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THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: Life on the campaign trail

Antoinette Connell

THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: Life on the campaign trail

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I have a pal who sometimes delights in pushing the bounds of propriety with me.
Time and place sometimes will not matter; once he has something to say, the words will shoot right out his mouth. Still, it is good that he has a sense of embarrassment and sometimes suffers at his own hands.
The campaign trail has reunited this dynamic duo. I love this season, the sights, sounds, criss-crossing Barbados taking in the hecklers and the plain old nuisances at the meetings. It matters not your station in life, everyone has a vote.
I had cause recently to recall a memorable outing during a past campaign trail when my friend’s indelicate approach earned him the wrath of a woman. So there we were one night at a meeting when he got a hankering for fishcakes and we found a vendor.
As he turned to hand me the first batch, I resisted, not in the mood for carrying anything in my hands. I glared at him instead of taking one of the bags.
Standing there waiting for his change, he blurted out something to me and I believed I heard the Bajan form of greedy, lazy and a whole set of uncomplimentary things that truly for any other woman would have been offensive. And it was. A woman standing nearby awaiting her turn jumped in.
“Oh, no, you didn’t just speak to a woman like that?”
Obviously, she was paying more attention to him than I was. My friend made a quick perplexed glance to his left and then to his right supposing, nay, hoping, that the woman was speaking to someone else. She made it clear that she meant him and how dare he speak to a woman in that fashion.
Truly taken aback, he attempted to inform the woman that it was okay because we were longtime friends so his words were not as harsh as she might imagine.
I, sensing his discomfort and seeing his eyes pleading with me for help, looked away. I mustered my best hurt expression as the woman tore into him. Just when I thought that she might be looking around for a posse to lynch my friend, I interjected and told her he meant no disrespect, we were close friends who traded insults often.
She gave me such a pitiful look and I interpreted it to mean that she thought I had become such a victim I needed protection. I cut short her pity, explaining that I was fine but her gaze left me feeling as though I had set the women’s movement all the way back to that first over the head clubbing of a woman by a caveman before he dragged her by the hair to his underground dwelling.
My friend practically snatched his change from the vendor in a bid to flee the uncomfortable scene. As we walked back to our original spot, my friend, a bit more conscious of his surroundings now, asked in a hushed tone: “Where she come from though?”
By now, I was busy howling at his disastrous fishcake run, especially his annoyance with me for not rescuing him sooner and the lack of enthusiasm when I eventually did.  
He swore that had we remained there any longer, there would have been a bra burning and he would have been on the top of the bonfire. We laughed.
I can’t say that he treats me any differently, and that is fine, because he is not thin skinned either, but he does look around before making statements now. Sometimes people, even strangers, will say things about you or to you but you don’t always have to respond in like fashion. Someone will come along and take care of that individual for you – if you are innocent.
• Antoinette Connell is the DAILY NATION editor.