Mansa is our little shopping town, and as long as I've been frequenting there for bread and cheese and canned beans, I’ve never really had my own identity. When I was serving with the Peace Corps, I was just another volunteer, easily confused with other generic white girls and called Christina, Jessica, Bonnie, Kristin, Becky, and Elizabeth. Because all white people look the same so clearly I’m her.
After I got married, I became the one married to the guy with the Land Rover, which apparently made me very cool and all the gas station attendants wanted to be my friend. Everyone knows Jeremy – and the Land Rover – and so this became my own claim to fame. I rode far on that title, answering politely as people would start a conversation not with "how are you?" but with "how is Jeremy?" (He's stellar, by the way.)
And then, one day, it happened. I had been sent into the market to buy some dried fish or something and a bunch of ladies were all like, “oh hey, we know you, you’re the one married to the guy who changes diapers!” Beaming with pride and cackling as much as the fish ladies were, I accepted my new moniker. Hand on hip with head tipped to the side, I said, “yup, that’s my man.”
After asking Jeremy where this one came from, I finally heard the story. One day he had been with Bronwyn in the market’s car parking "area" (calling it a parking lot would imply some kind of order - so, we'll call it an "area") and the babe needed a diaper change. So Jeremy, being a confident and secure man, not to mention a caring and kind father, simply changed the poopy diaper. In the three minutes that it took to remove the dirty diaper, wipe her up and slap a new diaper on her, a sizable crowd of men had gathered to stare and point and wonder really loudly who is this man that changes diapers???
|Winnie baby, you are also awesome, and I hope you do not feel too exposed.|
I've asked all my Fimpulu friends and they all say the same things: rural Zambian men CANNOT change diapers. It’s not possible. The child can sit in his poo until his mother returns. Or grandma can do it, or the big sister, but not the man because that is way too beneath him. If ever there were something on which to slap the label “women’s work,” it would be diaper changing. I only found one or two fathers who have ever changed a single diaper, and for them, it was a very humbling experience and under severely extenuating circumstances. So the fact that Jeremy, the Land Rover driving, barbed wire hauling, greased hands, man's-man – the fact that THIS GUY publically and unabashedly was found changing a diaper in the middle of a macho-guy infested public place… well shoot, that sealed it right there. Bashi Winnie is the new diaper changing celebrity. And I, proudly, am the diaper changing celebrity’s wife.
I think of the American women of my generation who are fighting tooth and nail to establish their identity and leave their individual mark on the world and staring down the constant threat of being known merely as wife and mother. I understand the fight, but I can honestly say that I’m content that hardly anyone knows my real name or my personal awesomeness. I’m rather quite honored to be connected to such a man of enviable fame who is talked of near and far because of his guns of steel and baby powder softness.
Because after all, it takes a rather special woman to snag such a hunk of a diaper changing man.
Eat your heart out girls, he’s mine. And Happy Valentines Day babe.