Anyone who has bothered to read my collection of satirical pieces entitled, ‘Some of my best friends are white’ [cough*go-out-and-buy-it*cough] might have been picked up the fact that I often come across as ‘cantankerous’. At least that’s what someone told me after reading a few chapters.
That’s my new toy word. I like it. Even though I have been aware of the word for years and have even used it to describe people, I had never actually looked it up in the lexicon until recently. Well, one of its synonyms is ‘argumentative’. That shoe certainly does fit.
When I’m not working, writing or wandering my house scratching my balls, I will generally be found in a pub with the riffraff I call my friends. I’ll be the droopy-eyed, slurry-speeched guy hogging speaking time spitting into my buddies’ faces with beer mug in hand. Alcohol has a way of awakening dormant passions in me I hadn’t been aware of before.
One of the savages I hang out with is called Linda. Don’t be mistaken and think that Silwane drinks with chicks. Linda is a guy. A guy with a squeaky voice (especially when he’s agitated) and a girly name – but a guy nonetheless. Yes, I have checked. We’ve spent weekends at the Drakensberg etc with my other buddies. No, we don’t swing that way. It’s just that he prefers to air-dry after showers. I don’t think the detail is necessary.
Since he started reading my book, he’s felt an uncontrollable compulsion to let me know how retarded my opinions are. Which is kinda cool. I like that about him. Having my views challenged brutally on an almost daily basis is good training for any other snotty-faced 2004 Journalism graduate who writes a scathing review of my drivel. Linda’s rants keep me fit.
Among the many, many problems (the ‘personal’ nature of my opinions, the ‘thinly-veiled arrogance’) he has with my book, his strongest gripe has been about me characterizing some overweight people as …er, ‘hippos’. Vicious, I know. The piece in question is entitled ‘Taxi commuting – an experience from hell’. Allow me to quote: –
“At this point, the women start engaging in a most useless exercise in an attempt to open up some space – the bum shimmy. You know, wiggling their behinds to create space. The sum total of this used to leave me suspended in space between the hippo hips, holding on to the seat in front of me for dear life…”
Okay, I think we’ve all heard enough. I suppose that I could try and weasel out of this one by being technical. I could explain how I never once call the …er, large ladies hippos per se. I could point out that all I did there was to describe their hips as ‘hippo hips’. That’s right, using the word ‘hippo’ as an adjective. Yes, we writers are allowed to do that. You’ve heard the phrases ‘elephant legs’ or ‘mousy features’, haven’t you?
But if I got all technical, I’d be taking the low road. The road of the weasel – and nobody likes weasels. So we’ll have to assume that I did call the ladies hippos for the purposes of this discussion. So, in the context of humour/satire/comedy, is it okay to pick on obese people?
My friend with the girly name says it’s cruel. I say pretty much everybody is fair game. In my published collection of hallucinations I take swipes at pretty much everybody under the sun. But I reserve my most vicious swipes for myself and anybody who shares characteristics with me. My grandmother (rest her soul) taught me that the ability to laugh at oneself is invaluable.
But my girly friend is generally not swayed by logic. So my point disappeared like a fart in the middle of Hurricane Katrina. Instead she …er, that would be, he started giving me an English lecture on the difference between ‘satire’ and ‘parody’. I have a name for that. I call it painting the car to make it run faster. So I sommer started hurling insults at him
A famous humorist once tried to answer the question, ‘who’s fair game?’ His conclusion? You can only poke fun at people for the choices they make and not for things they cannot control. Coincidentally, the same humorist does not believe that human beings have free will. He believes we are all victims of the cause-and-effect rule. I guess that pretty much rules out everybody. After reading that half-baked rubbish, I gave him a middle name. The weasel.
I’ll tell you who’s got gonads of steel though. Fred Khumalo of the Sunday Times. On the 5th of August he wrote a piece entitled, ‘What ministers need is some quiet-diplomacy diet.’
I haven’t heard of any picketing outside of the Sunday Times offices over it. I guess the fatties have a sense of humour after all.
P.S Did I mention that I hardly stand 1.7m on my toes but that my weight fluctuates between 80 and 85kg?
Ndumiso Ngcobo is the author of the recently-released book, ‘Some of my best friends are white’. (Two Dogs, ISBN 978-1-92013-718-2)