The dark side of change

It’s unlikely I was the only one suffering from a minor medical emergency last Sunday. Having tried all the regular remedies – aspirin, fried food, suicide – I dragged my shattered carcass off to the shop and bought a few cans of Coke.

I don’t usually drink this filth for political reasons, which, at this point in time, are a little hazy. I think it had to do with the bottlers in Columbia hiring paramilitary thugs to murder employees caught drinking Pepsi. Or something. I don’t know why I cared. I might have been going through my social justice warrior phase before discovering it doesn’t pay very well.

On Sunday I couldn’t have cared less if Coca-Cola turned out to be the official sponsor of the Trump family. I needed to dilute the massive amount of post-World Cup beer that had caused my blood to stream about as well as Telkom Wi-Fi on a rainy night in Diepsloot. Coke can adulterate, corrode or kickstart just about anything and it was my last shot.

I ripped the can open and guzzled it right there in the shop. There was a moment when everything went quiet. Like that scene when a bomb goes off in Saving Private Ryan. Instead of being stricken with temporary deafness, like Tom Hanks, I clutched my throat and, eyes swiveling wildly in my head, retched clumsily into a conveniently placed ornamental palm. Like Gary Busey in, well, real life.

I thought I’d been poisoned. It tasted as if the paramilitaries had spiked it. Once my internal organs calmed down, I inspected the can. “Plus Coffee” it said. And, in the event that one’s hangover was affecting one’s vision, in bigger letters, “Real Coffee From Brazil”. To make absolutely sure the customer knew what was happening, there was even a picture of coffee beans on the side. I didn’t notice any of this when I bought it because nobody in their right mind pauses to check if their Coke has been contaminated with anything other than the usual cola-related toxins.

What kind of crazy person would come up with such a terrible idea? This is not the work of a normal crazy person, that’s for sure. This is off the charts. Have people built up such a tolerance that they now need a caffeine boost with their sugar?

We have all, at one time or another, been exposed to children speeding on sugar in a confined space. I have been on long-haul flights with children who were given Coke to drink. They react as if they are being electrocuted. Now imagine them having the new Coffee-Coke twenty minutes into a thirteen-hour flight. They would kick the back of your seat so violently that you’d end up with a splintered coccyx and, a month after disembarking, a kidney transplant. The runty savages would be fighting among themselves to get into the cockpit and everyone in economy class would spend the night praying for engine failure.

My point is that people should just leave good enough alone. Remember that old slogan, Coke adds life? Okay, it doesn’t if you work for a bottling plant in Bogota. But for those of us far downstream of the production line, Coke has done its job adequately.

What would happen if someone had to drink a Klippies and Coffee-Coke? I shudder to think. Actually, I’ve been shuddering for three days. I wish it would stop.

I’m not the only one who doesn’t want things tampered with. Take Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of the EFF, for instance. An educated and sensitive man, he was deeply conflicted when the Springboks won the World Cup. There are black and white players in the team, which meant he could only voice his support whenever a darkie had the ball. The moment it was passed to one of the neo-colonial, counter-revolutionary puppets of the West, he had to shout “Phansi amaBhunu!” or look away and pretend he hadn’t seen. It couldn’t have been easy for him. The final whistle must have been particularly awkward. Not everyone can make it clear that you’re cheering the black players only. You’d need a PhD in political science to pull that off.

Simultaneously angry, happy and sad, Ndlozi turned to Twitter and offered his congratulations to Siya Kolisi. The white players, he suggested, should get their congratulations from Prince Harry. The prince, who has made it abundantly clear that he has had quite enough of white people in general and his family in particular, was off drinking beer in the Boks’ changing room. Harry would have noted that Faf de Klerk, while possessing the instincts and agility of a Miniature Schnauzer, is developing a bit of a boep. Being a gentleman, he refrained from pointing and laughing.

Our benign president, Cyril Ramaphosa, is also encouraging change. He said we should do like Siya says and work together. That’s fine for Siya to say. His house is a hotbed of racial unity. Personally, I’ve only ever known blondes to be nothing but trouble. Brunettes, too. And redheads.

Comrade Ndlozi’s political doppelgänger down at the shallow end of the gene pool, Oberstfuhrer Steve Hofmeyr, offered to translate Cyril’s message. “Let the Siya injection make you numb so you don’t fight back when we grab your land from under your arse because you’re white.” Translated from the original Afrikaans, obviously.

Steve bravely left his land unguarded and went to a friend’s house to watch the final. He couldn’t watch at home because he destroyed his DStv decoder a few months ago. I can’t remember why. Perhaps because it was black.

So that’s the thing. We don’t want change in this country. Not really. If we did, we’d do like the Ecuadorians and Chileans and take to the streets in our millions and refuse to leave until someone did something to fix the economy. If Eskom started working and Jacob Zuma stopped appealing, we’d have nothing to complain about. We would be lost without our healthy sense of fear and loathing of those who look, think and talk differently to us.

#ImStaying because I can’t wait to see what Cyril doesn’t do next. I also want to feel what it’s like to live in a country that’s been accorded junk status by all three major ratings agencies. Not every nation can achieve it, you know. You have to really not work at it. So far it’s only two out of three. Hopes are pinned on Moody’s delivering the coup de grâce in three months’ time.

For now, though, let us link arms with the likes of Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, Irvin Jim and Helen Zille and go laughingly backwards into the future.

 

 

  • Don’t forget to visit the Contraband page and order your signed copy of my latest book, Durban Poison.

Happy Drug Awareness Week!

Did you know that more than 60% of all crimes in South Africa are committed by people under the influence of drugs or alcohol? This leaves a staggering 40% who are doing unspeakable things without even a drink to help them conquer their shyness. Either there is not enough booze and drugs to go around, or we have some of the cleanest-living crooks in the world. I reckon a police raid at the local Virgin Active is long overdue.

A more likely scenario is that, given the levels of multi-skilling among the criminal community, nobody wants to take the chance of smoking a little ganja ahead of a lazy afternoon of pickpocketing only to find themselves in a high-energy situation where they are compelled to kill someone. And what could be worse than getting all amphetamined-up for a bank robbery only to get there and remember that it’s a public holiday and the best you can hope for is a couple of car stereos?

Drugs are as popular in South Africa as anywhere else in the world. However, nobody here knows for sure why they are illegal. Drugs brighten up a miserable day and give your self-esteem a boost. Is that so terrible? In a free market system, adults should be permitted to sell drugs to other adults. Kids should have to get theirs from somewhere else. In the spirit of Drug Awareness Week, here are some examples of drugs and the effects they have on the police.

Marijuana

This drug, well, it is more of a weed, really, induces a sense of hostility in policemen even though it’s sort-of legal. Their eyes narrow and they tend to speak louder than normal. There is a strong possibility that they will turn violent for no apparent reason. Humour them. Play along. Never assume that they know what they are doing.

Cocaine

Coke makes policemen very jumpy. Symptoms include an inability to sit still and relax. They become restless and fidgety. Often they will tell you to keep quiet and let them do all the talking. They will come up with lots of unrealistic notions and ideas, like sending you to jail for the rest of your life. Nod and smile. That’s all you can do, really, until they have got it out of their system.

Tik (crystal meth)

Police become very self-assured when exposed to tik. They exude confidence. Their positive demeanour can lead to them slapping one another on the back and, in extreme cases, hugging. The comedown can be dramatic, especially when they spend two weeks testifying only for the magistrate to acquit the accused because the evidence has disappeared.

Acid (lysergic acid diethylamide)

LSD has a dangerously unpredictable effect on the police. Either they are happy with a couple of caps, or they will tear your house apart in desperation to get their hands on more of the stuff. Even if you swear on your mother’s life that there is no more in the house, they will not believe you. These hallucinations are quite normal. Do not make any sudden moves. Their imaginations are already in hyperoverdrive and the last thing you want to do is startle them. When they fire irrational questions at you, reply in low, soothing tones. They will soon be back to normal. Well, as normal as any policeman ever can be.