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Time for a Trini check-up

By Raoul Pantin

To all those who either disagreed with, objected to or were severely critical of my assertion in my last column (“A vote against racism” Express, April 15) that there is currently an increase in racist sentiment in view of a pending general election all I’ll say, for now, is if the truth hurts or offends, tough. 

Not everyone, I will point out, had a negative reaction. Several people said I was absolutely correct in my assessment and also agreed with me that it was a great pity that we are still finding ourselves bogged down by racist claptrap.

As of the moment though, I’m more interested in having  my Trini-to-the-bone credentials checked up on or verified or re-charged or whatever because of late I find myself with little or no interest in which government minister is sleeping with or beating up on which outside woman, or man for that matter, or just generally carrying on like being a minister means you can do whatever the hell you like and get away with it, which obviously isn’t true but, hey, like my sainted mother used to say, who don’t hear must feel.

Like, “your days are numbered”... you know what I mean?

I started getting these, what I can only describe as withdrawal symptoms from the moment the great post-Carnival idleness began to preoccupy a certain section of the population, which took up seriously debating whether all that female near-nakedness and dizzying pelvic gyrations (otherwise known as “wining”) meant the beginning of the end of our civilisation as we’ve come to know it, or whether it signalled a mass indifference to or an abject resignation or a wholesome embrace of the fire and brimstone certainty of a hellish future.

The one Carnival element that did actually catch my eye (confirming that whatever else may be happening to me, I’m still a full-blooded Trini male) is all the “shorts” worn by almost every single woman or girl I saw out on the streets over the two-day Carnival free-for-all and I wondered how and by what means did all these women manage to signal or communicate to one another, prior to the actual two-day bash in the streets, that: “hey, is shorts we wearing this year, okay?”

I mean, I think our security forces (and Western security forces in general) would like to learn the secret of that communication code where thousands and thousands of people, without even knowing one another, far less calling up each other on their cellphones to pass on the message, automatically all got the same signal and before you could say, “you got it?”, there they all were—wearing the skimpiest short shorts you can imagine and filling the streets with wall-to-wall pulchritude.

So it probably won’t surprise you to learn that although I’m not a regular Play Whe man (another sign of my lack of Trini-to-the-bone credentials?) on Carnival Tuesday afternoon I invested $5 on Jamette (which is a real Trini word that roughly translates into “loose woman”) and came away winning $125. Yay! 

I did it again on Ash Wednesday, playing Parson Man, and scored once more!

Thereafter I ceased and desisted because I simply couldn’t come up with another accurate guess.

But when, a few days after the biggest street fete in the world was finally over and a friend invited me to take part in a public “national debate” on Carnival and its implications for our future Trini civilisation, I just had to come up with an excuse to duck out of that because, frankly, I find few things as boring as talking about how low we women does wine on Carnival days and how the Carnival really dying because fewer and fewer people taking part in it (I mean, Invaders steelband had about 30 or 40 followers on Jouvert morning this year, whereas there once used to be hundreds of them!) and soon even the foreign tourists go lose interest because the mas just is no longer as big and as bad and as sweet as it used to be.

I, frankly, couldn’t care less.

When I spoke to an old friend about this lack of enthusiasm for what seems to turn most Trinidadians on, he said: “That’s quite possibly a result of aging. You’re losing the basic energy that keeps us thirsting after more and more bacchanal. To most Trinis, it’s a straight case of the more bacchanal the better. But in your case it may be that your capacity to enjoy bacchanal is not what it used to be. Nothing wrong there, really. It’s like taking a holiday from the general BS that keeps us on our toes. No big thing, really.”

I’d like to believe he’s right. But I keep having this uneasy feeling that somehow I’m letting myself, not to mention my reputation as a born-and-bred Trini-to-the-bone, down. Badly.

So I’m thinking right now about how to go about getting a refresher course in basic Trini-ism, bar drinking plenty rum (I’ve sworn off alcohol for some years now) and smoking endless cigarettes (this is my 236th smoke-free day).

Other fellow Trinis have tried to convince me that there is no way I can return to basic Trini-ism without serious alcohol consumption backed up by smoking heavily enough to run through at least a carton a week. But I refuse to accept that. 

Especially because I believe both heavy alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking are deadly vices and I don’t really see the point in asserting my Trini-to-the-bone credentials and then dropping dead.

At which point some native wit is going to come up with the slogan: “The only good Trini is a dead Trini.”

As for the latest debate over that mother beating her child which appeared on Facebook, after the child apparently posted indecent pictures of herself on Facebook (at 12 years old!), frankly I think the mother was too lenient.  

All the Trini whining and crying over this incident seemed to me totally misplaced. As far as I’m concerned the mother should have used a broomstick instead of a belt —but there I go again, out of sync with the majority Trini point of view.

So I really have to ponder this problem very seriously and deeply and I promise you, as soon as I come up with a foolproof plan to restore the Trini-to-the-bone in my goodly native self I will be the first to let you in on it. 

Meanwhile, I suppose I just have to suffer on, regardless. (Messages of sympathy welcomed!).

 
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