I am. I’m a big, fat fraidycat…
There are a lots of things in life that scare the hell out of me. The first one is ‘committed causes’ people. You know, horsey people or dogie people. God people. I usually hide under the table when I see them coming. Look, I own dogs, horses, but I’m not a horsey or doggie person. I asked my husband to shoot me if I became one. He said he would be too scared by then.
Another thing I am scared of are the Mrs Bucket types.
I had to attend a function and was given a place at a table with three women who I knew well enough to greet. Well dressed as usual – they had it all together. Make up, iron grey hair all curled really tight, the jewlery all matching. Stout. I bettcha under the table they had on those shoes with the boxy heels. They looked a little like Maggie Thatcher.
I put my plate down with a “Hi.” and sat at their table.
The women nodded but continued their conversation uninterrupted.
“Well,” says Mrs Bucket. “here we were, at the table, and she puts her side-plate down on the floor, full of bones for her horrible little dog.”
Four eyebrows went up.
“Absolutely. I said to myself, there and then: I’m not eating here again. Imagine what else she feeds the animals off of. I tell you, I looked down at my dinner plate and I don’t know how I carried on eating.”
The other two Mrs Bucket’s added similar stories of people who feed their pets off the crockery.
I kept my head down thinking, “But I do that.”
I remembered my grandmother’s daily ritual at the breakfast table. Every day she had breakfast on the veranda. The table laid with spode and silverware. She had this cute little basket for the toast (it came from India, she said) a silver holder for the butter a cut glass thingie for marmalade. She would go through a whole performance: buttering her toast, putting a blob of marmalade and eating it bit by bit. She didn’t spread the butter over the whole piece of toast. And then at the end, she would take the spode saucer from under her cup (she drank rooibos at breakfast) fill it with tea and place it on the floor for the golden spaniel at her feet. She made four pieces of toast, but ate only one. The others were given to the dogs. Bit by bit.
“Well,” said another of the Mrs Buckets. “You should see Mrs. XXX, she asks the maid to cook sadza for her kids. Imagine that. How clean to you think that pot is? I know for a fact sadza pots are not cleaned out properly. I have even seen chickens pecking out of them.”
They look over at me. I’m a rat in front of three snakes. All I can think is, “I do that.”
“Well, I wouldn’t go there anyway.” proclaims Mrs Bucket. “You should see how she makes her famous gravy. That disgusting cook of hers simply pours the fat from the roast over the previous roast-fat. He keeps it above the stove in this horrible Kango bucket. When he wants to make a gravy, he just takes a scoop with a spoon, adds a little flour and water. It isn’t even closed. Imagine the flies that fall in there??? And all that unhealthy fat…” They all shudder.
OK, I ask myself silently. How else do you make gravy?
“Well,” says one of them, her huge bosom rising. It was obvious she had the clincher to top all the previously disgusting behaviour. “You should see the YYY’s. I went to a braai the other day at their house. You should see them. They cook the meat, and then, when we had all taken ours, let the dogs eat the fat off the braai dish. And you know what?” Shake of the head. “When they had finished licking, he just took a little newspaper, rubbed around the dish and put it away to use next time. I can tell you, I will never, ever eat a braai there again.”
I escaped, as soon as I finished eating.
At the time, I rode each morning with two women, Hillary and Rosemary, neither of whom had been at the event the previous evening. Both of them have accents like my grandmother. Rosemary, the elder of the two, even looks a little like her.
“So,” Hillary asks as we tack up. “How did it go last night?”
I shrug and tell her the first anecdote.
Rosemary, looks down her hooked nose and with a puzzled frown says, “Oh?”
I tell them the second story and Hillary says, “Hey. I do that!” Rosemary nods.
When I get to the braai dish story, we all puzzle over what on earth we should do with the layer of fat left on a braai pan. How could a little dog slobber possibly hurt, and anyway, if some did get left on, surely the heat from the fire would evaporate it?
Dog and cat tongues are such good cleaners too.
Another thing I am scared of: elephants…