25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
First of all a “tablita” is a little piece of stick and you will now find out why guys used to say, “To hell with the “tablita” or the little piece of stick.”
At a recent gathering with some old friends, some of whom were old time fishermen, the topic came out as to why the last generation of folks had so many children compared to today’s families.
One of the folks, a past fisherman, said that probably they did not use the tablita. And he went on to explain that a tablita was a little piece of stick with numbers marked 1 to 28 on it. After the first day of menstruation, you counted 14 days on the tablita and you marked it. When you reach that day, you are not supposed to have sexual intercourse for five days and that prevented a pregnancy.
And another guy, another old fisherman, laughed and said, “They say it works, but I don’t know.” Finally my good friend Nando, who never was a fisherman and is a modern day guy of this generation said, “Hey, isn’t that rhythm?” Everyone laughed again and then the funny stories started pouring out. I cautioned them that their stories might appear in the Twenty Five Years Ago Column of Ambergris Today. They laughed even more joyfully.
Now I know why the tablita did not work. When a fisherman arrived to the island and went home after a ten-day fishing trip, who in the world will tell him that he can’t do it because of the tablita.
“Forget the tablita,” was what any hungry fisherman would say. And not only that, sometimes fishing was good and they only had a day or two to remain on land and hit the high seas again. So how could you respect the tablita when you only had two joyful days? To hell with the tablita and hit it daily, if not twice a day. “I remember doing it three times one day,” remarked another one in the company and he was a fisherman of the last generation so I believe it.
By this time the conversation was picking up in intensity and laughter so we all drew a bit closer because there was a large crowd of people waiting for a procession.
Another guy explained that when the fishermen arrived from the fishing trip the fisherman had to fulfill his husband’s duties or when he left for the next trip, someone else might pop up and do the favors. One could not starve or deprive his wife from these fun moments for too long, so to hell with the tablita.
And not only that, at times there were some guys who wanted to respect the tablita, but it was the wife who said, “Forget the tablita.” So she was the one who was willing to enjoy the moment and take the consequences later.
Hey, don’t forget that we are taking about a time and generation when there were no contraceptive pills.
Another fisherman, questioned whether interrupting the moment was possible. I said, hey, that is coitus interruptus. But no sooner had that been said when someone in the conversation remarked, “Cho, that doesn’t work. When a boat is sinking, there is no way it will come to the surface. It will only go down deeper and deeper to the ocean floor.
Now I fully understand why the families of the past generation had a lot of children. It was because of remarks like: “Forget the tablita” and “To hell with the tablita” or “let the boat sink to the bottom of the ocean.” These all are quotations used 25 years ago.