I live in the disunited states of South Africa. My own personal state is one of outrage. Yours might be anxiety or depression or quite possibly all three. I suppose there are those who live in a permanent state of bliss, but I don’t have access to that sort of money or those kind of drugs.
My outrage was refuelled recently when I heard about the Dove advert featuring a black woman taking off her top to reveal a white woman. That bit was okay. I’m all for a product that can create different women simply by rubbing them with it. I watched the advertisement in its entirety and felt my outrage waning. This was just a series of women of different races taking their tops off. So I went back online and read a few comments sections until my outrage was burning brightly and fiercely once again. And, unhappily, all was not well with the world once again.
While sitting at home alone one night, my outrage bubbling and festering as it does every night, it occurred to me that Dove might not be the only product doing its damnedest to foment division and hostility among we, the people. And so, come dawn, I set out to the nearest mall to see for myself what other horrors lurked on our shelves.
I had barely set foot in the godless place when I came across a restaurant. Your Sole Provider, said the sign with a nod and a wink. I wasn’t in the mood for nodding or winking. As an atheist, I was outraged that I was now forced to contend with not only a poor pun, but also the misplaced notion that humans had souls which needed to be nurtured. Later, I googled the words “soul provider” and an appalling man called Michael Bolton thrust his leather-clad hips into my face.
Lurking alongside the fish place was Pizzaman. I was immediately offended. Where is Pizzawoman? Pummelling dough in the back room and making sure Pizzaboy does his homework while trying to explain to Pizzagirl why her Pizzafilth boyfriend is bad news? I’ll buy one when they change their name to Pizzaperson. Maybe.
Next to that was the Spur. The Michigan Spur. Named after an American state that is home to one of the most berserk right-wing militias in the country and featuring stained glass images of a Native American chief while offering “bottomless ribs” to the casual passerby. Listen brother, them ribs? They gonna reach yer bottom sooner or later.
Moving on, I passed a bank. It had a sign up. Opening hours. That’s pretty damn timeist. What if my hours don’t coincide with yours? That’s the end of your business right there. You want my money? Fine. Fit in with my hours. And what do you mean no helmets? No smoking? No firearms? Guide dogs only? Oh, but you have wifi. I don’t care. Wifi is only fun when you have guns and weed and mad dogs jumping on the furniture.
My outrage nudging the red, I got to a bookshop. I’ve been published but a lot of people haven’t. It’s insensitive of bookshops to publicly display thousands of titles knowing that there are people whose day will be ruined by being reminded that their writing will never be good enough to be published. Bookshops need to ply their sick trade out of the public eye. Stop raising false hopes. And stop charging the equivalent of a week’s worth of groceries for a novel.
Next up was Food Lover’s Market. An offensive name to bulimics. I went inside to find an entire wall covered in tubes filled with nuts. Nuts. Offensive to mad people. The back section was jammed with farmyard animals in various forms of mutilation. Offensive to vegetarians. There were plastic bags filled with half lambs for R900. What kind of family needs half a lamb all in one go? It used to be a couple of chops. Maybe a shank. Now it’s half the animal? How big is your braai? How fatty is your liver?
I saw a pamphlet taped to a fridge. “Pork you can trust” it promised. Truth. A pig has never betrayed me. Not once. Pigs don’t lie. I trust the pig more than I trust anyone in this chain of carnage.
Outraged, I walked into a clothing store to calm down. Men on the right, women on the left, children in the middle, babies in the corner. How very dare they assign us in such a brutal manner? Women have endless racks and stacks of morning, evening and underwear, all of which are too small or too big or just plain why-don’t-you-go-wait-in-the-car wrong.
I want to be able to walk into a bar on a hot summer’s day wearing a yellow skirt and a floppy wide-brimmed hat without being punched in the head. I googled who invented pants and the oracle from hell spewed up a weird mishmash of answers ranging from Chinese pastoralists to Jesus. Women have a massive range of clothing and accessories to choose from. Men have long pants, short pants and shirts. The entire notion of clothing is discriminatory and needs to be abolished at once.
Pulsating with outrage, I moved deeper into the belly of the beast. Into the children’s section. Blue for boys, pink for girls. Why is this still allowed? My sister got to wear frilly stuff with sparklies on the front and went to ballet to dance with white girls she’d never met. I got to wear browns with grenades on the front and went to Angola to kill black men I’d never met. It seemed somehow unfair.
Blinded by tears of outrage, I found myself in the bedding section. Among the mattress protectors. We live in a country where mattresses get better protection than the citizens.
In the food section I was surrounded by Pink Lady and Granny Smith apples. Where are the Brown Gentleman and Grandpa Mbeki apples? This is racist. And it’s not just the fruit, either. Butter lettuce. Make up your mind. Are you butter or lettuce? You can’t be both. And the infants. Baby marrow, baby carrots, baby spinach. Don’t buy them. They need to grow up and take responsibility for their actions.
Cultured yoghurt? Well, excuse me. Play some Mozart and we’ll talk. Caesar dressing? Sounds like the bandage they put on Julius after he was stabbed. If you think I’m talking about Malema, you shouldn’t be reading this unsupervised.
FutureLife? What exactly are you promising here? That there’s a life after this one? And that I should at least have enough self respect to get into shape for that one because I’ve clearly left it to late for this one? Fair enough. They call it Smart Food. All my life I’ve been eating Stupid Food and it’s too late to stop now.
I went over to the body care aisle and hit the motherlode. The company that caused all the trouble. Dove. A company that named itself after a bird that will walk into your lounge and shag right there in front of you before going off to sit on the curtain rail for a week because it doesn’t understand that it can go out the same way it came in.
I came across a display that said, “Discover new baby Dove!” It didn’t say what was wrong with the old baby Dove. Perhaps it turned white babies black.
I found a rack of toilet paper called Baby Soft. I was outraged. Babies look soft but they aren’t. Have a baby fall on your head from a reasonable height and you’ll know all about it.
Gripe water? What is this stuff? My guess is that white people drink it and then complain for 24 hours.
On my way out I passed a shelf stacked with bags full of what looked like white sugar or roughly chopped cocaine. This was in the health foods section. Below it was a picture of a bunch of happy Labrador puppies. The sign said, “Xylitol is deadly toxic to dogs.”
I continue to be offended by people and outraged by their stupidity.