July 12, 2008

of pepper parties


From the moment my first son was born, I was thrown into a heightened sense of physicality; of disbelief of what my body could and went through; of the impossible idea that a whole new person living in my body and then passing from it into the world; and of a child who so obviously was mine and my husband's.

Everything about him seemed highlighted, and every inch of him was known, those early emergencies of diaper rash, eczema, watery stools were the million tiny steps to which we came to know him as a whole, and from this emerged a sheer exhileration with his physical beauty and perfection, an almost drunkenness at times in beholding him.

I'd never experienced this before.

And in an instant I understood for the first time all those naked baby fountains squirting water from their penises, all that Greek admiration for the naked male form because I felt the same exact way about my son. I understood for the first time why Korean parents used to take giddy photos of their newborns and their penises before passing them around to all the family to experience firsthand and why they would string the household in dried peppers, over and over and this was apart I believe from the imbedded notions of patriarchy and preference from males. I really believe somewhere in all that happiness - apart from the relief of having a male heir and all that - there was a glorious kind of celebration of the perfection of a child.

And while I don't think we need to resurrect the pepper party ritual (something that seemed to disappear instantly with our generation) I do wish we had some modern equivalent to take it's place. I think that culture gives us a specific way to express universal things,and with assimilation yet another profound thing becomes relegated to the private individual sphere.

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