Walking down the aisle (part 1)

The Moonman looks at me with one raised eyebrow, looking uncannily like Sean Connery.

“Do you want to walk down the aisle with me?” he asks, his green eyes smiling tenderly.

“Sure. Pick ‘n Pay or Spar?”

“Pick ‘n Pay is good. Then I can get dog food too. You ready?”

“Yeah, lemme just go grab the shopping bags…”

Walking down the aisle of a shop is as close as we’ve gotten to getting married in the five years we’ve been together. Shopping with the Moonman is an adventure every time, and a helluva lot more fun than getting married.

It always starts with animal noises. Cat screeches are first up. You may have heard this if you live in Stellenbosch. A noise that makes the hair stand up at the back of your neck. You know the sound when you drive over a cat’s tail? Not? Oh, OK, well, it’s a terrible sound.

People react very differently to this noise. Some people don’t even look around or miss a beat putting groceries in their trolleys (white folk are so lame). Others look around sharply, some gasp, and the black customers usually respond with “Hayi tsuga! Ikati!?” (I don’t speak the language, but that’s what it sounds like). The Moonman is very good at timing it just right. He walks behind people, makes this noise and immediately looks around innocently, even checking under the shelves. Sometimes, if he is alone in the aisle, he is the one shouting “Hayi tsuga!”

Me? I just walk on. Laughing. In fact, if we get separated, I count on him making his cat noises, otherwise I can’t find him again.

(Once, in the covered parking lot, he experimented a bit with the cat screech echoes, when a little old lady came up to him and said, visibly upset, “Young man, what are you doing?! Where is the cat that you’re torturing?” Moonman protested that it was just him making the noises, and no animals were harmed. He even demonstrated by doing a soft screech. But the tannie replied, in a huff, “Well, it’s cruel and wrong to give people a fright like that!” and stormed off.)

Back at Pick ‘n Pay, as we approach either the eggs section or the frozen chicken section, the clucking starts. He does a very good impersonation of a broody hen. It’s less hair raising than the cat screeches – a more pastoral sound, evoking early morning on the farm. People usually chuckle when they hear this. The chicken noises are repeated when the chicken products are scanned at the till – which usually causes the ladies at the till to collapse in hysterical laughter.

Then there are always little pranks like sneaking 10 packs of “rough rider” condoms and 10 tubes of love lube into my trolley, hoping that I’d be mortified at the till. But I usually discover them in time and discreetly place them in someone else’s trolley when they’re not looking. So if you live in this area and you’ve been at the receiving end of this little joke, I do apologise.

Somewhere along the way, the Moonman will start walking and talking like a very old man. He uses the trolley like a Zimmer-frame with wheels, sticks his bum out, shuffles along with a bit of a limp and shaking legs. He has also perfected the toothless mumbling of someone who left their dentures (and their mind) at home. I usually hang back a bit at this point, and pretend to be concentrating on the ingredients on a packet of whatever.

Another favourite is to wait until we hit a particularly crowded aisle, and then tells me in a loud and stern voice, “I told you, woman, you walk two paces behind me!” This receives mixed reactions. People usually take their cue from me. I laugh and slap him on his arm and jostle my way to the front, and hope people realise it’s a joke. But there is always that one awkward moment when people wonder.

As a special treat, we sometimes walk down the aisle in the hardware store. Here are so many opportunities to have fun, we hardly even have time to shop. Firstly, in the doorbell section, all the demo bells have to be pressed, setting off a cacophony of chimes, and we have to run away and hide or pretend like it was someone else.

The security camera is there for one reason only, as I am sure you all know already: it’s to record people pulling funny faces. Ideally, you want to get as close to the camera as you can, and then see how many silly faces you can come up with. Meanwhile, I’m studying the label on a box of whatever, waaaayyy over there.

CCTV - the fun never stops

When it is time to pay, Moonman usually goes first (we have separate households so we pack separately) and remember, I’m two paces behind, and, unlike the poor unsuspecting Pick ‘n Pay lady, I know what’s coming. There are two things that can happen now. If he’s paying, he says loudly, “I’m going to use this credit card that I stole this morning, hope it works!” When asked to put in his pin, he hesitates a bit, and then, when the transaction is cleared, he exclaims, “So the old lady was telling the truth! That trick of holding her head under water a bit worked well!”

Yeah, I’m waaayyy over there, looking the other way. Or, if I’m trapped between the man and the trolley, laughing and slapping him is the only appropriate response. More recently, I’ve started to play along. If you can’t beat ‘em…

If we ever get arrested, one of you, please come and bail us out. We’ll pay you back. Wait. Let me rephrase that. HE’ll pay you back. I’m just an innocent bystander.

The second till-point prank, if I’m paying, is to tell the lady at the till that he’s only just met me in the shop and look, I’m buying him some groceries already! He goes on to tell her he always hangs out at Pick ‘n Pay looking for attractive older women to pick him up. Yip. I look good for 57, don’t I?

(to be continued…)

Erica Neser (c) 2011


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. meladjusted
    Dec 15, 2011 @ 18:50:20

    This is one of my favourites! And you don’t look a day over 40 something 😀 –


  2. ericanexpress
    Dec 15, 2011 @ 20:49:40

    Thank you – I don’t feel a day over 40 something…. xx


  3. Nevs
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 00:24:48

    Who is this dude?? Although, having thought of that, think how boring it must be to view hours of CCTV footage without a bit of light relief……


  4. Hannali Basso
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 22:45:07

    This is so funny. Just what I needed after a day of running around pleasing my two little angels … some ME time … reading your blog is so relaxing and entertaining!!


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