"Aunty style is known the world over for jejune hipness and a tendency toward ostentatiousness. It’s adjacent yet somewhat antithetical to Mommy-style, which is usually marked by preparedness, sturdy heels, sensible hemlines. Aunties can be chic and a little out of place. A patent leather mule when the invitation called for flip flops. A sweep of red lipstick for a quick grocery run. A laugh that was a little too loud and dripping in scandal. My Aunty Marilyn is one such woman.
Some context. My parents were God-fearing church folk who would occasionally dip their toes into the reverie of the annual West Indian Labor day parade—watching the stilt-walking moko jumbies, and feathered masqueraders pass by from the pious distance of a relative’s balcony overlooking Eastern Parkway. I was a watered-down first generation American, for whom carnival and soca was nothing more than an old folks tale, third-hand stories of soca tents were tossed around by my dad and my uncles clad in crisp shirt-jackets. Needless to say, I wanted full immersion into any and all Labor Day bacchanal.
Hosting a successful Trini BBQ requires many things: a sizable backyard, a ton of food, music, vibe, et al. The whole night was like staging a performance. The host's outfit must feature some matchy-matchy elements, a cohesive yet superfluous accessory strategy— two phones (house and cell), sunglasses at night, a hat over a silk scarf, a beeper. For the dudes, a flashing BlueTooth headset was bare minimum.
The host is bound to be cooking all day. Taking a second shower as soon as things are all set, hurriedly before guests arrive. The rush is really ill-fated as only a handful of folx will show up within the first three hours. Under the cloak of dust, souped up Nissan Maximas, and Toyota Cressidas haul in the freshly-bathed and powdered. The women dripping in fruity Bath & Body Works splashes (bait for mosquitoes). Men wrapped in Fahrenheit or Polo Sport cologne like an armor.
These nights were pivotal to my teenage summers. They taught me how to be in a party setting, which is altogether different than partying. Dance moves, waistline isolations—of which I’d practiced in front of my bedroom mirror. Now I was putting them to use outside, with an audience. I eventually gained more confidence and owned my slackness. I knew my beverage of choice—dark rum & coke. I had a working handle on both the fast wine and the slow wine. "