Tuesday, August 30, 2011


   I see sushi as a kind of endurance sport. Quantity and wasabi for Olympic gold. I could easily bankrupt myself on a semi-regular basis just for sushi, and I wouldn't feel any worse for it.My favourite sushi is the stuff they make at Fruit & Veg city, but the damn place is just too much of a drive out to justify getting it too often. And also, I'm poor. That makes it somewhat harder. Le sigh.
   However, the other day was monthly grocery shopping day. The banks closed, the municipal workers took a long, leisurely lunch, and GPs everywhere charged double their usual rates. We battened down the hatches and took off on the long trek to Pick 'n Pay. Interesting story:* a couple of months ago, we went to our normal Pick 'n Pay for the normal shopping trip. We kept not finding things. This was odd, as the reason we go all the way out to P'nP is because they have actual food, whereas the much closer Spar seems to object to having more than one kind of bread at a time. We were stocking up for my sister's birthday party, and we just couldn't find the stuff we were looking for. We wondered briefly why P'nP should be stocking Spar brand milk and cleaners, but thought not too much of it.

*Again, lie.

   I think you see where this is going. Twas, in fact, a Spar that had been erected exactly where the beloved Pick 'n Pay used to be. We only realised this by the end of the ordeal, when we looked up to see the Spar sign on the wall. Neither me or my dad have yet won any kind of Nobel Prize for our genius.
   The upshot is: we needed to find a new Pick 'n Pay. After me and pregnant Brenda had a bit of an adventure the other day finding some demon entity called "Centurion Lifestyle Centre", me and the father decided to try that-a-one. Happily, also just down the road from the aforementioned Fruit & Veg, which I celebrated loudly.
   We found a P'nP. I think that's where all the Pick 'n Pays in South Africa have gone. I made sure to check we weren't in a Game or a Macro or something, as this is obviously a mistake I'm prone to making, but yes, Pick 'n Pay it was. FUCKING HUGE. And considering we went on a Sunday, packed. Now, I don't like crowds. They make me feel a little panicky. Look, I'm weird, I don't like my fingernails to touch the car either, and I wear toe-socks because the skin between toes shouldn't touch. If I had had more of a stomach for it, I could have done all of my yearly bicycle and Verimark shopping
there, but as it was I think both of us just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible without getting thrown up on by a rogue infant. I don't drive, but I think steering that trolley should allow me to claim my license right now. There was signalling, T-juntions, yielding and even one or two speed bumps formed by the mass of some of the slower children. I took great care to make sure to steer around people, was mindful of elbows and behinds, and hummed to myself nervously like Sheldon. HOWEVER, I still came away from it with many a war wound, as people insist on charging into you with murder in their eyes.
   One particular woman (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) managed to ram her trolley into my ribs so hard it felt like G4, whilst I was legally parked by the frozen food section. I politely swore under my breath and moved myself off further to the side, and then she proceeded to take off about five cubic centimetres of shin flesh. I moved again, even though, Lady, there was ample space for you to glide past me gracefully, but now I think that special vein in my forehead was starting to throb.

  After the gauntlet was run, we dashed to Fruit & Veg, and I ran in while daddio sat in the car. I went in and grabbed some of the pre-assembled little sushi platters, and then mildly shat myself when I saw the queues. There was some queue jockeying in P'nP as my dad hunted for the shortest line and I followed the 6"10 head through the sea of people in trust. Here, people were smooshed up against one another like they were ready to commit violence on your person if you even looked like you were trying to get ahead of them for a box of smarties on the rack ahead. I stood there, sedately holding my food and kept my head down- I swear to you, the atmosphere is tangible. It's like a scene from Tale of Two Cities, with the peasant classes ready to riot, given half an excuse. Of course, with my shin still bleeding profusely (not really), the crowd-mentality encroaching steadily, and the earlier indignity still rankling, I was on a short fuse.
   Then Mr. Eager bumps into me in a leisurely, lingering manner from the right. The vein in my forehead pivots my head in his direction, and I say, with considerable irony I'm quite proud of, "Excuse me." He, missing my exquisite sardonic intention, replies "No, it's ok, I'm just trying to get in here," and pushes his trolley in in front of me where his pal had been saving a spot for him.
   Oh goodly God, this person is treading on a thin, fragile line. He does this only because he assumes, quite wrongly, that I am not liable to stab him in the eye with a chopstick.

   As it stands, I exited with no manslaughter to my name. I got into the car and simply inhaled heady sushi fumes to calm my nerves. And when I got home, I ripped into that package like a man starved of soya sauce. With every sting that travelled through my spinal chord and directly up into my brainstem, I silently blessed wasabi. It was finished much too quickly. 
   Damn, I've psyched myself up now. Where the hell can I get sushi in the next ten minutes?

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