SMOKE: Girlfriend From Hell
Originally published: Wednesday 12 November 2003
While I empathise with everyone who's ever had a partner from hell, believe me when I tell you that nobody in history has ever had a partner that could even get close to the one I had.
It was a rebound relationship - I had just come off a two-year, intensive relationship with a bird who it turned out had been shagging half of Cape Town behind my back, and said bird was already tucking into one of my best mates in full view of anyone who cared to look.
Naturally I felt like a fool and the only way to get even was to get my own partner smart quick. She couldn't just be any girlfriend - she had to be a super-sexy stunner in order to prove that I was actually a major catch, and could have my pick of any supermodel who had the good fortune to make my acquaintance.
At the time I was in Grahamstown, performing in a show called Psychodelic Cowboy And Sister Nun, and in it I wore a tight pair of bell-bottoms, a brown, embroidered waistcoat and a dented and battered top hat, and played bass guitar in between singing songs about drugs, and if I may say so myself - I cut a pretty cool image.
In the crowd one night was a girl who was dating another cast member and after the show I got chatting to her. The first impression was striking - she was an ex-model, three years older than me and the most vivacious, bubbly, cool chick you could ever hope to meet.
She stared up into my eyes as though I was the answer to every question she'd ever had, and never let it be said that flattery gets you nowhere - I was hooked from the start.
It would later transpire that what turned her on most was men who played music (the guy she was dating played the violin), and at the time it was all I did.
In fact - in that year alone (1994) I was involved in three musical shows all at the same time.
This chick - Debbie, for argument's sake - came to see the show, and later that night we went out on the town in a big way. She proved to be a major party animal, a bunch of fun to be with and she was sexy as all hell, and by the time we returned to Cape Town we were doing all sorts of very bad things to one another.
It was a dream come true - a pretty girl who was loads of fun and who wasn't shy to be all over me in public - revenge on my former girlfriend was complete, and oh-so-sweet.
But the horror was yet to come.
What I had no way of knowing was the fact that Debbie had - in her short life so far - dropped well over a hundred caps of top-grade acid and as such her brain was irrevocably fried.
My honeymoon with her lasted just over a week, before the first signs of what I had initially perceived to be mad gal-fun turned out to be a vastly disturbed psyche, and one completely lacking in self-awareness.
She had a penchant for excellent marijuana and had a vast empire of network contacts whom she approached whenever she was out of stock, and I was invariably dragged along to these meetings.
Since I enjoyed the fruits of her labour as much as she did I never complained, but one night in particular really drove home to me the madness.
At 3am on a summer night we went down to a local backpacker's lodge, in search of some Brit who she knew was always in stock. Despite my protestations she simply barged in, found her way to a bedroom shared by 16 internationally-flavoured fellers who were all sleeping on bunkbeds, switched the light on and began a round of the beds, pulling the covers off the poor tourists in an effort to find her man.
She started calling out at the top of her lungs and eventually the bleary-eyed Brit rose from his alcohol-induced slumber to be confronted by a mad woman in need of her fix.
She didn't just ask him for some stash - she forced him to get up, roll her a smoke, and sit there with us while we smoked it.
It turned out it was some serious quality weed and she and I - not being used to such quality - got the giggles. There we were - sitting in the middle of a bunch of very pissed off Colombians, Australians, Brits and Swedes, fouling up their room with huge clouds of pungent smoke, screaming our heads off with laughter.
They were too polite to do anything about us, but although I couldn't control myself I was dying inside.
The Brit avoided us like the plague after that and I'm sure the man is still traumatised.
But that was simply fun, although my embarrassment was extreme. Worse was to come, however.
What you need to understand about Debbie was that she simply didn't take "No" for an answer, and she usually got anything she wanted.
One night we ended up at an all-night restaurant in Long Street called Mr Pickwick's and entered through the front door. As soon as we entered she stopped, waved her arms frantically and screamed at the entire restaurant to stop eating and listen to her.
Once she had their attention she began yelling at them for smoking, claiming the place (and them) was disgusting and the air unbreathable, while I cringed behind her.
Once she had finished her tirade to a group of very surprised diners she left, slamming the door behind her and leaving me inside to face the mob, who by this time were severely unimpressed at our intrusion.
I mumbled and stuttered my way out the door after her, to discover she had got into the car and left, leaving me alone on the street with a crowd of ciggie-loving, pissed-off late-nighters crowding the windows and peering out at me.
I walked home, arriving as the first rays of sunlight began hitting the tops of the skyscrapers.
Debbie hated cigarette smoke and since I was a smoker she banned me from smoking. Naturally I was having none of it and had to resort to smoking on the sly, although she could always smell it on my breath and would launch into tirades against me whenever she did.
She had no reason or logic either - one day she ran through a stop street, only for a cop to pull us over to give her a ticket. She started screaming at the poor guy that her house was just around the corner and when he told her he didn't care where her house was, she took it to mean he didn't believe her.
She yelled at him to get into the car and she would take him there, to prove that she lived nearby, and the poor guy just couldn't understand how the proximity of her house related to the fact that she had just broken a traffic law.
He eventually had to let us go, as his brain simply couldn't cope with the twisted argument.
Another time we went to the Naspers building on the foreshore - she was attempting to get flower pens that she made featured in Fair Lady magazine - and as we walked past security she told them she had a bomb in her bag.
I was grabbed and searched, but they didn't lay a finger on her as she told them if they touched her she would sue them for sexual assault. And she would have, too.
I made the huge mistake of allowing her to control the finances of a show I was doing with two mates, and she siphoned off most of the funds and blamed it on Grey.
She bullied the editor of a local newspaper to do a feature on us, despite his protestations (remember - she refused to take "No" as a reasonable answer), with the result that he slated every show we ever did after that.
It got so bad at one point that I would hide in my flat from her. I can still hear the sound of her boots clacking on the tiled corridors as she came to find me. The footsteps would stop at my door and she would begin banging on it, screaming that she knew I was inside and that I couldn't hide from her forever.
But she wouldn't just bang once or twice - she would stand there for half an hour hammering on my door and screaming and shouting at the top of her lungs about what a coward I was, which I assuredly was.
But I never opened up.
This relationship lasted for three months and finally ended when she came to a rehearsal of ours at the Baxter theatre, tore down our set and screamed at us all for reasons unknown. I finally cracked, telling her that if she ever came near me again I was going to rip her throat out.
I meant it.
Later she pissed off to Sydney, Australia, and one night called me from there - obviously high on god knows what - telling me what a cool guy I was and asking me to come visit her.
Seconds before the phone rang I collapsed to the floor, unable to walk (I had recently had a back operation), and when the phone rang I had to crawl on all fours to answer it.
I tried to get her off the line, explaining that I needed to call the paramedics, but she didn't believe me and I had to slam the phone down on her.
She called back, screaming abuse at me, and put the phone down on me, and ultimately the curtain on the whole sordid affair.
Don't ask me why I stayed with her for three months - I have no idea. And please believe me when I tell you that the episodes I have described are only the tip of the iceberg. I'm simply running out of space to tell the whole story.
She was the girlfriend from hell and I have many who know me who will confirm that fact. Shortly after her I found my wife, who healed the scars I had accrued along the way, but still to this day Debbie is mentioned in conversation as one of the great wonders and evils of the modern age.
And the last place on Earth I'm ever going is Sydney. Poor Aussies.
All Smoked Out,