Next day the guys they come up to me in break. “Thando, this is no good man. What happened to the game plan?” I don’t have one, that’s what happened to it.

“I can’t even get close to Phathokazi . Petunia’ s always there between us. She looks like she’d like to chop me up and have me for breakfast with extra lashings of peri peri sauce and atchar.”


“So, what?”

“So, you’ve got to get Phathokazi alone. Then you’ve got to sweet talk her.” Dumi’s practically written the Dictionary of Love he’s got so many ‘sweet words’ up his sleeves.

“Sweet talk…?”

“Make up a little love poem, girls love that…”

“Like what?” And then Dumi just starts to chant all this romantic stuff. He’s memorised ALL of it!

Mother locked the door
Father keeps the key
But neither of them
Can keep Phathi away from me.
Down by the seashore
Written on a rock
Three little words
Forget me not

“That’s my personal favourite.” Says Dumi.

“And compliments,” chips in Vusi. “They love compliments.”

If I had a rose for every time I thought of you I’d be walking in a garden forever.
If you were a tear in my eye, I wouldn’t cry for fear of losing you

I had this mental picture then. I was saying that line to Phathokazi in my head, practising. But in my head Petunia was there and waiting. “I’ll make you cry,” she says and punches me in the stomach. “Do those corny lines really work?” I ask the guys. “What if they don’t?”

“Every time,” Vusi assures me and he brings out this little black book he’s got in the inside pocket of his blazer. It’s got all these lines written in the back. In the front he’s written girls’ telephone numbers.

“You’ve got to get yourself a book like Vusi’s,” says Dumi. “It’s easy. Just move down the list of names until you hit the jackpot! And in the back, well there’s every chat up line you’ll ever need.”

“Here’s one,” Vusi laughs. “Do you have a Bandaid? Cos I just scraped my knee falling for you.”

Or if you prefers something more sophisticated : “Girl, you gotta be tired coz you been running through my mind all day.” Then he looks at me like he’s got another bright idea. “Hey, why don’t you practise on Dumi here. Then you can’t go wrong!”

“What? Are you crazy?” I ask him.

He gives me this romantic look, and then says in this girl voice, all sweet like treacle. “Oh Thando, do you have something you’d like to say to me? Oh, Thando, doesn’t your name mean love?” Then he punches me on the arm, which is like a sign of friendship between us guys, but he does it really hard and I’m just reminded how strong he is. “Go get her,” says Dumi.

And then Petunia comes round the corner and gives us THE LOOK. Even Dumi and Vusi are nervous of her, especially if she’s in a bad mood. One day she broke a bottle over a guy’s head just for looking at her, and he had to have stitches.

“What if I can’t remember the lines to tell Phathokazi?” I say when she’s gone.

“We’ll help you.”

“SMS her, bra. Tell her that you really like her and that she must meet you down by the toilets.”

”The toilets?”

“Ja, I know. It’s not the best place, but there’s a wall we can hide behind. So if you get stuck we’ll give you a helping hand.”

“Ja, like those comedy films,” says Vusi.

“Comedy…?”Suddenly I’m not so sure about PLAN PHATHOKAZI

“Just chill, bra, it will work, no problem.” Vusi winks.


Tell us what you think: How do you think you should compliment a girl/boy?