Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Driving While Rasta



I'd have said he was the life of the party, but that honor typically went to Peter. Instead, he was more the ever-present sidekick, the perfect foil. Laid back without being lazy, he was the first to find the humor in any situation, no matter how grim.

He was usually peering at me over some miniscule sunglasses perched on the tip of his nose, more of a nod to style than to the glaring sunlight. He'd top off his mile-long dreads with a jauntily-placed and thickly-knit woolen tam, regardless of the heat, A voice deeper than a basement, he'd patiently repeat himself for me, slowly, when the patois became too thick. Then punctuate his sentence with a slow "aaaaal-riiiight?" and a big grin.

Older, but not necessarily wiser, he struck more as an affable absent-minded professor, ragamuffin style. Hopping in the car on a moment's notice, road-trip ready, he was a self-professed expert on the runnings of 'town. He'd navigate from the backseat when we crossed the Kingston city limits.

"Go soh, go soh!", he'd shout, as we approached an intersection.

"Yah soh? or deh soh?", Peter would shout from the driver's seat, glancing over his shoulder, and uncertain as to whether to make a left or a right.

"Soh, soh, ovah soh", said The Professor.

This particular use of patois was not exceptionally helpful when driving.

"Yah soh" and "deh soh" loosely translate into "here" and "there" respectively. And the simple us of "soh" essentially leaves it up to the imagination. We came to a grinding halt as they argued about yah so vs. deh soh until The Professor finally used his finger to point to the proper choice of roadway. Peter fumed and The Professor laughed.

It's been years since I've seen The Professor. I'd had no idea his peaceful easy facade was propped up by a deep addiction. But looking at him here, without the props of style, I should have known there was more to The Professor than met my eyes.

Driving While Rasta
Ink and watercolor on paper
Purchase a print of this painting here.

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