This is no laughing matter. However, sometimes we have to "tek bad tings mek laugh". On seeing a strikingly close counterfeit of Christopher "Dudus" Coke on the front pages of this newspaper, queerly decked out in a fluffy black wig and sporting a queenish pair of spectacles; a friend exclaimed: "But wait, nuh Sista Mullings dis. Is weh she a do inna de Observer?" I stopped her in her tracks and replied; "Well, this is not a picture of your church sister, this is the notorious Dudus Coke". Deep wells of disbelief suddenly creased her forehead, with enough depth to collect pails of sweat, as she ruefully retorted: "No sah, yuh nuh see seh dis a one big ol' woman? De picture is dead stamp a Sista Mullings. Di only ting missing is a little lipstick."
By this time, I was keeling over in peels of laughter. But not only that, I was completely overwhelmed by her comical innocence, which provided a welcome respite from the long wait for the extradition request. Anyway, she continued, "But anybody eva see mi dying trial; why 'im neva dress up like when parson tun dem collar back way, or even put on a false grey beard or sum'ting like dat? Tek it from mi, 'im woulda walk right pass di policeman dem faster than it tek fi sey "feh". 'Im nuh smart at all! Go see 'im a put on 'im woman clothes." Humour aside, her conclusion stood in stark contrast to her wish for Mr Coke to be taken in for trial and for normality to return to Jamaica.
And in all seriousness, anyone with the slightest sense of humour would have been tickled by the spate of comedic intrigues that followed the major players throughout this matter. And to top it off, Mr Coke's final entry on to the big stage, along with assorted feminine apparel and into an unexpected police roadblock, would make for an exciting catwalk beside American drag queen and model, RuPaul. For, according to newspaper accounts, some of the items found inside the priestly vehicle in which he was travelling alongside his driver pal "Al", on their way to Kingston, included, of all things, a pink wig! This story could not have got any more bizarre than it did, leading up to the penultimate chapter, just hours before Dudus's chartered flight left for the Big Apple.
Although common sense dictates that if one wants to delude another, or evade capture, wearing a mask could help in executing that plot, it is somewhat puzzling that an alleged don and "bad man" as Coke is said to be, would choose to camouflage himself as a woman. Is it then, that, deep down in the crevices of their souls, most reputed thugs, dons, or whatever nomenclature one wants to assign to describe hardened criminals, are nothing more than little pussycats, masquerading as full-fledged "don gorgons"? And, by the way, it is important to know that the word "gorgon" is Greek in origin and describes "a terrifying and dreadful female creature"; it would seem fair to me, given Dudus's extraordinary accessories and his penchant for multi-chromatic wigs, that he is well aware of the original meaning.
There is something else amiss here, for while it is foolish to stereotype, impugn people's character, or speak glibly about somebody else's intent, too many of our men are morphing into tough-talking, tight-pants-wearing, butt-showing, thug-acting machismos, only to do things that completely betray the very masculinity they try so hard to promote, prove and protect. About summer of 2008, for instance, the reputed leader of the Clansman Gang who was incarcerated at the Horizon Remand Centre inserted a mobile cellular phone all the way up into his "future", without realising that he did not turn it off. To much consternation and disbelief, the phone rang, reluctantly forcing the police to use lubricated gloves to remove the filthy instrument.
On the face of it, one might be inclined to overlook the action in the preceding example and write it off to brazen criminality. However, instances such as these should give rise to the far more fundamental issue of "reversed intolerance" (my phraseology) and its impact on crime and violence. Why did Mr Coke feel so comfortable dressing up like my friend's church siser - Sista Mullings, instead of faking it as an old man? Why did the reputed leader of the Clansman Gang, stock "Vaseline" in his cell and stick a mobile phone all the way up into his "tomorrow" and act normally as it vibrated and rang? Let us not go there, or try to second-guess how comfortable they were with their choices, but what a contradiction!
To see Dudus in wig, hat and spectacles was funny indeed. Yet, his transvestite metamorphosis, from don to donette, is not uncommon among many self-acclaimed thugs. And, if night should turn day, as my late aunt was wont to say, some of the revelations would put the entire nation into cardiac arrest. In the final analysis, though, Dudus's cross-dressing is no laughing matter, it exposes more than what greets the eye. And although I laughed heartily, upon seeing the reputed strongman go "cold turkey" - wig and all - in his most vulnerable of moments, it was also mightily discordant that he was being chaperoned and chauffeured around by a man of the cloth, of all persons.
Suffice it to say, however, in a society where homophobia runs as high as it does in Jamaica, these two small examples may provide some answers. Yes, answers that could help us to determine the psychology of crime and the sociological underpinnings that encourage it, as well as to assist us with garnering a better understanding of the concept of donmanship, especially as we seek to dismantle the castles of crime in the country. We would be fooling ourselves if we believe that crime and violence are not offshoots of deeper socio-psychological, emotional, economic and cultural struggles, such as poverty, low self-esteem, sexual struggles and repression, intolerance, poor parenting and socialisation, and emotional traumas from abusive homes and communities. Dudus, wittingly or unwittingly, might have opened up Pandora's Box to a greater solution to donmanship.