Posted by: fullandbye | May 5, 2011

Wet-Ass

Having the name “Raz” in the United States (or Jamaica for that matter) has meant that throughout my life, I have not really had much need for nicknames. My name is weird enough as it is and most of my nicknames have been variations on Raz; Razi, Razeleh, Razzyfazzy, Razzmatazz, Razzle-dazzle etc. But there is one nickname that I cherish over almost all others and that I was reminded of today. That nickname is Wet-Ass.

Let me explain.

Sailors can be broken up into racers and cruisers, but I find this distinction pretty weak. A much more robust distinction is the distinction between sailors of dinghies and small catamarans (wet-asses), and sailors of keelboats (rail bait). Although I sail pretty much anything with sails, I am and always will be a wet-ass at heart. It is an epithet i share with many people, all of whom share the common experience of sailing boats with our bottoms hanging out over the drink; a truly select group!

To understand the name, look at exhibit A
wet-ass

Doesn’t this look fun? It is really fun. I’ve spent many many hours in this exact position, on this exact sort of boat. And in the process, my ass has gotten very wet.

Although it has happened from time to time, much more seldom has my ass gotten wet while sailing keelboats (exhibit B is the banner of this blog). You can see why, right? Wet-asses sit with our butts outboard, while rail bait sit with their butts inboard–the difference is immense. Trust me on this.

But wet bottoms are not only to be found in Neptune’s domain. I can think of several unfortunate times when my ass has gotten mighty wet while riding bicycles, or even walking. But prior to this afternoon, I really can’t think of a single time it has gotten wet from riding inside a four wheeled motor vehicle.

This all changed this afternoon.

Coming back to Portland from a behavior change training in Ochi, I managed to pass the first two legs of the journey without much ado. In Annotto bay I boarded a minibus bound for Port Antonio and found myself sitting in the far right seat of the very back row.

I foolishly neglected to check for telltale signs of water damage around the top of the rear hatch of this minibus and therefore sat right under the place where the seal was damaged. Oops. Just out of Annotto Bay we hit a band of torrential rain that lasted throughout the one hour ride to Porti.

What started as a slow drip of water from the hatch soon turned into an almost constant trickle. The water landed just below the nape of my neck, slowly soaking my shirt, then my trousers, then my drawers, and finally my butt. By the time we reached the St. Margaret’s bay bridge I was quite literally sitting in a puddle of water and at this point the lady next to me took notice of my situation.

I should clarify here that at no point during this time was I upset. I was a little bit uncomfortable, but the sheer astonishment and amusement at finding myself in a situation so absurd (and yet strangely familiar) completely outweighed any sense of outrage or indignation I might have had otherwise. Without needing to even think about it that much, I found myself mantrically thinking “I’m a Wet-Ass. My ass is wet. It has been wet before. It will be wet again. But this might be the only time I ever sit in a puddle inside a car so I should really try to enjoy this”.

To be fair, my reasoning sounds pretty weird to me when I write it down like this. But this really is how I felt! Unfortunately, the (dry) woman next to me did not share my resigned sentiments towards dampness. Quite the contrary, she was so incensed at my plight that she took it upon herself to start yelling at the ducta.

I told her that such a scene was really not necessary. She was incredulous and told me that she admired my spirit but that she could not abide this situation. I thanked her for the compliment and then made a futile attempt to explain why I did not mind sitting in a puddle inside a car. I tried to explain to her that I’ve actually spent hundreds of hours of my life with a soaking wet bottom just to earn the right to call myself a Wet-Ass, and that this current exposure to moisture was really just a vindication of a title I’ve worked hard to earn.

This conversation quickly caught the attention of most of the other passengers nearby. So passionately did I explain my reasoning that I can say with utmost confidence that by the end of the ride I had succeeded in convincing them all that they had spent the past hour of their lives riding in a minibus with a stark raving lunatic.

Even with a common language, some things really just don’t translate all that well.

All the literature warns you how difficult Peace Corps can be. None of the literature warns you just how surreal and hilarious Peace Corps can be. Almost two years since shipping out I realize I would have it no other way.

***************
Current Location: My room in Moore Town.
Current Time: 2043
Current Temperature: Very pleasant.
Current Beverage: Lemongrass Tea with honey.
State of the Raz: Showered and dry.
State of Raz’s pants: Still pretty damp.

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Responses

  1. Funny story, but that’s beside the point: WHAT is a behavior change training?

    • It was a component of a mid-service conference and In-service training for the group that swore in a year ago. It was a training in identifying strategies for developing communication that could effect certain types of behavior change. We looked at condom use as a case study and critiqued different outreach materials and methods that are part of the safe sex campaign. We then worked in groups to think about behaviors we would like to change in target groups. Examples were getting people to properly dispose of plastic bottles, getting coffee farmers to use organic fertilizer instead of chemicals, getting teens to practice family planning, etc. Despite some issues, the workshop as a whole was pretty valuable. It ties in nicely to my extension project. And thinking for two days about reducing plastics in the environment definitely focused my approach a little bit.

  2. Once upon a time, when I was studying in Mexico, I had a similar bus experience. It was at the very end of our trip, and I was en route to Mexico City, from which I would fly home in a few days.

    During the bus ride, it began to rain, and the rain slowly turned into a light drip-drip-drip onto me. (It remained a light dripping; it was not an ass-soaking flood like yours.) I looked around to see if there were other open seats, but there was only one, in the very back of the bus, far away from my friends with whom I was traveling.

    I’ll be honest: I would have preferred not to get wet. But frankly, I didn’t care that much. I mostly wanted to continue sitting with my friends. That’s why I decided to stay where I was. But at one of the stops, the bus attendant noticed the leak and informed me that I was allowed to move. I said thanks, but I’d rather stay.

    Let me point out that this conversation was happening in Spanish. While my accent may be atrocious, my comprehension level at the end of that trip was fine. I understood every word he was saying, and my answers couldn’t have been that difficult to understand. Still, Mr. Attendant dude decided that I didn’t understand him, so he told me again, louder, that I could move.

    (Tangent! If someone can’t understand you because they don’t speak your language well enough, please try speaking slower, not louder.)

    Dude: You can move to another seat.

    Me: No thanks, I’d rather sit here.

    Dude: You don’t understand. There’s water dripping on your head.

    Me: Yes, I do understand. There is water dripping on my head. But I would rather sit here than any of the open seats.

    Dude: No, you don’t understand. There is water dripping on your head. It’s not going to stop. Move to a different seat.

    Me: Of course I know there’s water dripping on my head. But I’m staying.

    Dude, authoritatively: Move.

    Me: No.

    Dude, angrily: You don’t understand…

    Me, interrupting: Oh yes I do.

    At this point the guy threw his hands in the air, made an exasperated huff, and started storming off. And then, a miraculous thing happened. You see, it turns out that there is a crazy alpha male buried deep inside of me. He doesn’t come out often, but he’s there, waiting. Usually it takes an argument with my father to bring him to the surface, but for some reason that day the insinuation that I was getting wet because I was ignorant was enough to unleash him.

    Unfortunately, my inner alpha male doesn’t speak Spanish. So… yeah. As the dude was walking away from me, I got up and attempted to “communicate”. It went something like this:

    Me: Sí, yo enTIENdo perfectaMENTE, you STUPID ! HOW DARE YOU TREAT ME LIKE A CHILD! YOU ! You will leave me alone and…

    Of course by this point the entire bus was staring at the completely crazy tall white dude who was allowing himself to be dripped upon and screaming obscenities in English. The dude’s eyes were wide and he was backing away from me as though I might attack him. And my friends literally grabbed me, pulled me back into the seat, and told me to shut up. My anger persisted through the next several minutes as I mumbled obscenities under my breath. But eventually I regained control. And the attendant didn’t speak with me again.

  3. Camden! This is a good story. The thing is, coming from Seattle, where rainy usually also implies chilly, it is hard to explain to people in the tropics that getting wet here is not that uncomfortable. Really.

  4. I sense a kindred spirit in the frequency of honey usage! And lemongrass tea… ah…


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