I DREAMED that I learned to play chess last night. Like I said, I dreamed. My odds of thinking what move to do six moves from now and getting it right are about the same as my odds of winning the lottery, or maybe even less likely because there have been instances of people winning the lottery.
So why did I dream of chess? In desperation for something to do on a rainy night. The Bahamas are not made for rainy Friday nights. It’s a country that commands our presence outside, so when it’s raining and you don’t feel like reading at the end of a long work week and you’re not addicted to Netflix, and also you are done being thankful for the rain on behalf of the plants and that tomato vine that you hope to actually produce a tomato one day, you are baffled.
So much for a rainy night in Georgia inspiring an unforgettable Brook Benton ballad about a man who lost his love. It’s not Georgia, it’s Nassau, there’s no loss involved, and I’m just looking for a lighter moment on a rainy night.
So my attention turned to what I can do that is different and doesn’t involve screen time, even though I secretly wanted to go online and study personality types, a topic that has caught my attention lately. time, motivated by the fact that I want to change a toilet in our house, being the spontaneous type, but my husband says that as long as it works on the second or third flush, no need, because he is the creature of the habit type and is more resistant to change. It may also be more practical as there is a cost involved which could include re-tiling the bathroom. I remind him that the house is 40 years old and these are the original toilets. They don’t make them in dusty pink anymore. Exactly, he said, so a new one won’t match the dusty rose pot. I think we could also change that while we’re at it and install a walk-in shower. But you pick your fights, and the second bedroom bathroom isn’t worth the war. At least until the toilet stops working completely and he decides to call the plumber and I can pick out the new one with the white and light gray or beige beveled glass tile for the shower, and while we here we are, the cabinet, and, wait, let me not come forward.
So let’s either go back to that leather chess set a neighbor gave us before he even moved into that house (so you know how old he is) or I break down and go online, read TED Talks and going on about studying personality types, spontaneous vs creature of habit to begin with. (There are actually 16 defined personality types I took a look at.)
Let’s get back to the subject. The temporary and slightly disturbing lack of something to do on a rainy night that rules out TV or other screen time, excluding Google search for a topic of interest, makes me wonder what our parents did . Of course, they probably didn’t live outside like us (by the way, our living room is a large terrace under a waterproof awning, but while the awning keeps out the pouring rain, the deafening sound makes watching TV a challenge .) And besides, we just wanted something else to do.
Our parents were probably listening to music or playing a board game. I remember those – Scrabble, Monopoly, Parchesi, Chinese Checkers. They were fun. We laughed. Was it a real word? we asked, and before deciding whether or not to award the points based on nothing but our mood in the middle of a hot game of Scrabble. Are you really going to buy the Boardwalk we asked in disbelief at the investment wisdom of a Monopoly opponent?
It was simple, unsophisticated, but we were in one room together. Now our attention span is so short and even when we are together we are not. Entire families go out to eat and never speak to each other, each glued to the device of their choice, finger racing not realizing that time spent together is separate.
We demand more and interact less. We crave info-edu-entertainment all the time, coming at us so fast we can barely absorb it and yet we think we’re learning something new every hour. We’re so addicted to what screams at us that it takes a book like “How to Break Up With Your Phone” by TED Talk author Catherine Price to remind us that there’s still a way to bring out the playfulness in each of us.
Let it rain. Chess, anyone? I’m going to rush inside for a minute and go to YouTube to learn how to play.
CONGRATULATIONS TO PEANUTS TAYLOR
Drum roll, please… One of the greatest Bahamian talents to bring the Bahamas to the world through his music, John Berkeley “Peanuts” Taylor, gets the honor he deserves. At a ceremony scheduled for tonight, October 21 in Margaritaville, the National Cultural Commission will celebrate the 87-year-old musical genius whose drumbeat has been heard around the world.
Many know the story of the four-year-old who once passed out at a nightclub and had the nerve to tell famous club owner and performer John Meeres that he could sing and dance ‘better than you’ . Meeres invited the little squirt he nicknamed Peanut to show him what he could do and the name has stuck ever since.
Even before he was old enough for school, Peanut (later with an s) guessed what it took Bahamas many years to realize – that he was a once-in-a-generation talent. He beats the drums as if stripping all they can give from skins and instruments, making them sing, scream, cry and explode. A photo of Roland Rose shows Peanuts Taylor drumming in slow motion and even in slow motion it’s fast.
If you take a look at the life of Peanuts and you don’t know him, you’d think he had all the recognition he needed. He opened shows or played for Johnny Carson, Jack Paar, Steve Allen, Ed Sullivan. He’s performed to an audience of 30,000 in London, performed all over the world, from Iran to China to Canada and more. It has been featured in a dozen or more international publications, from Harper’s Bazaar to Newsweek.
Bahamian prime ministers at foreign conferences have confessed to being asked less about themselves and more often if they’ve ever met really famous Bahamians like (the late) Myles Munroe or Peanuts Taylor and when they say yes, they can watch world leaders’ opinion of them jump a notch.
Life wasn’t always easy for Peanuts Taylor, but he always made everyone around him feel comfortable, never bragging about his fame but asking questions about him. I had the privilege of being one of those photographed for the original Bahamas project in 2012 with people who really mattered like Peanuts Taylor. Nobody remembers that I was in this group and that suits me perfectly. What’s important is that no one will ever forget that Peanuts Taylor was and tonight, as another honor is bestowed on him, the country has reason to be proud of the little squirter who made it right by being the best in what he has done and in enriching our lives with the joy of music that only he can bring.