A lazy eye, a pudgy mid-section that makes me look like a pigeon or a corrupt politician and dirty white all-star … No gold tooth, but you wouldn’t be able to tell until I open my mouth. With that said, I am prone to wearing pants and shirts without sleeves, and occasionally make use of a toothpick to add colour to my otherwise dull and menacing face. Pimple-free it may be, but it still gets a nod of acknowledgement from the neighborhood’s knife swingers and gun slingers.
Not the best first impression to make, especially when you’re trying to get the attention of someone who will help you grow your network to cultivate your net-worth. It’s perfect if you are willing to put in the work of talking to strangers, but since day one when we were introduced to A, B & C, the number one rule has always been: “Don’t talk to strangers”. Some of us took that advice literally and with a little assistance from social media, only ever exit our bedrooms to shower or shake things up in the bowl movement area.
I wear my earphones on either side of my head, eagerly helping shield me from the world and its talk about wars, terrorism and voting. It may blow your mind when I tell you that despite my scary appearance and lack of fashion sense, I still manage to maintain a 65% average, get three distinctions per semester and shock people when they eventually find out that I can understand them gossiping about me in five out of the eleven languages that South Africa officially offers. In addition to that, I make use of the vocabulary I have come across in random theses I’ve read, in classes I don’t take but attend anyway because I need a way to pass the time or they found me in that venue, so … it’s finders’ keepers.
This may all come across as narcissistic or arrogant but then again, what’s on the cover isn’t necessarily part of the criteria of the information that makes it onto the contents page. Although public opinion may classify me by the virtue of my appearance as a felonious individual, or to put it in local terms, a tsotsi, to my mother I am lovable, respectful and sweet; to my siblings annoying and a pain in the posterior and to my friends, funny, sarcastic and smart. I am, in fact, a book with many chapters. Yes, sure, I may be a visual representation of what a black South African male stereotype may be, but behind the stereo next to the type, you will find a young man who enjoys knowing a little about a lot because it makes for great characters when writing short stories and getting other people’s children to like me. Looking as if I could mug you isn’t the legacy I would like to leave but rather, to be able to talk to you about the approximate age unicorns get their horns all the way down to homework: is it punishment or enlightenment?
But that’s just me and my experience as a book, judged because of my cover.