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n the men’s bathroom of a Long Island fire station, Jennifer Bobbi Suchan puts on a black wig the size of a small raccoon.
The 48-year-old tucks in pieces of her short dyed-blonde hair, shifting the cloud-shaped bob into place before securing it with a few bobby pins.
She greets them by the names of their retro pop-culture lookalikes — “How’s it going, Mary Tyler Moore? ” She jokes that Tupperware’s vegetable chopper could mince anything, including “margarita ice” or “crystal meth on the go.” “No, I wouldn’t say — ” “I mean, you can say, ‘Holy crap! Their shrill vibrato is the soundtrack to Azola Nkqinqa’s last day as a boy.
’” interrupts Suchan, holding the handle of her Tupperware-branded carry-on luggage. It’s the time of year when Nkqinqa, 18, and about 50,000 other South African boys, come to one of the many remote initiation schools in order to learn how to be a man.
The next day, the 13 boys in his cohort consecutively go to see a surgeon.
Using a blade about the size of a steak knife, he slices off each of their foreskins.
At p.m., forty suburban women are waiting for Aunt Barbara to emerge and start selling them Tupperware in a fluorescent-lit, wood-paneled room.
Dressed in oversized sweaters and comfortable shoes, many of them are part of the ladies’ auxiliary that fund-raises for the Nassau County Fire Department.
She refers to her audience as “hot messes” who drink martinis out of disposable cups while they watch their kids’ soccer games. She stands in front of the doorway while Williams, clearly caught off-guard by the question, stammers to explain that she doesn’t think “anyone really thinks anything of it anymore.” “Oh, okay, good,” says Suchan in the curt tone of someone who doesn’t think everything is okay. “I think she was shocked that she showed up and I wasn’t some guy,” Suchan says of Williams’ facial expression when she arrived at the fire department dressed as a woman rather than a man. They’ll never call again.” he sun is drooping in the December sky as cicadas weave ominous melodies into the summer air.
The Xhosa boys are also circumcised during this time, and most years these schools make headlines because dozens of the boys die during the process. It is customary for the patriarch in a family to send a boy off, but Nkqinqa’s father has not been a part of his life for several years, and three of his uncles are dead.
So a neighbor named Patrick Dakwa has agreed to take responsibility for him.
Lisa Williams, the event’s organizer, stands at the front of the room and says: “Aunt Barbara is going to be coming out in a minute or two.
She is the highest-grossing Tupperware consultant in the Northeast.