“EICH-ME-REAL-DA” BY CHERYLENE DE JAGER (PhD)
Eich-me-real-da, Elizabeth and Eliza were good friends at university, but as is wont to happen and despite the best of intentions, they eventually lost regular contact. The reader joins the three ladies at a reunion breakfast (Elizabeth’s celebration of the big 50) where Elizabeth and her husband soon excuse themselves and depart , leaving Eliza and Eich-me-real-da to catch up by exchanging a few notes in the margin. The life story of Eich-me-real-da unfolds along the lines of the men she gets involved with in her life, from Jacobus the dentist whom she married as a somewhat inexperienced lady (and prematurely lost due to his untimely death), and key encounters with men (her “convenient research samples”) (p. 34) who “assisted” her in the practical exploration of her feminine sensuality (the accumulation of her so-called erotic portfolio and her erotic capital (p. 34)). The reader therefore meets Ahmed in Egypt (Chapter 5), Christos in Athens in Greece (Chapter 6), a blond Adonis in Sodwana (Chapter 7) and the silver-haired fox (Chapter 9). Chapter 8 refers to an interlude in Beijing, a precious experience “... not meant to be shared” (p. 127). What happened in Beijing , remains in Beijing ...
After the passing of Jacobus and an unmistakeable awareness of a sensuality that did not reach full bloom in their relationship, Eich-me- a-real-da, as she states “... consciously became aware of the possibilities my senses posed. I decided to embark on a lifelong pursuit of pleasure. I chose to start to celebrate my sensuality!” (p. 31). In this exploration, Eich-me-real-da commences with research on the sensual experiences of women and the outcomes of this research are reported and presented in Chapters 2, 3 and 4. In Chapter 2 a journey begins that commences with magazines for women and culminates in Chapter 3 where the concept of erotic capital is explored and illustrated employing a number of key resources and publications. In Chapter 4 the literature review is continued and augmented by visits to “sensuality boutiques” that provide literature and play products aimed at increasing sensual and erotic pleasure. As the sensual exploration progressed, Eich-me-real-da’s asset register had grown accordingly (p. 91).
To stimulate and involve the reader, each chapter ends with a few pointers: an aphrodisiac, a Kama Sutra tip, suggestions for mood music, and a recipe for an appropriate cocktail. Each chapter is also dedicated to the experiences that women typically make. The reader does of course soon come to the realisation that the novelette does not simply stagnate on the sensual level. The sensual level is but one dimension of a more profound canvas that relates to self-empowerment and self-knowledge that Eich-me-real-da is seeking and that she encourages other women to find (p. 31). An exploration of female sensuality (justified in its own right) is just a beginning, the foreground that aims at the empowerment of women as final destination: “I want to assist women to take control of their own sexual destiny at the moment of sensual awakening, or at the very least, to ignite sufficient curiosity to empower themselves with knowledge. Knowledge empowers one and provides one with the confidence to make informed decisions” (p. 157/158).
Cherylene writes easily and tends like Jilly Cooper to produce the so-called “one-liner” with an own dexterity. The word play is at times subtle and at other times leaves little to the imagination: “I had a screaming orgasm with a view of the Acropolis!” (p. 108). The novelette presents a pleasant reading experience, subtle, at other times hilarious, but never crude. The ladies (and in some cases men!) will be swept up by Eich-me-real-da’s research and relationship journey through life in the interest of achieving (self)knowledge and (self)empowerment for every woman.