The World Is Your Oyster Mushroom

8 Nov
Mushroom Bunny Scherenschnitte

flickr image by toadstool ring

(Loosely borrowed from the memories of a fellow walk of shamer. You know who you are, Sweet Pea.)

With fond nostalgia, mildly laced with a hint of regret, I am able to cast my mind back a decade to life as a fun seeking eighteen year old. Back then concepts such as mortgages, marriages, babies and coupley dinner parties were blissfully foreign to my existence.  My universe centred around the pursuit of short-lived gratification via absurdly late nights, copious amounts of alcohol, mind altering drugs and fleeting liaisons with members of the male species. At that age the majority of my friends and acquaintances were single, and those who weren’t undoubtedly wished they were.

One Sunday night out with my usual bunch of party-going friends, I met Ray. In actual fact, due to the loud music blaring from the speakers, teamed with the small white pill I had washed down with vodka an hour or two beforehand, his name was lost to me as soon as it was uttered with bravado in my ear. Truth be told, I have little idea as to his real identity, but for all intent purposes throughout this recount he shall be referred to as Ray.

There are certain men I consider to be hunters.  The hunter will spy a beautiful woman sipping a cosmopolitan whilst perched daintily at the bar; much like a lioness rehydrating at a watering hole. Dazzled by her beauty and splendour the hunter is soon overcome with the need to possess such a magnificent creature. Knowing such a feat will take skill and endurance, he begins to strategise the capture of his prey. Sudden movements and hasty tactics are ruled out for fear of startling and frightening her off. Rather, a more premeditated and calculated approach is necessary. This process may involve hours of conversation along with the hunter’s hard earned cash being invested in her vodka and tonics. This method is undoubtedly risky, as so much precious time is devoted, only for the exquisite prey to often escape. However, if the hunter manages to succeed in capturing this beautiful lioness, he is not only held in high esteem by fellow hunters, but the prize of the lioness herself is monumental. 

Then there are the gatherers.   The gathers only see the folly in investing too much time and energy in stalking the one lioness, when the potential for her to escape is huge. The gatherers prefer to turn a blind eye to the graceful lionesses and instead opt to scan the hunting grounds for wounded wildebeest. These creatures are already injured, leaving them more vulnerable to capture with very limited chance of escaping.

The wounded wildebeest are easy to spot and acquiring them takes neither precision nor skill. They can often be found arguing loudly with bar staff over the unfairness of being denied another Cocksucking Cowboy, hobbling from the vicinity of the toilets with a scrap of toilet paper trailing along the floor behind them, or gyrating whorishly on the dancefloor whilst rubbing suggestively against another wounded wildebeest. This breed of creature can also regularly be spotted once they have left the watering hole, kicking the passenger door of a cab that has refused them service, while simultaneously swearing profusely at the driver and exhibiting quite unladylike sign language thanks to the help of a strategically upright middle finger. Yes, the wounded wildebeest are abundant in number later in the evening.

The gatherers prefer to arrive at the feeding ground at a much later time than the hunters, at which point they speedily locate the weak prey and instantly zone in for the kill. There is an unmistakeable level of urgency to the gatherer’s tactics – if one such intended prey should escape, the gatherer will effortlessly fend off the tendency to feel disheartened or defeated and will instead continue on with his quest. Another wounded wildebeest is never too far away. It is relatively uncomplicated for a practised and persistent gatherer to thrive in the right environment.     

On this particular Saturday evening, I may have started off as an exquisite lioness, but as the evening crashed on, my substance abuse had undoubtedly transformed me into a wounded wildebeest.  While Ray, of course, was most certainly a practised gatherer.

I have little recollection of his approaching me on the dance floor, however my vague memory is surprisingly able to conjure up an image of his rather unremarkable appearance. Dark jeans ensnared his chunky legs, a black leather belt holding them securely in place. A nondescript white t-shirt fit snugly over his broad chest, highlighting his overexercised pecks and tattooed arms. The darkness of his ruggedly pockmarked face suggested an ethnicity other than Caucasian, while his black hair was combed back with a heavy-handed quantity of greasy hair product.

Ray was certainly not the type of guy I ever would have imagined myself gripped in the throes of passion with. Nevertheless, I found myself, a severely wounded wildebeest, accompanying him back to his warehouse-style studio.

I staggered haphazardly through the front door of Ray’s apartment, one of his beefy arms snaked around my waist, holding me upright. As we made our way over the scuffed wooden floorboards we passed through a dark narrow room piled high with cardboard boxes, dwarfed by a massive stainless steel refrigerator.

I froze, my body turning rigid, the hair prickling on my arms. There was clearly only one logical explanation as to why a guy like Ray would need such a gigantic fridge – he was using it to store dead bodies. I felt the blood drain from my face and my legs buckle beneath me as Ray continued to drag me towards the open door of his messy bedroom.

He sat me down on the unmade bed, oblivious to my mortified expression. He then swaggered over to a dresser on the far side of the room. As if in slow motion, his large meaty hand reached towards the bottom dresser drawer which he then began to yank open.

With wide petrified eyes I watched as the malicious murderer in front of me removed a large knife from the drawer, turning around slowly to face me, a mischievous grin on his creepy face.  He began to raise the sinister looking knife, the tendons in his burly arms bulging.

My mind flashed back to the sight of the huge menacing refrigerator. I imagined my cold dead body stuffed inside it, my head most likely decapitated and my torso de-limbed in order to fit inside.

“No!” I screamed, raising my hands in front of myself in an unorthodox karate-kid-esque manoeuvre, ready to deflect the blows of his soon to be aggressive knife.

Ray stared at me, aghast. “Oh, hey, sorry babe. I didn’t know you were so against it. You don’t have to have any, I’m not gonna force you or nuffin,” Ray said, shrugging his shoulders defensively, clearly taken aback by my boisterous outburst.

With my arms still outstretched defensively, my widened eyes quickly darted towards Ray’s hands. One was still holding the frightening-looking knife while the other was clamped around… a lump of cocaine.

“Like I said babe, I aint gonna force you to do anyfink you don’t wanna do. But I fought you said you wanted some?” He raised the hunk of coke quizzically.

Slowly I lowered my hands, feeling foolish. “Yeah, sure, sounds great!” I replied brightly, regaining my composure.

The large knife hacked efficiently into the brick of cocaine. A credit card and a fifty dollar note were then put to expert use.

An hour or so later I had just climbed out of this apparent drug dealer’s bed and had redressed myself. As Ray began to walk me chivalrously to the door he stopped abruptly alongside the huge ominous fridge. “Aw, babe, forgot to ask, you wanna take some coke wif you?” He began to backtrack towards the bedroom.

“No thanks, I’m good,” I replied. Mounting curiosity got the better of me and I found myself asking nosily, “So what’s the fridge for?”

Ray peered at me warily, as if judging whether I was trustworthy enough to guard a well-kept secret. I began to wish I hadn’t asked. Perhaps he was a murderer after all. My mind began calculating how close I was to the front door. If I quickly kicked off my heels I could run faster…

“Mushrooms,” he replied.

Suddenly it all came together like a jigsaw puzzle. Of course, magic mushrooms! Now that he had admitted it, it just seemed so obvious. After all, he was clearly in the drug business.

“Magic mushrooms,” I mused out loud.

“No, oyster,” he replied, his already robust chest swelling with pride. “They’re just bursting wif niacin, thiamine and riboflavin. These little bad boys also supply folate and dietary fibre,” he informed me knowledgably. “I sell em at the markets. You wanna take some home wif you?”

“Sure,” I replied slowly, dumbfounded by his innocent revelation. It was also a touch unusual that he was so hellbent on giving me a memento to take home with me, much like a take-home lolly bag or squished piece of cake wrapped in a serviette after a child’s birthday party.

Ray placed a large box of oyster mushrooms in my arms. “There’s enuf there to share round wif ya friends,” he informed me. “Try strifryin’ em wif beef strips, fried garlic and a little ginger. Then finish em off with a dash of soy. Bon appetite!” he chimed, ushering me out the front door.

Confused as to how a cold blooded murdering drug fiend had just become an aficionado on Asian fungi before my very eyes, I shuffled off down the street in my bright red heels and revealing dress. Office employees crowding the city streets on their way to work avoided eye contact with the dishevelled girl undeniably doing the walk of shame with her frizzy bed hair and smudged make up, bizarrely struggling to carry a huge box of oyster mushrooms.




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