It's the final week before Carnival. As the last weekend before Carnival Monday and Tuesday draws near, the nation prepares to witness even more jostling on stage as the crème de la crème of this year's soca and calypso artistes vie for the all-tempting $2 million prize at the finals of their respective competitions.
In the meantime, even as we shake our heads or exclaim in disappointment at the war of words that has already unfolded among the contending artistes and their fans, we continue to grapple with other issues that are closer to home — the same issues that we face each year at Carnival — an increase in irresponsible and unsafe sexual behaviour.
There have been campaigns. In the midst of the Carnival season, the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT) in conjunction with Population Services International/ Caribbean launched a line of condoms called Cool Condoms urging safe sexual behaviours.
While this is a laudable initiative that is expected to reduce the level of irresponsible sexual behaviour at Carnival time, there are still those who would squeeze through the cracks. Once the dust under our feet clears, we can expect a spike in unwanted pregnancies, abortions and sexually transmitted diseases in the months to follow.
But what causes this raw abandon at Carnival time that encourages so many otherwise responsible people to throw all caution to the wind?
Some Express Woman readers believe that the increase in alcohol consumption has a direct impact on unsafe sexual practices.
"A lot of people, particularly young people, would tell you that they had sex when they were drunk," said one woman. "They lost control and they gave in. When they are drinking they are not thinking responsibly, so the thought of abstinence or using condoms would be the furthest things from their heads."
"If they drink and get in their cars and drive when there is a law against that, what is preventing them from drinking and having sex as consenting adults?" another woman asked. "Every drinker feels that he or she can handle the liquor and that nothing would happen until something actually does happen."
Some readers blamed the music.
"Sex and alcohol is all the artistes sing about now," one woman complained. "You get all kinds of double messages coming out in the songs. Young people are not stupid, they understand it as clearly as we do."
Another woman nodded.
"Music influences behaviour and that is a scientific fact," she said. "When you have artistes singing all kinds of lewd lyrics about the things they did with a tongue ring, what you expect to get at Carnival time?"
"Some people are so caught up in the beat that they don't understand the lyrics that are being pumped into their heads all the time," a third woman said. "You cannot tell me music does not influence behaviour when as soon as the artiste says to shake like you going bad or to wine, roll and bounce on the ground, you are doing just that. What is stopping some people from taking it one step further?"
One young woman, just out of her teens, said sex at Carnival time was just another expression of freedom.
"Ah wotless!" she chanted and laughed. "It is Carnival time and people are feeling free. One way people express freedom is through sex."
Whatever your conclusion, if you are partying this season, remember there is life after Carnival, so as you enjoy the last few days before we take our revelry to the streets, be cautious, be safe.