Captain's Log. Stardate 26th April 2013. People smoking marijuana is a familiar site and I suppose a widely accepted "fact of life" in Cuadrilla. The level of taboo surrounding the practice in the Land of Freedom is much higher than in this land of Frankness. For example, if you decided to light up some marijuana in a bar in the Land of Freedom, well, you are certainly taking your chances, to say the least. And if you are unlucky enough to have a police officer nearby, you will probably not be able to enjoy your weed for long. Whereas here, there is at least one dedicated marijuana bar, and people smoke it openly in the streets, pretty much like tobacco (this is only a slight exaggeration). What convinced me to write an entry on it was the sight of a man enjoying some weed within a stone's throw of the main entrance of a local hospital. I don't know if he was coming from the hospital or not, but the contrast between this symbol of hygiene and health, and this symbol of Western decadence and physical degeneration, can hardly fail to impress a stranger to this land. Don't get me wrong: I do not wish to take sides in the pro- and anti- hash debate. This is neither the time nor the place for that. I am simply registering a sociological fact: marijuana is much more socially villified and legally repressed in the Land of Freedom than it is in Cuadrilla, a land that is in other respects far more conservative and culturally homogeneous. Paradoxical but tru
Captain's Log. Stardate 13th April 2013. One of the curious customs of the Cuadrilleans, and, for all I know, of the Kling-Ons in general (but my data sample is limited to Cuadrilleans on this particular subject), is that of greeting people with a "goodbye" instead of "hello." I found this very disorienting at first. Picture yourself walking along the street. You meet someone you are well acquainted with. You turn to them and say in their language, "hello," or "hi." Their response: "goodbye." And on they walk.
Well, a sensitive soul might think that this is a rather untactful way of getting rid of someone one is in no humor to exchange pleasantries with. After all, what does one answer to "goodbye"? Certainly not some small talk about the weather. There is, in fact, very little EXCEPT goodbye that is an appropriate response to goodbye. So when someone greets you with "goodbye," this not only dispenses with any pretense whatsoever to enter into small talk with you; it also protects the greeter, preemptively, from any verbal advances you might make toward them. What if you were overcome, for instance, with a gush of sympathy or curiosity about how said person was faring? Confronted with "goodbye," it would take an impressive amount of determination to proceed with a conversation.
Now, the advantage of this greeting convention is that once you get used to it, there is absolutely no awkwardness in walking by colleagues and acquaintances with a matter-of-fact "goodbye" and getting on with your business. Plus, you don't waste valuable time talking about the weather. Not to mention the fact that once you get to know the Cuadrillean character, you realize that this apparently cold and impersonal greeting is compatible, in his case, with an abundance of goodwill.
Captain's Log. Stardate April 13th, 2013. My ethnographic observations and work at my Head Quarters have been rather absorbing of late, hence the long silence in this log. I'd like to return briefly to the woman question. A few weeks ago, I was passing a playground, and I saw a little boy sitting down with a rather submissive air, and a little girl, possibly a year older than him, standing over him wagging her finger at him, and telling him what's what. I wondered if this could be a foreshadowing of the dominance of the woman in the Kling-On household?
I will try to sketch the main features of the "classic" Kling-On Woman, with the important caveat that there are numerous exceptions to this pattern. It captures a common tendency among Kling-On women, NOT a universal rule.
(1) The Kling-On woman is not easy to win over. She will wait until you have proved yourself an honorable and fitting suitor, have spent plenty of time around her friends, and proved to her liking, before she will even consider "officially" going out with you, something that in the Kling-On region is only a short step away from marriage.
(2) Kling-On women do not generally play games with men they do not know well. For example, I heard of one unfortunate soul who, during a visit to the Kling-On region, sidled up to a Kling-On woman in a bar, and attempted to make some light banter with her about the weather or some such topic. Without further ado, she turned to him and said something like, "No thanks, not today." Perhaps the still-birth of a beautiful friendship? Or perhaps a legitimate form of self-defense?
(3) Kling-On women are queens in the domestic hearth. Their rule there is virtually absolute. They take great pride in the way they run their households. It is considered a great honor and sign of friendship to be invited into a Kling-On home.
(4) Kling-On women do not mince their words. They tend to share their opinions freely, and tact is probably not their primary virtue. On the other hand, they tend to be more honest and direct than women from other parts of the world. These qualities of untactful candor and brute honesty are shared by their male counterparts, perhaps in even greater quantities.
(5) Kling-On women are "women of their word." If they say yes, it means yes. If they say no, it means no. I would trust the word of an average Kling-On woman much more than an average non-Kling-On woman, knowing nothing else about her.