Sylvia Plath – and a recipe for perspective

2014-06-01 06:00

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My problem with Sylvia Plath is that she ended things in an oven.

I mean, of all the conceivable check-out points in the world, an oven? That old shrine to female servitude.

My oven will certainly not be used to relieve suicidal tendencies anytime soon. After all, self-respecting women writers know that wading into large bodies of water is a far more enlightened means of existential departure (think Ingrid Jonker and Virginia Woolf), which admittedly might require some planning if you live in the Karoo.

That aside, my oven is useful in some respects. White, polished and bulky – a bit like FW de Klerk’s forehead – it lends a certain stoic sensibility to my kitchen’s right corner, next to the slightly left-of-centre fridge.

Occasionally I use it to cook. For example, just the other week I prepared a meal that was actually edible. Well, I ate it.

But mostly my oven is used to stand upon when peering through a high window at street activity below.

It’s fun gazing upon the road in Green Point where Blossom rakes leaves into neat heaps and queens of the male variety strut their daily stuff. That vantage point is also ideal for screening house calls by unsolicited doorbell ringers – from the resident hipster bergie to security guards and really, just all sorts aplenty.

Walking home the other Friday night, an enterprising “parking attendant” offered me some recreational extras. No man, I say. Not interested. Besides I’m working tomorrow. “Nooooo man, m’lady,” he rebuffed. “Didn’t you know Freud came up with most of his stuff highhhh on cocaine?” Interesting elevator pitch delivered on a pavement, as it were.

I tell him I’m not a fan to be honest. Reluctantly he agreed; he wasn’t a fan of Freud either. We laughed. These conversations happen, best taken with a pinch of salt.

Speaking of which, it smelt of the sea in my street this morning. This meant the wind was blowing inland and that rain was near. It was cold. The resident Waterkant bergie sauntered over; sans one shoe, but sporting a dashing broad tie instead.

Asked about his absent footwear, he smiled and said shyly: “Yesss. I lost it last night!” He had curly autumn hair and bright-green eyes. He’s grubby, his beauty rapidly decaying; it’s a tough life on the streets. His stories always differ. The one time he used to be a model; another time a teacher; then there’s the tale of his father, the alcoholic, who used to pick him up at school in a yellow Lamborghini. In summer he likes to wear a shower cap because the sun makes him naughty, he tells me.

Some time ago he wandered the streets with a girlfriend of sorts, but I haven’t seen her in a while.

Plath once said a sweet thing: “Why can’t I try on different lives, like dresses, to see which one fits me and is most becoming?”

Sometimes life is a bit confusing – a bit noisy – like a Freudian haze or a grand wardrobe malfunction starring neck accessories and one lone shoe.

Thank goodness for ovens to perch upon for perspective.

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