or you will get scurvy. Over time the locals have developed the ability to synthesise vitamin C from the meat. This takes years to develop, so be prepared.
  3. The steak in a small town is first rate. If you do nothing else, have a little steak.
  4. Do not drive through a small town on a Sunday morning. There will be traffic. Just like back home in the city, on a Friday afternoon in Sandton.
  5. Get there with a full tank of fuel or you won’t be leaving any time soon.

    In a small town, your food will come to find you.

True story. Small towns can be scary places. But most of the locals are okay. In fact, they are so bored they will be really nice to you if you chat to them a little and share news from outside. But there will always be a few standard characters.

  1. The drunk guy. He has the keys to the bar and a perpetual tab. Everyone knows not to drive on the only main road between 14:00 and 15:00, because he’s just had a pub lunch and a few strong drinks to wash it down. The drunk guy is pretty harmless. You’ll be able to identify him from his red nose and the smell of brandy. And you shouldn’t take it personally when you need to introduce yourself three times on one day. Unless you met him at the bar, he’s not going to remember you.
  2. The scandalous couple.  Some guy will always steal some girl in a small town. Or some girl will allow herself to be knocked up by some guy and will then marry her high school teacher. Or the poor man who lands the rich woman  and everyone knows it has nothing to do with her double D’s.
  3. The man of the earth. He’s got a farm outside of town, and he’s wholesome and knows about cold fronts and can smell the rain. He’s tanned and speaks slowly and deliberately. 80% of the time he can double up as a vet and 20% of all the children were delivered by him.
  4. The busy-body lady. She runs the entire town and can be considered the unofficial mayor. She knows every residents ID number and personal business. She’s also the one that throws together the annual event of whatever nature the annual event is. You can recognise her by her walk – like a mother hen, waddling and shooing her chicks into the appropriate spot.
  5. The city person turned country bumpkin. Some people really do give up Gucci for hemp clothes, stilettos for crocs and a loft apartment for a caravan. The only problem is that they try to turn large animals (like cattle) into pets, forgetting that in about eight months Daisy needs to be dinner.

Small towns are culture shock. But there are few weekends away that can provide as much entertainment as observing the locals and the laid back pace of life.

Small Towns

This One Time at a Bar…

I went to a bar the other night. Actually, it’s a live music venue that is rumoured to be relocating and there are tables and you can eat there. But there is a bar and they serve beer, so it’s a bar. Oh yeah, and I went with Justine and some of her friends.

This bar was filled with old people. Except for the 16 year old touching his equally young girlfriends breasts all the time, I was probably the youngest person there. But that’s okay, because I like older people. There is nothing wrong with being over 30, in fact, I’m looking forward to it.

This bar was also packed and there was no where to sit, so we stood at the bar for a while. But after a while Justine and I headed to the smoking section which appeared to be deserted. I sat down on an empty couch and immediately noticed the uptight woman glaring at us.

“You can’t smoke here.” She said and then I noticed that the other end of the room was packed with smokers. Although I couldn’t really see them through the concentrated smoke.

“I’m sorry, what now?” I asked her.

“You can’t smoke here.” She said and I noticed she had membrane like wings and really long, sharp teeth.

“But this is the smoking section.” One of us said this. I can’t remember who. The dragon lady was scary.

“I know, but you can’t smoke here.”

This was one of those moments where Justine and I communicated telepathically. Our conversations went like this:


“I know!”

“What a bitch!”

“I know!”

“Let’s go somewhere else before she eats us.”

“Good idea.”

Later that night she camouflaged herself in the crowd and it was safe to sit on the couches in the smoking section. This was the only place we could loiter and catch a glimpse of the band. It was also right by the secret room where the band hang out with their groupies. And since we were with a serious fan, this was considered a prime location.

At one point we wanted a closer look and moved towards the stage. We were once more shouted at by some grumpy old woman and just went back to the couches. From there the view was not always pleasant. I saw a man give head to his kebab and then try and feed it to his wife. She didn’t want it and I don’t blame her.

So in case anyone hasn’t noticed this yet, Justine and I are tight. We are so tight that we go to the bathroom together, but not so close that we share a stall. Because when you really think about it, going to the bathroom with someone watching is strange (and we agree on this, thank god). Guys have rules for this at the urinal, and I have no idea how it works in the Land of Women, because it’s a province I’m just going to skip entirely.

However many women don’t. Some women even take boys with them into the stalls. So when the door opened and a man came out, I was confused, and then felt like high-fiving him and his lady friend. She said they were just talking, but come on – that’s what telephones are made for, right?

Then Justine cried out with pain. Another woman was trying to style her hair with perfume, missed and caught Justine in the face. This somehow led to a conversation. So there we were, a pilot (she flies 747’s or soemthing), the casino woman (she said ‘Vegas’ a lot), the cougar (the one with the guy in the stall, well she was 40 and he was 27 – high five, again), Justine and me, talking about aging and how sex really does get better as you age.

And then back to the bar, where Justine said something about how all she could smell was the perfume that had nearly blinded her. So I sniffed her face to see if it was that bad.

“Are you two kissing?” asked a male voice behind us.

“No, I’m smelling her.” I explained, and it struck me that that is actually a strange thing to do.

“It looks like you were kissing. Guys love it when girls kiss.” He said.

It was taking forever to get drinks, so we were forced to make small talk with the short man who had decided we were kissing. I think he was trying to be really smooth, because as he left he said something along the lines of “Well, the last time I had a threesome…”

Who knows how that sentence ended, because I was shocked that he had said that, and I may have been laughing. I was laughing really hard on the inside, that I know. Shame, it’s cute when men cruise really hard. It’s even more cute when they think they can pull off a threesome.

I later went back to ask the guy something and met his friend. Now I regret not asking them for a threesome, you know, turn the tables just to see what would happen.

No one believes this story. Justine’s friends also thought we were kissing. When we told them why we had been away for so long they weren’t entirely convinced. But I promise I don’t make this stuff up, there really was an incident with perfume, a pilot, a casino woman, a cougar and a short, cocky man.

This One Time at a Bar…