Nelson Mandela stormed into the green room swearing and sweating profusely, his neck was loose and rubbery.

He overturned several tables occupied by money lenders and whatnot – they had arrived with Jesse Ventura, but evidently, Nelson did not find them pleasing. Roulette chips and credit notes spilled across the verdant carpet, (the entire room was furry and green owing to an intern not realizing that “green room” was an idiom). On stage, the Dalai Lama was frantically scratching his armpits whilst the wife of a local business-leader talked about him as if he weren’t there, unctuously, and just fucking strangely.

“You have taught us…how to love,” you heard her drone, but at least it was muffled in the green room due to the swathes of green baize lining the walls and door.

“You have taught us…how to live.”

Nelson was fuming. A runner with three pairs of headphones dangling from his oversized cranium stepped up and tried to place a calming hand on his shoulder. Nelson saw it coming and blocked it Wing Chun style, knocking the runner off balance. He grabbed the guy by the throat and pressed him against a wall, commanding him to do something in Xhosa. The runner looked baffled, naturally.

“You have taught us…how to lathe.”

Jesse Ventura burst into the room and surveyed the scene. “Aw shit, my gambling and usury tables! Nelson, what the fuck man?”

Nelson stopped what he was doing and swung round to face Jesse. He stamped at the ground like a bull and charged; all this from a man in his eighties! Despite his frailty, it was enough to scare several of the other speakers – the Xhosa language sounds pretty rough when used in anger.

“You have taught us…how to loaf.”

Jesse deftly stepped to one side and then grabbed Nelson, putting him in a one-armed headlock. “I guess this is a one and a half Nelson?” he quipped. This guy’s one-liner talent had been wasted as a sidekick to Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Then, at that moment, in walked the REAL Nelson Mandela. Jesse’s face contorted, his lack of comprehension so acute he nearly passed out. “What the fuckety-fuck?”

Nelson calmly glided to the centre of the room. “Son, why do you dress up like me and besmirch my good name?” He spoke with such magnanimity that everybody in the room felt redeemed, even me (despite my being invited to talk at this event as an example of what can go wrong with a human person!).

“You have taught us…how to chode.”

Jesse asked Nelson if he would like him to rip the impostor a new one. A woman seated on the same bench turned to me and said, “Did she just say ‘chode’?”, but I brushed her off, more interested in the human drama unfolding in front of me. The Real Nelson shook his head and imbued Jesse with wisdom via a gentle kiss on his wide forehead, now glistening with sweat (both his own and that of the runner, who at this point was on the floor thrashing around, having some sort of panic-induced seizure). The poor scrotum was gushing sweat like a fountain, and money lenders were slipping about everywhere, unable to get purchase (an apt metaphor for their moral turpitude if you consider the word “upright” to mean a citizen of good standing).

In the background, you could hear the Dalai Lama crowd-surfing. The droning wife had been set upon by security, who had beaten her badly in the face after she had said chode (a stubby penis in the internet-age US vernacular). She also suffered third-degree stigmata, basically akin to holes in the usual spots, but not quite eh?

The Real Nelson yanked the mask off of the impostor Nelson so quickly it was as if he had merely willed it to happen or a ghost had done it. “Who the fuck are you, guy?” said Jesse, who was pumped to be wrestling again after all these years, especially after the last two as  Governor of Minnesota which involved way too many meetings and too few oily musclemen.

The Real Nelson replied, “Ask not who this is, for he is all of us, is he not?”.

The lady next to me pointed out that he had already asked it, so it was too late to ask him not to ask. I told her to zip it, for Christ’s Sake. Jesse looked at me and announced to the whole group of us, “The impostor looks just like that motherfucker.”

It was true. Oh God, the impostor was my twin brother. Of course, he knew I was about to have a swell good day and he had to jump in and fuck it up, just like he had done since day one (Womb-Release Day). The Minneapolis PD came in at that point, hauling his ass out of there kicking and spitting, but for me, the damage was done, and I was ashamed. Nelson came over to me and gently lifted my face with his right hand. The fingers were long and elegant. His voice was low and soothing. “Worry not my child. We cannot control the action of our twins. I had several, and they were for shit. I don’t know where they are now and frankly, I don’t care, as long as they stay the fuck in South Africa. Everywhere else, that’s my territory. Including most of South Africa.”

I grabbed that slender hand with both of mine and told him it was an absolute pleasure to meet him. Then I turned to Jesse, slapped him on the shoulder and told him that I loved him in The Running Man and as Governor of this great state. He said, “Huh?”. The Dalai Lama came in, bleeding from the ears, and rubbed me on the head. I felt as though I had been given a second chance; I felt about as good as I ever would, and we all learned a truly valuable lesson about avarice… although that was later on.

Simon Pinkerton

@Simon Pinkerton