You’ve heard about the ties that bind, but what about underwear? In Jamaica, some women are not getting their knickers in a twist over their bashful swains. In fact they’ve put a new twist on the old knickers.
According to a story by Dwayne McLeod in The Star newspaper (Jamaica), “Keeping a man is expensive business. In fact, it can cost a woman up to $40,000 to ‘tie’ her lover through the services of an obeah man. And though this sum is quite hefty, THE STAR has learnt that many women are dipping deep in order to ensure that their men stay put. Recent investigations revealed that these women pay between $20,000 and $40,000 for each visit.”
What Dwayne does not seem to know is that if the Calypsonians are to be believed, this is not unique to Jamaica or new to the region. The first calypso I heard on the subject was composed almost fifty years ago by Nelson Caton and performed by Nap Hepburn. The first verse and chorus were:
Have you ever studied
How them young girls get married (Repeat first two line)
They does do all kind of thing, just to get a ring
They does sit down and draf’ out a plan
How to trap a man
Last week I saw Elsie
Giving her man Alexander this recipe
Well she boil she petticoat
In a pan of water
And she put in she bra
Half an hour after
Man she sweeten it with honey and she add some red lavender
And in nine days time she was Mrs. Alexander
However, it seems that the Jamaican ladies go beyond the bra when they’re going for bust. According to Dwayne, “Bible verses, candles, special powders, oils and even the women’s panties are used in the process. Being THE WEEKEND STAR we had to ask for an explanation on how a woman’s panty can be used.
The men say the panty is first soaked in a special oil (which they sell), and is afterwards steamed over a meal which is being prepared for the man. This practice, they say, is completed with the reading of a bible verse.” If the women are “dipping deep” the men are dipping even deeper.
Worse, there is a Trinidadian dish called “oil down” which might be different in effect although one is never sure of the context.
Hepburn in the calypso had hinted about eating “something unmentionable” so even that ingredient in the mix is not unknown in the region. The Guyanese, who have a way with words – they call being cuckolded “getting blow” and sexual intercourse “lash” – talk about “geera”, another name for the spice “cumin”, implying that there are some spicy ingredients in the stew.
Of course, the man could keep cumin back for more, might be more up-and-cumin or merely cumin soon. It might even be, “You looking hungry. Why not cumin side and get something to eat that you will really enjoy.” When you go into the kitchen, if you see the cutlery in her drawers, that is the time to escape.
Guyanese have extremely picturesque phrases for women’s underwear – there are the “sugar bowl covers” and the huge ones called “jukeboxes.” Unfortunately, the only sweet sound that emerges from this honey trap is the wedding march.
In “Melda”, Sparrow also touched upon the topic:
Melda oh you making wedding plan
Carrying meh name to obeah man
All you do, you can’t get through,
I still eh go married to you.
The most revealing calypso on the process is by Lord Brigo. He sang:
You know ah man tell me
That meh name in the cemetery
They have skeleton in meh tea
Don’t mind how ah try, ah properly tie
Lemme go!! Lemme go!!
She give me mih breakfast
Last week Saturday
I get so delirious
I throw it away
A dog was passing the same time
Smell the food and start to wine…
What intrigues me most is the Bible verse that is supposed to be read at the appropriate time in the proceedings. Would we go to the oft quoted verse (Matthew 19:6) about what God, or in this case the Obeah Man, has joined together let no man put asunder? Or do we cite the Jamaican classic one-act play, “The Harrowing of Benjy” for our answer.
His rant on the Scarlet Woman taken from Proverbs 5:4 is “that her end is as bitter as the wormwood and as sharp as a two-edged sword.” Is that appropriate? I would think it depends on the colour of the underwear.
*Tony Deyal, the well-known Pantheist, was last heard asking if a woman uses skimpy underwear to entrap a man, would you say the man is thong-tied.
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