Sunday, November 19, 2017

potholes in the rust belt...

(Original image from Archives via Pintrest)

The name of the teller at Spar Tops in my home town, is Virginia. How is it that I’m on a first-name basis with her? Let me tell you.

I just came back from an unscheduled visit to The Rust Belt. As always, I approached the trip with trepidation for, as we all know, spending time with family is simultaneously exhilarating and excruciating. Despite knowing this, I am always surprised when things go Pete Tong, as I’ve always assumed that it is the natural order of things for families to “get along”.

For this trip, however, I was more anxious than ever, because a week before my departure I had a run-in on Facebook with an old school friend.  It went something like this: A mutual friend (Old School Friend No.1 - let’s call her “Smart”) posted a photo of a T-Shirt from MrPrice Sport. The T-shirt was sporting - if you’ll excuse the pun - a sexist message. She was enquiring as to whether it was only her that found the T-shirt sexist, or whether perhaps anyone else also found it also to be so.

As with all sexist jokes (if ever there was an oxymoron, that would be it), there were some people who were determined to see the “funny side” of the message, whilst others, like myself, reacted by bringing out their light-sabers, voodoo dolls and defence against the dark arts teachers.

I won’t bore you with the to-and-fro, but what I will tell you, is that I was told, by Old School Friend No.2 (lets call him MaNaS, #MaybeNotasSmart) that while us “liberalists” (yes, the kind that live in Cape Town, do yoga and sip on swan’s tears and only wear organic cotton) have no sense of humour, the “normal realists” are able to understand a subtle dig at the opposite sex. Furthermore, I was enlightened to the fact that it will primarily be up to MaNaS and those of his ilk to save the world from broad-mindedness, equality, and oversensitivity.  Phew. Hurrah, for that! What a close shave.

I was told, unequivocally, that I am exactly the kind of woman that men “run from”. RUN FROM I tell you!  And to think, for years Exotica and I did the *anti-mugging dance when walking around town after a night out when all along all we had to do was act like feminists. What fools we are! (*For those who don’t know, apparently acting like someone who is cray-cray is a brilliant deterrent against attackers. It’s worked so far.)

The point of this rather long-winded story is to explain why it is that you could find me, skulking between the aisles of Spa Tops in The Rust Belt, with a disguisatory look on my face, lest I bump into MaNaS. If you ever need to spontaneously disguise yourself, what you need to do is puff out your cheeks (as though blowing a vuvuzela), scrunch your eyebrows, and make your eyes all wild and crazy. That last bit came surprisingly easy to me.

Feminism and Liberalists aside, I should mention some other funny stuff about The Rust Belt.

The first morning I arrived in town, I went for a walk. This involved passing many houses that I remembered from my adolescence and recalling who lived there, what parties happened where, and who got laid in which bushes. Just trust me when I say that small towns are known for their drinkery and fuckery. I dare you to move to one to raise your kids in such a “wholesome environment.”

I digress. On my stroll, I noticed that almost all approaching cars drove as if they were drunk. Mystified by this phenomenon (drinkery generally only kicks off after 3pm, at least) I investigated, only to find that no one, in fact, was hammered. They were simply swerving to avoid the mammoth potholes that decorated the road. I opted to walk on the grassy sidewalk instead, lest I meet my doom.

On returning from my walk, I decided to do a spot of yoga on the lawn (because that is what us Cape Town-Yogi-Liberalist-Swan’s-Tears-Sippers do). Not long into my Breath Of Fire, I became aware of an on-going droning noise. It came from the neighbour’s side of the fence and went on and on without pause. I asked my dad what it was.

“Oh”, he said, “That’s the neighbour. He’s using his wind blower.”

“Then,” I was told, “he takes the vacuum cleaner up onto the roof, and vacuums up all the leaves that have fallen on the roof and in the gutter.” THE VACUUM CLEANER I TELL YOU!!! And this, dear reader, was all of a Sunday morning.

Later on that day, I went grocery shopping because as you know, groceries don’t shop themselves. As I drove into the parking lot I was nearly totalled by some old codger reversing out of a parking bay. Old drivers are dangerous. I have a theory on this. I think that old folk believe that we are only allocated a limited amount of movement in our lifetime. Accordingly, when old farts drive, they don’t want to unnecessarily “spend” any of their lifetime’s allocation of movement on mere driving.

Now is probably a good time to point out that The Rust Belt could also be known as the Retirement Capital of South Africa.  It has no less than seven million retirement villages and almost twenty-six times that number of retirees. And while on the surface that may not seem to pose any kind of risk or danger, I’d like to remind you that retirees aren’t particularly well-known for using their side rear-view mirrors. They also aren’t known for turning their heads in any particular direction and are especially not known for turning their heads to look behind them. For this reason, when you take a drive in The Rust Belt, be prepared to kiss your arse goodbye in slow motion.

And that, dear reader, is why I am on a first name basis with the teller at Tops bottle store in The Rust Belt.

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