Thursday, April 25, 2024
HomeEducation / CultureBetter bed than dread

Better bed than dread

By Tony Deyal

Some people might say, “For almost all my many years of living, I’ve danced with the sun, twirling in its golden embrace.” Not me. I take things as they come or, as one of my female friends looking directly at me pointed out, “Even if they don’t come.”

Knowing her, and expecting a lot more things to come, I did what most Caribbean people do. I took in front before in front take me. I coughed. Unlike the retort, I had learnt from schooldays and still hear from my friends, “For Cough-Use Vicks”, my friend came up with a new twist. “I don’t like people coming close to me and coughing down the place you know. What I tell people who start coughing while they next to me, and what I will tell you now, is Far Cough!”

I thought of a response like, “No, it was a near miss.” She would then reply, “Who you calling miss? Eh mister man?” So I considered, “Why did the pony need cough syrup?” His throat was a little horse. Actually, I had a problem just like that one. However, in my case, I didn’t kick the bucket. I was just a little pail. Not too long ago I was tempted to pass on some “Use Vicks” to a doctor who examined me and then went on his high horse with, “Ah, I see your cough is getting better!” I was very close to telling him, “Yeah, well I was practicing for the whole night.”

What I did tell my friend was, “I heard that when you were a teenager you went to the doctor because you had a coughing problem and he took out his stethoscope and told you, ‘Big breath’ and you boasted, ‘Yes, and you know doctor, I am only 16.’ ” Then before she could shout at me I added, “What does a cough syrup have in common with an undertaker?” I told her, “They both take away the coffin.” She almost suffered a coughing fit and a coffin fit at the same time.

A “coffin fit” is the dimensions and size of a coffin. When I was growing up, coffins scared the heck out of me and the other village kids. We ran inside and hid while my Mum and my Auntie went outside to take in the spectacle. They watched and even called out to the people behind the Herse. I was so scared that I got nightmares and not only begged my mother to let me sleep with her but clung tightly to her. This was my idea of a coffin fit. However, it never stopped me from making other jokes about coffins like, “Mom, you know those coffins we see passing must be really comfortable. All the people just dying to get in.”

Now, if you think I’ve been shifting from coughing to coffin and dilly-dallying because I’ve lost the plot, think again or, better yet, hang around and enjoy the scene. Like the period before the hearse takes off, it remains to be seen. In fact, that is when some of the ladies at funerals put down some serious scenes. My Aunty specialised in that and always gave the impression she was diving into the grave with whoever it was for whom the bell had tolled.

From the coughing to the cuffin let’s move on to the coffeeing and even the cuffing. I will explain later why we’re taking this route. In Trinidad, the word “cuff” is not just a part of a sleeve or glove, or (as in medicine) an inflatable band wrapped around your arm or leg to control blood flow. It is not even handcuffing someone, or speaking off the cuff. It is more like speaking of the cuff and not arguing about French Cuffs, Barrel Cuffs and other shirt cuffs. When Beyonce sang, “Cuff it” she didn’t mean any danger to her arm or other parts. However, when a Trini or Caribbean person, man or woman, talks about the coffin it is all hands on. Unless, like some Asian countries, it is coffee dung and you plan to lick it down.

Their “naturally refined” coffee is made from high-end beans removed from the dung of civets, elephants and birds. The “Kopi Luwak” is a coffee made of partially digested coffee cherries which were eaten and defecated by a mammal known as an “Asian palm civet”. If you want a cup plucked from the poops of elephants, and like it enough to buy it by the pound, you have to pay US$1,500.

As I told a Canadian friend who knew Blake Dinkin, the Canadian who launched the elephant venture in 2012, if he tries that crap on me I will “coffee” down.

This brings me to the Cuffing Season in the US and elsewhere. No lashing with that but some licking might be involved in more ways than one. Cuffing season is a time when single people link up romantically during the fall and winter months, generally from October through March culminating with Valentine’s Day. While many of you may not have known about it, you can start planning for October this year until February 14, 2025 (next year). The reason I took so long to get to the point was that I mixed up Cuffing, Coughing, Coffing, Coffeeing and Cuff and then had to find out what was the real McCoy. Lucky for me, my school Principal wasn’t around.

A New York City psychotherapist, Kathryn Smerling, sees the cuffing season as the winter equivalent to a summer fling, or what a certified sex coach with an organisation known as “Beducated”, refers to as “situationship.”

Smerling says there are multiple explanations for “cuffing season” the first and foremost of which is that “it’s a time for intimacy and reflection and a time when we stay at home a bit more.” Unlike a Trini or Caribbean “cuff”, mental health experts have found that the permanently cuffed live longer and have less depression than those who are single, divorced or widowed and that the percentage of suicide is lower than in many long-term relationships. Smerling says, “If you’re going to cuff, it’s important that good communication and clear boundaries remain a priority so that emotions and the connection are protected. If these parameters are in place, cuffing can be a good thing.”

One writer saw it as more than merely good, “Ah, cuffing season! That delightful time of year when the air gets colder, and suddenly everyone wants to be handcuffed to someone else. It’s like Mother Nature herself is playing matchmaker, whisper, ‘Hey, you! Year, you!

Find yourself a snuggy buddy, pronto’.” Another advised, “Remember whether you’re single, coupled up, or somewhere in between, cuffing season is impossible to ignore. So embrace the cozy vibes, steal hoodies, and enjoy the warmth of human connection…Happy cuffing.”

That is them. I can tell you flat that as a Caribbean person, once I hear cuffing, that’s it for me. I get out of there Chop Chop.

*Tony Deyal was so sick and tired of all the cuffing that if you trouble him, expect to get a “Use Vix.”



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