The decorations in the mall seem to lack something of the Christian ethos this year. When I was growing up, you could barely move for cheerful scenes of the crucifixion and mawkish tableaus of ceramic wise men hanging around plastic mangers. For years, a church in Durban North put out a nativity scene. Then someone started stealing baby Jesus so they stopped doing it. Now, everyone is too scared to put the Christ back into Christmas for fear of offending the Muslims. What next? Fundamentalist bombers in Stockholm? Ridiculous.
So anyway. Game seemed like a good idea. It wasn’t easy finding the entrance because of the seething mob of people fighting to get in while a brawling mob of people fought to get out.
The idea of penetrating deep into the belly of the beast filled me with revulsion, so my plan was to buy anything that was within spitting distance of the tellers. The first gift I came across was New Born Baby. “Look after me,” the synthetic sprog demanded. “I can drink and use my potty.” So can I, but you don’t see me lolling about in a cardboard box expecting people to pay R300 for me to do a wee, do you? Not that I wouldn’t.
There was also some kind of contraption that could accommodate seven babies. Of course. Why have one when you can have seven? It’s a valuable lesson for any girl to learn in a country starved of people. I got one for the brat, Clive, to encourage him to take more of an interest in matters of a heterosexual nature.
Barbie seems to have disappeared this year. She’s probably shacked up in a trailer park with Ken. The poor girl was never the same after she choked on his small parts. She’s been replaced by Steffi who seems to have higher standards but apparently likes nothing more than a nice bath (bath supplied). I stood there for a while, imagining Steffi in her little pink tub. It’s not what it sounds like. She’s six inches tall, for God’s sake. What kind of monster do you take me for?
There was another doll that promised “27 lovable phrases. Press my tummy!” Nothing happened. I felt cheated. It didn’t say a word, not even when I jumped up and down on its tummy. Things have come to a pretty pass when shop assistants order paying customers to step away from the baby or face expulsion from the store.
I think that’s what they said. I can’t be sure because the public address system was cranked up to supersonic levels. In Durban, you could expect to hear in-store announcements in an Indian or English accent. In Joburg, it might be Afrikaans or Darkie. But in Cape Town, there’s only one accent. Look, some of my best friends are coloured. But when it’s deep Cape Flats streamed through a treble-heavy PA system, it’s like having a circular saw slicing through your brain.
I had ingested a muscle relaxant in the parking lot and fortunately was able to deal with almost anything – even the Verimark aisle. It was like stepping into a future filled with home appliances designed by mad geniuses fed nothing but powerful hallucinogenics and black coffee.
Talking vacuum cleaners with an incredible 22Kpa suction power! That’s enough to suck the eyeballs right out of your head. There was one that not only picks up dust mites, but also gives them in-house training so they can entertain you with tiny circuses and cabaret acts instead of freeloading on skin flakes and crawling up your nose while you’re sleeping.
I also bought a 5-in-1 male grooming set. I imagine it’s some sort of device that, once clamped to your body, shaves you, cuts your nails, brushes your teeth, cleans up your red-eye and squirts a shot of tequila down your throat.
The only thing I needed from the Glomail aisle was a giant box of Fat Attack. This is the ideal gift for the woman in your life and she will thank you in many new and interesting ways.
If you’re married to a somnambulist who drags your bed out onto the freeway while you’re asleep, I recommend the 5-in-1 sofa bed. It can survive the “massive force of two 20-ton trucks” and there’s a picture on the box that proves it. Of course, if you have a wife who weighs more than 40 tons, this probably isn’t the bed for you.
I stopped off at the girl’s toys aisle because some wives’ mothers never taught them to clean and cook and I believe it’s never too late for them to learn the basics. Brenda will appreciate the “My Little Home” range. It has everything from a plastic washing machine to a trolley fitted with a mop, broom and bucket. Next year, I’d like see a “My Little Broken Home” range where nothing works except a miniature crystal meth lab. Accessories would include paramedics and a social worker.
I didn’t get Brenda the electronic kitchen set after discovering that it makes realistic sounds. The last thing I need is a toy that shrieks: “You’re not having another beer, are you?” and “You can also cook sometimes, you lazy bastard!’
I wasn’t all that taken with the board games on offer. Games don’t really do it for me unless they involve tears and trauma. King of Cash billed itself as “the truly South African board game”. The box shows a drawing of a guy tossing money out of his convertible. The winner is the first player to buy the “Big 6 assets” – house, car, furniture, boat, audiovisual and clothing. The more companies you own, the more you make. Suitable for ages 8+. I don’t even need to say anything.
Too late, I realised I had drifted into the danger zone – the home gym department. A man with the body of a gorilla and the face of a granadilla came up to me and said: “You need help.” I was speechless with outrage. Only later did it occur to me that he might not have been trained in the subtle art of vocal inflection. Which is no excuse, really.
I also needed to get something for my parents who, at increasingly great cost to myself, appear to be immortal. I found a shop called Dad’s Toys but it wasn’t, as one might think, filled with model aircraft and puzzles to stave off Alzheimer’s.
I walked out with a crossbow, a knuckleduster, two throwing knives, a pair of nunchucks, a bulletproof vest and a riot shield. That’s Brenda taken care of. I got dad a hip flask and a can of pepper spray for mother.
Too weak to make it back to my car, I bought a bag of tartrazine-flavoured carbohydrates and found a table outside next to a family built like bakkies who barked at each other in a harsh guttural tongue, wolfed a tray of burgers then lit up cigarettes and blew smoke over the baby in the pram. As it was, the creature barely looked human. Darwin was wrong. It’s the survival of the fattest. If not the dumbest.