Gone are the days when you just apply some lip gloss or lipstick, pull your hair back into a ponytail and sprinkle glitter over yourself, put on your Carnival Monday gear or Tuesday's costume (there is a difference!) and head into the streets.
Preparing for Carnival Monday and Tuesday is now a process, one that requires strategic planning. This Carnival was no different. Colour schemes need to be considered; long-lasting eye shadow is sought; fab but durable hairstyles are researched; accessories that match your gear/costume are hunted for among your myriad of pieces or are purchased
So with all of this in mind, it made sense to find out what colour Monday's T-shirt would be. Red. So I could use silver or white with red accessories. Oooh, I can use those long, diamante earrings or the huge, diamante hoop earrings. Love those! So I have some choices. What about other accessories? Gasp, I have those diamante spring-like diamante handband that could sort of match those earrings but what about those broad bangles I haven't used in a while? Hmmm… I could probably use that new-ish ring with the red stones if I don't go for that large iridescent ring. Beautiful! Girl, you sure love sparkly stuff.
Picking up the costume. On Carnival Sunday, I ventured out in the scorching sun to collect my costume from Ronnie and Caro's mas camp. "Does this sun have to be so hot?! I hope it's not this hot on Monday and Tuesday!" I fretted mentally. I knew though, that on those days, masqueraders don't mind being 'assaulted' by the heat and stinging rays. We ignore all 'punishment'.
Waiting in line for my costume, I surveyed the room. I love observing people around this time of year. I listen to them chattering excitedly about their plans or joke about what they'll do on the road. THE time had come!
The lyrics from Bunji's remake of Maestro's "Savage" looped in my head. "Anti-stush, they call we anti-stush…" went the line and as I faced front, I was just in time(?) to see the woman in front of me hoist her dress up and try on her bikini bottom – over her butt! I am unsure if I stopped breathing for a few seconds. Granted, she was wearing a pair of tights below the dress but geez Louise. One girl and I looked at each other in shock and then we both bent out heads, probably thinking the same thing. "Anti-stush, they call we anti-stush…"
As the 'free spirit' checked herself, the girl warned her about leaving her mobile phone unsupervised. The woman bellowed, "Baby girl, no (expletive) body interfering wit dat phone! Trust mih! Otherwise I locking dah (expletive) door and no (expletive) body leaving here before I check dem!" The loop continued, "Anti-stush, they call we anti-stush…" I just shook my head, "Is Carnival yes."
Now for Monday. The make-up was done right, 'de people Bohemian weave' fluffed, glitter applied, stockings, shorts and strategically cut-up T-shirt on, game on . Did the matching totebag have what is deemed as essential? Phone, powder and powder brush for a touch-up, 'vex money', check!
Finally, Tuesday. Boobies are snug in costume bra, check; take a jump to ensure that boobies aren't slipping from under the bra, check; test wining skills one more time for narcissistically-inspired efficiency, check, check!
The road test. Some people love to prance and jump all day long so that by 2.00 p.m., they look 'bu'n, that is, tired and frazzled. The trick is to pace yourself. Imagine it to be like a gym exercise circuit. Chip, wine low, jump, chip, stop, take a drink while just swaying the hips, repeat. That way, at 8 p.m., you still have energy to burn!
I love Mondays as you're a bit free to roam as you'd like without being chastised too much to "get in yuh section". There is an indescribable feeling that you get as a masquerader. From his advantageous spot, a DJ would see someone's antics and steer people's attention to the person. Smiles and laughter follow, causing people to become 'instant friends' as they relish the fun.
The sun was really being mean at times. Did I not drink two bottles of water in the last thirty minutes? Am I going to faint from the heat? "Girl, bounce, just bounce!" There is no way I'm going to consume alcohol in this heat; my body temperature is already at its peak! Where did the water truck or mobile water man go? "Oh, ice is being served! Good enough!"
Cooling down, I danced in a circle like a dizzy dog but it felt so freeing. "Maaaaan, it doesn't get any better than this." I said in my mind, actually wondering if the 'high' I was feeling was similar to that of an addict. I was slurring in sing-song mode in my mind just the way they did in some Hollywood movies.
As night falls, withdrawal symptoms threaten to emerge. "It's going to be done in a few hours." Every year, it makes me sick to my stomach when evening approaches on Carnival Tuesday. You don't want to stop dancing because the pain would set in with your feet so you just chip, if nothing else.
As you sit in the car, inching out of the city, you observe people who are still in party mode and your body still twitches, reacting to the music emanating from the radio or nearby music trucks. By the time the cool night air dries the perspiration from your body, sadness begins to envelop your system. As Janet Jackson's song goes, is that the end?
Arriving at home, limping to the front door, there is one goal: put on soca music and have a one-woman party! I am now blue but boy, Carnival is super!