Life is Like a Bowl of Milky Granola

 

Strong coffee propels me forward and into the page. Black hurried squiggles of a man with low-pressure commitments stacked pleasantly for the day ahead suggested stress or tiredness. I was guilty of gluttony yesterday. This was proved beyond reasonable doubt when after seconds of supper and the remainder of the ice cream I had made myself a second bowl of milky granola, this time with a crumbled sugar cone. My stomach practically burst with each mouthful. The usual glowing inner-hug I felt after eating was replaced with images of the grey boerewors from earlier looking even greyer as it writhed in the milky mire of my stomach. It was curling and writhing viciously, seemingly intent on rupturing out of my chest as if it was from Alien. Of course there wasn’t a long unchewed piece of boerie in my stomach, I didn’t deepthroat it down whilst pouring lubricative milky ice cream to ease the process. I may as well have, I felt disgusted. Not only that, but the crumbled sugar cone went completely soggy and offered nothing in the way of texture or flavour to the dish. I was disappointed. Finding a sitting position that didn’t threaten the dormancy of the alien life form was also difficult and so after completing some work I made myself a soothing mug of peppermint tea. Since I was wounded and unwell, the tea was medicinal and was therefore administered joylessly.

Fuck, the coffee’s finished. I had quite a wonderful thought yesterday (or terrible, depending on which side of the inferiority-complex seesaw I choose to sit). Food is like life. The more you eat, the less there is on the plate. I will use the bowl milky, vanilla seed granola (usually made with dates, coconut flakes, a drizzle of honey, and dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg) that prompted this insight to further explain the analogy. As we begin our lives we are faced with the full bowl with only the milky surface actually visible, save a few specks of spices or sesame seeds. The world is unknown, our lives are for the most part sheltered from anything hard or substantial. It is also pure in that sense and the first spoons are delightful, simple, and easy. Vanilla honeyed milk with only the softest resistance of floating sesame seeds testing our milk teeth. Ah, but we grow more inquisitive and brazen. Our spoons delve deeper and we begin to encounter the granola. The granola is harder and more substantial. It requires chewing, an action that like hard work is often its own reward. We become enthralled. The crunches pop with moments of delectable sweetness as unctuous chunks of dates are scooped up in the process. Aahh, the joys of life. It all begins to mix extraordinarily well, the flavours, the textures, all the while wonderfully accompanied by that never-ending pool of milk.

Or, it was never-ending, but as you pause to take a leisurely sip of your grandma’s homemade kombucha tea you have a moment of reflection. You are already half-way, maybe more, maybe less, and a feeling of dread attempts to set in. Here the mind will dictate how the rest of bowl will go. Every spoon from here on out not only depletes the milky granola, but does so at an increasing rate.  You could have never have known but the bowl is conical, the longest years of your life have already happened. You could attempt to bury this thought, let it become a dull but ever-present force that will destabilise that inner peace you had felt.  You could begin to eat it faster, ignoring your body’s pleas to slow down, you don’t care, or you say you don’t as with tears in your eyes you shove mound after mound into your mouth. You barely chew and swallowing becomes painful. Take a breath, there’s still so much left, you made yourself a big bowl after all. Take a spoonful, savour it, that spoon had two date chunks in it, would you have known otherwise?

We are getting close to finishing our bowl of milky granola. We are beginning to feel content and quite full. There are more dates at the bottom. Our smaller, more conscientious spoonfuls do little to slow the milks progress down the sides of the bowl. We have enjoyed it and feel restful. We make peace with the pangs of helplessness and greed for another bowl. We scrape the sides dotted with memories of times before. Our spoon has done all it can, there is no more granola left, just a shallow but richly flavoured puddle of milk at the bottom. Finally with a smile on our face, we grab the bowl with both hands, raise it to our mouth and take our last sip. A dribble of milk runs down the side of our chin and we recline with our eyes closed back into the chair.

I open my eyes and look at my phone. Ah, it’s already 11:00 am, a couple more hours and I’ll have some lunch.

Thou Shalt Not Waste

By Shaun Clamp

 

It was a misty and carboliscious morning. Breakfast was at Granny’s and that meant that my already naturally relaxed arms were about to be twisted, forcing my head and torso into the spread of Weetbix, hot cross buns, and crackers that she had laid out. Thanks to my aikido training I went with the motion and offered no resistance. Luckily I possess an iron gut and an infinite resolve when it comes to food and as such would never let mere overindulgence at breakfast get in the way of lunch.

God seemed to have an issue with gluttony. Although it wasn’t a commandment, not being a glutton is still considered a strong rule. This rule is at odds with my own equally righteous mantra, Thou Shalt Not Waste. What results from the clash of laws is a morally beige area, a narrow road that I must walk across. This path happens to be as narrow, as beige and as acrossy as the glistening crosses that adorned those sweet, spicy buns I had dutifully enjoyed moments earlier.

It is Easter, a time where the guilt for killing Jesus is replaced with a guilt for eating too many glazed buns and chocolate eggs. Feeling guilty for eating is like feeling guilty for breathing and feeling guilty for overeating is like feeling guilty for doing cardio. Guilt is not what we should feel and neither is hunger. If we wish to repent then we should do cardio. Such is the circular and on the surface hard-to-argue-with reasoning I tell myself.

I am aware of the benefit of coffee’s diarrhoetic properties for my food pilgrimage. Like the donkey who lightened the burden of carrying the cross to its destination, coffee helps move the carb-heavy hot cross buns through my digestive system, allowing them to be bathed in a pool of pure white (porcelain) before disappearing into the ether. For this I give thanks.

I am getting a bit concerned that my writing with regards to food has become an exercise in crowbarring metaphors. As a writing technique it’s as lazy and self-serving as myself serving myself a milky bowl of granola at 12:30 am.

Shortly after breakfast it was time to go for lunch. We went to Overture. The restaurant was nestled amongst olive trees that swept in the wind. It was fairly high up the slope of a mountain. The weather was cloudy and the light was gently distilled through the clouds into a soft white. The food was delicious. The sense of urgency surrounding mealtimes that has developed recently was present. I wanted to try everything and thanks to our group being all girls (besides me) I was the designated human hoover. Leftovers were passed without question to my corner of the table. I suppose I should have felt self-conscious when the waiter would collect three or four empty plates from me after every course, but I didn’t. My finger would begin to tap impatiently within minutes of the table being cleared. My all-seeing eyes were acutely aware of every crumb that remained and would automatically assess which ones were large enough to warrant consumption. The miniature crane operator tugged heavily on its levers, my arm raised, my index finger and thumb separated. A thoughtless expression rested on my face, my eyes thoughtlessly rested upon a spot on the table. My arm swung mechanically across before halting. The miniature crane operator knew he needed to be quick. The action must be discreet but natural, it could not appear to be the product of intense deliberation. The claw without missing a beat lowered over a largish piece of sourdough crust before closing. The claw swept up in an arc and dropped the piece into my mouth with a final push. My jaw crunched.

If eating brings out your inner child, then I was a selfish, greedy little shit. And I was. My finger began to tap impatiently. I stared at the window which looked out across the expansive valley, and noticed only the waiters’ movements in its reflection.

Reefer Madness

 

He was right now locked in a heady neighbourhood dispute, alone, in his room. Moments earlier, beneath the beginnings of a poolside creeping grapevine patio type deal, shielded from the moon-and-starlight, he had smoked a blunt. There were various factors that contributed to his toking of said blunt, but the one he would rely on most was that he had been undergoing physiotherapy and was currently in a leveragable amount of discomfort.

The dispute arose with a squabble when the couple on the neighbouring plot became alerted to the dank odour that hung heavily and slightly obnoxiously in the air. At first he could only hear the wife. The sonic texture of her shrill panicked Afrikaans twang might have been enough to ruin his high, regardless of the context .They reacted with a sense of urgency that seemed almost animal. It was its instinctiveness that scared him. He knew it to be hard-headed and hardwired, sternly pruned and possibly sharpened by the conservative values of the prevailing Afrikaans-Christian culture of the village.

The plots were stacked closely and he could make out with an ominous half-certainty, the conversation going on next door.

“Is someone smoking weed?”

“Someone’s been smoking weed near our house!”

“What do we do? I’m not okay with someone smoking weed, are you?”

There was a palpable anger rising in the conversation, with each mention of the word weed propelling it higher, as if it were a sort of furious-kinetic energy. It refused to die down, even though it was 3 am.

He knew he needed to address it, the situation, them, to prevent the possible calling of the police should the conversation reach boiling point. He had made his way outside of his house to the road with the intention of ringing the doorbell of whichever house the voices were coming from. He was fighting stabs of paranoia with steadying breaths and had armed himself with the official-sounding line “I wanted to address the situation personally” that was to be used during his introduction. How could a criminal be so self-assured and forthright?

The road was quieter than the house, deafened by the dry wind and the crunches of his tentative footsteps. He tried adjust his posture and stand erect and professional yet felt himself tilt forward at the waist as if he was being hollowed out by fear. As he walked along the road towards the house his torso also twisted as if anchored stiffly in its direction.

“Oh no! He’s coming!”

He stopped in his tracks, frozen cartoonishly in his odd stance. He was at that moment Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. If he had brought his dog, Areo, along on the expedition, which he had deliberated earlier, the resemblance would have been uncanny. He listened, head cocked, iphone torch cocked (undoubtedly unnecessarily but the situation was intense and at that stage, bodily) for a few moments (seconds), before briskly walking back into his house.

Inside his granny was awake, tending to the dogs, and he calmly and earnestly explained the situation. Low THC, for his back, too much pain to sleep, not harmful, rather weed than consistently taking Myprodols. His granny was lovely and empathetic and responded to the only slightly cherry-picked and airbrushed narrative with saintly care. She was only concerned about the pain in his shoulder and even offered to put arnica ointment on it. She really is a great granny. He declined her offer and her suggestion to bath, opting for a shower instead so he could stretch and just zen the fuck out.

Low THC content, essentially legal, medicinal, electroshock therapy, I have nothing to hide officer it was one joint of less than a gram and it was all I had in my possession, it’s for my shoulder.

He switched on the tap and automatically began adjusting the heat settings.

Of course you can come in and search officer, but you would need a search warrant, I can’t authorise entry, the house was not rented in my name, who’s the owner? I wouldn’t know, I think we booked through a –

“Oh my GOD! He’s having a shower. I don’t believe it!”

“…Unbelievable!”

They were baffled. Their confusion and anger had reached the point of hysterics. The audacity that he take a shower. The AUDACITY!

They were, in a word, trolled.

He afforded himself a smile as warm water poured mercifully onto his upturned face. He imagined them slowly, dumbly, shaking their heads, still unable to speak, the wife’s horrified expression teetering on the brink of manic laughter. He tried to stretch but felt too self-conscious so he decided to just wash himself and get this whole absurd episode over and done with.

After fumbling in the wrong place for a bit too long he finally managed to turn on his bedroom light. He walked across his room to his suitcase.

“Look, there he is.”

The curtains were white, thin and translucent at the best of times, and offered easy viewing into the lighted room in the dark hours of the morning. He wasn’t sure if it was because he was incredibly tired, that he had been recently frazzled, or possibly that he was still high but he felt comfortable. He stood still, naturally deliberating the thought.

“What is he doing?”

His eyes scoured the floor mindlessly, searching for…what? He was discombobulated from hearing and processing both his consciousness and the antagonistic and invasive consciousness of his neighbours. For clothes perhaps?

“It’s just so…rude.”

She probably wants to fuck me, he thought as he tossed the towel onto the chair. He wasn’t being serious but the thought was so instinctual he wondered whether he truthfully likened himself to Russel Brand. No you don’t…mmm maybe a little? Can I say I’m unsure? No, to consider that would probably open the floor to all sorts of narcissistic character flaws. He decided to remove himself from that thought pattern altogether. He did leave it on unsure though. Did he?

But it was time to address the situation personally. He found his pen and his notebook with nice, professional paper and sat in the chair illuminated by a bedside lamp.

“Oh my god, he’s writing a note.”

To whom it may concer-

His handwriting looked shit. He considered continuing and writing at the end something along the lines of “My handwriting is usually this bad ;)” His pen was resting thoughtfully on the side of his head.

“He’s thinking!”

He let his head roll backwards to rest on the chairs plump leather cushion, his faced turned skywards once more, and he felt the unbelievable, almost ecstatic ridiculousness of the situation wash pleasantly over  him. He was smiling.

“What is he writing?”
He sat up, paused to grin, and began to write.