Sugar-coating the blooming gloom
Sweetness may be the only remedy for a bad start to one’s Sunday
Sometimes the grip of an insomnia hangover that is blooming luxuriously into a full-blown existential funk can only be broken by something Radical.
On Sunday the Radical was a waffle.
I don’t eat waffles. Not as a rule. I can’t even remember when last I had one, but staring at the uneven ridges on the ceiling, with the winter cold claiming more of my extremities, it came to me.
“Get up and go and try those waffles at that new place,” a voice in my head said. “Go now, or risk losing this day.”
It was entirely foolish and unlike me so it seemed it had to be the thing to fix the misery of a cold, too-long night floating in a jagged-edged dream state.
Drifting in the sunshine on a candy-rush crusade, feeling disconnected and slit-eyed, I began to doubt my foolish errand. The mood was dark, but I was up, dressed and walking through Melville with a plan.
This was lifetimes away from where I had started.
I came to the collection of shipping containers that have been angled and stacked on top of each other, full of little shops, which has been readying itself to start trading as 27 Boxes for weeks.
The new development, which sadly has claimed the tennis courts and overgrown little park in the neighbourhood, is the first splash of any real money Melville has seen in decades, and even the mayor, Parks Tau, is expected to attend the official opening.
Wandering in between the containers in search of the silver waffle bullet, I discovered a lastminute rush by some of the new shop owners trying to get ready for the official opening.
Lots of painting and new shelf assembly activity going on. The optimism and excitement in the conversations was really quite unbearable.
Looking around at the newly name-tagged shops it seemed immediately clear from the collection of coffee roasteries, bicycle boutiques, macarone shops and mens’ sock bars which ones were going to make it and which ones would not see the summer.
I worried about the ice cream bar opening in winter, and some of the boutiques looked damned for sure, as that kind of money just doesn’t shop in this area. And while I have no idea what the Great African Bistro will be, its name makes me nervous.
As a general rule no value judgments should be in the name of any business. If you have to tell people it’s great, it is probably not, to misquote Margaret Thatcher. But if you must then there are plenty of fabulous words to use instead such as Majestic, Glorious, Splendrous...
I finally made it to the waffle place. Weighed down by the enthusiasm and hope of the amateur shop fitters rushing to be ready for the rest of their lives, the menu in purple and blue chalk filled me with dread.
The arrival of my dark cloud was treated cautiously. I could barely order, so a tentative suggestion to “have the Classic” was made. I could find no comeback to the man’s provocation other than to offer him money.
The waffle itself was disappointingly superb.
Two-thirds of the way through the ridiculously crunchy yet chewy, faintly cinnamony delight, I found myself quite pleased with the glinting pattern the shiny syrup I had spilled down my shirt front was making.
The sun felt good and I was tempted into conversation with the man behind the counter. After thoroughly interrogating him I felt buoyed by his measured confidence in his new business.
I walked through the jumble of shops again and felt more generous, wondering if I had judged some too harshly before.
With the day rescued it was time to celebrate. So I found a spot in the sun, where the beats play on a Sunday, and relaxed, watching the black confetti that drifts on to the streets from the winter fires that burn on the nearby koppies.
The mood was dark, but I was up, dressed and walking through Melville with a plan