Date: 2018-01-08 17:00
Back at our apartment, the door closed behind us with a little push from the wind. Inside, the air was cool, the lights were bright, and the dining room table was waiting for us, clear except for a bowl of flowers we’d arranged together earlier that day.
Thus, NSFW – “Not Safe for Work” in popular parlance, but in the case of his company “the New Society For Wellness” – is Saynt’s sexy answer to Trumpism. “Our goal is to spread positive messages about sex and cannabis, and to help educate people so they can become enlightened to their sexuality and to cannabis as a medicine,” Saynt said in a much quieter Clubhouse one afternoon a few days before the party.
“I had to sleep in my grandmother’s room,” Saynt says. “My brother had to sleep in the bed with grandma [and] my other brother slept out in the hallway.”
Monaheng says that initiation is an opportunity for men to pass on cultural insight about manhood to the next generation. But also, beyond the verbal tuition, the rite is seen as a test of endurance — in addition to withstanding pain and going without water for days, boys go through a period of eating austere, unsalted food. Surviving the test serves as proof of one’s worth as a man. It remains a highly valued tradition. Even Nelson Mandela went through the Xhosa version of the ritual, an event which he writes about in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom .
My uncle’s redheaded wife was the person in our family who most often told it like it was. When Johnny was released, and it looked like he would make it to the fifth beach-house reunion, she took me aside to tell me to watch him around children, and to explain why her husband – my uncle – didn’t want to be around my brother. When their daughter was three years old, they’d left her in then fourteen-year-old Johnny’s care and had come home to him with his pants down, his penis in the little girl’s mouth, and him saying “Just suck on it like it’s a bottle.”
I don’t know who Taranis is, let alone believe that he’s going to visit our circle, but I strain, listening for signs. Birds wheel in the sky. Somewhere on the other side of the property, a bell trickles into the wind.
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A book I’d read before getting on the train, The Adoption Triangle , had prepared me for those sorts of feelings. Of the many stories of adoption reunions, there were a few of brothers and sisters, and mothers and sons, who fell headlong in love, intoxicated by “deep, unrestrained love” and “intense, feelings.” This didn’t surprise or disgust me when I read about it, or even when I experienced it myself. After all, it’s easy to confuse love with sex and sex with love.
It is high summer, and we are at White Mountain Druid Sanctuary in southern Washington State. Under the immensity of the mountain, a couple of ramshackle barns stick up from the hayfields. Our priest, a straight-backed, snow-haired man, is delivering a homily on the attributes of the thunder god. Taranis, a powerful thunderbolt-tossing deity, is being honored at today’s solstice celebration because of his association with light, weather and sky.
“I don’t know why the family hasn’t laid charges,” De Waal says. “We cannot say we did not know why these kids were dying, if you look at all the evidence. It’s also embarrassing for all of us.”