Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Farts, arses, and stuff along those lines

As the lone female living in a house with a 7 yo boy, an 8 yo boy, a 31 yo boy, a four month old baby boy and yes, even a 5 month old male puppy - I must the subject of sore bums and farts is more familiar to me than I'd like. The boys seem to always have a sore butt, probably a corollary to the overall physical abuse they give each other. They think it's hilarious to catch each other off guard and fart in each other's faces, a prank I strongly suspect they picked up from the adult male (although I've never caught him in the act, he has repeatedly been accused of it). The baby also loves the surprise sneak poops just as you've removed the wet diaper and don't quite have the new one on him. And the dog just stinks. Not to say that I'm totally innocent in all this low brow humor, I've been told I stink the worst and can in fact clear any given room of every male if I am so inclined to 'let one go'.
In order to understand how I think my homeland relates to the one in the story, I cannot leave all this out. The tongue in cheek jokes, the efforts to embarrass the person with the physical affliction (without being too direct as to get in trouble for it), these are all daily occurrences in my household. The home remedies suggestions from older people- grandparents, aunts, other parents- are also unavoidable and can come in very handy when one is trying to cure an affliction that is bothersome but one would rather not go to the doctor for it. Try prune juice, use A&D not Desitin, get that dis solvable fiber powder and put it in their applesauce, put some Vaseline on a thermometer and stick it up his.... you get the point.
However, in my homeland analysis of Kisses in the Nederends. I've also noticed larger, metaphorical ways this story can represent the clash of the traditional with the modern, or the 'native' with the 'European'. Oilei seeks 'white' medical help at the very beginning, and the help of the authorities is also enlisted. However, after that, no matter how bad the pain is or how undignified the treatment, Oilei seeks out only dottore for help, advice, and relief. In the process, he becomes the butt of almost every joke imagineable (pun intended :-). Yet it seems as though he manages to maintain some semblance of self respect by holding out in his refusal to see a 'white' doctor. The reason seems vaguely related to the gossiping nurses and some ominous stories about white medical blunders, but it seems to the reader that the dottore really do not fare any better.
Even the Asian transplant Ah So seems to be a trusted native, perhaps by virtue of his old age and his laid-back, joking manner. In the context of this novel, acupuncture does not seem foreign at all. In fact, it seems to be the only obvious (and logical) form of relief and provides the only logical, comprehensible explanation of Oilei's ailment.
The twist in Chapter 5, when Seru gives Oilei the wrong plant which causes Oilei to hit his wife, is very fascinating. It reveals so much about their relationship, which the daily banter and arguments between them do not. I found myself most interested in this part, and in the section describing their courtship and marriage night. I don't understand yet what those two asides can contribute to the larger story, but I cannot wait to find out.
I am most curious to see what happens in the second half of the book...

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