The Soccer World Cup has completely thrown my rather primitive budget out of whack.
Budgeting isn’t exactly my biggest strength anyway. Words I can do, yes, I understand the world of the exclamation mark and the past perfect tense. But the second you start adding numbers into the mix, I’m a gonner. Mentally I start to fizzle and pop: like putting salt on an unsuspecting snail, exploding in a shellfull of froth.*
My inability to count demonstrated itself practically the other day when I left the house with one, not two, pairs of keys. I was running late, slammed the door (self-locking) shut behind me when I realised (doh!) I’d just locked myself out of the flat.
Anyway, this World Cup kind of screwed me over because, as the gees blazed though the country and as my spirit caught fire, so did my desire to be completely bevlag. I wanted – needed – a South African emblazoned shirt, car socks, a window flag, a flag cape, and face paint. And R80, R60, R30, R40 and R35 later, I had all of those. Throw in an uncountable amount of airtime communicating where how when to meet people, plus drinking money, and an astronomical parking fee from the Waterfront (which I didn’t need to pay anyway, because, in an act of ill communicated benevolence, they opened the booms and waved everyone through) and all the other crap you purchase when you’re out all the time for a month. And thirty crazy days later you have a woman with severe exhaustion, from full-time excitement, and a moth ridden wallet. Then of course, as the teams drop out and new paraphernalia is needed – well, the budget gets tighter.
Sadly, a lot of the things we bought are kind of World Cup specific.
I don’t see a lot of opportunities to wear this in regular life. Unless you’re doing an orange impression, or hiding out in a can of Fanta Orange or disguising yourself as some kind of stripeless tiger – well, let’s face it, the suit has limited value (though you can wear the hat just about anywhere).
Sans World Cup, each month begins the same way for me: with a decadent, glorious, irrational outpouring of Woolworths. Oh, those perfectly crisp Lady Smith apples, the ruby red tomatoes, the packets of completely delicious precooked soup – and don’t even get me started on the forbidden fruit; the desserts. The triple chocolate pudding cup will change your life and might even convert you to the Chocolate Faith: it’s that good. It’s deliciousness squared. If chocolate was cannibalistic, that’s what it would eat. Well, that, and Lindor.
Every month ends the same way too, stretching my ability with numbers to the limit as I count all the coins in my wallet and start tipping generously with precarious piles of five cent coins. Carbs become an affordable staple and fresh fruit and veg a rapidly rotting extra as the pages of the calendar flicker by to the 30th of every month. Then of course, I run out of airtime, petrol and food all in one day and remind myself that it is only through suffering that we grow as people; like pearls. Yes, the world is a big gooey oyster, and we are the sand trapped under the tongue. If life throws you lemons, well, you’re screwed, because you’re about to get eaten.
My friend Jody calls this the ‘Poverty Diet’, and he claims he’s lost some of the “junk in [his] trunk” because of it. Silver lining, right?
I still don’t understand why students get all the discounts. Like Kirstenbosch Gardens. They give students, milk-fed and parent dependent, a generous R15 off the entrance fee. Meanwhile the newly employed – cast out into the big, cold world with a rapidly deflating lifebelt of parental support – are made to pay the full price. It’s the newly independent that need the help, Kirstenbosch!
I suppose I’m supposed to conclude that money doesn’t really matter, as long as we have smiles and rainbows and friendship in our life. And sure, that’s true in a lot of ways. I’d be suicidally miserable in a huge, Woolworths stocked mansion if I had no friends or family or good times, memories, conversations and jokes lying in wait. In contradiction of this, there’s a quote that goes: “Whoever says money can’t buy you happiness didn’t know where to shop.” I have another quote though, by former US President George W Bush, that I’d like to share, and I think I agree with more: “It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it”. Word.
*DISCLAIMER: No snails were harmed in the making of this blog entry.