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Friday, April 27, 2007

Burn Your bra

When I had been in the States a couple of years, I more or less had them tapped, Americans that is to say, and their funny little ways. They have lots of funny little ways, a source of great hilarity to foreigners such as myself. I noticed that quite often, they would have a box of matches in the loo. [translation = rest room] Being the knowledgable person that I am, I knew that this was sound evidence of closet smoking. Sneaky little Americans shut themselves in the loo, together with the obligatory extractor fan for a quick fag. [translation = nicotine hit] Possibly they were also members of the mile high club, but on land, despite puritan evidence to the contrary. I deduced, that Americans locked themselves in the loo to have sex and then a post coital. What other conclusion would any sane member of the human race conclude?

Oh yes, what I didn’t know about Americans wasn’t worth knowing.

It was therefore with some surprise, that I learned later, much later, that matches in the loo, served an entirely different purpose. The purpose? You really want to know? They all have them you know, matches in the loo, that is to say. What do they have them for? Alright, I’ll tell you, put you out of your misery, you’ve forced it out of me. But you’ll have to suspend reality for a moment, as you’ll never believe me. You'll never guess in a month of Sundays. They light a match to eliminate unpleasant odours that are commonplace in the room of rest. Isn’t that the most hilarious thing you’ve ever heard? I nearly died of laughter when my pal [American] translated this for me. As the Muse handed me a tissue, [translation = Klennex] I couldn’t help but point to the extractor fan, mainly because I was incapable of coherent speech at the time. That one feature, has yet to be satisfactorily explained. Maybe it’s something to do with a belt and braces approach? [translation = overkill]

Meanwhile, early in the morning, the radio tells tales of the 1960’s, whilst I make oatmeal and other loathsome concoctions for the nutritional benefit of my children.

“What was so special then, back in the old days,” she asks innocently.
“Apart from the fact that that was the unmemorable year of my birth, it was also a time of political enlightenment.”
“Um…..breaking out of the social norms of the time.”
“How did they break out?”
“Well women did wild things like burn their bras in public.” I wonder if anyone did it in private?
“Why did they do that?”
“It was symbolic, escaping from male oppression, and so on.”
“What is male oppression?”
“Er….well, things were different in those days, women weren’t allowed to do lots of things that they shouldn’t have been prevented from doing.”
“Such as?”
“More of less everything,” I say popping her cereal in front of her. I notice that one of my sons is frozen to the spot. “What is it dear?”
“You are dah burning?”
“Warm, busy, but not burning dear.”
“What it is dah ‘bra?’”
“Underwear for women’s chests dear.”
“I am having dah underwear for dah chest.”
“No. Remember, I said ‘female,’ you are male.”

Although his pyjama bottoms seem to be adrift somewhere, he lifts his top and peers beneath, searching. “I am not wearing dah bra?”
“Correct. Nor are you wearing the bottoms either!” I admonish.
“Why you are burning dah underwear?” I pause, wipe oatmeal from a reluctant mouth and seek guidance.
“What your mother means, is that burning your clothes or the flag or more or less anything else, is a way of telling everyone that you object, protest, break down rules that you don’t like.”

We exchange adult glances. It was better than I could have managed, but still has a few fatal flaws. We both know that the trigger world ‘rule’ was in there somewhere. The clock strikes the hour of 7 a.m. Maybe now we will be more awake with more brain cells available to us. Maybe we can rewind and start again?

“We have dah matches?”
“No! We have no matches.”
"But I am needing dem!"
"You do not need matches my love, hear open wide, just another spoonful.."
“We have dah matches for dah burning food.”
“Oh, they’re special matches, only for the barbeque.” [translation = Brits do not excel at the barbeque department, more of a wake or a cremation]
“But I am needing dem badly for my rules.”
“You may use matches when you are 18, er….21 the age of majority in California.”
“But I am only dah 6!”
“Indeed. Only 15 years to wait.”
“How many?”
“How many what dear?”
“How many are dah minutes in 15 years?”
Americans! What can you do with them?


Anonymous said...

HA HA HA!!! (*dies laughing*)

I can't wait to have conversations like that with The Small Boy one day....so many things we say must sound utterly absurd to the autistic child.

(You know me from LJ - all names have been changed)

Knock knock - it's cancer! said...

I have 2 autistic step sons. One talks, one doesn't. Both are 10 and 9.

Sounds like your kids are pretty cute and observant.

Life sure changed for me once I met my step kids. I knew nothing about autism. Both my biological kids don't have it.

I wish they had more information out there for the people who want to learn more. I found it hard to learn about it at first.

I love your blog, I'll be back.

Anonymous said...

::snicker:: Mine's currently repeating and repeating directions. Sigh.. there's GPS unit in there somewhere :)

Melanie said...

Ha Ha Ha! That is just so funny. Some of the things we do sound so crazy when you try to actually explain them!

Joeymom said...

My grandmother always burned candles in the bathroom. I have one in mine. It has never been touched. Kind of an odd memorial. My husband has never mentioned it.

On a similar note, my father's family always served vegetables in milk. Not cream or sauce. Milk. All fo my cousins do it. Before she passed away, I asked my grandmother why, since I have to tell you, milk-drowned peas are not always very appetizing. Apparently, my grandfather hated creamed vegetables, and my grandmother loved them, and so to "get back" at him for not permitting creamed stuff, she just poured milk over everything. Her kids do it because she did it. My cousins do it because their moms did it. My mom was apparently too intelligent and had too good a pallate to do any such nonsense.

I still giggle when we go to my uncles' or cousins' houses to eat.

lili said...

HA,ha,ha(wipe tear) That's funny! There have been a few meals I have made that my kid's would love to protest.

lili said...

Correction, have protested .

Unknown said...

You could not see my eyes begin to bulge when you said the word matches in front of your child.



Matches, we don't have no stinking matches.

ROFL (that's another American silly phrase)

Chrisd from write and whine

DebbieKnitter said...

*sheepish grin* Ok, being American, I gotta take a stand here....I was baffled by the matches and what they were for BUT my husband knew EXACTLY what they were for *giggle*
Your children are beautiful, inside and out!

dulwichmum said...

Yes, indeed your children are beautiful.


Melissa said...

My parents have matches in their bathroom... I do have a candle in ours... not sure why. We never use it. You are pretty brave to talk about burning anything with your kids! LOL :)

Attila the Mom said...


You know, I didn't know about the matches until I was about 30.

My dad had been really ill and was in a nursing home to recuperate.

He was refusing to use the bathroom, and they were putting him in diapers, which he found intolerable and undignified.

He kept asking me for matches, and I was thinking, "geez, he's lost his marbles! There are oxygen tanks all over the place and he wants to sneak a smoke?"

Turns out he was embarrassed for anyone to smell his "stuff".

Guess the match sulphur overpowers any biological sulphur. LOL

Heidi said...

the penny drops [translation: a slow-witted housewife has a heureka moment]
my husband keeps matches in our bathroom, along with Four Four Two magazines. I thought he enjoys my lavender-scented Diptyque candles. I thought he was getting in touch with his feminine side.
thanks for clearing that up!

Anonymous said...

Clearly growing up in the south has certain advantages in the department of "understanding queer, coy customs associated with feigned lack of bodily function."

We have one box of matches, and they are under lock and key in the kitchen. No cute scented candles in this household. And I really, really need my bra: I shall have to find another way of protesting oppression that doesn't undermine my foundational support. Maybe I'll take to farting in public and declare it an act of protest.

Fun post. Truly wonderful and funny children.

Haddayr said...

Your children have inspired me; I am going to go burn bureaucratic forms in the public square.

Burning food sounds like more fun, though.

seaeaglesrule said...

That is hilarious. I remember reading a few years ago that it is also common for Japanese women to take a portable "white-noise" machine with them when they use public toilets. Apparently it is used to cover "embarrassing" sounds.

Thanks for such an enjoyable post :)

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