Wed | Jul 18, 2018

Tony Deyal: Abracadabra and hallelujah

Published:Saturday | April 9, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Right round a corner linking two busy streets in a Port-of-Spain suburb, I took a long look at a billboard that previously advertised the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), hoping to get an idea of the fixtures or the start date or even a picture of some of the players, like Carlos Brathwaite, who would guarantee serious crowd cover on even the wettest day.

No CPL, and in its place was an ad that proclaimed exultantly, "Bra-llelujah!" It featured two young ladies clad in garments designed to elevate and hold in place human mammary glands. Though the items are named after the inventor, Phillipel de Brassiere, their wearers seemed genuinely too hot to Handel.

I remember seeing some of my female Facebook friends heavily endorsing the product, which was accorded almost Messianic status by its manufacturers and the many women who no longer dreamt of Maidenform and who had discovered Victoria's Secret. One lady actually said that she carried a watermelon until she switched to Bra-llelujah and now her cup doth not runneth over.

My idle mind immediately thought of a competitive brand called 'Bra-vado' that would feature perky, titillating ads, but then I worried that it would be unable to withstand the competition from

Bra-llelujah, usage would drop, sales would sag, and the company would become cash-strapped and fold from lack of support. The product would become cheap and tawdry; customers will all demand refunds and return tit for tat.



It was all so much easier when I was a boy in the postwar years growing up in a little sugar-cane community. It was unheard of for women not to nurse their babies. They supplemented breastfeeding with Lactogen, Cow and Gate, and other brands, but they knew that breast was best. Nobody complained or was squeamish about women exposing their breasts, and most of us boys got so used to our mothers, aunts and female family breastfeeding their babies that we did not really see it as an erotic or disgusting act.

Some of us knew breasts as 'tot-tot' or 'tut-tut', and, later on, I heard about 'bubbies'. I didn't know the word 'boobs' in that context until much later. In fact, I knew television (which came to Trinidad when I was 17) as the 'boob' tube (which with people like Vanna White it is now in a more literal sense); one of the radio programmes called 'Pick-a-Box' featured a booby prize, and it was for losers.

I would have thought, if the word came to my attention at the time, that a boob-job was what the ladies in the brassiere section of the ladies' underwear department of Johnson's Store on Frederick Street had, and would not have thought of it as being very uplifting.

The Urban Dictionary has 99 words, not for breasts, but for 'boobs'. Wikisaurus (under 'breasts') includes in its list 'intermammary sulcus', 'bazongas' and 'hooters'. And there are udders too numerous, indelicate, coarse and childish to mention. Talking about childish, it was explained to me that addiction to cigarettes has to do with our development as children.

In Freudian terms, the oral stage is the first one in our psychosexual development where the mouth of an infant is its primary erogenous zone. Normally this lasts for about 21 months. Freud believed that if the nursing child's appetite was frustrated during that stage, it would become a neurosis or functional mental disorder later. The person would become obsessed with oral stimulation, and these could include talkativeness, smoking, eating, chewing objects and alcoholism. Some symptoms are sarcasm, nail biting, and oral sexual practices.

I am not sure if Freud was ever asked what he thought about bottle feeding, but I am sure he would have given the questioner a glassy stare, especially if he was into his cups.



Having not kept abreast of the emerging literature on the subject, some of which must have certainly come from the Oral Roberts University, I am not sure what happened to me when, about 41 years ago, I stopped smoking and moved from 60 cigarettes a day to zero. I suppose I was fed up with people seeing me smoking and saying to me chidingly, "Tut-tut, Tony!"

If ever I decided to go into the brassiere business, I suppose that as a marketing guy, I would come up with some kind of product like a 'magic' bra so that when the presenter, most likely a top female conjurer, says the word 'Abra-cadabra', the perfect form-fitting bra would pop out of nowhere.

However, there are others that deal more with sects than sexiness. A man walked into the women's department of Macy's in New York City. He found a saleswoman, and told her, "I would like a Jewish bra for my wife, size 34B." With a quizzical look, the saleswoman asked, "What kind of bra?" He repeated, "A Jewish bra. She said to tell you that she wanted a Jewish bra, and that you would know what she means."

"Ah, now I remember," said the saleswoman. "We don't get as many requests for them as we used to. Mostly our customers lately want the Catholic bra, or the Salvation Army bra, or the Presbyterian bra." Confused, and a little flustered, the man asked, "So, what are the differences?"

The saleswoman responded. "It is all really quite simple. The Catholic bra supports the masses. The Salvation Army bra lifts up the fallen, and the Presbyterian bra keeps them staunch and upright." He mused on that information for a minute, and asked, "So, what does the Jewish bra do?" "The Jewish bra," she replied, "makes mountains out of molehills."

- Tony Deyal was last seen enjoying Dolly Parton's quip, "I was the first woman to burn my bra - it took the fire department four days to put it out."