Nthabiseng Maphisa

Like most people, I enjoy cheeseburgers. I love it when I can delicately hold a warm, seeded bun filled with a variation of grilled beef (and who knows what other animal), crispy cool lettuce, badly sliced tomatoes and melt-off-the-patty cheese. There are many things that can ruin my day; these include annoyances such as traffic, arrogant lecturers and rude Joburg motorists. But, there’s nothing like digging my teeth into a well-layered sandwich of fried goodness to make me forget about them all.

In the process of clogging my arteries with cholesterol, I enjoy washing down my favourite burger with a liquid solution of citric acid, preservatives and green food colouring otherwise known to you and me as Creme Soda. Oh the joys of junk food. It is ever so tasty, irresistible and bad for your health. And just as I am tempted to bite into a Steers burger Combo, I am in the same way tempted to sink my teeth into the daily dish of parish affairs. That’s right people, ain’t no gossip like church gossip. It’s ridiculous how my ears perk up at murmurings of who’s working for which company, who’s found a new girlfriend and whether or not she’s a Catholic. And “Just wait ‘til Father hears about this!”. It seems that there is always someone changing jobs, changing parishes and changing boyfriends.

Perhaps no greater victim of gossip is the parish priest. I alert you that this is no starter size gossip. This is the Big Mac with supersize fries and supersize Coke gossip sauced with extra insults, raised eyebrows and rumours. My heart goes out to some priests who are, in their parishes, either loved with the sweetness of Mountain Dew or despised with the saltiness of a cheap, greasy pizza. Noticeably, some people really don’t “hold the mayo” when it comes to sharing their opinions and factions. Just as the foul stench of oil hits one’s nose when driving past a fast food joint so does gossip reek from the bricks of the church steps and the oak of the church doors. We feast on nuggets and nuggets of the whisperings of who hasn’t been to Confession in years but is still taking Communion. This serves only to make us ill and we start to wonder why we consumed them in the first place. Talking about your fellow parishioner’s unchanging “single and ready to mingle” relationship status is like ploughing through a bucket of fried chicken. It’s all good and tasty until you feel the four-day-old oil welling up in the back of your mouth. The guilt of gossip can make us feel a little bit sick.

Perhaps nothing is worse than downing a tall, cold glass of judgement. There is nothing that strokes the ego quite like climbing on one’s very high horse and looking down on those who aren’t as holy as we think they should be. Why do we talk about people and their lives behind their backs and judge them in the process? Are we helping ourselves to extra servings of envy? Why is it that tabloids sell out like pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? Surely there can’t be anything spiritually enlightening about Brangelina’s divorce? Or are they still married?  I will have to satisfy my need for salacious gossip later and find out. I can’t wait for the next brain-cell destroying episode of the Wendy Williams Show. I am going to devour it like a teenage boy with a KFC Streetwise Two. There’s something inviting about the way she leans in and dishes out the sordid happenings of the lives of people who are very far away from me. The latter making it easier for me to consume.

It is widely acknowledged that the kitchens of some fast food eateries have rotting leftovers scattered on counters and, in the sinks, dishwater as black as shoe polish. Certainly, no sensible manager of such an establishment would wish for his guests to catch a glimpse of this. Rather, he desires that his guests focus on the bright-coloured couches and the two-for-the-price-of-one burger special. So it is with human beings. Hidden in the crowded kitchens of our souls are greasy frying pans and unwashed cutlery. We desire for no one to see this and find ways to draw their attention to our flashing neon lights and free toys. The next time I think of gossiping I hope to remember the Fanta-stained glasses and sticky, used serviettes that are crowded in my kitchen.

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