All that is preventing hostilities from breaking out in shopping mall parking lots across the country are the Congolese and Rwandan car guards. They have seen some terrible things, and I’m not even talking about Brazzaville or Kigali. A low intensity uncivil war is brewing and there are still four days to go before Jesus’s birthday.
Hordes of rough beasts are slouching towards Bethlehem and other towns to be borne aloft on a whip tide of apex consumerism driven by fear and guilt. Armed with my credit card and a flick-knife, I joined the slavering pack. I found a parking bay in a neighbouring province and caught a train back to the mall.
The food court was at the entrance. Being perilously close to lunch time, the feeding frenzy was well on its way to reaching its depraved climax. People with the sad, frightened eyes of doomed cows chewed like cows on food made from cows.
There was a sign promising that whatever happens, the mall will have electricity. The next step is obvious. Set up border posts and announce a unilateral declaration of independence. There’d be a scramble for citizenship.
I walked into a shop selling shiny Christmas junk and saw a life-sized piñata in the corner. I always thought that was just a Mexican thing. Picking up a plastic hockey stick, I gave it a whack. Turned out to be a shop assistant dressed in a traditional Cape Malay outfit. I made her apologise for screaming and scaring the bejesus out of me.
There was a Santa with the eyes of a dead snoek. He looked like he was fresh out of Pollsmoor. Every time he saw a child he would ring a little silver bell, much like Catholic priests might do whenever winsome altar boys stray within range. I asked him to stop with the bell and he threatened to cut me.
There was a bottle store next to Checkers. A sign in the window said Ice Cold Beer Inside! I went in and asked for a window table. Apparently they don’t do that.
“Do you expect me to drink standing up?” I said indignantly. Get your hands off me. I’m leaving anyway. I shall report you to the hospitality board. Not being able to drink in a bottle store is like not being allowed to eat in a restaurant. No wonder everyone is emigrating.
There are a lot of seriously overweight people in this country and they shouldn’t be in malls at this time of year. They simply take up too much space. The rest of us shouldn’t have to keep veering sharply to port or starboard to avoid colliding with these supertankers. Perhaps there should be scales at the entrances. Anyone over 100kg can’t come in. Make that 105kg. But I’m also six-foot-four, so I wear it well.
Usually when I see a Verimark shop I cross myself and hurry past lest I be sucked into the dark side. This time I went in. One of the cult’s hollow-eyed apostles was demonstrating something called Smart Doggy. He dances, winks, shoots darts and tells stories. My kind of dog. A bit steep at R999, but you’ll never have to feed him. Best of all, he comes with adjustable volume, something the dogs in my neighbourhood could do with.
I watched a grown man trying out some kind of high-tech mop. I wish I could see his wife’s face when she unwraps it. If I were him, I’d stop off at Outdoor & Velocity and pick up something from their self-defence range. I fell in love with a devilishly cute pistol crossbow. Everyone should have one. Just imagine, no more gunshots waking you in the middle of the night. I also spotted a throwing axe, which brought out my inner Viking and it wasn’t long before I was asked to step away from the weapons. I threatened to return with my men. There will be plunder and looting, I shouted. I suppose that’s not much of a threat if you live in South Africa, where plunder and looting is a lifestyle.
Curious to see what Barbie’s wearing this year, I walked into a toy shop with the confident stride of a man who has children. Or at least knows someone with children. A lot of babies in boxes. Most of them said, “Try me.” Where I come from, that’s a challenge. It usually ends with someone in the back of an ambulance. Bit triggering, to be honest. My instinct was to drop to the floor and curl up like a pangolin.
Baby Thando lay in her box daring me to push her stomach. Like most darkies, she can speak English and Zulu. A security guard watched me molesting her tummy while pressing my ear up against the box. I know now how to say, “Will you give me a kiss on the cheek?” in isiZulu. No chance of this ending badly.
Lego is big this year. The houses you can build look way sturdier than our RDP ones. Maybe the CEO of Lego should be invited to run the housing ministry.
I found a scale model of an A380 Airbus that “includes music and light-up function”. That’s more than you get on SAA. There’s also an airport play set but it lacks a little baggage handler cutting the lock off your suitcase.
I saw a white plastic VW Amarok that can go 3.8km/h – the national speed limit if the DA ever takes over. It’s good driver training if you’re the size of Little Baby Fun, who has nine functions – one of which might be to break up mommy and daddy’s marriage because they never get time to have sex which is why daddy never wanted a baby in the first place.
Disney is still doing their bit to keep girls in their place with My First Kitchen. I can’t wait for the follow-up. My First Divorce and His Last Meal. There’s also a supermarket “with electronic sounds”. Gunfire and screaming in Somali, presumably.
The doll section is more overcrowded than the maternity section at Chris Hani Baragwanath but with a lower infant mortality rate. “Kristal is sick, can you make her feel better?” She makes crying sounds and spots of light appear on her pale face. Looks like Ebola. I cover my mouth and move away quickly.
There’s a Barbie in jeans. She looks older than the others. Wider hips. Probably has a kid somewhere. Quite likely with the brown Ken doll on the shelf above. He’s wearing little more than a pair of tight shorts and a smile that suggests he’s up for anything. Especially when it comes to white girls. The box warns that Ken has small parts that might be a choking hazard. No doubt. Watch that gag reflex, Barbie.
Sweet Dreams Baby is the ideal gift for anyone in the National Intelligence Agency. “Press my hand and I record your voice for twenty seconds. Press again and I repeat back to you.” It won’t be long before one of these plastic impimpis is put into the witness protection programme.
I have to get out of here but can’t remember where I parked. I’m going back to the bottle store to reopen negotiations. Maybe I’ll pick up that crossbow.