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Tony Deyal: Reeves, Ray and the jukebox

Published:Saturday | April 2, 2016 | 12:00 AM

We would go into Maharaj Snackette or Bar in Siparia, the town in the deep south of Trinidad in which I grew up, and invariably on a Friday night when the oil field workers got paid, there would be at least one man drinking straight puncheon or overproof rum on a stool by himself, tears in his eyes, head bowed in anguish, playing the Jim Reeves song, He'll Have to Go.

I really cannot count how many times I heard, "Put your sweet lips, a little closer, to the phone/ Let's pretend, that we're together, all alone/ I'll tell the man, to turn the jukebox, way down low/ And you can tell, your friend there with you, he'll have to go."

Two things about scenes like that stand out in my memory, maybe three. First, there were only three phones in Siparia, and none was owned by any of the men whose money was in the jukebox. Second, that was one jukebox that could not be turned down low or lower. It was always in excessively loud mode and Jim Reeves was forever in good voice.

If there was a third, it was that I never saw any women in there or any other place behaving the same way or displaying similar signs of what is called 'Jilted Lover Syndrome'. The jukebox had 'Hit The Road, Jack', but it was not popular, except for its beat, not its lyrics.

Fredrick Newman, MD, writing in Psychology Today, says that what jilted people feel is chagrin which, according to Webster's dictionary, 'is disquietude of mind caused by humiliation, disappointment or failure'. In Trinidad, we call this feeling or state of mind 'Tabanca'.


An object of derision

In fact, tabanca, or chagrin, aptly describes the behaviour of men who are cuckolded or, as we say, 'horned', 'get butt' or, in Guyana, 'get blow'. Most times, as in our case where we generally laughed at the sufferer, the 'horner-man' was the hero or cock-of-the-walk and the poor, suffering cuckold was an object of derision.

The fact is that not everyone has the savoir faire or plain stupidity of the person in the calypso who walked in, saw his wife with another man, and (as the calypso goes) this was his reaction to questions about what he did, "You beat up your wife?/ I say 'Wuss dan dat'/ You stab she with knife?/ I say, 'Wuss dan dat'/ Well I call the mister by name/ Out de light in he face and I make him shame."

Unfortunately, this is not a normal reaction, although one of my best friends, who is still alive so I can't call names, found his girlfriend in the arms of another man. Totally despondent and disillusioned, he climbed a guava tree and begged us to stone him - which we duly did until he lost his temper after a particularly large ripe guava splattered on his capacious forehead.

Sometimes friends stir up the pot a bit and make the situation worse. There is a story about a soldier away in Iraq and his girlfriend, who was staying with her sister and brother-in-law, kept sending him pictures of the three of them enjoying themselves in places like Las Vegas, on the beach and in nightclubs. He was so proud of her he showed the pictures to his buddies until one asked, "So who's taking the photos?"

Thinking about it, tabanca can also be the result of pining for a lost or distant love and is generally compounded by, or interpreted as, rejection. Men imagine and conceive all kinds of worst-case scenarios involving their distant or separated spouses and girlfriends. This explains the immense popularity in those days of the song I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now, especially the Ray Charles version with its closing lines, "I wonder if she ever tells him of me/ I wonder, I wonder, pretty baby, how I wonder/ I wonder who's kissing you now."

Although not as big as Jim Reeves in the tabanca world, Ray Charles also scored big with his Drown In My Own Tears, which starts with, "It brings a tear/ Into my eyes/ When I begin/ To realise/ I've cried so much/ Since you've been gone /I guess I'll drown in my own tears."


EgyptAir hijacking

One of my friends called me a few days ago and said, "You see I always tell you tabanca could cause man to dead? Look ah feller hijack a plane because of tabanca!" Media reports verified my friend's version and diagnosis.

An EgyptAir plane flying from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked and forced to land in Cyprus by a man with what authorities said was a fake suicide belt, who was arrested after giving himself up. Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said the man seemed to have a personal motive and the incident was "not related to terrorism".

Cyprus state TV said the hijacker wanted to contact his ex-wife, who is Greek-Cypriot. Witnesses said the man threw a letter, written in Arabic, on the apron at Cyprus' Larnaca airport and asked that it be delivered to his ex-wife who lives in that city.

It is a pity that Maharaj, his snackette and especially his jukebox are now no more, because there are so many candidates these days that he would have been forced to expand the premises and buy a few more jukeboxes.

For example, a young doctor said he was stabbed in the back by his long-time girlfriend, who has left him for the 79-year-old Formula one tycoon Bernie Ecclestone. The 6'3" physician said he was stunned when he learned of the affair through newspaper reports. "That just does not happen. The guy is almost 80, he is about 5' tall. How can that be? It's a joke, it's unbelievable,' he said. There are many cases of men and women posting nude or sex scenes in the social media featuring the partners who jilted them. There was one in Trinidad recently involving cricketer Lendl Simmons and a young woman.

Britain's Mail Online featured a story captioned 'Ketchup on the walls, furniture destroyed and clothes ripped: Pregnant woman's flat wrecked by jilted boyfriend who caused £8,000 of damage after she said she didn't love him anymore'.

One that caught my attention was from Jamaica and was headlined 'Jilted lover bites woman for sex'. As I told my friend, "I've heard of love bites before, but this is definitely ridiculous." His reply was, "Dey don't have jukebox in Jamaica?"

- Tony Deyal was last seen saying that if you have serious tabanca and there is no jukebox around, the best solution is to just chagrin and bear it.