100 Days Project

Ben: 100 Writings / 100 Opening Guitar Hooks

various, random creative expressions / writings, inspired partially by 100 popular songs (songs that somewhat begin with a leading hook of a guitar.)

Day 54:

“Test Match Special” (2009) by the Duckworth Lewis Method

“Test Match Special” (2009) by the Duckworth Lewis Method

Part of the Niuean culture, of which I’m partially, is that young boys have to grow their hair long, which will be cut in a ritual ceremony sometime in their adolescence. The ceremony represents the growing of a boy into his destiny of a man. (For the girls’ ceremony, they get their ears pierced, representing the flow of blood or something.) A banquet is held whereby guests from far and wide contribute with foods, gifts and/or money to the boy’s family or towards his personal trust fund (the latter of which I have still yet to fucking see.) Each guest gets a locket of his cut hair tied with a ribbon, which represents the reciprocal bind between that guest and the boy (one aunty still has mine locked in a jewelry box of hers.) It’s a huge event, as it was for me.

Up to the ceremony, their hair is platted up tight on a weekly basis, not only to maintain but to also save some form of a masculine look. As hair maintenance is obviously not an interest young boys have, my mother used to upkeep mine. My cousin was lucky enough to have four sisters taking turns in upkeeping his. It used to take my mother around three hours to maintain my hair – an incredibly arduous process, and a frightening affair, with all the hair pulling, which was really due to my type of hair. My cousin had soft, luscious hair – easily capable to be waived and weaved. But I have Melanesian hair: dry, afro, fuzzing and forcibly unwilling to want to be combed out. Taming it was time spent and excruciating.

Sometimes I’d yelp with pain and my mother would slap my head for crying like a girl. And when I yelped again, I moved to try and dodge her slap, but she’d yanked my hair back and slapped me again for trying to avoid her punishment. (Ah, those good ole days of politically incorrect parenting!) In addition, I had to sit there. Just sit there. For three hours straight. A very difficult task for any kid who was forcibly unwilling to want to sit it out.

However, I past the time with two things. One, listening. I only realised later how a thousand year tradition like this was important in making boys listen to women. My cousin was very lucky in understanding how each of his sisters worked, by spending such manual quality time with each of them. He’s very, very close to all of them. Me? I’m not too sure whether I understood Mum. I listened, but have no idea … still.

And two, Cricket. TV shows would last 30 minutes and by its end, I’d soon wanna get up off the chair and do something else – quickly ended with a smack to the noggin. But here was something precious. It held a kid’s attention span for seven hours. It was patient. I learnt all the rules just by watching it. I coulda been no older than 7, 8. The more I understood it, the more I adored it. It was possessing. I remember one time she finished a platting session in less than two hours and instead of playing outside, I spent the rest of the day, sitting in front of the TV enthralled, watching the Crowe brothers hit it out or Hadlee getting that wicket. It was patient, possessing … and powerfully compelling. I guess all that hair pulling was worth it, for Cricket’s become my favourite sport (after League).

Now I can’t speak for all men, but that was my moment. Most young boys have that moment when they encounter the grandeur and spectacle that is Sport and forever become fascinated by it, well into adulthood. A moment that kinda represents the growing of a boy into his destiny of a man: the end of those trantrums and those toys; the beginning of those triumphs; those tears; those violent instances; those camaraderies made. Sport is, somewhat, very important to men.

And really I don’t know why men and sport go together. Maybe it’s to avoid all that fucking listening!