I spotted Bonang sitting in a booth in the furthest corner of The Coffee Place. She was looking out of the window, wearing big sunglasses that covered half of her face.
“Sorry I’m late. I was with a new client. He thinks his builder is cheating him. It took longer than I thought it would,” I said, sitting down.
Bonang turned from the window but still didn’t take the sunglasses off.
“What’s up with the glasses? Are you hiding from the paparazzi?” I teased and then immediately felt horrible when she took the glasses off and I saw that she was crying. “What’s wrong? What’s happened? Is Jomo OK?”
“Jomo’s fine. He’s always fine; you know that!” Bonang snapped. I wondered why her husband being ‘fine’ was a bad thing. They’d only been married six months; they couldn’t be fighting already – could they?
“Then what? Why are you crying?” I said, surreptitiously looking at my watch. I had an appointment in thirty minutes and I knew Bonang. She could drag out discussing a broken nail for an hour. She needed to cut to the chase.
“It’s my life! Everything’s terrible!”
I tried not to roll my eyes or sigh. How could Bonang’s life be terrible? She was gorgeous, an up and coming model even, and married to the nicest guy in the world.
“Tell me what’s wrong.” As fast as possible please. I didn’t say that last bit, though, just wished it very, very hard.
“I think someone hates me. They’ve cursed me, Lola. They’ve bewitched me so that nothing goes right. Ever since the wedding all I’ve had is bad luck. One horrible thing after another!”
Then for the next hour she went over, I began to think, every single day since the wedding. Many of those I had seen her and I already knew all about. The washing machine broke, but then Jomo came home from work and realised the plug needed a new fuse. Then she made macaroni and cheese from a new recipe and it was nowhere as good as the one she usually made. And then, and then and then … a list of normal, everyday problems everyone has. But for Bonang it was all evidence that her world was crashing down around her head. And meanwhile I was very late for my appointment.
“And you know what the worst is, Lola … well, the two worst?”
“No, what?” I said as I swallowed the last bite of my brownie. The Coffee House had very good brownies – yum yum!
“First, I can’t get a modelling job anywhere.”
“Have you applied for any?”
“Not really, but they know me. Why is no-one calling?”
I think we all know Bonang is beautiful and has almost all of the attributes of a model, but we also know that she’s very clumsy. That situation hadn’t improved since she married.
“Maybe you should send your portfolio out. I’m sure you’ll get some jobs if you do.”
Bonang gave no indication that she had heard my advice. She went on, “And since I don’t have a career anymore, I thought fine, Jomo wants a baby. Let’s have a baby. But now you know what? I can’t get pregnant! I’m sure I’m infertile and Jomo will divorce me and marry that psycho, ring-stealing Kukie.”
She began crying again and I rubbed her hand. The last bit, about not being able to get pregnant was the only thing I thought might be a legitimate problem, but then there were all sorts of options if that was really the case.
“So have you been trying long?”
“Yes! Since Friday.”
“Friday? As in seven days ago?”
“Yes! Lola, do you see? Everything is horrible.”
I tried to be patient. Bonang was my oldest friend; it wasn’t like I hadn’t gone through all of this kind of drama a thousand times before.
It was just that now I had to postpone my appointment, which meant meeting the client later, when I had hoped to knock off early so I could get ready for my date. Gideon was coming from Joburg for the weekend. We’d been seeing each other off and on for about four months and it was difficult being in a long-distance relationship. I liked to make our time together special. My parents were away to a funeral for the weekend and Gideon was coming over for dinner. A dinner I was meant to have cooked, which likely couldn’t happen now because Bonang wasted my time with all of her non-problems.
Maybe that was what caused me to say the next thing which I regretted as soon as it came out of my mouth: “No-one and nothing except rodents get pregnant in a week! Bonang, you need to get some perspective. Some people have real problems and you’re not one of them.”
Her face fell and she looked at me as if I’d just killed her mother. She put her huge sunglasses back in place, grabbed her handbag, and swooshed out of The Coffee House without saying another word. I was in trouble. Big trouble.
I sat for a few minutes wondering if the ordeal I’d just gone through justified another brownie, and, sadly, I decided it didn’t and headed back to my office. I’d have to sort out the problem I had created. Bonang would need serious apologies. Maybe even a gift. I would need to add it to my list of things to do for tomorrow.
Tell us: Do you know someone like Bonang? A person who always sees problems that are really not there? How do you deal with them?