By Tony Deyal
Even though boiled eggs are hard to beat, in my case it was the poached eggs that got me and my friends into serious trouble. I should have remembered what the lady said when her male friend asked her, “How do you like your eggs?” Her response was “Unfertilised.” While poaching is reputedly the “number one healthiest way to cook and eat eggs”, unfortunately our poaching had nothing to do with the way we cooked eggs so much as how we got, or gutted, them.
While it is safe to eat up to two eggs a day depending on the cholesterol in your diet, poaching also means “to illegally hunt or take and use someone or something that belongs to someone or something else, especially in a secret dishonest and unfair way.” As a youngster hanging out with the bigger boys in the village, my only excuse is that they egged me on, not just to steal the neighbours’ eggs but also their chickens, oranges and mangoes.
Fortunately, I stopped short of the unstoppable goal of my friend Tunos who had a penchant for cattle. He just couldn’t help himself and was not cowed by either the police of the jail sentences he inevitably got for his rustling.
In our case, our mischief was always the end of our school week. Most of the time I was what the English would call “a good egg” but seeing that we had no homework to do, and after football or cricket in the savannah we were hungry and in a “sporting” mood, we hatched our plans and the poor eggs could do nothing to protect themselves. After all, for us it was TGIF or “Thank Goodness it was Fry-day”. It was just that one night when the owner of the “fowl coop”, or as we called it the “fowl coob”, took out his gun and behaved like an eggomaniac about his chickens and their produce. I can tell you, in retrospect, that it was the sheer fright that made me find a quick “eggsit” by jumping a fence, getting some minor injuries from the wire, and running so fast you would think that a huge Alsatian was chasing me.
However, having survived and once more full of bravado, when we reached under the streetlamp where we hung out I was shaken but not stirred enough to refrain from punning, “The man can’t take a yoke self.” Having been scared spitless, my comment made us all crack up.
Actually, what made me crack up and remember those days of crime, bruises and excuses is that last Saturday I was not so much shanghaied as the victim of compulsory enforcement. I had to take my wife Indranie to the market. In other words, I was a basket case. So I let her out of the car, timed when she would have completed filling one receptacle, then grabbing another I went to meet her to take my rightful place at her side. I was a “baggamuffin”.
As I reached the gate, a lady and her husband were coming out. With both hands she was holding on to what is called an egg-box or carton. She was really happy about her purchase and boasted to her husband, “De egg yolk it yellow and nice like home, home egg.” True. I’m not yolking. This is what she said and I had a ball playing with words and ideas while standing with two baskets waiting for Indranie to fill them up with her catch for the week.
First of all, maybe because I was watching a cricket match between Australia and India until my wife, the umpire of my empire, called “time”. Immediately¸ I had to hit the road with my bags and baggages. I thought it was a “bum rap” or an unfair demand on my time and that led me to “Bum nut”, Australian for “egg” or what is supposedly a “humorous re-imagining of an egg as a roundish (nutlike) product of a hen’s rear end.” The example, from “The Honey Badger Guide to Life, 2018”, was “Breakfast was a few bum nuts (eggs), bacon and some leftover goat that was hanging in the cool room.” I’m not sure if that is better or worse than “To get egg on your face” which means that you did something embarrassingly stupid like killing the goose that lays the golden egg, or putting all your eggs in one basket.
This could put you in a chicken and egg situation (one in which it is impossible to know what came first) except that when a chicken and an egg walked into a saloon, the barman asked, “Who’s first?” If that wasn’t bad enough, a piece of toast and a hard-boiled egg walked into the same bar and the same guy made it clear, “Sorry, we don’t serve breakfast here.” They were so angry and upset they couldn’t find the eggsit.
This led me to Jamaica and the way all visitors so quickly try to use the jargon and the accent. It is a country that I was always sad to leave. Where else can you hear “Sell mi wan bookle a iyl” (Sell me a bottle of oil). Is it that the person want to fry an egg or “hegg”? If so watch out for “Is which wan a oonu nyam mi hegg?” (“Which one of you ate my egg?”) In a situation like this, especially the way some people lose their cool very quickly, you’re walking on eggshells.
You have to find an answer that is designed to calm the person down because, if you don’t handle it right, the next thing that comes your way, before the fight starts is, “How yuh nyam summuch?” (“How do you eat so much?”). The best way to deal with this is to make it clear that it is not you but, “A di dutty duppy man dweet.” (The dirty ghost did it). Just don’t play badder than bad and say, “Lef mi nuh.” You tell a person to leave you alone and you will definitely need a loan for the hospital or the courthouse or both.
Now, even if I ever become rich enough to have a nest egg that I could use to pay someone to take Indranie to the market, I wouldn’t do it. There is nowhere else where I can stand, wait and make jokes with myself like, “The police spent many hours questioning a bad egg and it never looked like if it was going to crack.” If this doesn’t crack you up then I’m Omlet, Prince of Denmark.
*Tony Deyal was last seen saying that we need to egg on the West Indies cricketers to do better. Right now, they’re too easy to beat.