Wednesday, April 16, 2008


At 8am this morning I was forced into a confrontation with a hard truth. Luckily, I’d had my coffee already, so I could take it like a woman, but it was still grim. The fact is that within three months everything in our house will have to either be sold or be packed into a huge metal box and sent to France on a big boat. And no matter how hard I wish, kindly bush fairies are not going to materialise and do it all for me.


However, it probably wouldn’t hurt to give some extra food to JP’s Fetish that lurks in our closet. I figure it could only improve the possibility of some supernatural aid...

No, no that kind of fetish. Quit giggling and get your minds out of the gutter, you lot. I am referring to the kind defined in my 1930 Little Oxford Dictionary as an "inanimate object worshipped by savages". (Many of the definitions this little gem are so racist and biased they are hilarious, in a sad sort of way.)

So, perhaps I have never before mentioned that a Winyé Earth Priest long ago presented my husband with his own Fetish, which he keeps in a metal box in our bedroom closet?

Well, it's true.


As fetishes go, it’s not a big one- about 18cm. From what I can see, it consists of a bundle of animal hair plastered with mud around one end. Not like I’m allowed to feed it or even touch it, being a girl and all.

It was presented to JP about 15 years ago and has been quite a responsibility.


Trust me when I say that you don’t want one.


First of all, it has to eat. You can’t just dump it in a box in the basement and forget about it. You have to care for it. It prefers chicken blood, but is ok with eggs. You just sort of smear the egg yolk all over the dried mud end.
Which brings us to the second problem with having an African Fetish around the house:

It just might get invaded by a colony of ants (Why? See Fetish eating habits outlined above) and turn your closet into one of those 1970’s eco-horror movies whose title consists of a noun and an exclamation point, such as Locusts! or, more to the point: Ants! The insects in these films are always angry and numerous. And they don’t care that you compost religiously and recycle your old magazines because you Respect the Earth. They are just mad and swarmy and then you have to spray poison all over them. Then you feel guilty. And furthermore, is it doctrinally ok to spray Raid all over an African fetish?

Oh great. Now you’ve made the Fetish mad.


See?


And yes, this really did actually happen to us back in France. Thank you for asking.


BTW - there was a film called Ants! that came out in about 1977 . And those ants were mean, as I recall. They ate poor Myrna Loy's wheelchair. (A wooden wheelchair, though? Major plot contrivance there. It would have been better if the ants had mutated to possess aluminium-crunching jaws. JMHO. )

5 comments:

Bridget said...

So, how often does this thing have to be fed? Just when you want something from it, or is it more like a kid or a pet... must eat regularly or else? Does it get mad? If so, then how do you tell, insects infest it no matter what, it seems. How does a peeved Fetish manifest its displeasure, exactly?

BurkinaMom said...

My, you are a curious puppy today, Bridget. And just so you know- I am NOT getting you one to play fetch with.

As for the care and feeding of a fetish - it certainly doesn't need to eat that often. And you don't get bubonic plague if you forget it for a while. It's more like your luck runs out, rather than doom falling upon you.
So, to avoid bad luck you should feed it occasionaly, even if you don't have any special requests.

babzee said...

So... you mean to tell me the Japanese did not invent the concept of the Tamagotchi?

Did you ever read the Henry Kutner short story "Housing Problem"? That's an all-American fetish!

babzee said...

PS: I have a VHS copy of THEM! -- a far-superior film from the 1950s.

Benoit Lescarbeau said...

If you have furniture to sell, we might be interested.

Have you ever seen the pseudo-documentary "Mondo Magic"? Some strange Fetishes and exagerated african rituals in it.