Barbara Adair – Researcher and Writer


by on Jul.06, 2017, under Published Novels and Short Stories



Ma Thokos Books, 2017: Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action Trust (GALA)

Phillip swivels his neck so that he can look over his shoulder; his neck is thick, a short pillar of saturated salt, it gleams with sweat. He looks for his father in the crowd. It is not a big crowd, a gathering of people, a social gathering. Phillip cannot find his father; he cannot see him by just turning his head, he is unable to turn his neck more than twenty degrees (he is not an owl, moreover he is fat), so he moves, or rather heaves, his whole body into another position. Phillip is fat (in a polite narrative the euphemisms overweight, chubby, rotund will be used, he will not be a fat label, fat is a brand, an unhealthy brand), and fat means no prospects. If Phillip was chubby, there may be hope that he could have prospects, the prospects that his father wants fulfilled. But sometimes there is no space for a gentle words; his face is fat, his legs are fat, his arse is fat (he never has a problem sitting on a hard bench, only on a narrow seat), his arms are fat, even his fingers are fat (he does not have long slim piano playing fingers), and if he takes off his shoes, which are a size 7, (this is the only part of him that is small), his toes on his small feet are fat.

Phillip is a fat homosexual (can there ever be any prospects?).

Phillip’s father is elegant, sartorial in that chino and leather and white shirt kind of way, not James Bond, James Bond is younger, but he dresses as James Bond dresses (although he does not have a gun or drive an Aston Martin). He is also somewhat humourous, that is if he gives anyone the space to laugh, his humour is only for himself, he laughs not with, but at others (and he is funny, other people are always good material for a joke). He is also a serious man; he calculates how high the decibels are when others laugh so as to determine how funny he is (or whether he should explain his joke). And Phillip’s father always laughs at Phillip for Phillip is a fat mincing homosexual.

The gathering is being held in the sacred halls of Phillip’s father’s club, his sailing club for he is a sailor. The members of the club are affluent and pale, wan almost, no-one has much of a tan despite the fact that they presumably spend a lot of time outdoors (although not that much for they have offices in high-rise buildings in Sandton with dusky windows and air conditioning), or possibly someone has come up with a special kind of sunscreen that protects even the palest of skin. Phillip’s father does not need a sunscreen, he is naturally very dark, black. He has not been a sailor for a very long time, it is only since he became a millionaire (or is he a billionaire?) that he has taken up this hobby (this manly pitting himself against the thunderous waves hobby); consequently he is a new member of the club. Phillip’s father is intelligent and personable and elegant so he was accepted without a question, he was never asked about his heritage (it is not politically correct to ask about a bloodline, it sounds as if you are enquiring about a horse or a cow or even a dog – woof). He owns a sixty foot sloop (the Ho Tlola Esitale, in English this means Breaking Even) and has, once, taken it to the Maldives (he took a knowledgeable captain with him; the captain wore a peaked cap with the words Ho Tlola Esitale embroidered on it). And as he is civic minded he sometimes flies to Durban or Richards Bay or even Port Elizabeth and sails with members of the fisheries department police, they hunt down dolphin killers, ‘kill a dolphin: we kill you’ (you slimy yellow people of the East). However as he lives in Johannesburg sometimes it is not that often. But he does own a sixty foot sloop.

There are at least a hundred people at the gathering; men and their wives and sons and daughters; all are present to celebrate the club’s two hundredth anniversary (and, although it is not said, their two years of integration). Now the club is open to all; women (of all colours), black people (of all tribes) and even Jews and Muslims (but no queers). However there are few members who are not pale and English (South African English). The club’s president has a motto ‘we stick with our kind,’ and as he says this (he says it frequently) he slaps Phillip’s father on the back and then gives him a manly hug for Phillip’s father is not really of ‘our kind’.

Do I fit in here? Does my father fit in? What a question, of course he does, my father fits in anywhere; he looks like a killer? Killers fit in, (queers don’t). The crowd, the rented mannequins, these men of stature (wives and daughters do not have stature, they are scenery, and, in this case, not such great scenery, there are no lilting branches, no willowy stamens, no wilting rose complexions). No, this crowd is not a rented crowd, for good money you can buy an eclectic crowd, an aesthetic crowd; thin, intelligent, dressed in designer clothing. In this crowd all the people (men and women) look the same, only the age spots are different, differently shaped, differently located, and a few of them, (and me), are fat. And there are no homosexuals, no queers, and no pansies. This is only me. I am a marque, a brand, we are all special, and no-one is special, where is the logic in this paradigm? And I, I am a fat brand, an advertisement for weight loss, the biggest loser, I am who you pity. And so underneath my rolls of lard I fantasise that I am thin, (for thin is applauded) a thin heterosexual (for heterosexual is celebrated). A fat homosexual, me, I am a fat homosexual. I am silent, my life is sustained by my fantasy fucks, reality (don’t I know it) is pitiless.

 Philip sits alone. He does not know these people in the crowd, his father’s new friends, and if you look at him, not even closely, (you can spot it a mile off), he clearly does not fit in. (And who wants to know a fat queer boy.) He shifts his body and looks at his father, his felicitous heterosexual father who was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and so is rich, not just rich but very rich, super rich, rich enough for all those at the club to overlook his obvious badge of the never been privileged, and of course he is, despite his colour, intelligent and witty and, most of all he is thin (and heterosexual).

I cannot look into a mirror. I wish I looked like him. I wear my shiny black Armani trousers and hear mother say, ‘Phillip you cannot wear white, white is fattening’. I always wear the best linen, baggy so I will not sweat (well not not, but less) in this hot dry air. My legs are wide, they are very wide, they spread out over the sides of the chair, and yet the chair is wide, wide enough for two, a sofa, a red and green sofa, floral, an elegant print. My thighs chafe together as I walk (especially as I walk in a rather uptight swaying way). I always have a rash in this heat. I am fat. When I try to dress (secretly) in mother’s clothes they cling to me, a zip remains unfastened, a button pops (only the red lipstick fits my broad and tasty lips).

 There are few things sadder than the truly monstrous.

On the sofa, a match of the elegant print sofa chair that Phillip sits on, are two people, two thin people, two thin heterosexual people, a man and a woman (are they heterosexual?). They sit together, side by side, their bodies are close, they sit on the same sofa (they are able to sit on the same sofa as they are thin). Phillip cannot share his sofa with anyone (even if someone wanted to share it with him) as he weighs one hundred and thirty kilograms, (or thereabouts). Phillip definitely does not look like his father, his father weights eighty kilograms, he runs three times a week and goes to the Virgin Active gym every day (he is a life member of the gym and Richard Branson is his Facebook friend). As Phillip watches his father the chinos impose their own space on his legs, the muscles in his calves undulate as he moves to allow another man to enter the tight circle, to create more space for himself, for his largesse (not his largeness), his largeness of personal space. Phillip’s father is commanding, a soldier, a terrorist, who fought for his country, risked his life for his freedom (and all those in the club, and of course Phillip’s, but do they really appreciate this?).

What is freedom? My freedom? Your freedom? It is the sound of running water, as if everyone is dying, crying. I hear freedom everywhere for it is nowhere. I can hear the shouts of that hidden cabal, the cabal that cries freedom. My mother calls me Pip, she always tries to speak correctly in a language that is not hers, read books about places she has never been to. Who the dickens is Dickens? And my name is Phillip, not Thembekele, which is much more fashionable. Phillip, a queens consort, that racist queer who does not use sunscreen for he has never seen the sun, he always has a bearer with an umbrella, a slave who fans him with a feather, he is already in a grave for he is so very very grave. But I, I am fearless; I experience myself as fearless (do I?). This is such an agreeable illusion. I have a fearless fantasy. I am proud and queer. Fuck you.

Philip shifts slightly on the sofa, it appears as if he wants to spread his weight evenly, but actually he wants to watch the man with the blue eyes who sits slightly to his right, if Phillip shifts just ever so slightly he will face him. The man is older than he is, much older, (Phillip is twenty two). He is lean, jaded, sun faded, his lips are not thin, but they draw an elegant line in his designed unshaven face. Phillip watches his mouth move, he talks as his father talks, to everyone although no-one is listening. The mouth mouths words, something about food and authentic organically grown tomatoes, no chemicals used. (Ah, he is a foodie.) It is fashionable (and the man is fashionable) to be a foodie, he is aware of authenticity (his own), there is nothing genetically modified about him, he spends time exploring the possibilities (of the real) in the Jamie Oliver Cookbook. He is a healthy foodie.

I too am a foodie. I follow the food-isms of Nigella, she is a foodie, I can expose my breasts, I have tits like she does.  Will I get a man if I eat pure wholesome foods, men like the pure; a Madonna, will I always be the whore that eats bacon and egg and cheese toasted sandwiches, with two portions of chips, all fried in rank stale smelly sunflower oil that is used again and again? I want to be used again and again, again and again. I want to be eaten; I want to be the food of someone’s fantasy.

Philips father is sure that the reason Phillip is fat, and he never stops telling Phillip how fat he is, is that he does not eat authentic whole foods. (He also tries to make him walk with a manly swagger.) but Phillip secretly stops (and minces) into the Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet next to the petrol station to get fried chicken and mash potato, he always stops at the café shop and buys himself a packet of chips sodden with monosodium glutamate, and he eats a lot of chocolate (not Lindt but Beacon). Phillip looks at the man with the blue eyes who now sits opposite him rather than on his right. Phillip can now stare at him while he pretends to look over his shoulder at the girl who stands with her hips thrust forward, her jeans tight despite the fact that the night is very warm (hot in fact). Phillip leans forward to look at the shape of the man’s cock, it makes a bulge in his chinos (he also wears chinos, as Phillip’s father does). But the girl bends forward, (unfortunately obscuring the swelling in the chinos). Phillip is confronted by her makeup, it shines on her nose, she surreptitiously takes out a piece of tissue and wipes the shine away, blots it (a shiny skin is not sexy, a glowing skin is, or at least this is what the Revlon adverts tell us). Phillip can’t help but watch her; she is in the way. No-one in this normative environment could ever believe that Phillip only watches her because he watches the man, (why would he watch another man, only queers and poofters watch other men).

Phillip leans forward. “Ever been to the movies?”  But the man does not hear him.

Ever been to the movies?

Phillip looks like a black slug, that is if he is wearing black, as he is tonight, or a green slug, if he is wearing green, as he did yesterday. Anyway whatever colour he is wearing, (even if it is lime green or pink cerise) he looks like a that colour slug. Phillip eats because he is unhappy; (of course he does, this is the cliché) we all do something to punish ourselves, whether we are happy or unhappy (we are masochists and sadists all, we fight wars and torture small animals), and so he eats. But Phillip is not happy, he is unhappy because never in a million years could he fuck another man, not the older man who sits opposite him, and not his father, the man that he most wants to fuck, really wants to. In fact he has never wanted to fuck his mother, it is always the other way around, he wants to kill his mother because she takes up his father’s time (what would Freud say about this, is Phillip sexually immature?), that is when his father is not talking to others as he is now, now these others take up his time. Phillip’s father speaks to others often, not because he has anything to say but because he, the sartorial elegant sailor, is validated by his own voice.

I like the strong silent type. I wish my father did not talk so much. These days there are few strong silent types; they are all in the movies. Ever been to the movies? Ah Jonny Depp, call to me, call me please.

 And so deprived of an outlet for his need to fuck his father, or, for that matter, any other man that remotely resembles his father, as the man sitting opposite him does, slightly, Phillip projects this need, this outrageous need on to what he consumes. We live in foodie times, there is food everywhere in this city, Johannesburg, (not as much as is in London, but Phillip is not in London although he wishes he could be). Phillip reads about food, food all the time: king size prawns in genuine whole cream butter, full sweet potato chips grown with no chemicals in the hydroponic fields of Ireland, or was it full cream butter and whole food potato chips, or sweet not sugary but authentically sweet potash. But Phillip’s foodie-ness is not of the wholesome kind even though he should wish that it was.

Everywhere I go there is a new foodie restaurant; Fourways, for those that are afraid of the dirty city streets, Soweto, for the accidental and looking for an authentic African meal tourist, even Maboneng, gentrified food for the young, (sometimes not so young) and trendy. Food and sex, I am allowed neither; I am allowed wholesome good food and wholesome good sex, and I don’t want to have wholesome good procreational sex and I don’t want good wholesome nutritious food. I want to have unwholesome carbohydrate filled sex with the older man that sits opposite me, the one with the blue eyes that look through me like a steel razor, (how unimaginative that sounds, a steel razor). I want his steel razor cock to penetrate me. Food (and sex) is just shit waiting to happen. Who I want to fuck is shit waiting to happen. In its most literal form, I will clean my rectum before the time comes, and as anal sex, so I am told, causes flatulence so then what, holy crap. Who I want to eat, what I want to eat, I will clean away, hide, it is prohibited to me, I am fat, I am a fat queer.

And so Phillip projects his unwholesome desire for sex onto food. The body fat suit thing is a disguise, underneath this mountainous obscenity, there is a thin heterosexual looking out, looking out longingly (or so we would like to believe). There is always someone else looking out from who we think we are, in Phillips case it is possibly a thin person, a person who only eats good wholesome food, the real genuine healthy thing (or it could be a thin queer porn model who makes millions of dollars on the internet). But the genuine costs money, it is only the modified that is cheap, (let the poor eat cheap and badly, they can’t afford a real meal). Phillip is much like a poor person (only in relation to his eating habits for he is rich), those without money are depraved and insalubrious, Phillip wants to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken or a McDonald’s hamburger with chips, he wants to drink coke, lots of coke (coke brings happiness). And the men and women at the sailing club, the men and women who very rarely sail, (or have sex) have money, they eat authentic artisanal food, nothing odious or manufactured. They are not depraved (or deprived). They will live a long time. As Phillip will not as one day he will be beaten to death by a squad of thugs with fascist leanings and shaven heads as he is fat and he is queer. But that is another story, wait, sometime it will be written.

Chips, the oil, I will put oil on my body, my fat thin body; I will lubricate my inner sanctum. But no, they all say, go for the authentic, my boy, go for the low fat and the well-crafted, it may cost more but it will serve you well. (Go for the girl next door, she is artisanal, she is earthy and unrefined.) She will produce macrobiotic children, processed only with the finest organic metabolite semen, your semen. Semen, my semen it tastes like custard, I love custard, my semen substitute. I like to lick the semen from my hands, this wanking, this masturbation never quells my desire it inflames it. I am developing a real thing for my cock, I am falling in love with my cock, there are no messy emotional complications. When I caress him, the man that sits opposite me disguised as my cock, I say sweet things like, oh man you are so great, I want you, I want you, I love you. I want to eat you. I want to eat a good man, if I want to be a good man I must be fed by a good man.

Phillip is too fat to do the yoga exercise that enables a superbly supple man to give himself a blow job, he can barely even lift his legs up let alone bend them so far backwards so as to allow his cock to enter his own mouth. Not very many men are able to do this, a few Yogi in India and one or two real (realistically Indian) Americans.

Can I put my cock into your mouth, not likely, you are probably the type that only eats the good things, heritage foods that have no chemicals, women or maybe even girls, young ones who you can savour, penetrate, enjoy because the crazed decadence that I am proposing, no, it is too sordid, nothing like that organic stuff that you pack into your mouth.

Phillip has tried to fast, not because he wants to, but rather that he wants to appear to be a good person. His mother, (who still calls him Pip although he is twenty two), believes that every good person must understand and respect all cultures, to be able to really understand you must go through the hardships that other cultures go through (as she likes to say). Not the poor though, you don’t have to be poor to intrinsically understand the hardships of poverty, however should this be difficult there are expensive tours that you can go on to Orange Farm where, for a price, you can buy a version of poverty. Phillip has not taken one of these tours, he knows that as a foodie, a fat foodie who enjoys Kentucky Fried Chicken, he need not take one of these expensive poor tours, his mother agrees with him (but not for the same reasons.) However he has tried to fast. He has empathized with Muslims during Ramadan and eaten nothing for a whole day (but when the sun sets, and he only did it for a day); and with the Jews on Yom Kippur (but when the sun sets, and it is only for one day). And all the time that he does this, or did this, for he only did it once, he knew that it was not the others culture he wanted to understand, it was the others body, the svelte dark skinned musclemen so elegant and slim.

Do they, those thin people, scorn this indulgence of always eating junk? I want to be thin like you. I want to over eat you, tastefully. I am bourgeois, I am indulgent and I am fat, but I cannot screw you (because I cannot fuck you). Well screw you then.

Once Phillip’s father took him to a doctor (it was a secret excursion). He took him as he believed that if he could clamp Phillip’s jaws, bind them like the feet of a little Chinese seamstress, Phillip could not, and therefore would not, eat. The doctor did not bind Phillip’s jaws up (he thought this may be considered cruel and that he could be stuck from the medical roll); instead he gave him a diet to follow. The diet was written up in a small bound booklet, it was soon in a dustbin (literally, and metaphorically in the dustbin of Phillip’s mind). The doctor also gave him a hormone injection in the buttocks, ostensible to control the largeness on his hips, but also to control the unseemly desires which his father suspected (and because Phillip never did look at the girl next door).

I want to eat myself, I want custard, a coffee sort of custard, a tad spicy. Is it fashionable to be a homosexual? Some say yes, unfortunately for me I know that it is not. But I suppose anyone can be anyone else in most ways. I have accepted this (not really), and so I no longer hold out for a dream. I will be like them someday (and you, and me, and he).