Let’s take a minute to chat about Caribbean men, shall we? No, not the ones you’d consider dating; I’m talking about the ones that happen to you (yes, happen to you). Those would be the random encounters with what I call “two-legged strays”. Yes, I said, “strays”. Like a stray puppy, lunging at you, snapping, then running away, scared, shy, who knows. Strays, with the big puppy eyes, hoping for a morsel of… food, maybe… yeah, those ones.
Island men are a different breed. I don’t mean this in a good or a bad way, I’m just saying they’re different. While I’ve encountered strays in every country I’ve lived in, there are none so, um… well versed? linguistically superior?… as the island men. Island men have a strange self confidence. Maybe it’s a lack of fear, an arrogance, an “all she can do is say no” type attitude… I don’t know what it is, but they just seem to have it. I think they shower in it, drink it, season their meat with it, cultivate it in a lab maybe? Whatever it is, they sure do have something. If I’m interested, I generally enjoy the banter. If I’m not interested, it’s the most annoying, shell-shocking experience ever. You are never ready for it… never.
You know that saying, “you get back what you put out”? This usually means everything works out for the best if you play your cards right – you’re a nice person, you help people, you eat healthy… you should get all that back, right? But when it comes to island strays, I can’t help but wonder, what exactly am I putting out there? I seem to be a stray magnet; I don’t mind the actual canines so much, but the humans…. hmm.
I imagine you island ladies out there, nodding, because you, too, have probably had one or two encounters with the strays I’m talking about. But me, I might as well have a “kick me” sign taped to my back, forehead, jawline, ass… maybe it’s even tattooed on me somewhere and sends out a GPS signal or something.
Remember what I said about meeting strays no matter the country? Let me try to explain my situation with some examples.
Last summer, when I still had a head full of Tracee Ellis Ross type curls, I decided that I wanted to be a blonde. I heard they have more fun. What no one told me though was that a head of blonde curls combined with a large posterior somehow transformed me into a Latina. Everywhere I went, from New York to Jersey, I had Latino/Hispanic men calling out to me in Spanish (and I might have even been able to answer, had the Dominican Dictionary been available to me at the time…). Minding my business with a girlfriend during a downpour in Times Square, a Hispanic man approached me with flyers and started rambling on in Spanish, totally ignoring my friend. When he realized I had no clue what he was saying, he said to me (in English), “I can teach you Spanish, mamacita. You need a nice Latino man like me, I can show you things”. I can only hope what he meant to “show me” was how to make churros. My friend finds it amusing that things like this always happen to me. ALWAYS.
In London a few years ago… Minding my business, walking down my street, height of daytime. A car pulls up alongside me with two random strays inside, but I just continue walking, because somehow a man curb-crawling isn’t really the most attractive thing to me. The passenger starts talking to me, but I ignore him, and carry on walking. It’s then that they get agitated: “Wot wot, you don’t speak English? You ain’t got no manners, luv?” Mind you, before that, it was all, “sexy” this and “sexy” that. Finally, I give in, turn to them, and say, “No, I don’t speak Jackass”. That doesn’t go down so well; I’m assuming it isn’t the response they were hoping for. The passenger then asks, “What did she say?”, and the driver responds, “She doesn’t speak Japan.” and then they drive off… Yep, pretty much ALWAYS.
But, see… these don’t really compare to the island strays. The Vincentian strays are in a class by themselves… all by themselves.
Let me set the scene for you:
Sun is shining, weather is sweet, I’m in cutoffs and knee-high gladiator sandals, a tank top, and a crochet cross body bag (I’m explaining my attire because perhaps “this is my Sparta”??). It’s Carnival Saturday, and town is alive with people and energy. I hop out of my friend’s car and run across to where some guys had brought their produce out of their store to sell. I figured I’d get some fruits, maybe a breadfruit, and some vegetables. I’m browsing and one guy is being very helpful, bagging what I pick up, answering my questions when OUT OF THE BLUE, I’m hit (verbally). I go down, because what came out of the other guy’s mouth was so unexpected. There I am with my breadfruit and looking at oranges when I hear, “I want you to take me home, tie me to your bed, and beat me like a slave.” Like a slave… Kunta freaking Kinte…. How does one respond to that exactly? Any takers?
Maybe you’re thinking, that’s not so bad… Maybe it was just a one time thing. Or maybe I really should be used to it by now. *le sigh*
Once again, I’m minding my business, at my bus stop, waiting for, well, a bus. I’m going to meet friends for high tea. Minding my business, like the respectable citizen I am in my little tea frock, thinking about the crumpets, clotted cream, and strawberry jam that I’m going to consume. Along comes a drunk old man. He takes one look at me, gets a whiff of my “strays welcome here” pheromone, and goes into full working mode: “You wearing a panty under that skirt? One piece ah breeze and you whole meng meng ah door, allyuh young girl must wear panty.” I’m going to just assume that you can come to a conclusion on what a “meng meng” is based on context. Did I mention the TWO male police officers who are also just standing there, who do nothing but smirk at me? Thanks and everything. Old drunkie carries on about underwear and vaginas until a bus comes, and I am forced to decide that being late is far better than being in the same van with him for another 10 minutes of discussions about the condition of my “meng meng”.
Sure, it’s not always like this. I generally get the “sexy” comments, shortly followed by the “steups” (kiss teeth) when I don’t respond. Some men here just don’t seem to understand that “good morning/afternoon” will get you a pleasant response much quicker than say, “that pum pum full ah meat”. Oh, that? Yeah, it happened on the beach, when I was again, minding my own business, drying off from the water. A random stray passes by and tells me that my vagina looks overweight. He was at first bemused, then he became very annoyed when I told him he was fresh and I didn’t appreciate his comment. You know what he told me? Care to take a guess? Let me help you out: “You don’t know how to accept a compliment.”
Clearly I need to stop minding my own business, because that just seems to be an invitation for strays to approach and “compliment” me. I love my island men, but I could certainly do without the strays that I attract.