Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Trini Tuesday- A Shock to the System

If you dig around the archives for posts about Trinidad or even if you check the most recent posts on that topic you'll find stories that generally occurred on the island. Today I'm going to share a fun little memory about some friends who came to visit us here in the US. We've been fortunate enough to have some of our dearest friends from Trinidad come visit us in the States on occasion. It's always a delight to be able to host them and return some of the hospitality they showed us when we lived in Trinidad.

The first experience of cold weather can be an interesting thing for friends from an island located a mere 11 degree above the Equator. In Trinidad people start throwing quilts and blankets on the bed if the nighttime temperature plummets to 70 degrees, generally the point at which I was sighing in relief for a slight break in the heat. Many folks were convinced of my lack of fitness as a mother because at night I'd take my toddler and infant "out in the dew" without a cap or booties. "Put on de hat! De chile would catch she death!" With such extreme sentiments on what I considered temperate weather I was always careful to warn friends visiting us in the Autumn or Winter to be prepared with adequate clothing.

It's not uncommon for folks traveling north during those seasons to borrow sweaters and jackets from others they know who come to the US or Canada frequently enough to have invested in heavier clothing. Though I also knew a few Trinis who wore knit sweaters in weather when my only relief was fantasizing about sleeping in the freezer. In any event, the day came when a particular friend who had never left his tropical island before planned to visit us with his lovely fiancee. We gave him advice about which airport to use, which airline was best, what items on their shopping list would be easiest to find and rough estimates for cost (we also gave out Trini shopping list of items we wished for him to carry north to us). Finally, since they were arriving in late November we gave extensive advice on necessary clothing and we took their sizes so we could be sure to either have sufficient outerwear for the couple when they disembarked in the Pennsylvania tundra. We also made sure to have many extra blankets available for their beds.

During their visit we asked them several times if they had been warm enough at night and felt they had enough clothing to keep them comfortable since they certainly were not accustomed to our temperatures even though it was quite early in the season and very mild to us. The couple assured us they were indeed warm enough when sleeping and that we had given them very useful and accurate advice about how to pack and dress. Then the young man, we'll call him Winston, of the couple said there was only one particular area in which he was suffering due to the cold and for which we had not properly prepared him.

I was sincerely concerned about my friends' comfort. I quickly asked what the problem was and how I could help ease their discomfort. Winston began to say how on the first evening after a fine meal he began to feel the call of nature in a fashion which would require his Trini bamsee to rest upon our porcelain throne. He excused himself to the facilities whereupon the meeting of his tropically attuned tushie to our more tundral toilet seat (in a bathroom with no heating units) caused an inconceivable shock to his system, a shock so great he leapt from the throne in great horror and began to try warming the seat with his forearms, his breath, a rag run under hot water...ANYTHING he could think of to make it less inclined to cause frostbite to his nether regions. He related to his fiancee and hosts, who were all now convulsing with laughter at the scene he had described, how he had been completely unable to come up with an adequate solution to the icy cold john. And so it came to pass that I explained the principle of paying careful though discreet attention to when others used the facilities so one may have a pre-warmed seat upon which to rest one's more sensitive hindquarters. It was a breathtaking moment of illumination for Winston...though not nearly so breathtaking as the frigid commode had been initially.

16 comments:

Gledwood said...

We think it's cold when it hits 0 degrees C over here... I can barely imagine how yous lot cope with "proper" cold weather...

Cricket said...

Great post... very funny.

I had some friends in college in Boston, native Hawaiians, most never seemed to "get it" regarding cold. One listened to me and my then-girlfriend and ponied up the $ for a good parka, mittens, hat, boots &c. and came to appreciate winter fun. All she owned on arrival was a couple of cardigans.

Her boyfriend, however, never quite did the math. One howling January day I answered the door to find him there in a denim jacket, jeans, t-shirt, and flip-flops. He had walked several blocks from the train station in this condition. Oh dear.

I encouraged him to get inside asap. He complained that he was "so cold!" I resisted saying what was really on my mind but said. Um, it's zero out. Do you understand? It's NO DEGREES out today! You might want to BUY A (bad word) COAT!

He was a junior by this point at a well-known university. I had little hope the message would get through, but I tried. To my knowledge, he never did get a proper coat.

furiousBall said...

see i had the opposite problem, but mostly with the humidity, not the heat. atlanta made me miserable, austin, tx (not as humid, but a lot hotter) was awesome

lime said...

gledwood, that's ind of funny actually

cricket, it's kind of amazing isn't it? i have one friend from ghana who dons her long underwear in october (which seems early to me, but hey if it's what she needs to be comfortable then who am i to say otherwise). i have another friend from india who wears flip flops in december.

furiousball, oh yeah, the humidity in trinidad wiped me out completely...of course, being pregnant while i lived there didn't help either.

secret agent woman said...

When I went to Buffalo last year in at Thanksgiving, I thought the bitterly cold wind would snap my bones. I don't mind landing in much warmer climates than I'm used to, but colder just doesn't work well for me.

Craig said...

"tropically attuned tushie"

ROFL (and nice alliteration). . .

Actually, this whole story is hilarious. . .

Our community will often host young folks from Latin America, who come to do a bit of 'mission work' and study English in America while they're at it. Since the school year is mostly the cold-weather months, we always tell them to bring a warm coat with them. So the first time one of them came, she brought the warmest coat they had - a windbreaker. Which she wore, getting off her plane in -10F, which was colder than she could ever have possibly imagined. Her host family didn't even go home, just straight to the mall to get her a proper winter coat. . .

Jen and I hosted a Nigerian graduate student many years ago; he lived with our family for a year, and the church that was sponsoring him brought his wife over to spend a couple weeks with him over Christmas. He had acclimated to the cold decently well, but the two weeks his wife was here were some of the coldest days of the last quarter-century, and the poor woman never could get warm. We wrapped her in thermal longjohns and multiple layers of thick wool sweaters, and turtlenecks and knit caps, but she just spent the entire time she was here, shivering.

Conversely, when I was in college, there was a Hawaiian guy on campus who became known as 'The Mad Hawaiian', because he refused to buy winter clothing, and in the midst of a raging blizzard, could be seen walking across campus in shorts and a T-shirt. . .

lime said...

craig, glad you enjoyed the alliteration. i had fun with it. as for your nigerian guest, i can just imagine the poor girl with chattering teeth for 2 weeks, poor thing. the image of "mad hawaiian" just cracks me up.

secret agent woman, i'm ok if i am properly ready for the cold.

S said...

Oh man, same thing in India. There I was in Delhi walking around in a salwar with no sweater or whatever, while the locals were wrapped up, freezing and sniffling...well, in all fairness, it was about 45 but that wasnt so cold to me.

LOL @ the cold bamsee! I just wanna know, how do you warm up the toilet seat for them before they use it? You dont go in there and sit down and warm it with your own butt do you?
Personally, I HATE cold toilet seats too and that is the first thing I also notice when I get home from India....but at least it's a clean toilet, and it's mine!

That was a great story! Thanks for sharing.

g-man said...

Susie...?
I'm willing to bet that your glorious posterier has never touched a toilet seat in India!
And if it has, hats off to English beer!
Limey..You Rock The World Baby!!
*wink*

Phaedrous said...

Lime,

Go to Japan. Never a cold seat there. All are heated.

As a side note, in a few days, R is hauling me out to South Orange, NJ, where I will be help captive in a giant old house surrounded by large, fierce, Trinidadian women and force fed seriously hot food for a week.

I'll let you know if I survive.

P.

The Zombieslayer said...

In Trinidad people start throwing quilts and blankets on the bed if the nighttime temperature plummets to 70 degrees, generally the point at which I was sighing in relief for a slight break in the heat. Many folks were convinced of my lack of fitness as a mother because at night I'd take my toddler and infant "out in the dew" without a cap or booties. "Put on de hat! De chile would catch she death!"

LOL! Wow, there are people worse than Californians?

ttfootball said...

L M A O!!! This is great Lime hahahaha

lime said...

susie, of course that is how prewarming works, but i didn't offer that service on command.

gman, i make the rockin world go round

phaedrous, leave it to the japanese. have an awesome time in south orange! if they have home made indian pepper sauce, trust me...use it sparingly. even the people who were weaned on the stuff use is sparingly.

zombieslayer, oh yeah, the blood is real thin when you grow up 11 degrees above the equator, but the warmth of spirit is a wonderful thing among trinis.

ttfootball, i thought yuh could feel meh on dis one, gyal. ;)

Craig said...

Oh, and I suppose I should mention the young New Zealander (South Island, no less) who came to spend six months with one of our friends. He was here from October to April, which is winter here, but summer back home, so he ended up living thru 18 consecutive months of fall/winter. . .

Beach Bum said...

This was a fantastic post!

WizzyTheStick said...

Oh my lord, too funny! As a Trini I do so remember the shock of a cold toilet seat in my friends London flat. At my sister -in-laws in Canada I am never warm and have to wear socks AND earmuffs in the house - go ahead laugh. I finally understood the expressions chilled to the bone. I swear my bones really do hurt in the cold.