Op ‘n manier het die uwe haar battery charger maar nie haar multi purpose abba-prop gebring nie. Die charger is oorspronklik Amerikaans en hy’t twee sulke uitvou-pennetjies wat op geen Europese kragprop pas nie. Die effek is dat ek net by Bianca kon recharge want haar nuwe ou is geek genoeg om ‘n plan te kon maak. Verder het ek maar peperduur weggooibatterytjies gekoop en gegiggel omdat ‘n battery ‘n pile is in Frans. (Foneties: piel. Sal graag die etomologie van die Afrikaans wil navors. Looks like a probable match, n’est-ce pas?) (As jy geskok is, ken jy my en my liefde vir die ROJ nie regtig nie.)
In elk geval. Ek het darem eers vandag finaal nie meer enige vorm van piles gehad vir my kamera nie. Dit sou fine gewees het; hoeveel memories kan mens in een aand maak? En anyway, Victor het sy kamera hier gehad. Actually I’m going to switch to English so that my favourite French-gentleman-bastard can understand this. It’s his birthday, the least I can do is make myself understandable.
So Pieka of all people had the hair-brained idea of baking a cake for Victor’s birthday, which happens to be the day we both leave (I for what I hope will be the coolest youth hostel in the world ever, Wombat’s City Hostel in Munich, and Pieka simply for Paris airport). Did you know the French don’t know sour cream? They don’t. All the other ingredients for our Death by Chocolate cake we could find easily, and it turns out plain yogurt with a dash of lemon juice works just as well as sour cream. So we set to work in the narrow kitchen – Victor, Pieka, Victor’s flatmate Guillaume, and Victor’s 14-year old sister Rose-Marie – negotiating, in three languages, the preparation of the birthday cake.
At some point while the cake was in the oven and we were preparing the icing, Victor went and fetched his guitar. He did the authentic hesitant intro to Time of your life by Green Day. I, admittedly anxious to prove that I recognized the song, started singing four bars too early. Pieka teased me about how I never respect the intro. We sang. The cake was raising perfectly. Rose-Marie, who wears the post-childhood, pre-débutante age of fourteen better than anyone I’ve ever met, negotiated the cleaning of the stove with me in French. Pieka took over the guitar and for the first time in years, Save Tonight wasn’t a too-easy foolproof serenade song. But not everyone knew the words, and Victor’s Don’t look back in anger attracted more enthusiastic singing. Patrick, Victor and Rose-Marie’s dad, emerged from the living room with a harmonica. It was all so good. The music filled the little kitchen and the chocolatiness in the air – or something – made us giddy. I rushed around trying to take a video, but Victor’s camera is too cool to take videos, or even to have ordinary piles that I could exchange with mine. So I gave up and sang along. And stole pieces of dark chocolate to add to slices of baguette. And probably smiled a lot.
By the time we could take the cake out, I had had smears of chocolate icing all over my face, had pictures taken of that, had demonstrated for Pieka how one licks one’s fingers politely, and had realized that I’ve really grown fond of Pieka’s longtime friend Victor. I’m going to miss him. But I won’t miss his ridiculous skill in Jungle Speed, with which he wasted us again as the cake cooled in the freezer.
Rose-Marie’s final call for bedtime was steadily approaching (Patrick had retired to his bedroom) and Pieka iced the cake any old way. Full of giggles, we lit a match as a birthday candle and planted it on the cake, sang the fastest “happy birthday” ever so that Victor could still blow out the flame, and contentedly shared the delicious cake. “Aargh… je vais mourir… de chocolat!” Rose-Marie commented, and we struggled to giggle softly. Midnight.
As we said goodnight to Victor and Guillaume in the not-actually-that-cold Paris night air, I again realized that I wish Victor more joy than I believe a life without God can bring him. But there was no time to dwell on that – not while Victor was making a fool of himself reversing out of a parallel parking space and I was preparing for what would finally be a successful skrikmaak of Pieka!
So here’s to Paris. For lack of a video camera, this blog will have to serve as my memoir. May it save tonight.