When I was in junior school, I had to wear a hat. Whenever we crossed the road, we’d have to do a little curtsy hat-raise to the drivers who’d stop for us.

Needless to say, at 10 years of age, nothing could’ve made me more embarrassed. I hated every second of it and would even walk the long way round just to avoid it.

Strange thing, manners.

They’re like youth. You never realise how wonderful they are until you’re getting older.

One of my Monkeys in my Monkey Troupe (read: hooligan, delightful, intelligent, mischievous girlfriends) said something to me that struck a chord and lodged itself right between my sense and sentiment:

“How do you tell the difference between a person born in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape? Easy. A person from the Eastern Cape walks into a club and enthusiastically greets everyone they know, whereas a Western Caper quickly turns away, not wanting to be the person who greets first”.

I have to say, as far as euphemisms go, it pretty much hits the mark. I am well-travelled, and have lived in a couple of countries for long periods of time. I am a gregarious, affable, confident young thing and I pride myself on making friends easily… But let’s just say I found it easier to make friends in Paris. Which anyone who’s been there will know is a pretty bold statement.

I have never quite met more obtuse people than I have in Cape Town. Sincere apologies to the man who fixes my shoes and the guys who make my coffee at Vida, but seriously, what air are these people breathing? Being friendly to acquaintances who haven’t driven over your pet should be a right, as protected by the new Consumer Protection Act.

I have a colourful array of examples, some that would make a normal woman’s head spin, but I will use the most recent. My girlfriend and I (both content, comfortable in our skin and happy being single) went out, dressed to the nines, seeking to have a catch up and a bit of shimmy shaking. Deeply engrossed in conversation, a very average looking man with an expensive watch came up to us and asked is how we were enjoying our evening. Because we’re from the Eastern Cape and are friendly to people without having ulterior motives, we were able to converse. Imagine that! It wasn’t long before he piped up with “Wow. Let me just say, I usually prefer petite women, but for big women you girls are quite pretty.”

Excuse me, what was that? Luckily I had had few enough vodka lime and soda’s to retort: “Wow! And can you believe they sell a size 10 at Woolworths!!!”

Will you believe that 5 days later, he came into my work, not knowing I work there, with his chubby wife and daughter.

I don’t care who you think you are, how much your car cost, who does your hair and where you travel to in summer, nothing is in worse taste and more revealing of character than a man with bad manners.

I have it on good authority that a man who’s a barman, uses a Vespa to get to work, and sits on the curb in summer enjoying a Castle can be a whole lot more man than any who won’t at least offer me a drink on the way to the bar.

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