Jane and the incredible secret world of the annual L Wechsler & Co. sale

The number of cars lining the side of the road and choking up the improvised parking lot, was the first portent that Jane was about to become part of something rather important.

When she saw the horde of people emerge from the side of the tent pushing trolleys, each one labouring under the weight of multiple cardboard boxes, her heart missed a diastole. “Ooh, what could there be in those boxes,” she thought.

And when she noticed how each them wore that same blend of triumph and satisfaction on their faces, Jane was jolly glad she remembered to put on panty-liners that morning.

“This is it,” she whispered fervidly to her sister-in-law. “I can’t wait to see what’s inside. I’ve heard stories about things like these…”she broke off, almost in reverence, as they approached the tent’s entrance. “Oh my, do you think one trolley will be enough?”
“Ha! I like that question!” said a random woman grabbing her own steel basket. No doubt she’d already been inside and was privy to things arcane and mysterious.
With a very deep breath, Jane clamped her fingers around the steel of the trolley and passed through the white plastic flap of the entrance.

She’d never seen anything like it.
Before her lay shelves and shelves of stacked brown boxes. But it was not the boxes that mesmerised her. It was the items on display next to them, the ones that hinted at what was inside each box.

There were dinner services, serving plates, charger plates, casserole dishes, sauce pans, goblets, tumblers, salad dressing bottles, colanders, egg poachers, apple corers, shiny silver things that could skin an avocado and harness the energy of a hundred suns. So many things of magic and delight, and oodles and oodles of cutlery. And it was all on sale. Jane wept.

She felt the ground beneath her give a little. It was not from the sheer excitement suffusing her insides, but the thrum of a million trolley wheels coursing down the aisles.
Families, couples, singles, every type of family unit crawled over and around each other in a mad shimmering dance.

She saw wives throwing themselves onto the cutlery piles, staking claims on steak knives going at a steal, while their husbands edged away slowly, perhaps out of fear that they might be emasculated by an overzealous grandmother with a sharp potato peeler.
An arthritic woman on borrowed and now overdue time, barely escaped being crushed by a middle-aged woman missioning to claim thirty teaspoons priced at R5 each.

What struck Jane the most was the amount of newly-weds at the sale. “How did they find out about this place?” Jane wondered. She was brought here by her sister-in-law who got wind of it through her other sister-in-law who heard from her sister-in-law via that colossal grapevine that now weaved through Jane’s life and tripped her up with its branches.

It really was a whole new world opening it’s core to her. She understood the thrill of fingering Jenni Button Melton jackets and boots from San Marina, and now, to have that same feeling extend to olive spoons and honey-drippers, Jane felt she’d emerged from a chrysalis.

Jane was jolted out of her fugue by someone so captivated by the R25 salad forks, that everything in her path towards the display would just have to be obliterated.

Jane rubbed her smarting elbow and immediately oohed at the yellow flan pan on the shelf before her. “Must have…” she murmured, just a little drool sketching a line towards her chin. All thought of pain poofed away when she happened upon the egg cups that came with a cute little salt shaker and an equally adorable little spoon.
“Must have…”
Jane saw pink ponies and babies playing the theme from Desperado on their violins, her mind was so lost between the bright red saucepans and the citrus juicer.

Time passed the way it does when one’s under the influence of something delightfully narcotic, and she soon emerged from the tent with her own big brown box in a trolley.

“The lady at the till said they unpack new stuff everyday!” Jane enthused to her sister-in-law. She really needed a good potato-masher and the L Wechsler & Co sale ran until the first of May. With one look at the cardboard box containing her now prized cake lifter, Jane knew she’d be back.

— Somewhere lyrics spilled out of a car radio, “You can step out any time you like, but you can never leave…” —

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I am a writer and photographer (look up my work on www.shootcake.com) based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I have an MA in Creative Writing from the university currently known as Rhodes. My writing accolades include winning the 2014 Writivism Short Story Prize and the 2020 Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize for my debut collection, Zikr.

17 thoughts on “Jane and the incredible secret world of the annual L Wechsler & Co. sale”

  1. Jane sounds like my mom.Lol.

    A tip for you women out there on kitchen utensils…….remember just like makeup “LESS IS MORE!”

  2. ‘The wonderfully unique thing about Saaleha is her ability to make even the most uneventful of events into an entertaining tale.’

    -Waseem’s Digest-

  3. Ahem – a cdertain newly wed is getting very happy with buying things for the house. dont worry – i am stalking the kitchen aisles in the shops here and currently on the look out for a good set of pots. sigh…

  4. Is it sad that still-single i, would probably experience an equally great thrill at such a sale, regardless of my non-existent own home/own spouse?

  5. “Jane” is something of a parody, a character based in fact but altered in fiction. Jane is everybody, yet she is nobody but herself. She likes being ironic.

  6. Firstly, I have to say I love this blog. No matter what the content(in this case a sale about cutlery) I’m always captivated and transported to another world.

    There has been news that you are busy writing a book. True or False?

    Secondly, I agree with Muhammad – the smile on their faces is “all worth it. :)”

  7. Oh what is this place that u speak of?
    Where is this sale?
    Why have I not heard of this.
    I am in need of this stuff!

  8. … mohamed and i had a make-believe friend call mary-jane. but i killed her.
    … saale, i went back! and i bought you a cute sumfing. i also bought those seashell plates for dbn apartment, and those milkshake goodies with the steel straw. oh, and a pestel and mortar.

  9. They have cute pizza cutters with the handle shaped like pizza slices on sale half price.

    The hidden guarantee is that some time later (maybe years), you will look at it and think… “Is this really what life is? A fucking cute pizza cutter.” It’s then you’ll realise your heart’s been sliced over years of consumerism commonly understood to be, although misplaced, as happiness.

    But then again, what room is there for cynics? After seeing the smile on your spouse’s face… it’s all worth it. 🙂

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