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SATURDAY’S CHILD: No airline for old men

Tony Deyal

SATURDAY’S CHILD: No airline for old men

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There is an award-winning movie called No Country For Old Men, which still resonates with me, especially since I qualified some time ago, galloping from youth into middle-age and then hobbling into senior citizenship.

From the stoop of old age, looking down the timeline, one thing that strikes me is the number of names we give objects or phenomena connected with sexual organs and activities. This is something at which Trinis excel and when I remember and reflect on my schooldays, I am amazed at how many synonyms we invented, devised or used, how many variants we adopted, just to avoid the English words “penis” and “vagina”.

My memory was recently pricked by a scandal surrounding Trini Olympic and World Championships medallist sprinter Ato Boldon. The website ran the following story: “Sex-mail 101: When you send photographs of yourself in your birthday suit and the recipient does not offer to blow out the candles, chances are you not going to finish that particular race.

“On 6 March, 2010, Australian Senator Nova Peris allegedly sent ex-Trinidad and Tobago Olympic star Ato Boldon a nude photo to show what else could be on the agenda for his trip ‘Down Under’ to help prepare that country’s athletes for the London 2012 Olympics.

“Peris, a former Olympian herself and one of Australia’s ‘most decorated indigenous athletes’, was an ambassador for Athletics Australia and a communication officer with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies at the time. But, from photographic evidence, she had not aged as well as the Trini former track star.”  

“While the undecorated senator was interesting, my wrinkle in time was not her physical condition but the headline of the article. It was, Ato Tea Party Down Under: Ex Olympic Star In Sex Less Scandal.

“Apart from Ato going “down under”, it was the pure Trini pun, first used publicly by Trini comedian Errol Fabien, of “Ato Tea”. It is an old brand in a new box. One of the words we used for the male sexual organ was pronounced “toe-tea”. While there is no proper spelling, I have seen “toti”, which the “Urban Dictionary” defines as “Women’s vagina in Spanish”. Despite the ambiguity, the idea of “Ato Tea Party down-under” is hilarious.

The word “toto” is also very common, being used in Trinidad long before I was born to describe the male sexual organ. Another word, which I have not really seen in print, is pronounced “low-lee” and a variant of it is “lollo”.

It was for this reason that I, and a lot of other Trinis, found it a trifle hilarious when Caribbean Airlines hired a new CEO named “DiLollo”.  The man, from everything I’ve read, is highly qualified, extremely competent but with a name that is culturally inappropriate and will probably cause the same laughter behind his back that his appointment was greeted with when it was announced. It is not his fault but our culture.

Then when his pay package was revealed, a friend called me and knowing my love for calypso asked, “Tony, you ever hear that calypso by Rio about men paying maintenance money? He call it ‘The Toto Tax’.”  I admitted to having it on the music flash-drive in my car. “Well,” he continued, “when you have to pay more for travelling on Caribbean Airlines, you paying DiLollo tax.”

I thought that the people who hired him should have known and perhaps warned their new CEO that his performance might be no problem but his name could be.

I clung to this until I had no choice but to change my departure date on a Caribbean Airlines flight to Fort Lauderdale. The flight cost US$262 return. The change cost US$170, plus the difference in the new fare (which was substantial). When I considered that the price of fuel was down, I had no choice but jump to the conclusion that the CEO’s salary and allowances had to be paid and this is why Caribbean was charging more for a Barbados flight than for Fort Lauderdale and why changing a ticket costs almost as much as the ticket itself.  

I was stopped by BWIA’s security as I was heading to board the plane to Fort Lauderdale and the young lady in charge ran her fingers over my body, thoroughly. I thought this was not allowed but the rule seems to have been changed. A friend who had seen what happened said, “I see the lady hands all over you. What she thought you had – drugs?”  I took my time and answered slowly. “No. I think she was looking for DiLollo.”

Tony Deyal was last seen warning men who are searched by Caribbean Airlines female guards. If you look like you’re enjoying it, DiLollo and his boys will probably charge for that too.