‘It’s good to see you, Tiago. How have you been?’
He laughed. There is time Jackson, he seemed to say, relax.
‘I’m still smiling at life,’ he said. ‘Work is going well because life keeps dealing me hilarity. Still on the comedy circuit, but increasingly I think of myself more as a reporter than a comedian. I can’t help it if life is madcap.’
‘And it’s getting crazier.’
‘In every sense. I have a classic one for you from last night. So I’m at the bar and get chatting to an aspiring model from the Northern Cape; beautiful girl, kind of young, but fun and clearly intelligent. She has sandy hair, these green eyes and her face is super expressive. So we’re getting along and then, bam - she just drops this racist comment and then kind of winks at me.’ He laughed with a sense of disbelief. ‘Jackson, I was like, is she hitting on me with racist chat up lines?’
I took another drag and laughed quietly, ‘Cape Town is a beautiful mess.’
‘That’s what I’m thinking. And then I started to wonder. Man, I bet there are loads of racist chicks out there who want to hear racist chat up lines. Why didn’t I ever think of that before? Pretty, intelligent … and racist. I could imagine introducing her to my folks. “Mum, Dad, this is Andrea. As I’ve told you, she’s clever, beautiful and - as it turns out - a complete and utter racist, just like us.”’ He took both hands off the steering wheel and gave an exaggerated thumbs-up.
I laughed, shaking my head.
He continued, ‘It got me thinking about finding racism, or anti-racism in strange quarters. I came up with this random bit about some hikers meeting a group of West Virginia hillbillies in the backwoods - like the old film Deliverance. The hikers think they'll get them onside with some racist comments. You know, “We’re on the same side, don’t kill us.” But guess what? Those unlucky racist hikers have just met some racist-hating hillbillies.’ Santiago shifted into a southern drawl: ‘Wh-what the hell, seems we got ourselves a couple a racists, some real proper bigots. Hey Billy-Joe-Jim-Bob, look-y here. Seems these fellas' afraid of racial integration. You got a problem with African Americans, there boys?’
I was laughing out of familiarity, out of a love of our friendship and because this one joke summed up countless hours of irreverent chatting we’d done together.
I exhaled. ‘You’re a deviant, Santiago. I love the fact that this is your job, you make money from this … reporting.’