Tony Deyal | Tings of beauty and boys forever
Travelling throughout Jamaica or at times looking at cricket from Sabina Park on television, I grinned a little every time I saw the sign, "This is TING country." In that context, Ting is a carbonated beverage sold in Jamaica and some other Caribbean countries. In fact, you can even get Ting in Walmart.
The first thing you learn about Ting, and it is a lesson that stays with you permanently, is that you cannot get some Ting for nothing. While Jamaicans drop the letter 'h' from some words like 'hospital' or even 'thing', they make sure that they add them to other words that seem to need them like 'eggs' or 'auspice'.
However, it is not only Jamaicans who do and say their own 'ting'. We all do it throughout the region. If there is one thing that we have in common, it is that we do our own thing with thing and pronounce it 'ting'. In that sense, every Caribbean country can lay claim to being 'ting' country. This contributes to the distinctiveness of our Caribbean culture and makes us a 'ting' apart.
The word 'ting' is used in many ways. In Trinidad, someone who is difficult, awkward or hard to get along with is described as 'ting up'. We say, "Doh worry wid dat man, he too ting up." Children, wanting to fill one another with dread and apprehension about the consequences of a misdeed, whip their fingers with gusto and say, "Ting ting for you today! Ting ting!" - meaning, time for some blows or licks from your parents or teachers.
There are a whole lot of other 'tings'. For instance, when asked about the state of their personal affairs, particularly their finances, many Caribbean people will say, "Tings bad, boy. Tings brown." Or just, "Tings hard." Any unknown object is a 'ting' and 'tings' are generally possessed of minds of their own, a stubborn cussedness which defies reason. Someone buys a gadget, especially a cell phone, and then complains, "I doh know what happen to dis ting at all. De ting doh want to wuk. Some ting wrong wid this ting."
If you are entrusted with the crucial responsibility for ensuring the provision of vital supplies for the picnic or party, you are sure to be asked again and again, "You bring de ting? You sure you bring de ting?"
However, it is in the area of sexual innuendo and badinage that the word 'ting' most frequently appears. From the Bahamas to Barbados, Guyana to Guave, when anybody asks someone else, particularly a female, for a 'ting', it rarely refers to the beverage, regardless of how thirsty the person might be.
An old Trinidad calypso repeatedly calls on a female named Olga to "Wash de ting Mammy give you, Olga, wash de ting Mammy give you." The 'ting' turns out to be an old dress handed down from mother to daughter. An oldie by calypsonian Lord Kitchener repeatedly calls on a lady named Audrey to give him "de ting de doctor order me".
The Merry Men of Barbados sang, "All you hear this ting. My girlfriend promise to give me some ting. And the bells goin' ring and the birds goin' sing, cause she promise to give me some ting, ting, ting." In the same way that Barbadians do not mean financial institutions when they praise 'Banks', in this case, the Merry Men were not referring to the Jamaican soft drink.
While 'ting' might be a colloquialism for intercourse, it can also apply to outercourse or interplanetary sex. I once heard an interesting story involving the word 'ting' in that context. In a bar in the country, this 'bad-john' or 'tough man' sat drinking his liquor with his henchmen around him, when suddenly a stranger came up to him, smiled and, without warning, touched him on his ear "Ting!"
The bad-john was angry and upset and he grabbed the stranger intending to do him grievous bodily harm. Undaunted, the stranger smiled sweetly and again touched the bad-john on his ear "Ting!" The bad-john was now so angry that he started to laugh, almost hysterically, demanding an explanation. The stranger, smiling sweetly, said that he was from Mars. The bad-john said, "Who you trying to fool? You look just like we."
Smiling, the stranger unzipped his outer-skin, clothes and all, and stood revealed for what he was. The bad-john was stunned for a moment and then observed, "You Martians look real funny." He enquired, "What are you? Man or woman, or what?"
The stranger smiled and said softly, "Man." This completely threw the bad-john, who stuttered, "But how you could be a man? You have no ... no ... . You don't look like a man. How you make love on Mars then?" The stranger smiled, looked at the bad-john, and touched him on his ear "Ting!"
- Tony Deyal was last seen in the hospital visiting a buddy who is being treated for injuries at the hands of a previously sympathetic female friend for misinterpreting the word 'comforting'.