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Me, Madame Fifi and dripping taps

The last time I paid my brothel a visit, I left feeling much better about myself. No, not because of the clothes-pegs-on-earlobes thing Luscious Lulu likes doing. Frankly, I find that whole S&M routine disgusting. And immoral. It’s a good thing that I’m close to completing the scientific study I’ve been conducting in brothels for the past seventeen years.

The reason I was feeling good is because I discovered that I’m not as weird as I thought I was. You see, I have this … thing — this uncontrollable urge to pick up litter. If I see a piece of paper on the floor, it takes incredible restraint for me not to pick it up. I know what you’re thinking: “what’s wrong with that?” Let’s just say that there’s a very thin line between being a conscientious, responsible citizen and being the weirdo crawling on his hands and knees on the Bedford Centre floor, picking up Pick ‘n Pay cash slips. That’s how it started for most Sterkfontein Mental Health Facility residents.

Anyway, back to the whorehouse. When I arrived, I found all the … er, employees of that high-calibre establishment scattered all over the grounds, picking up litter under Madame Fifi’s supervision. God bless her three-breasted soul. Upon inquiring what this was all about, she explained that she ran a tight ship and no clients of hers were going to get “serviced” in a pigsty. To quote her, “Goddamnit, we might be low-down dirty whores but we’re not going to wallow in filth.” I got a lump in my throat. I mean, if I had to make a career change, I’d hate to perform fellatio with a heavy heart because of papers strewn all over the lawn.

Hallucinations aside, obsessive-compulsive disorder is not a laughing matter. Well, not funny “ha ha” in any case. One of the ways in which my particular brand of OCD manifests itself is in my extreme lack of tolerance for dripping taps. My wife can vouch for the fact that on particularly bad days I walk around the house inspecting every tap. All eleven of them. I know, I know. What kind of man even knows how many taps he has in his house? In any case, on those days when my OCD is really acting up, I go around placing my open palm underneath each faucet. If there’s a wet ring of water, I emit a sharp gasp and instigate a thorough investigation to unearth the culprit. It’s always the four-year-old Tamil insurgent. The uncivilized bastard. His own brand of OCD compels him to wash his hands every two hours or so. A right regular serial killer in the making.

I can imagine the horror on your face, dear reader. This is a disturbing piece. And it gets worse. A few years ago I was driving through the Umngeni Valley village where I used to teach. In my peripheral vision I caught a glimpse of one of those communal taps Ronnie Kasrils thought was a fantastic idea when he first installed running water in the area. The unimaginative commie degenerate. What a retarded idea. Villagers who never experienced running water before were always going to treat communal taps like they would a fountain. It’s their only point of reference. The tap in question was practically open 24/7.

On this particular day the water was gushing out at full blast without a soul in sight. Aaargh! The stretch of road I was driving on is the narrow, winding road running parallel to the Umngeni River, leading to Nagle Dam. Dusi enthusiasts know what I’m talking about. U-turn impossible. So I drove on for another 3km until I reached the first safe spot to turn. I then drove back 3km. By the time I got back, a woman was in the tap vicinity, just starting on her laundry. Tap still at full blast. Woman unmoved.

“Sphukuphuku ndini, umpompi awuwuvali ngani kodwa?” [“Dear gentle lady, why is the tap running?”]

“Lalela la wena Khandakhulu, awuhlukane nami uvale umpompi mawukuhlupha” [“Talk to the hand!”]

You will be glad to hear that, after about nine months of petitioning the human mountain of a ward counsellor, they finally replaced the twist-on tap with one of those press faucets. You will, however, be horrified to learn that some innovative genius “solved” this “problem” by installing a plank-and-wire contraption that one could place over the press mechanism of the tap. And then the good times were back at the Umngeni Falls. I have a very fuzzy recollection of the real reasons I quit teaching in that area. It was, after all, about 7 000 kilolitres of lager ago. I suspect that the perpetually running tap might have been the straw that broke this particular camel’s back.

South Africa has many serious challenges. In the greater scheme of things littering and dripping taps seem to pale in comparison to poverty, Aids, illiteracy, crime and the proliferation of Crocs-wearing men. But they are my favourite things to obsess over. Do not be surprised should you see this headline, “Writer perishes under a hail of bullets. Smoker being questioned”. That’s because one of these days I will grow sufficient cojones to confront an imbecile who flicks a cigarette stub out of his car window. And I will sommer just start banging his car with a wheel spanner.

But don’t worry about my sanity. My shrink has it under control. I swear.

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  • Ndumiso Ngcobo

    Once upon a time, Ndumiso Ngcobo used to be an intelligent, relevant man with a respectable (read: boring-as-crap) job which funded his extensive beer habit. One day he woke up and discovered that he had lost his mind, quit his well-paying job, penned a collection of hallucinations. A bunch of racist white guys published the collection just to make him look more ridiculous and called it 'Some of my best friends are white'. (Two Dogs, ISBN 978-1-92013-718-2). Nowadays he spends his days wandering the earth like Kwai Chang Caine, munching locusts, mumbling to himself like John the Baptist and searching for the meaning of life at the bottom of beer mugs. The racist publishers have reared their ugly heads again and dangled money in his face to pen yet another collection of hallucinations entitled 'Is It Coz 'm Black'. He will take cash, major credit cards and will perform a strip tease for contributions to his beer fund.