Straight jacket

Straight jacket


Sunday, August 25, 2019

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False face must hide

What the false heart must know.

— Shakespeare

But virtue as it never will be moved

Through lewdness count it in a shape of heaven,

So lust, though to a radiant angel linked,

Will sate itself in a celestial bed,

And prey on garbage.

— Shakespeare, Hamlet

Look at those words in the quote above — lewdness, lust, bed — all ingredients of ribald behaviour, more than often entwined in deceit and infidelity. Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. Well, tangled though the web may be, it still ensnares, traps, binds, holds and clings to some men who always seem to fall into its trap.

Not only is that web sticky, but it is also deceptive, duplicitous and does not appear to be what it seems to be. False face and false heart, a dangerous combination. This can drive men to madness, and even though there is a certain pleasure found in madness that only madmen know, it is still not a state to be desired.

What do madmen wear for restraint when they begin to exhibit violent behaviour? The straight jacket. This device, sometimes spelt strait jacket, is a heavy garment with a strong binding cord that is placed on someone to restrain them.

It has overly long sleeves and strong laces or cords designed to wrap tightly around the subject to prevent the use of his arms. It's meant to subdue and restrain. Are some women called straight jackets? Some men tend to think so, but let's not go there today.

Just picture someone putting on a jacket backwards, then tying the long sleeves together with the person's arms inside, then tying the sleeves together. Trapped, with very little movement. Basically that's how the straight jacket works. It's not nice and certainly not comfortable and is not a desired garment.

No wonder when a man is given another man's child to raise as his own, unwittingly and unknowingly as his, it's called a jacket. Worse, a straight jacket, which is a most awful garment to wear.

Well, that's our garment of choice today, the straight jacket, right after these parental responses to 'Daddy Issues'.

Hi Tony,

You really put an interesting spin on why some women are attracted to certain types of men and why they behave a certain way. They are constantly, consciously or subconsciously, seeking the approval and affection from a father figure that they never had, or one who showed them no love. It does make sense, for it cannot simply be coincidence why some women end up with men who have similar characteristics of their fathers, good or bad.



I am a daddy's girl with daddy issues and I'm not ashamed to admit it. My father was a tall, good-looking, robust athletic man, so naturally that's the type of man I've always dated. Some fit the bill physically, but fall short in the personality and integrity part. Even so, my first choice was always a man who had the physical stature of my father.


Now, I'm a theatre buff and try to see as many plays that are on the circuit. From Basil Dawkins to Oliver, to Shakespeare to Shebada, the play's the thing, as the Bard said. Well, my most recent jaunt was Patrick Brown's comedy, Straight Jacket, which was right up my street. Why? Because it covered a topic that I have explored many times, but still cannot get enough of it.

Now, we should all know by now that in Jamaican parlance a jacket is a child given to a man that is not his, but he has to accept paternity and wear it without knowing that he's being duped. “Look how that black, black man think say the chiney pickney is his. Nuh muss jacket him get?”

Well, not only did the hilarious play put a twist on the whole jacket scenario, it also defined the various types of jackets that exist. That's right, just like Men's Wearhouse, Spencer's Tailoring, the late Farel of New York, which used to be the place to buy jackets and suits many years ago, the jacket comes in different types, shapes, colours, sizes, and prices.

For instance, if a woman gets pregnant and wants a man of means to take care of her baby, she secretly and perfidiously passes off that child as the offspring of the man who is most financially viable and able to mind that child.

That man will be bound to her forever because of that child, who really isn't his, but he thinks that it's his, so he'll wear that jacket with pride. That's called a jacket and tie. Ah, behold the tie that binds.

Then when a woman gets pregnant and wants a way out, to fly away and live where the grass is greener, she hands over that jacket to the man who either has resident status in a foreign land, or who has plans to migrate. That's called the international jacket.

There have been many men who live in the USA who wear the jacket of not only one, but numerous other men who have never left our shores. The international jacket man sends money on a regular basis to take care of 'his children' only to discover when he files for them at the embassy that none of the jackets belong to him.

It's been said before, but worth repeating because of the gravamen of the situation, that over 35 per cent of Jamaican men tested are not the biological fathers of their children. That's a whole lot of jackets blowing around.

They could have a summer sale on international jackets and the store wouldn't sell off.

“Why yu crying Nigel?”

“Is four jacket the woman give me, not even one of de pickney dem is mine…whaaa.”

Some women are so brazen with their jackets that they don't even bother to get a colour code match. Some smart ones will pass off the child to a man who basically has similar features as the real father such as height, mouth, eyes, nose, and skin colour.

But some women are so barefaced that they will pass off a baby who is as red as a Red Ibo person from St Elizabeth, unto a man who is as black and shine as an Australian aborigine. “Yes, is your son, he got his red colour from your great, great, great, Scottish grandfather.” And guess what, the man will wear that jacket with pride. That's the plaid jacket.

In many situations though, it's simply a case of the man wearing a straight jacket, and just like the garment made to restrain the insane, it often binds him to that woman forever. The straight jacket is the most common type of jacket, and just like the emperor's new clothes, many will not see it for what it really is, especially the man who's wearing it. “Imagine eh, him can't see that the pickney don't have nutten for him… straight jacket dat.”

That woman will convince the man that the child is really his, and no matter if the evidence points otherwise, she will play him like a fiddle. Did she or didn't she, only she will know for sure. Not even the real father knows that his seed was passed on to another man to raise.

He may encounter a child on the street one day and wonder, “Hmm, is how that pickney resemble me suh?”

Let's not forget the lottery jacket. That's where the woman has no idea who the father of the child is, so she just passes it off to one of the men who she had sex with and who showed some fleeting interest after. “Eenie meenie miney mo, hold a jacket, he won't know.”

Interestingly, many men who wear these jackets and then discover that the child is not theirs will still opt to raise that child as their own. That jacket is pressed and permanent. There is some strange honour code that these men display even after finding out that the child is not theirs. “Well, me wearing it already, suh me get used to it. Can't bother take it off now.” Now that's a straight jacket.

More time.

Footnote: I really enjoyed the play Straight Jacket as the words reflected reality and also my thoughts on the whole sordid paternity issue. I must add though that while my theatre experience was a great one, the producers should adopt what happens in many foreign theatres. There, latecomers are not allowed into the theatre space until there is a break for a scene change. This not only allows for patrons not to be disturbed, but the actors also. It's most annoying to constantly get out of your seat to allow people who arrive late, up to 30 minutes or more, to access available seats. Getting up once is okay, but constantly having to rise and fall like Jack in the box is a bit much. After the fifth request to get up, we simply refused, which almost caused a scene in the theatre aisles. Barring that though, I still thoroughly enjoy our vibrant theatre fare and Straight Jacket is spot on.

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