Monday, April 23, 2012

shop till you drop...

Last week I went on one of my bi-annual trips to ‘the big mall’.  I loathe malls. OK, it’s mostly because I can’t afford all the stuff but also because it’s a total stimulus overload. On more than one occasion I’ve been found hiding out in the shoe bar. The people there are really nice and they don’t rush me along at all. 

Generally speaking, the trip was successful. Found frock; can conquer the world. I did find the magnificent pair of red velvet shoes I was after but then remembered how the last time I wore heels, the sharp bit got caught up in my wide leg pants, tripping me up spectacularly in front of a whole room full of people. On that basis I resisted. Sigh. In a parallel universe I can do it all. I also had a few epiphanic moments whilst on my outing that I’ll share with you now.

1. Ironically, maxi dresses only look good on mini girls.  It’s a horribly misleading name. Anything bigger than a mini girl and they look like a picnic umbrella (especially the tribal print ones) or super large parasol (if the dress has those frilly layers).

2. If it rustles on the hanger you can bet your rustling butt that it’s going to rustle on you.

3. If it feels scratchy when you rub it between your fingers, times that by ten when you have it rubbing up against your body. Lambs wool and mohair are living proof.

4. I’ve yet to meet someone who can afford to wear satin on their bottom half. Figuratively not financially.

5. No matter how ‘on trend’ a bow on the neckline is, it’ll always make you look like an airhostess (at best) or like a bank employee (at worse). They’re very noble careers of course but chances are that’s not the look you were going for.

6. Colour blocking is to 2012 what neon was to 1985. You will look back at photos of yourself and think WTF?

7. Skinny jeans. Cruelly, the hint is in the name.

8. Shoes with slippery soles will make you slip. That’s a given.

9. Pointy toes require pointy toes. You either have them or you don’t’.

10. Pixie boots belong on… ta daaaa… PIXIES!

11. Pumps that are cut too low in the front will give you a bad case of toe cleavage* or plumbers foot - depending on the severity of the cut. I’m just saying that if Victoria Beckham gets toe cleavage with her skinny-ass feet then just imagine what kind of no-hope the rest of us have.

12. Nude and beige should only be worn if you wish to be sent home from work because you’re looking wan. (Except of course if you’re dark skinned or are a deft hand at applying stage makeup.)

13. Mustard. Really?  I thought we covered this in the 70’s. As a percentage of the entire population, who exactly looks good in mustard?

14. Jewelry shops.  Has anyone ever seen anyone buying anything in a jewelry shop?  I know I haven’t.

16. Petit departments are rude. If you can’t shop there then automatically you don’t “fit in”.

17. Are all those shelves of makeup really necessary?  It’s deliberate beauty bamboozlement. Women feverishly reach for this collagen pump and that 24-hour miracle repair cream but they’re actually reaching for a dream. It doesn’t work. If it did work we’d all be using it, know what I’m saying.

18. 6” heels. No one can walk in them. Well, at least not walk well.  The evidence lies in strippers.  The real reason they erect poles in strip clubs is so that those poor women can get off their feet now and then. True story. And don’t let ramp models fool you.  They are considered to be high-heel athletes and are specially trained.  Also, they weigh as much as your average 6 year old who, incidentally, also walks better in your heels than you do.

19.  The final few notes are aimed specifically at Chinese manufacturers of clothing:
a) Only one trim is ever necessary per garment. Namely, you have to choose between the rhinestone, fur, diamante, sequins and the fabric flowers. You can’t use them all at once in the hopes that you’ll appeal to a wider range of wearer.
b) One size doesn’t fit all. Just trust me on this.
c) You can’t just gather the fuck out of a garment to make it go up a size. Believe it or not, you actually have to lengthen the cut.
d) We know well fitting garments isn’t your thing, but for the love of God please use pleats instead of gathers because you’re cocking up the gathers. No wait, you may cock up pleats too.

Feel free to forward this to anyone you feel needs the advice.

*Thanks to my friend Tam who taught me this phrase. I’m going to use it a lot.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

postcards and other lies...

Every couple of months someone says to me, ‘oh go on, tell so-and-so about your most embarrassing moment’.  Over the years I’ve got it down to about 2.45 minutes, but to save me having to tell it again – EVER – I am officially writing it so that I don’t have to repeat myself again. EVER.

I should start by clarifying a few things. I grew up in a small town. Which is to say that if it’s a small town now, back in the 70’s it truly was one banjo player short of a redneck band. The fact that the closest ‘city’ to us was nicknamed ‘Sleepy Hollow’ should attest to exactly how small, and how quiet this no-banjo town of mine was.

The thing with small towns is that it’s all good and well when you’re a little kid.  You get to do stuff like ride your bike around the neighbourhood all by yourself and borrow cups of flour from your neighbour. But by the time you’re a teenager, you’re literally clawing at yourself to get away from small-town stuff. Any break in the monotony is welcome and as a result, newcomers to the town are given celebrity status. (‘Psst. They’re from the ‘outside’.) 

Back in Grade 9, I was so eager to meet new people that I accidentally made friends with ‘the new girl’ (lets call her Exotica) on the basis that she was a foreigner. The teacher had asked her to get up in front of the class and introduce herself.  In my defence she did have fairly exotic looks. Very pretty, with one of those sexy, French-looking noses (please; think Jean Dujardin and not Gerard Depardieu). 

So enamoured was I at the prospect of becoming friends with a foreigner, that when she announced where she came from, I heard ‘Luxembourg’.  Delirious and over-excited at the prospect of knowing a real live European, I split-second-daydreamed that I’d become so close to the family (indispensable, even) that when they went ‘home’ to Luxembourg on holiday, they’d insist on taking me along. I could just imagine all those European holidays stretching before me. I was certain they took trips to places like the French Riviera.

By the end of tea break I’d established that Exotica was actually from Lichtenburg (which I’d never heard of  - who had?) which by all accounts, sounded decidedly un-glamourous. It was too late. I already liked her. But my dreams of European holidays were crushed.

Fast forward to a hot, lazy Sunday afternoon and Exotica and I are extremely bored teenagers. Had we already been shagging blokes we could have phoned them up for a shag but we weren’t shagging yet so we decide to root through her Grandma’s kist. You know, try on some old shit that smells like mothballs.  I settled on a purple fur Russian hat and Exotica must have chosen something similar (I think there was beaver-fur involved.)

Determined to shake things up a bit around town, we decided to ride our bikes down to the village whilst wearing the moth-bally headgear. Upon arriving at the one and only tourist attraction in town, we came upon a family of four. Real foreigners.  The dad, intrigued by our unusual headgear, asked us where we were from.

‘Oh’, we replied ‘we live here’.

He frowned a little, squinting at the sweltering KZN summer sun and then back at our furry hats. Uncomfortable silence ensued.

I thought it only polite to ask where they came from. I think it’s to point out at this stag, that he not only had a very, very, very thick accent but also that his speech was somewhat distorted due to the rather heavy moustache he was sporting.

‘Guesh’ he said.

To my horror, I realized that I’d never even heard of a city, or a town, or a country by the name of Guesh. Was it somewhere near the town of Gstaad? Or was it even Gstaad itself and this was the way you pronounced it if you actually lived there?

Well, I could hardly say I had no idea where Guesh was (how very rude). Also, I  didn’t want to appear to be an unsophisticated, provincial idiot (which I was). Desperate, I decided to wing it.

‘Ah’, I replied, nodding knowingly and smiling. ‘I’ve never been to Gueeeeshsh but I have seen postcards and it looks like a lovely place’.

The dad made absolutely no attempt to hide his confusion.

‘No’, he replied, shaking his head.  ‘Guess. Guess where I’m from’.

All I can say is thank God for Exotica because by this time I was utterly useless. Completely unraveled. Doubled over. Unable to speak. Wheezing. Coughing. Laughing and crying at the same time.

Turns out they were from Israel.

*Kist – big wooden box like a steamer trunk used for storing old shit

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

birds of a feather...

Yesterday I went ice-skating with Mr. PP and TFTF (Mr. Professor Pants and TooFastTooFurious – for those first time readers.) I managed to fall spectacularly and have a nice big fat roastie for my troubles (Yup, been showing it around town.) Turns out the tricky part isn’t falling. That happens very quickly. Turns out the tricky part is trying to get up again. That happens veeerrry slowly. Drawn out embarrassment of diabolical proportions. Picture a starfish, (hint on general body position on the ice) sans suckers, trying to erect itself and claw it’s way toward the buffer-wall-of-shame.

Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that I’m prone to embarrassing myself almost on a daily basis.  Big surprise, I know. Along these lines, there was not one, but two incidences of mispronunciation this week at gym class. The first time I mean to say “COUNTS” and the second time I meant to say “under-CUT”.  Such roguish words those.  

The most exciting incident of this week however, has to be credited to the arrival of a Little Crake to our neighbourhood.  Yes, the birding community was positively twitching with excitement about the little chap whose navigation got all cocked up (metaphorically speaking, of course - he’s a Crake not a chicken.) Instead of flying back to his breeding-ground of Russia, or Bulgaria, or somewhere dog-gone north, it went south, and for the first time EVER (yes, EVER, folks) was spotted south of the equator. SOUTH OF THE EQUATOR you hear! This is seriously exciting shit.

Who would we be if we didn’t cruise down to the vlei (boastful ‘Ehem… OUR vlei’) to check out the Crake.  Words can’t describe the clamour.  I’ve been to less busy rock concerts.  Best Kisser filled me in on how the world of ‘birding’ is fiercely competitive, nothing short of cutthroat. Apparently there’s constant pressure to be the individual who can ‘log’ as many different species as possible.  Rumour has it that there’s a woman and man (rotating places 1st and 2nd) who have been going neck and neck for years, flying hither and dither at the drop of a hat to see this or that lesser-spotted species. On imparting this info, a friend of mine (oh the ignoramusness of us unbirders)  exclaimed “Why don’t they cheat?  I mean who would know?”

Ah. Enter ‘THE LENSE’. Compulsory equipment for true birding aficionado’s. So much for those ‘outdoorsy types’ having simple needs.  Just nature, some khaki pants and a BIIIIG MOFO of a camera lense that costs about as much as a hospital wing. 

And that’s just the start, then there’s the travel expenses getting there and back to see the birds. I met a whole bunch of people who had flown in for the day (FOR  THE DAY, I TELL YOU!) from Joies just to see the now famous crake. To prove a point as to how far these twitchers will take it, a friend of mine who works as a bird guide, is travelling to Bhutan tomorrow to guide a tour.  Bhutan I tell you. No one even knows were that is!

The outfits, fortuitously, don’t cost that much. Lots of two-tone khaki, perhaps some green, with splashes of intermittent brown.  One chap went all out and got a camo lense to match his camo cargo shorts. Needless to say they were quietly scoffing at my grey mélange leggings and white frock. They didn’t actually say anything, I could just see it on their faces. (I'm not going to comment on footwear because I actually own a pair of crocs and people in crocs shouldn't throw... oh, you know what I mean.)

So. No longer will I feel guilty about enjoying indoor activities and not enjoying more outdoorsy ones. Turns out, I just can’t afford the great outdoors. A three day drunken shopping spree at Cavendish would cost me less.