I was stuck in a queue the other day. I should have known better than to go to a supermarket on a Saturday morning at the end of the month, but hey, a girl’s got to eat. That and I’d run out of hair colour and my roots had grown out so far they were in the process of an attempted coup to take back the rest of my head.

The only good thing about being stuck in a queue is that it gives you the opportunity to get in some quality people-watching time, one of my favourite pastimes.

In front of me was a harassed thirty-something mother with her plus, minus six-year-old child. He was standing, taking handfuls of chocolates and batteries off the shelves and dropping them into the trolley. From my place behind her in the queue I could tell she’d had a rough morning. She was literally pulling her hair out, and she had a number of miniature brown handprints across the back of her white t-shirt, that could have been anything from chocolate to poo.

Mom was keeping it together as much as possible under the circumstances. Calmly replacing the chocolates and trying to delay throttling her child, at least until she made it to the privacy of her own car, where no one would see her and she wouldn’t be reported for child abuse.

Suddenly there seemed to be a momentary lull. For a split second the supermarket quieted down. The tills held off, conversation dropped and there was a break between songs on the PA system. In that split second the small child stood up in the front of the trolley and asked in a loud voice: “Mom, why does that lady have a moustache?”

The entire shop turned. Mom went white. The lady at the front of the queue went fuchsia. I took a closer look. The child had a point. The lady in the front of the queue did indeed have an unfortunate abundance of dark facial hair. Not quite Magnum PI, but getting there.

You see, when you’re six, the part of your brain that stops you saying or doing stupid, embarrassing or impulsive things hasn’t quite been formed yet. Which is why children are forced to say whatever it is that comes into their heads at any given moment in time.

But maybe that kind of honesty isn’t such a bad idea after all. Perhaps in growing up we’ve all become just a little too polite. Nobody ever really says what they mean anymore.

“It’s not you, it’s me.” Or “Let’s just be friends.” Or “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” All of these well-worn phrases are just euphemisms for what we really mean. Maybe we all need to be six again and just come out with it and say what we really think. Like: “It’s not me it’s you.” Or “I don’t want to be your girlfriend, so why would I want to be your friend?” Or “I love you, but I’m not in love with your body odour.”

I for one would like to know if I had a booger hanging out of a nostril, if my zip was down, if my breath smelt or if I was walking around with a piece of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my shoe.

Maybe if a friend had quietly taken Mrs Magnum PI aside and given her the number of the lady down the street who does waxing and tinting, she wouldn’t have had to hear it from a six year old on a Saturday morning in front of half of Cape Town.

And perhaps if I’d been a little more straightforward with some of the guys I’ve dated in the past, things would have worked out better. If I’d just asked them a battery of simple every day questions like: “Do you like wearing woman’s underwear underneath your chino’s.” Or “Do you have problems with intimacy that will make it impossible for you to get it up unless we’re involved in some kind of freaky role play?” or “How much longer do you plan on living with your mother?” all questions I’ve always just been too polite to ask, but ones that might have saved me quite a bit of heartache and the guy quite a bit of embarrassment at the time.

Maybe our mothers were actually right (don’t tell them, we’ll never live it down), and honesty really is the best policy.

So I’m going to go out tonight and I’m taking my inner six year old with me. Although I’m not sure what I’m going to wear, she just told me my bum looks big in these jeans and this top does nothing for my boobs!

By: Paige Nick

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