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 90km/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 the Bad Yellow-Eyed Woman said she would punch a new mouth in my head if I didn’t get her a proper gift. 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 bunch of them. I told her it must be where old T-Rexes went to die fifty billion years ago. She said it looked very much like a pile of builder’s rubble. I said many archeologists had made that same mistake.
This morning she smiled at me. “Please don’t give me another piece of concrete this year.” The hair on my buttocks stood up and my sphincter slammed shut like a startled clam. The look in her eyes was enough to make a grown man soil his broeks. Luckily, I am not yet fully grown.
She said that shopping for your loved ones was meant to fill your heart with joy. I don’t know about that. All I get is angina pectoris.
She mentioned something about my licence before we 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 full of feather-trimmed negligees, star-spangled panties and brazen bras begging to be filled. It was like offering a starving man a rubber hamburger. I stood in the doorway, slack-jawed and drooling, my imagination running amok like a wild horse of the Camargue.
Then I had some sort of bronchial attack in a shop that reeked overpoweringly of the stuff that women put in their underwear drawer to repel their husbands. If seems to be some sort of biological agent. Nerve gas, probably.
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.
Outside the toy shop was a mob of elves knee-deep in fake snow. I think it was fake snow. It could just as easily have been a couple of kilos of cocaine fallen from the top floor during a scuffle between rival gangs. I stepped over the plastic picket fence and was getting down on my hands and knees for a closer look when another security guard asked what I was doing. I told him I was an elf inspector from the department of sport and recreational drugs and that he needed to give me room to do my work. He gave me the lazy eye and told me to move along.
Once inside the shop 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.” Apparently 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. Also, the increasing number of mamas who prefer the company of other mamas and are quite happy with dada’s role being limited to that of anonymous sperm donor.
I took a shine to Mia Bambina. She promised 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 the Bad Yellow-Eyed Woman still won’t play with me. Perhaps I should wear a pink jumpsuit to bed. Hold on. 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 might 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.
I thought the Bad Yellow-Eyed Woman might appreciate the ‘My Little Home’ range. It has things she’s never set eyes on before – a plastic washing machine, mop, broom, bucket. Next year I’d like see a ‘My Little Broken Home’ range that comes with a miniature crystal meth lab. Accessories will include paramedics and a social worker.
I didn’t get her the electronic kitchen set after discovering that it made Realistic Sounds. The last thing I needed was a toy that shrieked, “You’re not having another beer, are you?” or “You can also cook sometimes, you lazy pig bastard!”
‘My Little Iron’ also made Realistic Sounds. Like what? “I’ve had enough of working for these ungrateful mlungus” or “Open the safe or I’ll iron your face.”
I was distracted by row upon row of babies stacked up like prematurely born infants in cheap plastic incubators. There was Butterfly Doll with eight functions – five more than a real baby – and Kissing Baby, a favourite among Belgian paedophiles. Sippin’ Sue was a cute little thing “who lets you know when she wants more”. Yeah, she’s cute now. Wait until she grows up and starts demanding imported vodka and an iPhone 15.
Then there 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. 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.
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.
Barbie was back, looking more desirable than ever. Her old metrosexual buddy Ken seems to have been dumped and replaced by a limp-wristed prince who comes with the warning, “Choking Hazard – Small Parts.” I can’t imagine who, apart from Barbie, might want to put the prince’s small parts in their mouth.
There’s 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 her 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 skirt and allow me a squizz at her frilly bits. Not that I would. I’m just saying.
Lava lamps are still being sold even though weed remains illegal. It makes no sense. You genuinely have to be stoned to fully appreciate a lava lamp. I’m surprised that each purchase doesn’t come with a bankie of Durban Poison and to hell with the consequences.
There was also a talking octopus. What can it possibly have to say? I once met an octopus while snorkeling and I can honestly say that in the brief moment our eyes met, we both knew there was nothing we had to say to each other. If octopi could talk I expect they would say, “Please take that pointy stick out of my head and return me to the rock pool from whence I came.” Well, the educated ones would. The more common octopi would probably squirt ink everywhere and try to strangle you with a tentacle.
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’ll 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 looked at me with Bride of Chucky eyes and said he was a Father, but not that kind of Father. We shook hands, agreed on our mutual loathing of children, and went for a drink.