Who’s stuck in Dr Semaj’s boxes?
I got so many amusing responses to my column, 'Mi no want no woman look mi', published on March 22. It's amazing how a hot headline can motivate people to read Jamaican. If I'd even used only the 'prapa-prapa' writing system, that wouldn't have stopped too many readers from trying to figure out what the column was about.
One of the first emails came from an unimaginative man: "Can you please define ageable genkleman (age group)? I fit all other criteria as stipulated in your article. Your response to my question will let me know if I have a chance:=)." He was not too happy with my answer: "Remember, age is just a number. But you also need a recommendation from your last woman."
That's not an original line. It's from a vintage calypso:
She tell me to bring a letter from mi last woman
With she signature stating why we done
Bring two passport picture of the woman, too
Ah want to know how much children weh she have for you.
It wasn't the letter of recommendation that bothered my would-be suitor. It was my imprecision about 'ageable': "You contradict yourself by saying that age is just a number. Your article clearly spoke about an 'ageable man'." Yu see mi dying trial! The man picking quarrel with me already and me an im no deh. That was the end of that.
'DI RIGHT SMADDY'
A rather clever man made his application in Jamaican. And he had no difficulty understanding 'ageable'. After giving some lovely compliments, he proceeded "to di meat a di matta", as he put it: "Mi a di right smaddy fi look yu. Self praise really a nuh good recommendation but mi tink mi a one 'nice, ageable genkleman'. Mi a nuh young bwoy nar old man cau mi a jus fifty-four even dou mi easily look thirty-four.
"Mi did marry one time but mi fine out seh di ooman a Delilah genaration an mi ave fi tek weh miself fast, fast. Mi bun fish-tail wicked, so yuh woan ave nuh concern deh so.
"Mi feel mi can read an write well cau a intellect dem call mi. A one teacha gi mi di name wen mi did deh a primary school because she seh me always a read wen all the odder pickney dem a play. All a mi teeth dem inna mi mout an none a dem nuh ratten. Mi feel mi well qualify fi de position. Please shortlist me an sen mi a email."
I had to laugh, though I wasn't so happy about the fish-tail burning. A 'real' man doesn't have to call down hellfire on gay men to prove he's not one of them. But this man did give a good account of himself, so I shortlisted him and sent an email. Incidentally, the condition of one's teeth is a good indicator of overall health. And literacy is a sign of access to a world of books.
The most elaborate response to my column came from a psychologist, Dr Leahcim Semaj. He was most certainly not putting in an application for my hand or any other body part. In fact, he was casting me into outer darkness - a lonely place of total manlessness. In a guest column published last Sunday, Dr Semaj prophesied that I will have "a long wait" for a suitable man. Bright!
By the way, I hadn't said in my column that I was looking man. I was simply stating the desirable qualities of any man who might want to look me. There's a difference. Mi no want no young boy fi work out mi soul case. An no old man fi go dead pon mi. Dr Semaj concluded that my desire for an 'ageable' man was a sexual fantasy that wasn't likely to be fulfilled.
The headline of his column was intriguing: 'Ageing and lovesick? Don't chase sex fantasies'. But what is sex without fantasies? Especially if you're stuck with a boring partner who is trying to box you in! To be fair to Dr Semaj, that was not his headline. It was the editor's. But it did capture the essence of his argument.
The goodly psychologist constructed some neat little boxes in which he tried to trap young, middle-age and old people. I was amused to see that, with typical male vanity, Dr Semaj proposed that women age faster than men. So young boy ends at 35 years of age; but young woman ends at 30. The 'ageable' man ranges from 35+ to 50. The female equivalent starts at 30+ and pops down at 45. The old man starts at 50+ and, presumably, keeps going. It's all over for the old woman at 45.
Dr Semaj clearly does not take into account the appeal of the 'nice big-woman'. That's how I was greeted last week by a young-boy 'ductor leaning out of a Coaster bus. And Dr Semaj doesn't distinguish between biological age and chronological age. People age at different rates depending on how they take care of their teeth.
Dr Semaj insists that people must 'stay in their lane'. Young with young; middle-age with middle-age; old with old. Nothing no go so. Sexual desire is unruly. It makes people veer out of lanes. It's only Dr Semaj who's stuck in his little box.