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Sunday, November 2, 2014


“So, young Theo,” (I had been given my uncle’s name) “tell me ‘bout the beauties you got line up now you at secondary school. Hmmmph, I hope you got de pick of de litter. Yuh know what I been telling yuh over these past years – always go for the pretty ones wid de good bodies, pretty face and nice hair, cuz when she mek yuh vex and yuh ready to stomp out de place, and yuh look back, you know yuh got a good looking woman that gonna keep yuh warm in bed and dat yuh don’t gotta put de pillow over she head. So never mind how much yuh drink when yuh left and how much pussy get pelt at yuh, yuh know yuh coming back home to de one dat is yours cuz she aint gonna stray nowhere.”
My response was always an open mouth and a bewildered look of amazement. How in heaven’s name could he be telling me these things? But my Gramps was convinced that these were the life lessons that every man should be taught. He made it cleared he had prepared his son for my mother and now he was preparing me for “the bitch” that I would have and “breed” in the years to come.
His words were harsh, callous, degrading but what was strange is that he said them with such conviction that you started doubting yourself on the validity and morality of his perspective. My Gramps, or Reginald Oscar Valentine Moore as he was called by my Gran just before an enameled cup whizzed past his head, was well known in our village. Well, actually, notorious; he was very handsome, six foot three with the body of a heavy weight boxer, the face of a black Bogart but with the mouth of a lighterman. Yet every woman within a two mile radius would come to Mr. Brown’s shop on Saturday afternoons, on the pretense of picking up the weekly groceries, to listen to the stories my grandfather told of his father and the men who went off to build the Panama Canal.

The anecdotes made for intense listening and this large man took up at least two thirds of the space in the front area of the shop, was thoroughly animated and held the rapt attention of his audience for at least two hours. The men sitting on the make-shift benches in the corner threw back a shot-of-rum every time Gramps got to a good point in his story and the orator stood there smiling and winking at the women who had come to purchase their groceries.  The few times I had accompanied my guardian to the afternoon activity I noticed that when the story-telling session was over, the shop owner would deliver to my grandfather a large white enamel cup, chipped around the rim and handle, and filled with a milky brown liquid.  Guiness and milk, a concoction fit for a prize fighter and prescribed to provide my Gramps with the energy he needed to get him through the night. 

Copyright: Cher Corbin 2014

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