On a Friday afternoon in mid-March, as I was getting my car washed (which is probably why it began pouring at that moment, but never mind...), who would show up next to me but a major South African celebrity: Haas Das* himself, the legendary Riaan Cruywagen

Riaan Cruywagen.jpg

For my international imaginary readers, 
he is one of South Africa's most veteran and famous television news anchors and a total legend in his own right. (Americans, Riaan is basically our version of the late, great Peter Jennings and Tim Brokow.) 

Despite a disguise of sunglasses and a cap (so, sadly, no sighting of the infamous, "alleged" toupee), he was almost immediately accosted by another fan, so, since he was already disturbed by another fan and didn't bite the guy's head off, I eventually worked up the courage to also go over, shyly say hi and ask for a photo op. 

He was incredibly gracious and - rather surprisingly - deadly funny. (Which is why the resulting picture of the two of us is of me all puffed cheeks and squinty-eyed from cracking up!) I told him that I'm a journalist as well ("but only in online media, so really, it's No Big Deal") and he said: "Well, what a coincidence, so am I!" 

No shit, Sherlock.

He was SO lovely to me. Chatted to me for about 30 whole minutes. Of course, he didn't have much of a choice. I kept on incessantly quizzing him (if he hadn't believed that I was a journo, he believed me by the end of it!) and he couldn't really escape, since he was essentially held hostage there until they had finished cleaning his car. 

The interroga... conversation was about all sorts of things, from what it was like to live in Washington, D.C. almost a decade apart (he was foreign correspondent there from '81-'84), to journalism, his first big scoop in D.C. (Hinckley's attempted assassination of Reagan) BlackBerry phones, iPods and cars. It totally made my day! 

And from then on, whenever he came onto the TV and said: "Goeienaand, welkom by die nuus om 7 op SABC 2", (Translated: Good evening, welcome to the news at 7 on SABC 2), I pretended (in a Nurse Betty kind of way) that he was speaking JUST TO ME. Because we’re now BFF and therefore thisclose.

But I'm rehashing this story tonight, because earlier this evening, exactly 37 years (to the day) of anchoring his first news broadcast, Riaan retired. To great fanfare and sadness. 

I sat in front of the television, absolutely rapt throughout his entire final broadcast, waiting to see if he would get emotional during his last goodnight. 

And? I ENDED UP MISSING IT. Right at the crucial moment, the satellite decoder somehow decided that RIGHT THEN WOULD BE AN EXCELLENT TIME TO RESET ITSELF and so it first had to warm up and rescan all the channels. Meaning that I missed his very last goodbye. 

Utterly bereft, and going to campaign the SABC to put the final broadcast on YouTube. Or something. 

*Haas Das was a fluffy rabbit puppet who read the news out of animal land to kiddies when I was little. Riaan voiced Haas Das, even before he assumed that same position as human (or robot, if you care to believe some for his continual excellence and unchanged hair) anchorman. 

I just feel genuinely lucky to have crossed paths with him. 

Enjoy the break, ye legend! 

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is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

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