Thursday, 26 November 2009

Taxicab Explication of Aboriginal Genital-Mutilation Rituals

Hear me, yes, for tonight I have supped on many potent and flavoursome libations; mixed grape and grain and sugar-beet molasses until the air around grew thick as warm water by night, and vortices of unseen origin propelled my body from floor to ceiling, spinning themselves to nothing at velocities no speedometer could ever apprehend. I have watched coloured lights, once hung in state, descend and dance in frenzied counterpoint some atavistic ritual whose function I could not hope to fathom, and felt my head dance with them; a frantic, lilting dance that reminds me of the word “calypso,” although I don’t really know what the word “calypso” denotes. (Note to sober self: look up the word “calypso.”)

I have been sick once, on the sparkling heels of a fat-faced girl with lethal-looking hair and lips painted the bloody purple of a hanged man’s glans. I enjoyed being sick on her, and would happily make her my target a second time, but I doubt that the opportunity will arise now that she is on her guard. I have fought off the persistent advances of an oafish, drunken student and cast myself before a handsome doctor wearing a beanie, and been judged acceptable, and I have boarded the taxi that will take us back to his friend’s place where we will make small talk for a while and then fuck, probably clumsily, on a sofa or a sofa-bed or (praise be for small mercies!) a real actual bed with mattress, sheets and pillows such as will afford a measure of comfort commensurate with the standard of living to which I have become accustomed in my 22 years of riding this inscrutable planet through one effortless, invisible rotation after another.

I have done all of this and I have been neither perplexed nor aggrieved at any point; not until the moment when the skinny white boy who makes up the fourth wheel of our proud, night-coursing triumvirate, and who is evidently the fated plaything of our host-to-be, commenced rattling on about a subject apparently close to his heart, namely male-genital mutilation.

“There’s an amazing diversity of techniques and practices to be observed across the world, even today,” he declaims, waving a single extended finger in the air as though in unconscious phallic tribute. “For example, the Aborigines—that’s ‘Aborigines’ with a capital ‘A;’ ‘aborigines’ with a small ‘a’ means simply the native inhabitants of a given region—the Aborigines perform both the traditional circumcision and also a procedure called a ‘subincision,’ in which the penis is split from head to base along the urethra.”

“Jesus,” says the handsome doctor, whose name, I think, is Saami; he turns to me with a pained expression on his face and I do my best to look sympathetic.

“Apparently, the shedding of blood that occurs during the procedure is considered to represent a male form of menstruation; it’s a rare case of genital mutilation that, far from being misogynistic, is actually rooted in a sympathetic attitude to womanhood.”

As the only lady present, I feel obliged to respond to this observation. “Well, I’m sure Valerie Solanas would have approved, but I’m quite happy for men to keep their genitals intact.” I let my hand fall on Saami’s thigh and see his eyebrows climb a couple of centimetres.

The white boy continues, oblivious to everything but his own voice. “It’s actually caught on as a form of voluntary genital modification in the West. Men choose to have their penises split open, and in some cases completely bifurcated, as an expression of their individuality and self-possession. It’s fascinating.”

“Yes, isn’t it.” I smile sweetly and he seems to get the idea; he turns his attention to the window and watches the night crawl by.

There is silence in the vehicle for a while, not counting the constant hissing of water sent spraying by the tyres, the chatter of passing pedestrians, the driver’s soft and wilfully tuneless humming. It’s so close to peaceful that I find myself nodding off with my head on Saami’s shoulder; he looks down and we both smile like people who’ve known and been close to each other for more than an hour, which is easy enough to do as long as you regard all your sexual partners as essentially interchangeable. This is a bad habit of mine that comes in handy so frequently that I’m loathe to kick it. I close my eyes and try to focus on the humming from the front seat, it having occurred to me that any series of notes is technically a tune, and that enjoyment is a simple matter of deciphering the patterns (intentional or otherwise). I hear snatches of “Frère Jacques,” “Sweet Child of Mine” and something classical they used to play in school assemblies. Then we arrive.

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