Who’s Stuck in Dr Semaj’s Boxes?

unimaginative_by_xrniborI got so many amusing responses to my column, “Mi No Want No Woman Look Mi”, published on March 22. It’s amazing how a hot headline can motivate people to read Jamaican. If I’d even used only the ‘prapa-prapa’ writing system, that wouldn’t have stopped too many readers from trying to figure out what the column was about.

One of the first emails came from an unimaginative man: “Can you please define ageable genkleman (age group)? I fit all other criteria as stipulated in your article. Your response to my question will let me know if I have a chance:=)”. He was not too happy with my answer: “Remember, age is just a number. But you also need a recommendation from your last woman”.

That’s not an original line. It’s from a vintage calypso:

“She tell me to bring a letter from mi last woman

With she signature stating why we done

Bring two passport picture of the woman to

Ah want to know how much children weh she have for you”.

It wasn’t the letter of recommendation that bothered my would-be suitor.   It was my imprecision about ‘ageable’: “You contradict yourself by saying that age is just a number. Your article clearly spoke about an ‘age-able man’”. Yu see mi dying trial! The man picking quarrel with mi already an mi an im no deh. That was the end of that.


A rather clever man made his “application fi hart occupancy” in Jamaican. And he had no difficulty understanding ‘ageable’. After giving some lovely compliments, he proceeded “to di meat a di matta”, as he put it: “mi a di right smaddy fi look yu. Self praise really anuh good recommendation but mi tink mi a one ‘nice, ageable genkleman’. Mi anuh young bwoy nar old man cau mi a jus fifty-four even dou mi easily look thirty-four.

“Mi did marry one time but mi fine out seh di ooman a Delilah genaration an mi ave fi tek weh miself fast, fast. Mi bun fish-tail wicked so yuh woan ave nuh concern deh so.

images“Mi feel mi can read an write well cau a intallect dem call mi. A one teacha gi mi di name wen mi did deh a primary school because she seh me always a read wen all the odder pickney dem a play. All a mi teeth dem inna mi mout an none a dem nuh ratten. Mi feel mi well qualify fi de position. Please shortlist me an sen mi a email”.

I had to laugh though I wasn’t so happy about the fish-tail burning. A ‘real’ man doesn’t have to call down hellfire on gay men to prove he’s not one of them. But this man did give a good account of himself so I shortlisted him and sent an email. Incidentally, the condition of one’s teeth is a good indicator of overall health. And literacy is a sign of access to a world of books.


The most elaborate response to my column came from a psychologist, Dr. Leahcim Semaj. He was definitely not putting in an application for my hand or any other body part. In fact, he was casting me into outer darkness – a lonely place of total manlessness. In a guest column published last Sunday, Dr. Semaj prophesied that I would have “a long wait” for a suitable man. Bright!

By the way, I hadn’t said in my column that I was looking man. I was simply stating the desirable qualities of any man who might want to look me. There’s a difference. Mi no want no young boy fi work out mi soul case. An no old man fi go dead pon mi. Dr. Semaj concluded that my desire for an ‘ageable’ man was a sexual fantasy that wasn’t likely to be fulfilled.

The headline of his column was intriguing: “Ageing And Lovesick? Don’t Chase Sex Fantasies”. But what is sex without fantasies? Especially if you’re stuck with a boring partner who is trying to box you in! To be fair to Dr. Semaj, that was not his headline. It was the editor’s. But it did capture the essence of his argument.

imagesThe goodly psychologist constructed some neat little boxes in which he tried to trap young, middle-aged and old people. I was amused to see that, with typical male vanity, Dr. Semaj proposed that women age faster than men. So young boy ends at 35 years of age; but young woman ends at 30. The ‘ageable’ man ranges from 35+ to 50. The female equivalent starts at 30+ and pops down at 45. The old man starts at 50+ and, presumably, keeps going. It’s all over for the old woman at 45.

Dr. Semaj clearly does not take into account the sex appeal of the ‘nice big-woman’. That’s how I was greeted last week by a young-boy ‘ductor leaning out of a Coaster bus. And Dr. Semaj doesn’t distinguish between biological age and chronological age. People age at different rates depending on how well they take care of their teeth.

Dr. Semaj insists that people must ‘stay in dem lane’. Young with young; middle-aged with middle-aged; old with old. Nothing no go so. Sexual desire is unruly. It makes people veer out of lanes.   It’s only Dr. Semaj who’s stuck in his little box.

7 thoughts on “Who’s Stuck in Dr Semaj’s Boxes?

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  1. You are quite right about a “hot headline” motivating ppl to read (tho I read J’can without such motivation), kaaz a lang taim mi nein riid notn wa yu rait iivn duo dem kom ina mi inbaks. Enihuo, mi did fain di kalom kwait intrestin an a riili di taikl huol mi. Mi aalso did hafi riid Dakta Semaj rispans. An paat a hit did fiil laik him a truo wod paa mi… Bot mi jos waan fi paint uot tuu tingz: 1. mi no tink Dr Semaj wuz a se uman iej faasa dan man. Mi tink him a se DI PIIPL DEM fain man atraktiv fi langa (ola iej) dan uman. So a dat mek di iej gruup dem difrent fi man an uman. 2. Mi is ongl 51 an mi luk kwait hat an wail mi no intrestid ina uman, di 54 yier uol man we rait yu suon laik sombadi mi wuda gi a luk pan, so pliiz paas aan mi detielz. Tanks.

  2. I agree with Dr. Carolyn Cooper that age is just a number. Your true age is about how you think-act-behave-believe (both good and bad). That’s why I get annoyed when persons try and “box” me in based on my chronological age – THAT does not define me. That insistence on “boxing” me in brings to mind an incident when my former colleague was told by her direct report, in his 20s, that at her age (early-40s) she should “cover up her knees” (she was wearing a skirt instead of her usual pants). Scary part – he was SERIOUS!

    I’m not sure of the methodology that Dr. Semaj used to arrive at his conclusion, however, I don’t agree with it at all. Me? I’m veering out of my lane!

  3. Congratulations and thank you Carolyn and the rest of the participants, including Dr Semaj, for taking sexuality so seriously and make it an intellectual topic. I am new to the Island and happy and open to understand and take part of Jamaican culture.

    I think age is defined not by numbers but by being flexible both physical and mentally. So only people who are flexible in these terms would naturally knock down such chronological barriers. I think most of people’s sexual and/or romantic congestions stem from their being boxed in whatever given paradigms they have been exposed too. It is no easy to think out of the box, but I think it is worth it. Because it expands both your mind and your body and then you connect to yourself truly.

    Just yesterday I found myself in a conversation with a Jamaican gyal who defined herself as being an anti-gay rather than a homophobic person. She said that because she wants to stand that she is not homosexual, but she is not fearful of homosexuality being practised by others, and she respects it. I think there is no need to position oneself against something one has not been confronted to, if you are heterosexual, you don’t have to explain it, because that’s the norm. For me, it is like saying “I am anti-abortion” when you are not pregnant. Or I would never work for the Venezuelan government, when you and your family live somewhere else. It’s like saying I am anti-chocolate ice-cream, is anyone out there forcing you to eat that ice cream?

    Walk good,


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