Café Mischu in Sea Point

cafe mischu sign

It’s harder than you might think, living in this cool city, coming up with cool places to go for coffee which you’ll also want to blog about, so when my friend, Craig, suggested Mischu in Sea Point, I thought, hurrah, yes. Mischu is opposite the Spar, and the reason he likes going there – other than the great coffee – is that he says it’s funny watching women have conversations when their faces don’t move. And while on the day we were there I didn’t spot any of those and I really liked the way they’ve done it up and it’s the kind of place you can definitely hang out with your Americano and watch the world go by, it got me thinking about this whole botox thing and why I have such a problem with it.

And it’s not because I’m not vain or don’t care about getting old and ugly. I care about it much, and I spend ages in the mirror worrying that my teeth aren’t white enough and that my sun spots will eventually take over my entire face and I’ll look like an alien and I hate when I gain weight and my clothes cling. And in the interests of vanity I bleach said teeth and I eat salad when I want pasta and wear BB cream every single day while pretending I’m au natural, but there is just something about the botox thing that makes my toes curl.

It’s like I have these two opposing forces where the one is super invested in looking good at any cost, while the other says ‘fuck that for a lark. I’m a woman, not a girl. I’m amazing just as I am, and I don’t have to buy into that twisted conception of what female adults are supposed to look like. I don’t have to be skinny and hairless to be accepted, and I certainly don’t have to look like I’m 25 in order to have value in this world.’

And while I’m incredibly fond of the vacuous, shallow version of myself and have the bags and shoes to prove it, it’s the other voice that I pay attention to because she feels closer to the real me. Because I am more than the sum of my parts, and I can hold my own intellectually and in spaces that would have scared the daylights out of me when I was in my twenties. I might have had fewer crow’s feet, but I was also rather dof and uninteresting by virtue of not having done very much. Your average 20-year-old has a lot of living to do before they make interesting dinner companions and, honestly, I value having seen some things in my life and having an opinion very much more than I do looking perfect in the mirror.

And fuck knows, when you get to 40 you’ve seen some things. I’ve had my heart smashed more times than I care to count; I’ve given birth twice without so much as an aspirin to help a girl through (what was I thinking, right?); I’ve held sick, feverish babies through the night and got up at the same time the next morning to do the other things that needed to be done. I’ve made a life for myself in a far away, cold country and endured the relentless heartache of being away from my home and my tribe. I’ve written things that have made people laugh out loud, and things that have made people so furious they wanted to lynch me. I’ve made good choices and terrible choices, and I’m not more special than anyone else, I’m just alive in the world, as we all are, and getting on with this journey I’ve picked out for myself.

And to deny my face the lessons I’ve learned – to pay somebody money to inject poison into my head so that when I’m really, really happy or really, really sad you’d never know – feels like a travesty. Worse, it feels like betrayal to myself, because I have earned these lines, every single one. These lines are living. These lines are what I have lived and the things I have seen and done. They are drinking wine late into the night and talking with my husband about what matters. They are shouting in rage when he doesn’t get a thing about me and I can’t believe how hard it is being married. They are the terror that he won’t get off the plane and I’ll lose the love of my life because he is the coolest human being I have ever known, and they are shrieking with laughter when my maddest friend picks up her phone and talks in the same funny voice that used to have me sent outside the classroom in Std 7 for my uncontrollable hysteria.

They are worrying that my children are safe; sadness that my dad doesn’t feel good about his life; hoping my mom gets home safely when she works late at night. They are consoling our daughters when their daddy goes overseas every month for work, the angst that I might have offended a friend and the secret 3am fear that I’ll never write that book. Maybe it isn’t as ‘beautiful’ as the smooth, blank faces you see on younger women, but to me its beauty lies in something else – in its naturalness and its grace and the message it sends to my daughters about what really matters in life. And it’s not whether their mother has a wrinkle-free forehead. It’s not the hope that people look at me and go, ‘wow, she looks great! How does she do it?’ And I never think that, anyway, when I see someone who’s had work. I feel pity and a kind of sadness for what she thinks she has to be to be loved and to feel okay in the world.

And maybe I’ll change my mind in 10 years when the passage of time really starts marching across my face, but honestly I don’t think so. I think that other me will nip that thought right in the bud. Because the kind of beauty that comes of knowing who you are and what you have to offer doesn’t exist at the end of a needle. Anyhow. I think I got off track. Café Mischu does kiff coffee. My wrinkles and I will be back.

The service is warm and friendly, and the coffee is goo-ood.
The service is warm and friendly, and the coffee is goo-ood.

42 thoughts on “Café Mischu in Sea Point

  1. Im printing this out to read every time i feel everything thats in your column all the time, if you know what i mean
    I wish we could meet for coffee so i could say FUUUUUUUUUUCK IT and you would understand exactly what i meant
    yesterday i told my boss he was lucky i had not found the boat or he would be in the shark filled ocean – he laughed. Today he is a pussy cat.

  2. Thank you so much for that…exactly what I think about the whole damn thing and good to read it finally. I once tried fillers in my lips to the horror of my kids and mirth of my husband. Never again – it made me feel like a fraudulent person.

  3. my lover, after seeing a picture of my 20 something self, told me that I am more beautiful now that I am 51. and funnily enough, I believe him. no botox… more lines noticed more often. but they the map of our lives- and what would a map be, without f-ing lines??? great great blog. x

  4. Beautiful, Susan – you have a wonderful way of being unflinchingly honest and at the same time so warm and a total mensch. Much love to you and your alleged wrinkles! ;)

  5. Thank you for writing this and for your raw honesty which is beautiful, inspiring, needed and appreciated! Rock on Susan!!!

  6. not sure if this is applicable but am sending it anyway because of the “wrinkles”
    Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind, it is not a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips, and supple knees; it is a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, it is a freshness of the deep springs of life.
    Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity; of the appetite of adventure over love of ease.
    This often exists in a man [woman] of fifty, more than in a boy[girl] of twenty.
    Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years; people grow old only by deserting their ideals.
    Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.

  7. I just remind myself that my 80 year old body will look back on my (present) 51yr old body with longing. So whilst we have got it whatever it is just flipping appreciate it. I was horrible to my 40 yr old body and what a waste of time that was xx

  8. Thank you for making ageing gracefully OK!! I am 48 , living in Dubai, where smooth , wrinkle fee faces are the norm and I am fighting the Botox fight with all my strength!! I just cannot get around the fact that women look weird for ages after they have a treatment….its strange not to be able to show any joy, sadness, disgust….but they all do it, even my friends. They think I’m weird for not buying into the “look” . Well, weird I will remain, because, like you, I don’t intend to go down that road…I like the fact that I look more mature. I was an idiot at 25 and certainly don’t want to go back there!! I think its quite sad actually that so many women feel pressurized to have frozen faces…amazing post yet again!

    1. It is a weird look, isn’t it? I didn’t even go there with the blog, I agree, it’s freaky. Watching the recent oscars, with all those fillers and face that doesn’t move or moves unnaturally. They look like wax figures. No warmth in the eyes. Thanks for sharing! :-)

  9. Very well said and beautifully written. I feel the same, being older. I play with the thought, but are too squeamish and its more that than my superficial-ity. I am lucky and have been blessed with a fairly good skin. Some of my friends have had it done quite early, lifts ens, some will tell you, not that you cant see, and some wont. I’m easy about whatever makes you ‘happy’. Its the ones who pretend they are naturally wrinkle-free at 90, instead of just saying nothing. :)

  10. Sjoe, Susan, once again you’ve put into words exactly what I think and believe. How do you do that – peek into my head?

  11. I used to get comments saying that I looked younger than I was. I don’t anymore. And, bearing in mind I think I’m aging ok, I think the comments have dried up because I probably look older than all the Botoxed ladies my age. It’s a little bit annoying, but I’d rather live with no compliments than with not genuinely knowing how my looks are changing with age. Similarly, my boobs are now probably closer to my tummy button than my collarbones and I notice that a lot of other lovely ladies’ aren’t. I call mine Retro Boobs because one day, when the Southern Suburbs are more awash with silicone than they are already, someone will look at them and say, “Ahhhh … so that’s what boobs used to look like!” You’re as funny and gorgeous as ever, lovely. X

    1. Honestly, when I first met you I thought you must have had work – you have NO lines, and this magnificent skin. The fact that you haven’t means you are totally part of the lucky sperm club. You are GORGEOUS! Never touch that face, darling, it’s drop dead just the way it is xxxx

  12. Again…a wonderful post. My husband has just been involved in a cycling accident and has broken his femur and damaged the hip. I have 2 boys to deal with , a bed ridden husband and have to work. I was thinking that I just dont know how I am gonna cope….but you just do. So be it with a few extra stress lines. But I agree. I makes for a MUCH better dinner party story!

  13. Sea Point…reading your blog just made me realise how much we miss out by travelling as tourists. :) I was there for 3 days only one year and a half ago and I really must come back to truly enjoy Cape Town. I really like your stories (a SA friend of mine sent your blog to me). If you are curious to read my perspective as a tourists, I have compiled some experiences here: Happy Friday!

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