Home Page Photo

The Big Stupid Review

Archives

American Dream Serialization (Early Chapters)
Introduction to Jim Chaffee's Studies in Mathematical Pornography by Maurice Stoker
Introduction to Jim Chaffee's Studies in Mathematical Pornography by Tom Bradley
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: American Dream Title Page by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 1 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 2 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 3 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 4 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 5 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 6 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 7 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 8 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 9 by Jim Chaffee
01-01-2015
Modern Tragedy, or Parodies of Ourselves by Robert Castle
01-11-2014
Totally Enchanté, Dahling by Thor Garcia
01-04-2014
Hastini by Rudy Ravindra
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 5 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
01-01-2014
Unexpected Pastures by Kim Farleigh
10-01-2013
Nonviolence by Jim Courter
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 4 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
07-01-2013
The Poet Laureate of Greenville by Al Po
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part VI by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 3 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
04-01-2013
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part V by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part IV by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 2 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
01-01-2013
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part I by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part II by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part III by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 1 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
10-01-2012
DADDY KNOWS WORST: Clown Cowers as Father Flounders! by Thor Garcia
RESURRECTON: Excerpt from Breakfast at Midnight by Louis Armand
Review of The Volcker Virus (Donald Strauss) by Kane X Faucher: Excerpt from the forthcoming Infinite Grey by Kane X Faucher
01-07-2012
Little Red Light by Suvi Mahonen and Luke Waldrip
TEXECUTION: Klown Konfab as Killer Kroaked! by Thor Garcia
Miranda's Poop by Jimmy Grist
Paul Fabulan by Kane X Faucher: Excerpt from the forthcoming Infinite Grey by Kane X Faucher
01-04-2012
Operation Scumbag by Thor Garcia
Take-Out Dick by Holly Day
Patience by Ward Webb
The Moon Hides Behind a Cloud by Barrie Darke
The Golden Limo of Slipback City by Ken Valenti
01-01-2012
Chapter from The Infinite Atrocity by Kane X. Faucher
Support the Troops By Giving Them Posthumous Boners by Tom Bradley
01-10-2011
When Good Pistols Do Bad Things by Kurt Mueller
Corporate Strategies by Bruce Douglas Reeves
The Dead Sea by Kim Farleigh
The Perfect Knot by Ernest Alanki
Girlish by Bob Bartholomew
01-07-2011
The Little Ganges by Joshua Willey
The Invisible World: René Magritte by Nick Bertelson
Honk for Jesus by Mitchell Waldman
01-04-2011
Red's Dead by Eli Richardson
The Memphis Showdown by Gabriel Ricard
Someday Man by John Grochalski
01-01-2011
I Was a Teenage Rent-a-Frankenstein by Tom Bradley
Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Fred Bubbers
10-01-2010
Believe in These Men by Adam Greenfield
The Magnus Effect by Robert Edward Sullivan
Performance Piece by Jim Chaffee
07-01-2010
Injustice for All by D. E. Fredd
The Polysyllogistic Curse by Gary J. Shipley
How It's Done by Anjoli Roy
Ghost Dance by Connor Caddigan
Two in a Van by Pavlo Kravchenko
04-01-2010
Uncreated Creatures by Connor Caddigan
Invisible by Anjoli Roy
One of Us by Sonia Ramos Rossi
Storyteller by Alan McCormick
01-01-2010
Idolatry by Robert Smith
P H I L E M A T O P H I L I A by Traci Chee
They Do! by Al Po
Full TEX Archive
Side Photo for The Big Stupid Review

How It's Done

By Anjoli Roy

New Year's, South Africa, June 2004

The party was in an airport hangar, not far from where I’d arrived that same day, and there were no planes in sight. “So this is a launch party,” I wondered. “A party at an airport. This is how South Africa gets down?”

I thought of the handy green safety pamphlet that I’d clutched like a rosary during the plane ride from California. Along with a few brochures with bright, full-color pictures of the smiling faces of South Africa’s new democracy, the pamphlet was supposed to prepare me for the seven weeks I’d be spending in Cape Town, where I’d be living with a host family. The pamphlet hadn’t mentioned anything about a nightlife. In fact, somewhere on the list between “Don’t wear sweatshirts with American universities written on them” and “Keep your voice down in public; American accents attract thieves,” I thought I read something that cautioned against going outside at night, ever.

My host sister, Jo, had been so earnest when she’d invited me out just an hour before. She’d said, “What? Don’t you Americans know how it’s done?” I’d smiled, told myself that those guides were probably just like the orientation packet I’d received as an undergraduate when I moved to NYC: for rookies with no city sense. I wasn’t a rookie; I’d traveled places on my own before. Yeah! Still, nervousness lodged in the back of my throat.

My eyes flit across the crowd. The music was electronica, which wasn’t really my thing, but drummers and fire dancers enlivened the ensemble, and the combination was a sound and spectacle so contagious, bodies thronged to the dance floor by the dozen. I too felt myself being drawn to the excitement.

I felt Jo’s hand on my elbow. “What’s your drink?”

“Anything,” I said, feeling a bit more at ease. “What’s yours?”

“Jack and Ginger!” She smiled, evidently having knocked back at least one already. She handed me a glass with contents that smelled like a scratch-and-sniff sticker, and we headed to the dance floor. The drink loosened the knot in my throat.

At midnight, the party went to the next level, literally. The ceiling slid open like eyelids revealing the dark eye of the night sky, and a helicopter made a quick descent. At the behest of the DJ, a New Year’s Eve–style countdown began, which was particularly strange, I thought, since the month was June. I shrugged, thinking I might be about to witness some special, uniquely South African party tradition. I felt the whirr of the air around me; the crowd of dancers parted to make room for the sharp, quickly spinning blades of the metal bird. This is it, I thought. This is why I’ve come. To see the South Africa that no one talks about—the South Africa that doesn’t fit neatly enough into the perfect image of the new democracy! I felt the story I’d tell my family and friends back home start to steam off the sweaty hips and shoulders around me.

At the very least, I figured I was finding out why South Africans got down in hangars.

As the helicopter touched ground, everyone exploded in “Happy New Years!” and two scantily clad women popped out of the helicopter on either side of a business-suited man, who smiled toothily over a microphone. I heard my reedy voice cheering too.

“Yes, happy New Year!” the man exclaimed. His spare hand reached up to the sky, and then came down, effectively hushing the crowd, who was now whipped into a near hysterical frenzy. “It’s a new year, South Africa. Because Miller is back in town!”

The crowd roared, and the women, between struggling to keep their outfits in place, produced box after box of Miller, the cheapo American-brand beer that my friends and I only drank when there was nothing—absolutely nothing—else to drink at a party.

He may as well have socked me in the chest.

I’d later learn that Miller, like many other overseas companies, had pulled out of South Africa in protest against apartheid. The night I got to South Africa, the crude American beer was making its comeback.

“Tastes a bit like piss, doesn’t it?” Jo laughed as she yoked me back into the crowd. “Come on, girl! I knew you Americans didn’t know how to party. Let South Africa show you how it’s done!”

She handed me another scratch-and-sniff drink, which I promptly tossed back, before following her, with my head hanging, onto the dance floor.

reflecting reflections

© Anjoli Roy 2010