They say a fish is oblivious to the water it swims in and so might it be with us and liming. It's hard to explain something so ordinary and normal to us, and so we often take the easy way out and tell our international guests (hate the word foreigner) that limin' is hanging out; not like hanging out, but is hanging out.
I've always been quite vocal against this easy explanation and have spoken out against it — mostly in limes — but someone shared a whatsapp video of me talking to my fellow Toastmasters about what liming is, and it went viral. You can see the YouTube version below.
I'm grateful that this resonated so much with so many Trinis that they shared it with friends and family abroad.
Here are a few things left out of the video that I think are worthy of mentioning about the uniqueness of a Trini lime:
It's dynamic, a lime could move (to another location) and people can show up to add to the lime. Especially now with smartphones. A friend could WhatsApp a pic captioned "We limin by Shortman now. Come nah? Lime going good."
In the video, I created the difference of liming to hanging out by likening the contrast to the difference between a hurricane and a breeze.
Like hurricanes, limes can occur in different intensities or categories and at it's lowest intensity a lime is probably indistinguishable from what our North American friends call hanging out. But Trinis are always trying to find or create a higher intensity lime, our version of a category 5.
(To be clear no Trini I know talks about lime categories, I'm just using it here to make a point that not all limes are equal, but at it's best a truly sweet lime, like a major hurricane, is a force to be reckoned with, and it doesn't happen that often.)
Really bad hurricanes (category 5) don't happen that often. It's the same I think with reaaaally good limes; probably because it's not like baking a cake, you can't guarantee a sweet lime, even with all of the ingredients present; shit-talk, picong, food, alcohol and music. Like a perfect storm, we can't control when everything comes together just right to make a lime sweet, but we can guarantee that it will be enjoyable.
Please don't disagree me. If you always have sweet limes (what I call category five), just invite me to your next lime nah.
There's something spontaneous and unexpected about a really good lime, even when we've planned every detail of it, and most times it occurs with no planning at all. It's often the guy or "d glasses ting that come with Sweetman" who turn up unexpectedly and spark a "Reaaal good lime".
A follow up to limin' explained where I relate my experience of going to a N.American party with a Trini mindset.
As I explain in this video, liming is more like what our North American friends call a party. Our Northern friends get excited and lean into parties the way we do for limes, and like our limes, their parties don't usually involve dancing.
But where their parties often feature small separate clusters of people, many often in quite serious discussions about politics, social media, and the latest bestseller, a lime has a more holistic organic feel to it. In a North American party, clusters tend to remain and some individuals move from one cluster to another during the course of the evening. Not in a Trini lime where someone in one cluster will heckle someone in another cluster, or invite someone in another cluster to relate a good story to everyone in the lime.
To varying extents, everyone participates in the wholeness in a lime, primarily because …
Shit-talk is what makes a lime, a lime, and we are drawn to shit-talk and shit-talkers like a bee to honey.
If it's a big lime, people may also be in clusters like a North American party, but limes tend to have a central focus around the shit-talkers in the lime. The laughter frequency and intensity of one cluster identify the chief shit-talker, and soon the group is joined by others who don't want to miss out.
Shit-talkers may even lob picong from one cluster to another.
North American hanging out, or parties tend to happen later in the day and usually on weekends or holidays.
A Trini lime could break out at breakfast, at work, during national emergencies etc. When the boss not there, we limin' whole day, or at least we would like to.
People (at least not in long-time Trinidad) might get close to anger and a heated argument, but the other Trinis won't risk them messing up the lime, and somebody will diffuse the tension with a joke, everybody laughs and the lime continues.
In the first video,I seemed to equate picong with shit-talk, which it clearly is not.
Picong is the teasing that Trinis give to each other. Sometimes called "fatigue," perhaps because it's meant to wear the target out. It can sometimes sound quite harsh, but we've grown up giving and receiving picong and it is an essential part of a lime, along with "shit-talk."
Some have said this is a bit too much to make about limin', but I disagree. Limin' is perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of Trinis and Trinidad. To meet Trinis' is to lime with Trinis, and most visitors never forget the experience. As the song goes " … and we does make good company."