Tangled Web

Deceptions of a transgender guy

Dogs playing poker - CM Coolidge



There was a colourful chicken in the shop window that tried its very best to get airborne and fly. I blinked, confused – it was January, not even close to Easter and Easter chickens are usually yellow and fluffy.  And lifeless. This one was not. What was a live chicken doing in a closed shop’s display window and who locked it up after dyeing it these vivid colours?

Plastic flower in pot

I got out out of my car and walked closer. No chicken, but a small blue plastic pot plant with a pink and white flower and two green leaves. The flower and leaves were moving by themselves – constantly, slowly.  I felt sorry for it – this senseless, persistent movement of a small ornament or toy called Flip Flop – even the name seemed pitiful to me. (I know, I am weird – I pity a supermarket trolley standing abandoned and forlorn far from a shop.)

This hapless thing for some obscure reason reminded me of my childhood in a small country town. We children were bright eyed with excitement when a Wimpy quick service franchise restaurant opened its doors in town. Wow! Those post-box red leather booths! Fake, but what did we know? It was the real McCoy to us and a rare outing there to drink glorious, condensation-covered tall glasses of milkshakes or soda floats, was our idea of heaven.

Restaurant booth

Tomato sauce dispenser

Even the tomato sauce (ketchup) in a fake plastic tomato and the jukebox in a corner were out of this world – what splendour for such a dusty little town, cowering in the summer heat, the tarmac so hot it melted. One by one the black vinyl records dropped onto the turntable as the rich kids fed it coins. Hits of the seventies rose above our chatter. The Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band…

Carly Simon belted,

 “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you.
Don’t you? Don’t You?”

Plastic orange

Picture this with a long teat


Then a new kind of soft drink came on the market. I cannot remember what it tasted like, but it came in a plastic container in the shape of an orange. It had a “stem” which you had to partially cut off to be able to guzzle the drink from it.

It used to be cool for college kids to drive around with one of these oranges stuck to the aerial of their car…


Many houses had the 3 flying ducks porcelain figures on their walls – the in thing at that time. There were also the paintings: Dying swan, The lost orchid, The crying boy. We never had them in our house, we were too poor.

Examples of kitsch paintings

It was only later that I learnt the word Kitsch.

“Kitsch (loanword from German) is a low-brow style of mass-produced art or design using popular or cultural icons. Kitsch generally includes unsubstantial or gaudy works or decoration, or works that are calculated to have popular appeal.” – Wikipedia

Salt shaker

Salt shaker – ironically also flower shaped


Last year I saw a salt shaker in a restaurant that reminded me that Kitsch is now Retro and contemporary style. There truly is nothing new under the sun.

I wonder if that poor little plant had managed to spread its wings by now and fly off to Plastic Plant Land?

Nostalgia becomes dejection, then pain, as I think of myself, flapping my fledgling trans guy wings – will I ever get to fly?


Author: Kris

Hi! I'm Kris. I live in South Africa with my life partner of 27+ years, whom I call B or Madam in my posts. We have a Pug dog child, Remi, also known as Pooch, who has graced and enriched our lives for the past 12 years.

7 thoughts on “Kitsch

  1. There is a lot of crossover between kitsch and folk art – we have travelled in Mexico where we could not resist unsanctioned knock offs of Disney paraphernalia – piñatas and wrapping paper and 3D paper cut outs for stringing across rooms….Disney on weed is the best way to put it. No harm in plastic fun.

    When I was a kid (growing up in Manhattan) my favorite restaurant was called “The Cattleman” and it was full of Cowboy and Indian stuff- for which there was not much use in the city. I loved it because they had saddles that you could sit on and I could pretend to be a cowboy, with the emphasis on boy.


    • Disney on weed – 😀 I bet you loved pretending to be a cowboy. I had a cowboy hat as a child, complete with gun in holster, and boy, could I draw it – the fastest gun in our back yard (where I played pretend by myself).


  2. Oh, the noastalgia! Also, the crying boy looks like our neighbours’ little boy.


  3. I liked this Blast from the Past! Kris, I am sure you will fly much better and further than those 1970s ducks. You could be Jonathan Livingston Seagull!