It’s one of my favorite lines of one of my favorite TV shows, HBO’s “Rome.” Atia of the Julii sends a gift to placate her arch-nemesis, Servilia: a large African slave with a pink ribbon tied around his, er, well-endowed man parts. Her daughter looks at her dubiously and asks what on earth Servilia would want with such a present. Without missing a beat, Atia replies, “Darling, large penises are always welcome!”
Ah. So be it in HBOs “Rome,” but in Railay Thailand, I have a few, oh dear, yes, bones to pick with such a notion. A legend lurks around these parts of an Indian princess whose barge crashed nearby during the 3rd century, BC. The spirit of the drowned princess is said to now inhabit Tham Phra Nang (Princess Cave), a shadowy crevice tucked into the looming limestone cliffs at the end of one of Railay’s loveliest beaches.
Story goes, the princess’s spirit would grant favors to fisherman who came to offer their respects. And somehow or other, “offer their respects” became translated to “leave the drowned princess giant, wooden penises.”
Well, bully for the princess. But I think the idea begs a few questions.
- If you were a drowned princess spirit in a dark cave, and you could have any gift in the world, would the one thing you desire be a splintery, wooden phallus?
- And if indeed you were a drowned Indian princess spirit in a dank cave looking for handouts, isn’t there the off chance that maybe you’d have prefered something like tasty curries, or fire for warmth, or one of those nice-smelling Yankee Candle Company candles?
- Finally, is it possible that only a fisherman (stress being on the “man” part) would come to the conclusion that the one thing a princess with an untimely death on her hands might yearn for is a phallus?
I imagine the moment when a group of ancient fishermen sat around lamenting their puny catch of the day, and were struck with this lightning bolt idea.
“Hey, guys, anyone else notice their sea bass are getting smaller?”
“Sure have. What a bummer. We should probably make an offering to a god.”
“Well, I heard about this dead lady who lives in a cave. Maybe she could help.”
“Good thinking. But man, I don’t have any money. Now, let’s see, what DO I have to offer? Oh! Hey, guys! I just got a GREAT idea!”
Of course, such was my attitude as Ayaz and I inspected the cave and it’s many pieces of tribute. We giggled over the scene from “Rome.” I told Ayaz that despite Atia’s and the fishermen’s notions, large penises aren’t always welcome. His reply was instant.
“Try telling that to the girls of ‘The Jersey Shore.'”