Perfectly fitted grey suit with matching tie… looking debonair, modestly attired wife in tow and a beaming mother - the perfect Sunday family portrait. (Tainted, only if you knew of yesterday’s adventures).
If you are Jamaican, you know that no matter how much of an adult, independent, non-church going new age thinker you are, when you go to country on those holiday visits, you must accompany mother or grandmother to church. Period.
But this is no ordinary weekend as my husband who has never set foot in a Kingdom Hall has promised faithfully that he will attend. The result of this promise? My mom has called no less than 5 times (on the same day) to remind me to “Bring a suit!” So you know if we forgot the suit someone’s head would roll, namely mine.
Sure enough as fate would have it 5 minutes into the drive heading out of Kingston, I looked around and there was no suit! After a screeching halt and a dubious U-turn, the suit is retrieved and we are yet on our way again, disaster averted! (Whew).
It’s always at treat to hang out with my mom and we are especially happy to stay with her now that we are married because WE GET TO SLEEP IN THE SAME ROOM! Yes, I’m shouting because it’s a big deal. If your parents are from the old school, then you’ll understand this regime. Never mind that you live together; when you go to ROME, you do as Rome (aka my mother) commands.
This Easter weekend was the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone; a weekend with mom and partying for carnival. Since it’s also study season, the only party I have fitted into my schedule is beach jouvert, a soca party on the beach with live performances, bonfire and body paint galore. The catch is that my mom is super strict so the first hurdle was, how do I leave my house in the completely “harlot” outfit that I plan to wear under her prying eyes?
Now all of this must sound very strange to you. Why is a grown ass married woman hiding her outfit from her mother? Well, the answer is simple. Fear! Fear of my mother’s disapproving stares and unbridled tongue! So what’s the decoy? The plan is to wear pants. I can always change into those dreadfully short shorts in transit.
So we bid her adieu in my respectful wifely attire – appropriate jeans pants and flattering top. Along the journey, I slip out of the pants then wiggle and squirm my way into the extra short shorts. Oh the deception! But my guilty conscience is short-lived as we arrive at the venue and I am caught up in the rapture of the music, revelling in paint and even climbing atop my husband shoulders, enthusiastically waving the Jamaican flag!
And then it’s time to go home. There’s paint everywhere and I can’t possible ruin my slim fit pants. Clearly this plan wasn’t well thought out. What to do? This time it’s an oversized garbage bag to the rescue and I cut open spaces for my arms and head.
It’s almost 11 at night as we pull up to the gate and the plan unfolds in my head: Open the gate quickly and make a beeline for the shower. Garfield beats me to it and as he begins to shower, fate steps in and the bathroom starts flooding.
Mommy, distraught by the flooding bathroom is lamenting that the pipe was recently fixed, when she stops in mid-sentence. Now mind you, I’m a kaleidoscope of colours and there is red paint, now wet, dripping down my legs.
In horror, “Lecia! What is that on your legs?”
Realising that she might be thinking that it's blood, I hasten to reassure her, “It’s only paint mommy.”
“Paint?!” Now looking confused and quizzical at the same time, “So how did you get paint on you?”
“Uhmm... it’s body paint mommy, don’t worry it will wash right off.” Awkward pause.
“Hmmm,” now she’s frowning, “So is where unno go that you would get paint on your body like that?”
I’m now shifting uncomfortably, “The beach mommy, remember the water is right there so you could wash it right off?”
Unconvinced, she mumbles inaudibly and after what seems like eternity she leaves us.
My husband who by then was fully showered, clean as whistle, like he has never been near the beach or paint looks on amused and climbs innocently into bed. Traitor!
Mommy greets me warmly “Morning my red Indian!” She continues, “Because is only Indian I know wear red paint.” My bemused hubby joins in agreeing with her observation. Damn traitor!
But my mom is extremely chirpy, a sing-song with almost every note because for the first time hubby will be accompanying her (and I have to keep reminding my dear husband) “Not to church, but Kingdom Hall!”
So off we go, like the picture perfect family with no trace of the debauchery of yesterday, except for the tinge of red paint that no amount of profuse brushing could remove from my hair. Now, it’s my turn to be amused as I watch my hubby sit for almost 2 hours in one session. Amusing, because my hubby has the shortest attention span I know and even 10 minutes without browsing his phone results in withdrawals.
Miraculously, he pulled it off (owing to the fact that a great deal of the study material could be readily found on the organisation’s website). After the session, as he attempted to make a bolt for the door, “Don’t move!” Mommy stopped him dead in his tracks and off she went to introduce him to all the folks. Now that was a pleasure to watch – the warm welcome, handshakes and conversations with mommy hovering over him like a proud peacock.
Finally, I could only drag her away by packing her bag and taking it to the car. We spent the afternoon having lunch at Jewel, Ocho Rios and a happier mother could not be found anywhere in Jamaica… oblivious to yesterday’s treachery.
Garfield shakes me awake. “Look at this photo!”
It’s me atop my husband’s shoulders, waving the Jamaican Flag! The horror!
“OMG, what the hell? Where is that?”
“It’s in the Gleaner.”
Will the earth just open up and swallow me. Memories of a prominent photo of me in red short shorts that was captured years ago while in college that graced the Sunday Gleaner flooded back. My mom didn’t speak to me for an entire week!
“Don’t you dare show that to mommy!” I hissed.
And even nature began to sympathise with me as tears start pouring from the skies. Thank God! Mommy won’t get to leave the house to buy the papers or come in contact with anyone who has the papers! Yes! Every time the phone pinged or vibrated I cringed because it was another person posting or commenting on the photo. I silently prayed that no one called mommy to share news of the photo.
Of course, my hubby was enjoying all of this while I squirmed my way through the day. As we piled into the jeep to head back to Kingston with much hugs, kisses and fanfare from my mother who has given us enough food to last till the end of days, I breathe a sigh relief…Whew! That was close.
Ahhh… you never really stop being a child!