Friday, December 31, 2010

This is my December

A week or so ago, my neighbor was married. A goat was slaughtered to provide for the festivities. I had previously been fairly squeamish around the slaughtering of goats. I resolved myself to watch this slaughtering that I might test the strength of my conviction that if you eat something, you should be comfortable with killing it. I missed the killing, but watched the skinning for a few minutes. While I was watching, two twin girls, age four or five, relatives of the bridegroom, cautiously edged near the scene. Holding hands and peering around the back of their mother, my fellow onlooker, the bolder of the two tried to make sense of what was happening. "It can cry?" she asked with her finger in her mouth.
"No, baby. It's dead," responded her mother.
"It has blood in it?" she inquired.
"Yes, baby."
"It cannot say 'meh-eh-ehhh' anymore?" she moaned. We all laughed at the adorably astonished girls. I almost died.

The wedding was on Christmas Eve. That night I went to the capital to experience Dominica's custom of lighting firecrackers, reveling, and waving replica firearms in the air. After dinner I road back to Portsmouth on the back of a truck and enjoyed a starry sky. Stuck in Portsmouth for the night, I walked up the mountain to get back to Penville -- somewhere around 4,000 feet.

On Christmas day, I strolled through the village visiting friends, handing out Christmas cards, eating, drinking, and being merry. That night I attended Christmas dinner at Church. The Nativity play was darling.

The night of Boxing Day, I gave into the spirit of celebration, bucked social norms, and danced in public. I have since heard from many sources that I have a new girlfriend, much to my amusement, and to that of the young woman named. The range of personal freedoms enjoyed by Dominicans, often seemingly deeper and wider than is found in the U.S. of A., takes on quite a different and interesting flavor in such situations. You can enjoy a cold beer on the back of a pick-up truck; you can play music at whatever volume you see fit and at any time; you can express yourself emotionally to whatever degree you are inclined and in any setting, and you can take or make a phone call anytime, and anywhere. Dancing or otherwise consorting with the opposite sex, however, is strictly taboo, if not done in an indiscriminately abusive manner. This makes me think of the book I am now reading, the Imperative of Integration by Elizabeth Anderson. Segregation, in this case social segregation of the sexes, leads to stigmatization and marginalization of the less-advantaged group. Of course, I am being extreme, but it makes for more entertaining writing. Enjoy the new year!