Monday, 25 May 2009

fa'afafine from roslyn street

in samoan culture
when a family lacks girls
a boy will often be
brought up as a girl
to be treated as a woman
not homosexual but
a third gender
the fa'afafine

household duties are gender specific
and heavier domestic tasks
are delegated to the fa'afafine
whether they like it or not

now this throws up
a conundrum or two ......
is gender a social construct?
is this the role of parents to decide?
should we respect the cultural norms?
what about the feelings of the boy?
how about girls who want to swap gender?
isn't life interesting?

my respect for the fa'afafine
is a personal one ...
and it goes like this

back in the 'good old' days
when roslyn street
had a european ambience
there was a community aura
people lived there
just didn't blow in on
friday and saturday nights
to get plastered and puke everywhere

there was the amsterdam ...
that notorious cafe
that sold the odd joint to travellers
was loved by daily telegraph
and a current affairs reporters
as the great expose

anna had a great place next door
good tea and rolls
and a grumpy but wonderful nature

barons was there
the late night leather clad
backgammon bar that
was right out of prauge

and jason's guitar shop was there
grotty and wonderful things
adorned the walls
and every inch of that
little shop

the only thing that still remains the same
in this now neon and tacky corner of town
is the piccollo
..... go there if you haven't
before it too ends up
in the cultural graveyard of regrets

anyway .....
i'm tending to business
at jasons guitar shop
and it's a little quiet
on the customer front
because an amiable drunk
has spent what seems like
a day or two
camped very close to the
front door
scattered cans and bottles
ciggies and torn blankets
he has a penchant for song
and he knows a lot of 'em

after an hour or so
i decide to play a gibson sg61
really loud through a boogie
... bad call
he wants to join in
and almost crawls through the door
billowing still

ok that's it i say
no you'll have to stay outside
whatya mean young fella
lets have a sing song
c'mon don't be like that .. . he groans

i manage to keep him out of the shop
... still no customers
as you can imagine
but he continues to billow away
out front

now all these goings on
were being observed
i was soon to discover
from across the road
upstairs from the amsterdam
from an apartment window

i was rewiring something
when i heard a big burly
bottom end voice say ...
ok that's enough
we've all had enough
go away and leave the young man
in peace ... go on shut up get up
and move .... and you can't sing for shit ...

i turned to see the amiable drunk
gathering his things quietly
a large samoan man
in a dress with lipstick
and a hairdo weilding a cricket bat
was standing over him

what a sight
a 6 ft plus samoan man
in a floral dress
and pearl bangles
and a cowering drunk that
looked like he'd just seen
a pink elephant
right outside the guitar shop

the fa'afafine gave me a smile
ok sweety
he won't be bothering us

yeah thanks i say
as he ....
or is it she
spins about and marches
back across roslyn street
with long locks flowing
and a cricket bat over a shoulder