Smiggles Genis

It started; a slow seismic rumble. Subterranean rumours of the coming of a new world order in stationary. Eight-year-old girls whispered amongst themselves about the revolution to come. Their mothers – blissfully unaware, continued to go to the supermarket in blind ignorance of the fact that their budgets were about to be blown to smithereens and the phrase ‘just getting the basics’ was about to take on a whole new meaning.

It wasn’t as if I was totally blind to what was coming. In Napier a year ago, while walking amongst the abandoned retail outlets and weaving through the local drunks, a multi-coloured lozenge of light and smooth marketing radiated it’s come hitherness into the grey surrounds. The small person – with a feral yell practically threw herself under a bus to cross the road and get in there. ‘SMIGGLE SHOP!!! MUM IT’S REALLY A SMIGGLE SHOP!’ She cried.

What in God’s name is a Squiggle shop? I asked. She stopped and looked at me as if I’d just asked what a broom was. “It’s Smiggle. Mum. And it smells. It’s rubbers and things – and they smell.” Still clueless – I navigated her around and not under the bus and went inside.

White backdrop to better display colour coded stationary of ever increasing degrees of funkiness. I stand back and watch the small person get fed into the marketing machine. Her hands itch to touch. The sales assistant says she can. She tells me she wants to live here. For life. Her words. I look at the sales assistant and wonder if she realises she is the new surrogate smiggle Mum and I have my doubts about whether she will get up to a vomiting child at night. This is partially because she is dressed in a bright pink French Maid’s outfit and as I’m trying to figure out how this fits in with stationary – I notice that there are a lot of Dads down here buying stationary with their kids. Which is just not normal. The mad Latin will agree to an exchange Mum programme as long as the new model looks like this. Buckets of cash get poured over the counter. This is genius! As a form of market research I ask the eight year old how many rubbers she needs given she already has a perfectly good one at home. She looks at me like I’m the communist evil twin sister of pink french maid mum and rolls her eyes. I go to rub out the scribbles she’s making with one of the rubbers. “DON’T USE IT!!!’ She screams. “But the lady said you could” I stammer. “They’re not for using that’s why you don’t NEED them you just…like… HAVE them and…. (she added trying to come up with some utilitarian purpose with which to persuade me to purchase something) you can SMELL them.”

Genius! This way buying something can be completely disassociated from purpose and it becomes a collectors game and therefore unlimited.

I start to wish that I had invented smiggles.

Last year I wished I had invented the animal shaped crazy rubber bands that kids could collect and put round their wrists.

The year before that was fart dough… but I digress. “You can smell horse poo too but that doesn’t make you want to buy it – why is this so special?” She looks at me with an expression that questions the maleficence of God in shackling her with such an obviously mentally challenged mother. “No one wants to buy poo Mum.” Right. Good point. And there’s no point rationalising with her.

Her eyes are glazed and she’s breathing shallow. Her fingers walk a zombie dance of desire over the forbidden goods. She’s counting under her breath. “What are you doing?” “I’m counting how many times I have to come to work with you to get that pencil case.”

Genius. I have my new bribery passport to good behaviour. And a mental road map that will get me to the supermarket without passing smiggles and blowing $200 bucks on rubber pigs that smell like bubble gum.

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