I recently had a very nice conversation with my father where we established two things:
- My mother really loves cleaning and;
- People are getting used to this strange, new routine.
On point number 2, I think all of us on some level have managed to recover from the initial shock of the “temporary new normal” and have managed to figure out some form of day-to-day purpose. If I examine my social media closely enough, the most common schedule is as follows:
11:00 – wake up and de-louse the duvet
11:10 – shift weight so as to relieve the uncomfortable build-up of gasses
12:00 – Middle-Breakfast
13:00 – begin cleaning ceremony. Start at face and end at arm-pits. Note: DO NOT CONFUSE THIS ORDER (again)
13:30 – check on fermenting Cheeto project. Do it for the ‘gram.
13:45 – Late-Middle-Breakfast
14:45 – Feed the children their nuggets. Tell them to finger paint.
15:00 – Fight off fermented Cheeto project which has gained sentience.
17:00 – hold funeral for the child the Cheeto project managed to consume during the running battle of the last two hours.
17:05 – lock remaining children in their room for some goddam peace and quiet. Make sure their bird-seed tray is full and there is fresh newspaper on the floor.
17:06 – Start new fermented Cheeto project. This time, this time, it will work.
17:30 – Dawson’s Creek Marathon with Night-Breakfast.
One semi-regular event which has remained strong throughout the last few weeks in my house is the screening of trash and cult films. I have recently found the mass-produced corporate entities which wash over us every few weeks hardly worth my time or money. It is tiring watching movies made by a committee, where every scene has been inserted to entertain you and pander badly to whatever agenda the panicked zeitgeist has shat out this week. As expensive as those movies are, the experience has become so cheap.
Which is why I have made it my mission to seek out the uncut gems of the film world. I want to explore the cult movies of yesteryear and have a hoot watching the Kung Fu Cyborg DD Kick Ass Monster Feature of the week.
Which is what I do. Regularly.
Those films have so much more soul and ambition than anything a studio normally makes. And at the end of the day, I would rather watch a glorious failure that has spirit than a bloated corporate advert.
Excuse me, this soapbox suddenly became rather high.
Saturday found me having scheduled a movie night with my friend in the UK. This involves us simultaneously streaming a movie on a given platform while a whatsapp call takes place. We are then able to both watch the move, a whole continent between us, while sharing jabs and observations throughout. The film which had been chosen was Night of the Demons – a 1988 piece of neon-lit trash where teenage archetypes get on the wrong side of a haunted house and Linnea Quigley sticks a piece of lipstick in her boob. The film viewing was scheduled to begin at 18:30, South African time.
A quick side-note: in the panic leading up to the lockdown, it became very apparent that I had to do something to at least feel prepared for what people believed to be the final Jimmy Jones. As a result, I managed to find one of Durban’s last remaining nebulizers and sweet-talked my way into getting the appropriate medication. I should point out this is because I was violently asthmatic as a child. Even looking sideways at a packet of Nik Naks sent me straight to a hospitals pediatric ward. Even though I have not had an episode since I was about twelve, I thought it best to be prepared.
I also bought some Vicks Medinite because you can’t be sick if you are comatose.
So in the build up to my movie night on Saturday, I was having a whale of a time. The morning had seen me swimming innumerable lengths of a short pool to reach my quota of 1km. I managed to squeeze in a few other activities before settling on a barbeque for dinner. This gave me a time-consuming activity with delicious results. There is a “Your Mom” joke in there but I am not about to stoop so low. It hurts my back. Like sex with your mom.
While I was peacefully turning a pork rib-eye on the fire, enjoying the banshee-wailing of a Pink Floyd guitar solo, a strange thought crept into my mind from the dark cellar of my subconscious.
Chris, it said, you have no idea how to operate your nebulizer.
So? I thought. Its not like I would be rushed for time if I ever had to.
Hear me out, the voice continued, but what if you were rushed for time?
Also, the voice resumed, Carol Baskin totally did it.
Which was how, half an hour later, I was sitting at my dining room table with the components of my brand-new nebulizer spread out before me. I am embarrassed to admit that my appliances watched me struggle for some time with assembling the whole thing and figuring out how it worked. What felt like an eternity passed before I could flip the switch and hear the familiar sonorous ddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd of my childhood.
You know, the voice resumed, you should make sure it works.
But I just did, didn’t you hear the ddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd?
Yeah yeah yeah I did, it replied, but I mean, you should make sure it REALLY works.
You don’t mean?
But that stuff is expensive.
What’s the worst that can happen? You going to breathe a bit better?
I suppose you are right, and it would doubly ensure my piece of mind. Not like it’s a drug or anything.
Yes. That. Definitely that.
I am not one for drug taking. It’s not that I have a particular issue with it, its just not for me. I dabbled a bit at university with the odd reefer and one night in second year found three of us, broke as anything, consuming enough Ritalin for an entire creche. But beyond that, I live a clean and sober existence where my vices are limited to alcohol and fatty foods.
However, what happened over the next half hour went a little something like this:
No wonder I had such an active imagination as a kid. If this was the crap I was on half the time I am amazed the specter of Jim Morrison didn’t hover over me every time I went to bed. My navel had become a point of articulation for four limbs and a head which were straining themselves to remain on this astral plain. I called Struan, informed him of my condition to which he replied;
“Don’t worry, I have a beer.”
We then began the movie.
As I sat down with my plate of food in the dark, I asked my feet how they were doing. They replied, in Yiddish, and got scared which resulted in them hiding while I curled my legs under me. For a good hour thereafter, I watched a collection of shapes and colors pretending to be human actors until eventually the soft glow of whatever the hell they put in Ventalin wore off and I had corporeal mass again.
It was a fun night. Not something I will ever repeat but I did go to bed knowing just how well my nebulizer worked.
I don’t know when I am going to be able to have a movie night the way it’s supposed to be. I look forward to a group of mates coming round with pizza and beers like they used to. There will be the soft crackle of the screen as the VHS rip of the film gives way to a terrible synth score. We will point and laugh and be entertained.
Though it might never happen again.
This new normal is only temporary but I must also accept it isn’t going to snap back to the old normal either. When I went to bed on Saturday night, I realized that there were probably parts of my life which have left. I don’t know what they are, and probably won’t know for some time, I just know I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.