It’s that time of year in T&T. The festive season we Trinis look forward to. For me it means random teenagers taking over my house (“Hello Auntie!”) and glitter covered bed sheets by Ash Wednesday.
Carnival is the season of fashion disasters. The fashion police take a vacation while otherwise sane individuals wear outfits they would normally be jailed for. The sartorially challenged are in their glee. For them Carnival is an invitation to test the limits of spandex and colour combinations that would make Lady Gaga cringe. Men seize the opportunity to tackle women who would normally repel them with mace; women throw inhibitions (and sometime panties) aside.
As Carnival approaches we willingly part with large sums to wear very little. Women in particular engage in activities they would not dream of doing at any other time of the year – chip miles through the streets of Port of Spain half naked. Cover their bodies in oil, mud and paint under cover of darkness. Risk dog bite and broken bones to wine on a wall in Woodbrook; and squat furtively behind a parked car in the wee hours of Carnival Monday morning when no other option is available.
A popular saying in Trinidad is ‘Carnival can be enjoyed by everyone at their level’. The truth of the matter is Carnival is an expensive business. The average bikini and beads costume is a snip at a cool US$600. And don’t talk about the all inclusive fetes. Tickets for Lime at the Hyatt this year were a nifty US$300. And you still had to line up for food. Frankly, for that kind of money I want half naked pretty boys following me around with caviar and champagne while I wine on Daniel Craig.
Carnival is as much about survival of the fattest wallet as it is about stamina. The average all inclusive fete will set you back the equivalent of a car payment. Apart from the overpriced ticket, there are all the “must-haves” which complete the fete experience. Outfit – $700. New shoes – $600. Mani Pedi – $300. Weave – $800. And that’s just the men. Women spend twice as much.
My fete experience this year was limited to the Prince of Port of Spain’s annual shindig on Chancellor Hill. As I observed the steady stream of partygoers making the trek up the hill I marvelled at the amazing number of people who don’t have mirrors in their homes. Ladies if your hair is four colours and two of those colours are yellow and blue – do not leave your house. That is not a hairstyle. That’s a parrot.
I found myself explaining the free bumper concept to English visitors on Carnival Sunday night. Carnival is the one time of the year when men have license to wine on any bam bam with abandon. Men are on a mission – grab, grip and grind. Many women enjoy the random encounter aka tiefing a wine from a complete stranger. Especially if the guy is hot. If however your bottom is the recipient of some unwelcome zipper attention, take Benjai’s advice and wine to the side. Even Prophet Benjamin can’t throw wine on a hip. As a friend pointed out – best not to turn around because then you have to make a judgement call.
This year the band left without me. Literally. I decided to forego the mas experience (crazy, right?) after a particularly expensive year. House renovations deprived me of fun as well as funds.
Today I found myself in the unusual and unwelcome role of Carnival taxi driver, dropping Mini Me and her posse in Port of Spain. Looking at masqueraders hustling through the streets to find their band was torture. How could I be in Trinidad and NOT play mas? If I can’t play it, I don’t want to see it. Please – do not call me after you read this and tell me what a great time you had playing mas. I will cut you. If I didn’t have reports to complete, I would have been on the road. (I have to constantly remind people that I work for a living. It’s not all Vampire Diaries and Twitter).
They say absence make the heart grow fonder. I don’t know about that, but next year? Try keeping me out of the action. Save me a wine.