Of Gumballs and Men

It’s an undeniable fact that Fergalicious defined the 2000s – in 2006 it solidified a decade that was obsessed with indulgence (I refer to Fergie’s other decadent bop Glamorous).

There are two lines, however, in Fergalicious that I would like to discuss with you, wonderful reader. The Duchess claims that she “got reasons why I tease ‘em / Boys just come and go like seasons” and then confirms that, yes, she is indeed Fergalicious.

I apologise if it is now stuck in your head, but that was kind of my point.

But let’s unpack and deconstruct, if you will, what those lyrics entail. Essentially, Fergie proclaims that boys (important to note, not yet men) are temporary and replaceable (thank you, Beyoncé). For her, they fade in and out similar to seasons changing – slowly and then all at once? (Sorry John Green).

Basically what Fergie-ferg means is that her romantic relationships don’t last that long because she is simply too “tasty” and irresistible to be tied down to any particular boy for longer than a few months. I respect that.

The point I’m desperately clutching at is that my experience with boys differs slightly from the pop bop kween discussed above. How, you ask? Let’s compare them to gumballs, shall we?

Those candies you only ever find in grimy machines outside either an empty Blockbusters or some shady Pakistani corner store. They’re usually about R2 for one (total ripoff), and they lose their flavour by the time you put away your spare change.

Am I saying that I lose interest in guys at an extremely fast pace? You bet your sweet ass I do. Maybe not as consistently as Fergie, but fast just the same.

Explain I shall. It’s an exciting rush near the beginning – the promise of something fun and delicious. Most times, you do receive that delectable rush of crushing into sugary heaven. It’s pure, unadulterated bliss.

Then it stops. At first you don’t notice the slow fade of flavour, but it soon becomes obvious and you’re left with a tasteless wad of indifference, and searching for any opportunity to get rid of it.

“But that’s an unhealthy and problematic mindset!” Maybe so, but isn’t it better to have tasted the tutti frutti flavour and lost it than to have never tasted it at all?

Gumball_machines_Dallas_2008
The dirty culprits. (Photo: Andreas Praefcke)

Walter in the 3rd person

The door opens and in walks Walter, flashing a smile he quickly turns to shut the door. We shake hands and exchange greetings, I wave him towards the chair opposite me and we both take our seats. He seems rather nervous and I notice the beads of sweat forming on his forehead, I assure him there is nothing to worry about.

“I like Walter because he’s kind of average, but has nice legs.” – Antoinette, best friend

I notice he’s a relatively tall chap, standing at around 1.85 metres, with wide shoulders. Rather skinny, he comes across as a bit awkward and lanky. Gangly, I’d say. On top one notices he’s balding with a big expanse of forehead topped with a short buzz cut of mousy brown hair. Though what attracts the most attention are the expressive eyes & eyebrows combo going on. He probably plucks, I’m sure. The eye colour is quite difficult to make out, to be honest – greyish green discs that become hidden behind creased eyelids when he unveils his big, toothy smile.

Walter becomes pensive and reserved when our discussion turns towards his family background. His mother studied virology at the University of Witwatersrand and his father was a farmer in Limpopo, they met in a bar. His parents got divorced when he was 8 and his brother 10, their mother got custody. His father moved to Kwazulu-Natal and they visited him during school holidays. Their mother remarried a few years later and he gained a step-brother and -sister. His father remained single and bitter.

Walter started his schooling career at a private Christian school, insisted on by his religious parents. After the divorce, he was transferred to public school and remained there until completion of his matric. He was given the choice of going to a boarding school but declined; this was a good decision according to him as it strengthened his relationship with his mother. Walter adds, rather smugly, that he’s the first of his siblings to attend university and obtain a degree despite being the youngest.

“Walter has this unfailing gift of bringing about smiles everywhere he goes.” – Dominique, university friend

Describing your own character takes some reflection and I allow Walter some time to mull it over. The first characteristic he brings up is that he’s unassuming – interesting and unusual one. Open minded – that’s a lucky one to have. He’s friendly – which was apparent from the moment I first met him. Spontaneous – an uncommon one these days in our time worshipping society. Observant – which ties in with the unassuming one and one which he says has been very useful in his life thus far. As he previously mentioned, his mother was a big influence on his personality in that she gave him his space to develop it but also pushed him in the right direction from time to time.

“Any weaknesses?” He laughs, “Too many to mention.” He says he hates how he gets jealous very easily and quite often, though this has been with him all his life. He also describes himself as judgemental but pairs this with his observance trait in that he likes to prove himself right (or wrong) by doing the necessary research when a person or issue becomes his focal point. He adds that he finds it difficult to forgive and I ask him to elaborate. Apparently family and close friends receive forgiveness relatively quickly – depending on the transgression, though acquaintances and strangers will remain blameworthy until further notice. Lastly he adds irritable and moody to his weaknesses, stating that it takes long for him to reach his tipping point however when he does others might get hurt, emotionally. I leave it at that.

I switch our discussion to something lighter – interests, dislikes, etc. Like any other young adult, Walter says his main interests comprise of cars, technology, and music. Cars because they are such a huge part of our world and because he sees them as man’s greatest invention. Technology because in the 21st century it’s rather impossible to ignore it. And music because, “Let’s face it, what person gifted with functioning ears doesn’t like music?”

“Any other likes or interests?” Besides the abovementioned, he says he likes cats a lot – definitely a cat person. Loves travelling, though he has never been overseas – a Euro-trip is on his bucket list. He also enjoys movies, “but more the artsy, psychological films instead of the mainstream blockbusters.” He mentions fashion as well, since it’s the self-expression the world sees first-hand.

Time to name some dislikes. The first one Walter mentions is children. I laugh, “Why so?” He explains that they’re just plain irritating and that he simply does not have any patience when dealing with them. He plans to never procreate, but since he’s gay he says that won’t be an issue. Noteworthy. On the same level as children (possibly higher), Walter despises celebrity gossip and says it is utterly useless and pathetic because they are just human beings, no better than ourselves. Passionate. “Anything else?” Vegetables – he’s never liked them and never will. I respect that.

I ask Walter about his beliefs – religious or not? He says he’s agnostic, but spiritual at heart. As previously mentioned, he was raised Christian and followed the belief until he started university – got to love that exposure. He mentions how he never felt a connection with the religion, never understood the passion or the love, so it was easy for him to renounce his following. He says he still prays because, “We all want something to believe in.”

We move on to political views where he says he’s democratic, though he definitely does not have an interest in politics. He finds it incredibly tedious and rather repetitive. He believes that no politician can be trusted since we only have to look back at the world’s history to see this.

We’ve reached the end of our interview and I thank Walter for his time. We both get up and shake hands. He walks over to the door, opens it and disappears into the white void.