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Holding On

I called the bank. I’d been having some trouble with that bunch. Threatening to cancel them and find another bank somewhere except I knew – and maybe they did too – that all banks are the same. Dreadful. Anyway I call and there’s the test they put you through, like choose your own adventure. If you want to find out who the bank manager is shagging press 2. If you weren’t home at 8 pm yesterday and you missed the key episode of Generations press 3. I always get sweaty during the cross-examination. If you haven’t had a bowel movement within the last 24 hours…the line goes scratchy, oh my God, what was it? Do I press 4 or hash or…I listen some more to the litany of options and press 73, hold my breath. Ah, okay they’re putting me through to a person, I passed. But before the person there’s the obligatory message about how important I am, how sexy I look in skinny jeans and how not to worry everything will work out with the man I’m in love with. It’s a great comfort, calling your bank – have you noticed? A mechanical but soft – sultry even, is she flirting with me – voice tells me to hold on. I hold. That’s the thing, when she tells you to hold on or “please wait” you can’t exactly say, nah darling, I’d rather be spoken to right away. If you did, she’d have no response for you. In fact there’s no one there. I wait. Have you noticed anything about the pips on a phone-call when you’re waiting? The pip. Pip. Pip. Have you noticed how much time between the pips? Or, if you’re musical for instance, have you been able to decipher what key they sound in? I’m not bad on the piano – I’d play you happy birthday, I’d do a habanera after maybe the odd hour of practice. Fur Elise is my favourite but I’m shit at it. Couldn’t Beethoven have written something just as beautiful but less complex for Christ’s sake? Does beauty and “fucking difficult” have to exist side by side? Yeah well, so I can’t play it, so I get onto youtube and listen to some other ass play it. The clip only shows the hands climbing along the piano and in between seconds of rapture at the sweetness of the notes I curse the guy, the unknown pianist who plays the thing so well it’s on freaking youtube with a gazillion hits. I hate you, I say to him. But it’s no use, it’s like talking to the mechanical chick on the phone at the bank who tells me to please wait like she wants to get into my skirt. Pachelbel’s Canon is a different matter, now that Bach knew what he was doing. One day I want to make love to a man while Bach himself stands at the foot of the four post imbuia throne of a bed and whistles his master piece…no accompaniment. Damn it, I’m off topic, music has that effect on me. The thing I really wanted to tell you was:

The pips, while you wait, get longer, did you know? I didn’t. What happened is I must have fallen asleep. And jerked awake to the realisation that there were almost two whole minutes between each pip. And then at some point, in between pips, someone cleared his throat. Hello, how are you? he said. So few people come this far, well done. He proceeded to give me free counsel regarding the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, he said a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t know to pay for, share trading blah blah, I’m a dimwit with money. Anyway I took notes – you never know. The next person was a kind of Dr. Eve meets Martha Stewart with ancient recipes purely renowned for their aphrodisiac qualities. Then someone came on with the formula for the absolute cure-to-trump-all-cures  for Cancer and AIDS, apparently there’s some connection between the two. There was a number to dial if you were out to become the world’s greatest sex god or goddess; there was a special code that, once plugged in, you would never again be bothered for taxes, cellphone bills, city rates, and you’d have infinite free wifi. There was a lot of stuff, I’d have to get my notebook out to tell you everything. But right at the end, right right at the very end, when I thought I might have to drop and take care of my Christmas shopping, just when I thought the whereabouts of the holy grail would be revealed-

‘Hello, thank you for holding, how can I help you?’

‘It’s my cheque book, I’ve been waiting for my new cheque book for a month now, could you sort this out – it’s really unacceptable.’

‘Certainly Ma’am, if you’d please just hold for me, I’ll be right back to take down your details.’

There are only a few of us and we have a special wink we give each other. Sometimes I’m in a parking lot and I see some guy leaning against the boot of his car, his cellphone caught between his ear and his shoulder, a kind of spacey look on his face, the milk he bought for a long ago breakfast has expired. He’s taking notes.

‘Holding on?’ I ask him and wink.

He winks back. ‘Uh huh.’

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  1. January 3, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    What a beautiful piece. I loved reading this…the pips, your rambling thoughts, Bach himself at the foot of your bed. Brillant

  2. January 3, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Thank you Nana! I’m very happy you enjoyed it – thanks for reading.

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