Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wheatless Existence

My bones shake, rhythmically knocking my kneecaps together. Thud thud clap thud clap clap thud. It begins to hurt. I can feel my heart beating in my ass. The wooden chair I sit on becomes a torture device, tightening to the pulse of my ass-heart-beat. My hair sprawls spider-like and sweat-drenched across my pursed lips, my creased forehead, my adamant, set face. Slowly, meticulously, I lift my head, release my lips from their sphinctered pose and say, “No.” The cheeseburger glares back. Animosity and strife rippling through the very sauce it's drenched in. It threatens to consume me, as opposed to the more socially acceptable adverse.

To fluff out what must be an agonising confusion for you, dear reader, I'm allergic to wheat. Have you ever tried a rye-burger? Don't. It's god-awful. My life exists with anguish, awkwardness and a constant, painful yearning. Every muffin becomes a crude Larson-esque Attila-the-bun character. Every hammy, pineappley, cheesey, phantasmagorical pizza slice slaps me across the face, jeering. Taunting me. Each noodle winds itself around my very heartstrings, squeezing, imploring me to perform my basic human right and eat the godly substance that is flour.

Sure, it's easy for you to tell me that I'm over-reacting, you apathetic wheat-muncher. This isn't a woes-me rant. It's a “try and see where I'm coming from, living with this most evil of all allergies” rant. Totally different. Imagine a life without butter-drenched naan bread, jam-filled doughnuts covered in puffs of sugar, waffles, sweet, glorious waffles, suspended in golden, sparkling pools of maple syrup, capped with billowing, voluminous peaks of soft, white whipped cream. Now tell me you don't feel a slight twinge of empathy.

Yes, there are substitutes. Yes, they taste practically the same. Yes, they cost give-or take nine times the price of regular wheat flour products. Yes, I'm a student and am in no way going to throw away precious drinking money on rice flour. (I probably would spend my drinking money on rice flour, if I was afforded the opportunity to have such a thing as drinking money.) The point is, despite the fact that there are a million wheat-free alternatives to choose from, I want the original. I want the waffles that give me headaches and stomach cramps, it's a discomfort that I've always associated with waffles. No pain, no gain. No waffle, no pain. (This is the point where I begin to concern myself with the state of my mental health.)

O.K, so I'm stubborn and ridiculous. I get it now. Once written down, I see that I've got to either perform acts of thievery to sponsor my rice-flour habit, or accept that I'm going to feel ill every time I succumb to the dreaded desire for wheat. Bite the bullet, not the cheeseburger. Suck up the situation and not the noodle. Find something worth ranting about.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I felt it. It was here.

I passed May this year in foetal position. My shivers of fear shook the very desk I hid beneath, my left eye twitched out S.O.S in Morse code, my stomach shrank to the size of the metaphorical fist clenched around it. Grievously aware of my toes remaining permanently curled, I devised methods of pulling off ringletted toenails as a trend. 1 month till the dreaded World Cup. The pillars of security hoisting my national pride were threatening collapse, crumbling at the edges like a Marie Biscuit.

I lived all 31 days of May with the fear. What happens when our country is flooded with every race you knew about, maybe even a few you didn't, and every single one of those unsuspecting travellers gets their wallets surgically removed from the safety belt-like contraption constricting their torsos? What happens when the first German tourist gets a gun to the head whilst cruising in his rental Beemer? He may not understand the hollered words, but the gun I'm sure he'll get. He'll spring from the vehicle like a cuckoo bird, watching his car insurance speed away up the foreign freeway.

I thought of the wrong kind of striker. Not the one trying desperately to bend Jabulani, the one with a placard, a war-cry and a vicious forearm. I mused on unfinished roadworks, dysfunctional airports, loud-mouthed arrogant, ignorant adolescent politicians. I was pre-emptively embarrassed for South Africa. I woke up cringing every morning.

The opening ceremony did nothing to untangle my tweaked nerves. The off-key singing, awkward presenters, general-all-round awful music sent spirals of sickness oozing down into my finger tips. I held tight to my shuddering knees, curling closer into my human doughnut of safety. Regretting my decision to be in this country during the Cup, I resignedly watched Finding Nemo instead of Bafana's first game. However, I remember going onto Facebook at one point on the evening the game was on. Shockwaves radiated through my brain. We drew. We actually nearly won a game.

Suddenly a new dawn opened for me. This could be so much more than a mortifying experience for our country. We might pull this whole thing off. After choosing Spain as my team, I began to watch. Obsessively. Soccer dominated my mind and controlled my movements. Hells if Spain didn't pull through for me. The buggers won the whole damn competition. Pride flaked off me like dandruff.

Despite my initial pessimism, (a deadly understatement) I supported, I screamed, I blew a goddamn vuvuzela. I strutted my stuff on the fanwalk, ate Prego rolls the nights Portugal played, wore orange for the first time in my life when Netherlands crumpled Cameroon. I became a global patriot.

Don't get me wrong, I'm never going to be the happy-clappy type, sitting around a camp-fire, melodiously belting out my very best Kumbayah. But I supported. I did my bit. Just waiting now for the bit the world's going to do for me. I'll be here if you're looking for me, World. Waiting. (awkward cough.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Humane Kindness

I dislike people. I dislike their smell, their words, their arrogance, their inherent meanness. They swarm and conquer like ants. They pounce unsuspectingly on a downtrodden earth, forcing it into submission with disease and an imposition of humanness.

The word “humane” distresses me. How supercilious of the human race to create a word meaning “goodness” and “kindness” and yet turn it into a reflection of the very beings who created it. On my stagnant journeys through life I've met more humane hamsters than I have people.

Eddie Izzard, reigning god of comedy and commentary, eloquently portrays the perfect scenario of the evil that doesn't exist in animals. His “Evil giraffe” skit brings tears of laughter to my eyes, and, simultaneously, enrages my over-worked bile duct. A dog takes a biscuit and is called a “bad dog.” The dog looks inquisitively up at his owner and says in a voice that would make James Mason proud, “Who are you to judge me? You human beings who've had genocide, war against people of different creeds, colours, religions. And I stole a biscuit? Is that a crime?” The owner proceeds to give his dog another biscuit. Between snorts of laughter, I find myself seething with anger after watching this scene. Why do people think that in desecrating the world we live in, we somehow have laid some kind of claim to it. Who are we to call a dog bad for stealing a biscuit? It's us who need to be slapped a few times around the face with a rolled up newspaper and sent, tail between our legs, to an afternoon in a kennel.

I'll admit that I've tried this method with people. Neither my sister or the now ex-friend appreciated the treatment very much though. Whilst we reprimand our animals for their badness, they frequently show more humanity than we ever could. There's a clip on Youtube that could wrench the guts out of even the most hardened criminals. It depicts a dog being hit by a car on the highway. None of the drivers stop for him. He lies there, crumpled and broken while the assholes in their sedans drive passed, content in their hybrid, air-conditioned, gass-spewing pouches of vehicular safety. Another dog, who witnessed the dramatic hit from the pavement, puts his own life on the line to cross the bustling highway to retrieve the injured dog. He places both of his front paws around the patient and drags him to the safety of the pavement. The “humanity” encased in metal speed passed, oblivious to the miracle enrolling on the tar outside. Tell me, who was more humane? The rescue dog, who saved the life of the other on his own munition, or the drivers who ignored the whole scenario?

I've considered convincing others to no longer refer to anyone being humane. Rather, try “hamsterane,” “canine,” even “frogane.” Anything but humane. We need to stop bigging ourselves up, inflating our already Zeppelin-like heads, hero-worshipping, pretending that the sun shines out of our every orifice. We do not rule the world, we're just labouring under the misapprehension that we do. Viva la era of caninity. Dogs, I will follow you into the vicious throngs of battle.