Monthly Archives: January 2013

Should Assholes Have Babies?

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They stand over the crib taking in their newborn baby with awe. “Ohhhh loooook,” coos mum, “he has your eyes.” Dad beams, “But thank goodness he has your nose.” Together they chuckle and bathe in the glory of this proud moment of procreation. And amidst the crowd of onlookers bearing flowers and good wishes, no one says out loud, “Wonder if he’s going to be an asshole?”

I recently found out that someone I find morally repugnant just had a baby. I was completely repulsed by the idea and even though I knew my karmic energy would suffer, I quietly apologised to the world for this man who felt the need to unleash his genes upon us all.

Okay, okay, I hear the Oliver-Twist discourse in my conscience telling me that every human being has the ability to rise above his upbringing. Sure, a child born of dysfunctional parents can lead a completely successful and upstanding life. That is the beauty of growing up, being an individual and being accountable. Even clever people like Dr Michael Wiederman (MINDing theMIND™) confirm this: “Even though we each received our genes from our parents, we are not an exact copy of either parent. Each of us is a unique combination of genes received from each parent.” Good, there is hope.

No, I’m not convinced. What if ‘assholeness’ sticks to your genes like superglue in the cracks of a porcelain jar? What if a person cannot escape ugliness in his mum or dad’s personality? What if the disgusting, cheating, lying, cruel, immature, disrespectful DNA threads get so deeply entangled in your makeup that they are perpetuated for generations to come?

I’m afraid this is where we have to look to the proverbial ‘village’ that it supposedly takes to raise the child. Village…it is up to us. When yet another asshole emerges from yet another womb, we must do our best to make sure we lead by example. This means that we, ourselves, must stop being nasty pieces of human specimen. We must be beautiful and strong and generous and caring and full of integrity. We must neatly tear pages out of the Tiger Mom’s book. And we must work hard at making sure that the future assholes unlearn their genetic bad lessons.

This means brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts, godmothers, friends, teachers and colleagues all have a role to play. We each have to stand at the door between childhood and adolescence and beat ‘assholeness’ off with the talking stick. The world is overpopulated. If this is what it takes to make sure that there are fewer assholes on earth, then so be it.

Until such time bad people have to take rigorous tests determining their decentness; until such time gynaes stamp forms with big black letters saying: “NOT QUALIFIED TO PROCREATE”; until scientists figure out a way to provide us with some Panados for headache-causing genes…it is up to each of us to nurture the unfortunate little ones. And it is up to the unfortunate little ones to realise that this life is long and intriguing and blessed with millions of tiny, well-lit passages of opportunity to be good men and women.

So, sleep well little asshole.

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Speed Dating: Slow Torture

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My face is sore. My sparkling water has lost its sparkle. And if one more guy asks me, “So…what do you do for fun?” as if it was rated the number one pick-up line of all time, I might just die, slowly and painfully. This is Speed Dating. And it’s not for the strong hearted.

As you walk in, you get offered an Apple Sours – appropriate considering that what follows is some sickly sweet lack of intoxication. You get a form where you have to write your name on the front and at the back, the names of all the ‘candidates’ and a short descriptor. There are 10 tables – the girls remain seated and the guys rock up for their interviews one by one.

First up is Ettiene*. Ettiene has one redeeming factor and that is his dimples. Other than that, he seems a little drunk. Ettiene likes wearing vests with little holes in them and enjoys pole vaulting in his garden. No he doesn’t. But that would have been more interesting. I write down “Bald. Stalkerish” because that’s the first thing that comes to mind.

Later on, there’s Theuns*. “Like tea – ns” he says. Theuns is wearing a newsboy cap and a turquoise shirt. He tells me that he likes massages in his spare time because he loves being touched. My hands are close to his and with stealth I move them away in case he feels the urge to suddenly stroke them. He enjoys the healing feeling of massage. “I’m not gay, I just love massages. You have such an open face, such open eyes,” he tells me. Now it’s my turn to be weird. He asks me what I do in my spare time, so I blurt, “I love anything physical.” Tea-ns giggles. Realising how it sounds, I quickly over-correct, “ I mean I love letting off steam…(even worse)…er…no – I mean, I love any form of exercise.” The bell – that sounds like the one priests ring during prayer in Hindu temples – rings and releases me from Awkward Hell. I quickly scribble “Hat, not gay, massage” before the next guy sits down.

His name is Dimitri*. I immediately want to say, “Spanakopita Spanakopita” but I bite my tongue. This guy leans back in his chair and says, “You ask me a question.” I throw him a light challenge and I say, “So…what would you do if you won the lotto? This is what follows:

Dimitri: “Well, how much?”
Su: “I don’t know…enough to never have to work a day in your li-”
Dimitri: “No, how much, give me a figure!”
Su: “Okay…about-”
Dimitri: “What, like 5 million or 20 million, give me a figure!!”
Su: “200 million”
Dimitri: “Shew, that’s a lot.”

Dimitri, who is not a greek god but more of a grumpy geek proceeds to give me a chartered-accountant report of how he would spend R200 million. My heart and soul let out a big, wide yawn.

The back page of my dating form contains words like: “Massage. Weirdo. Prudent. Touchy-feely. Scared to lean forward. Bald. Likes Ballet.” At the end, the Architects of Awkward Coupling then offer us all the chance to stay and mingle. My friend Max looks at me, widens her eyes and mumbles under her breath, “Please, let’s go!” We burst out the restaurant like bulls at a rodeo and take a breath of the fresh night air. Max and I bend over giggling as we compare notes. Never again, we both agree.

Perhaps one is not meant to apply a socio-anthropological analysis to an event like this but speed dating is just weird, man. I don’t like the way it makes me feel. I feel fake. My cheeks collapse from over smiling. I hate the way I describe myself. I feel bad that the other person is nervous. I’m embarrassed for judging people and imagining what their lonely lives look like. I’m wondering if they’re fading off while I ramble. I miss awkward silences and I wonder where my Ryan Gosling is.

Playing out a potential romance like a series of job interviews gone wrong is not my cup of chino. I want a slice of Hollywood and to be airborne by that swept-of-my-feet feeling. I want to see the man who makes my heart giddy walk across the room at 60 frames per second (insert smoke machine here). It must be least expected. It must be a story worth telling for generations to come. And it must not begin and end with a prayer bell. Sorry Speed Dating, I’m just not that into you.


*Names have not been changed to protect the identities of the people mentioned.
You should know about them…and run like Bolt in the opposite direction if you ever see them.

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Hate Speech for a Hate Crime

 

On the 16th of December, it was my birthday. I went out dressed in a tiny pair of shorts and drank margaritas. My girlfriends and I freely chatted to some men at the table next to ours. I got home safe and sound. But miles away, across the ocean in Delhi, India, a young woman was brutally raped that night because she was out with a male companion.

I don’t know what drives men to rape. Is it because they hate women or because they salivate over power? Or is it because colonised nations breed men who colonise women’s bodies?

I don’t know why this story makes me so angry when I live in a country that is considered the rape centre of the world. Maybe it’s because I was out that night free as a summer breeze and she was just trying to feel the same. Maybe it’s because here, we are desensitized and maybe it’s because our country doesn’t rise up in gathered protest and the world doesn’t highlight our rape stories. Maybe it’s because I didn’t expect such brutality from a country that gives way to cows on the street and worships the mother goddess.

When you’re a woman, you learn from an early age that your safety is more easily compromised than a man’s. You learn that you have to walk with purpose. Be careful whom you trust. Don’t put yourself in a vulnerable position. Learn self defense. Don’t accept drinks from strangers. Don’t go to public toilets on your own. And be alert. No one teaches you not to go to a movie with a guy and take a bus ride home.

I hate those men who murdered India’s daughter. I hope they suffer in this lifetime and many lifetimes to come. I hope their heinous deeds torment their already maddened souls. And I hope that Karma works on each of them with an iron rod. I hope that the protests don’t go quiet. I hope that they inspire our country. I hope that all the world’s daughters can go out dressed in short skirts, dance with men, party up a storm, or just watch a movie and come back home to lie safely in their parents’ homes. I realise that these aren’t hopes but fantasies.

Good night India’s daughters. Good night South Africa’s daughters. Good night daughters of the world. May God watch over all us because we cannot rely on our brothers to be keepers of our dignity.

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I like old people.

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Old people rock. I recently had the pleasure of going shopping with my mum to the Pick n Pay in Musgrave Centre on a Saturday morning. Now I don’t know what it is about the Pick n Pay in Musgrave Centre on a Saturday morning but it’s crawling with old people.

First, there was the cranky grey-haired couple arguing in front of tomato sauce bottles as if it was a routine chore. Then there was ol’ Mrs Pepperpot with half her body in the freezer, sorting through the cold meats, looking for the best sell-by date, I presume. I’m waiting for mummy to pick some flour when I notice another fine senior citizen in the same aisle as us. He is shouting: “Red lentils, red lentils, red lentils!!!” So eventually, I put him out of his misery and point it out to him. He then starts shouting out: “No! Crossbow! Crossbow! Crossbow!!” and turns to me and asks: “Now tell me, where can I find the cotton wool?”

We move from flour to the toothpaste aisle and there we come face-to-face with my brother’s class one (grade one) teacher. I’m instantly surprised because, well…I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t expect her to be alive after all these years. So I yell out with glee, “Miss THOMAS!!!” and give her a big, squeezy hug. She replies: “Oh my word! Oh! Oh! Oh! Just tell me about my boy, my timid little boy. I just want to know about him.”

Miss Thomas then proceeds to tell us a story about the gift my brother, Avish, gave her at the end of the school year back in 1988:

“It was a square Pyrex dish and do you know I still have that Pyrex dish. I use it for macaroni and I have a name ffood1_intro_2084503bor it. It’s my macaroni dish and I bake my macaroni and cheese in it and then we can cut into squares and everybody can just help themselves Did you know that Warren Lazarus gave me a round Pyrex dish too and that one’s called my trifle dish and I make trifle in that. And every time I make macaroni and trifle, I tell everyone about my boys.”

I like old people. It’s not just the waddly skin under their chins. Or the hairy moles. Or the cute slippers with socks. It’s the sprightly, grumpy spirit they wear proudly like floral housecoats. It’s the hanky they keep squished up in their palms and the folded notes in their bras. It’s the Brylcreem hair and safari-suit shirts. The black comb and the newspaper under the arm. It’s the fact that their stories take winding curves and follow breakaway paths like a labyrinth. It’s because they’ve earned the license to shout in shopping aisles, to burp loudly at dinner tables and to flirt playfully with younger people.

Not all old people are charming. There are those whose pension card doesn’t come standard with wisdom. And there are those who remain cynical and bitter and stuck in their ways like chewing gum under the school desk. There are those who remind you of the miseries and sadness in life. And the loneliness and pain that comes with the winter of existence.

Then there are the good ones. The good ones adapt with the times, play cards on weekends and still enjoy a good whiskey. They always find a way to be surprising. These old people always have stories. They ask embarrassing questions. They bounce out words of truth and fling one-liners your way. They smile knowingly, laugh like babies and tell dirty jokes. They cry on demand and they know what’s coming. They know how to cook up a storm. They’re always super proud of you. And they always have time for you.

If you’ve never hung out with a geriatric, you should sometime. It gives you a better view of the world. And it makes you thankful that you don’t have gout and varicose veins. But mostly, it makes you realise the importance of growing old with grace.

This is a little poem by Maya Angelou that I’ve always loved. And it is for all the old people I love. No, ma, not you. You’re still a spring chicken (even though I saw you squinting at the price of ice tea on the top shelf).

Maya Angelou
Old Folks laugh

They have spent their
content of simpering,
holding their lips this
and that way, winding
the lines between
their brows. Old folks
allow their bellies to jiggle like slow
tamborines.
The hollers
rise up and spill
over any way they want.
When old folks laugh, they free the world.
They turn slowly, slyly knowing
the best and the worst
of remembering.
Saliva glistens in
the corners of their mouths,
their heads wobble
on brittle necks, but
their laps
are filled with memories.
When old folks laugh, they consider the promise
of dear painless death, and generously
forgive life for happening
to them.

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