I have always wondered why little Red Riding Hood wandered through the woods by herself. As I grew older, I realized that her mother was irresponsible sending her out to visit the grandmother by herself. Then as the story unfolds and the big, bad wolf is lying in the grandmother’s bed, I wanted to scream at Red Riding Hood’s naivety and innocence in not recognizing that the wolf was not her grandmother. Especially when I could see just by looking at the pictures in the storybook that it was a wolf. I prided myself on not being as naïve as Red Riding Hood.

My Red Riding Hood Moment:

Moving from Cape Town or rather the Cape Flats, which is like a protective bubble, to Johannesburg can be overwhelming. I was young and this strange city with this “fast” life was scary and I knew I had to have my wits around me. I was told to watch out for drugs, not get into prostitution, keep attending church on Sundays, don’t let men buy you drinks because they could put drugs in it which would leave you vulnerable and at the mercy of them. Oh yes and I was warned to always have work, so I don’t run into trouble financially.

My part-time job had ended, and I had very little savings. Maybe just enough to cover my rent and expenses for one more month. I got up early that day and bought the newspaper, hearing my mom’s voice in my head that the early bird catches the worm.

Yes, I am an early bird and as I was scrolling through the adverts, my eyes fell upon a bigger than normal ad. The ad read; “Attractive young girls wanted, must be slim, between the ages of 18 to 30, able to work shifts, to do either waitressing or bar work.” The ad said it was for an upmarket gentlemen’s club. The earning potential was great, and you could get tips. I stared at the ad, then jumped up, looked at myself in the mirror and thought: “I am reasonably attractive, my body is slim enough besides the breast size which was a bit too big for my frame and my comfort but that’s not the end of the world.” 

“Come on Thesna you can do this,” I smiled confidently on the outside, whilst inside butterflies were creating havoc in my stomach. The advert said to dress in a red outfit, a red dress, a red top and skirt and high heeled shoes and red lipstick. “Eew, red lipstick, was a no for me.” I cringed.  I hurriedly got dressed, (early bird remember) and took a final look at myself. “Not bad,” I told myself. I had a red bodysuit that outlined every shape and contour of my body, a very tight red knee-length skirt that made me walk like one of those Japanese Geisha girls, black high heels that pinched my toes and made me look so much taller, and finally this fire engine red lipstick I asked a friend for. My lips, that’s been the bane of my life growing up weren’t small and cute. I looked as if I was constantly pouting. Either that or like a fish that was struggling to breathe out of water. Sigh! “The rent has to be paid,” I reminded myself.

I took off the heels as I started walking to this place and quickly slipped it back on when I neared this gentlemen’s club. My hands were sweaty, and I knew I looked flush from the walk. I rounded the corner with a smile only for my smile to waver when I saw the long line of girls all dressed in red. There was probably about 50 women lined up, all dressed in red waiting to be interviewed. “I am so nervous,” I say to the lady in front of me. She turns to me and freezes my nerves with her unfriendly look and turns around again giving me her back. The door opens and a beautiful woman strides out dressed in red. Wow! She was gorgeous. “Ladies, only 5 of you will be chosen, 4 as waitresses and 1 as a bar lady,” she says. There is excitement and murmuring among the ladies. I am silent and sending up a prayer to God to help me get this job. My feet are hurting but I have plasters at the flat. She closes the door and about 10 minutes later an older man walks out. “I am going to choose now and once I have chosen the rest of you can go home,” he says loudly with a Greek accent. “Please Lord, let me be one of the women chosen,” I pray. He walks and chooses 3 women and he is coming closer to me and I decide to smile. Yes, with red lipstick on these full lips, I smile. He places his hand on my shoulder and says, “You stand with them,” pointing to the other ladies. I am so nervous, and my feet are throbbing in these killer heels, but I muster my last confidence and walk to where the other women are with the confidence of a runway model. I probably looked more like a duck but that’s alright because nobody can see my nerves. He chooses the last woman from the queue and tells the others to go.

The 5 of us are standing, waiting to hear what we to do next. “Don’t worry if you don’t have too much experience, we will train,” he bellows.

He leads us through silver doors that you can’t see through and proceeds to open the door, “Come on in ladies,” he smiles. 

The door shuts behind us and my eyes must adjust to the dim lights on the inside. I am on cloud nine! I can’t wait to call my mom in Cape Town and let her know what a great opportunity I have been given……

Little Red Riding Hoods Rude Awakening. Part 2