The best part of Christmas shopping is driving into one of those monstrously phallic parking garages and discovering that it ascends in tightly wound spirals. The secret lies in steadily increasing your speed without allowing the G-forces to send you crashing through the passenger window. By the time you reach level six, you should be doing at least 80km/h and your eyes should be sliding off your face. It might make you laugh, it might make you cry, it will definitely make you feel like you’ve ingested a Schedule 9 drug. On the down side, you won’t remember where you parked and it will have worn off by the time you reach the escalators.
I usually do my Christmas shopping on the 24th but Brenda said she would punch a new mouth in my head if I didn’t get her a proper gift this year. Last year I gave her a very valuable fossilised dinosaur tooth. A few days later she was digging a trench at the bottom of the garden – it might have been a grave – when she came across a whole bunch of them. I told her it must be where old Tyrannosaurus Rexes went to die fifty billion years ago. We’re rich!” I shouted. She said it looked very much like a pile of builder’s rubble. I said many archeologists had made that mistake.
On Wednesday she smiled at me. “Don’t give me another piece of concrete this year, dear.” The hair on my buttocks stood up and my sphincter slammed shut like a startled clam. The look in Brenda’s eyes, coupled with images of a shopping maul, was enough to make a grown man soil his broeks. Luckily, I am not yet fully grown. Luckier still, I have a watertight sphincter.
Entering a mall at this time of year is a Dorian Grayesque experience. One approaches the entrance skipping lightly with a song of joy in one’s heart and leaves bent and broken with nothing but angina pectoris in one’s heart – physically, mentally and financially crippled.
Here’s a handy hint for shoppers: A sudden urge to spend lavishly is usually an indication that the incubi and succubi of commerce are speed-feeding on your soul. You will need to find a safe haven quickly. Many of these demons are unable to survive for long in bookshops.
The first one I went into was packed with people, all shedding malevolent revenants and other unfamiliar familiars. I sloped over to the Top 10 rack and looked for my latest book, The Whipping Boy. A wine guide was at #1. I felt ill. The book most people will be reading this season will not be a great literary work that expands the consciousness and nourishes the mind. It will be a book that tells us which wine will make us drunk the quickest without need of a vomit bucket. My book might not have been on the Top 10 shelf when I arrived, but it damn sure was when I left.
Brenda had mentioned something about my licence before I left. “I have ze licence,” I said. “Ze licence to thrill.” I jiggled my hips sensuously but my pants fell down and ruined the moment. “La Senza, you idiot,” she said. It turned out to be a shop that no man in his right mind would walk into alone. It is full of nothing but feather-trimmed negligees, star-spangled panties and brazen bras begging to be filled. I stood in the doorway, slack-jawed and drooling, my imagination running amok like a mad, wild horse of the Camargue.
Right there and then, I decided to buy toys for everyone. When one thinks of sex, a toy is generally the next thing that comes to mind. Well, not in my case, obviously. When I think of sex, I instinctively crouch low and avoid eye-contact. Sometimes I lie down and pretend to be dead. A security guard nudged me with the toe of his boot and asked if I needed help.
The first toy shop I walked into, I was bitterly disappointed to see how few guns were being sold this year. When these kids grow up, how are they going to know what to do to protect themselves?
“Wake up, there’s someone in the house!”
“Relax, honey. I have my Delta Squad Megazord Power Ranger right here.”
It’s good to see that the men over at Hello Kitty are doing their bit to ensure a steady supply of girls who will grow up unafraid of vacuum cleaners, irons, toasters, kettles and other cooking and cleaning accoutrements so essential to a happy marriage.
Dolls are big. Bigger than ever. And they seem to be getting smarter. I prodded one in the belly and it said: “Ridentem dicere verum quid vetat.”
It is no longer politically correct to have dolls that say “mama” and “dada” because of the increasing number of dadas who say they’re nipping out to the shop and are never seen again.
I took a shine to Mia Bambina. She promises a lot. “I sneeze. I babble. My heart beat. I drink. I cry. I snore.” I related immediately. I do all of these things and yet Brenda still won’t play with me. Perhaps I should wear a pink jumpsuit to bed. Mia Bambina comes with a stethoscope, thermometer and syringe. What the hell is wrong with this baby? Maybe she’s Mexican.
Most shocking of all was a doll I tripped over. He was lying on the floor with a tag saying R89. A real bargain in the child trafficking business. He was a white baby and he had no clothes on. Nothing. Nada. As naked as the day he was moulded. I picked him up, studied his anatomically correct willy – small, as you would expect a whitey’s willy to be – and made a few hasty notes. Mothers looked at me with narrowed eyes and shielded their young. I dumped the little nudist and moved on to the next aisle.
Barbie is back, but, sadly, still no Junkie Barbie with her own cookin’ up kit or Greedy Barbie with advocate’s robes or Corrupt Barbie with her own seat in parliament. I came across a raunchy rock ‘n roll Barbie and took her out of her box for a quick inspection. A sales lady caught me looking up Barbie’s skirt and threatened to call security. I explained that I was in Thailand not long ago and didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. Anyway. For that price I could pay a woman in the parking lot to hoik up her dress and allow me a squizz at her frilly bits. Not that I would. I’m just saying.
It’s hard to believe that toy shops are still selling microscopes and chemistry sets. This country needs more pole dancers, not scientists, goddammit. In the old days, this type of thing was sold because the state wanted to encourage an early interest in the noble art of biological and chemical weapons manufacturing. I bet Papa Basson bought little Wouter a splendid set for his fifth birthday.
I found an Ant Mine but don’t tell Malema or he will want to nationalise it.
The shelves are full of lies. Call it aspirational, if you will, but I call it setting your kid up for a lifetime of feelings of inadequacy and failure. Here’s what I found in the toy car section: an Audi Q7, a Range Rover Sport and a Mercedes G55 AMG. I want to open a toy shop that stocks faded red Hyundais up on play-play bricks with small plastic hobos passed out in the back and dented Vauxhall station wagons with missing hubcaps and doors rusted off their hinges.
The same goes for My Happy Family, a lurid atrocity of a doll house. It comes with a double-storey home, a vintage convertible and better furniture than mine. There’s mom, dad and a little girl, all glowing with health and happiness. In my toy shop, I would sell My Horrid Family featuring a crack house covered in gang graffiti, a tattooed dad wearing a wine-stained vest and mom sporting a black eye. The kid, being an only child, would be weeping into a bowl of gruel. There would be no furniture, what with it having been repossessed and all.
I even found a battery-operated ATM machine. All it needed was a battery-operated skabenga in a balaclava blowing it up with some plastic plastic explosives. The sound effects would be awesome. First the blast, then the police sirens, then the bad guy in court being acquitted on a technicality, then the sound of him laughing all the way to the next bank.
On my way out of the mall, empty-handed and emotionally crushed, I passed a fat bearded man in a tight red suit trimmed with white fur. That’s a bit gay, I thought. He was sitting in a chair waving at small children. That didn’t seem right so I went over and asked if he was an employee of the Catholic Church. He said he was a Father, but not that kind of Father, so we shook hands and went for a drink.