BC Pires the Wise One: 'Youth is for sex, drugs, rock 'n roll'

Men across the world, for centuries, have had two major places where all the talking happens – the barbershop, or over their favourite drinks.

Men are not known to share their feelings very often or openly, but even the most brawny are known to share some of their deepest wishes, biggest dreams, lifelong passions, most regrettable missteps or "baby-mama drama" over drinks.

Whether over a bottle of beer, glasses of whisky, good ole rum, tea, or coconut water after a run around the Savannah – there is always a link between conversation and beverages.

This series – Talk over drinks with
MARSHELLE HASELEY – seeks to uncover some of what lies beneath the surface for men from all walks of life and ages. It lets readers into the space of what men really talk about beyond the random outbursts of "guy stuff" on sports, video games, drugs, sex and alcohol.

We will explore the experiences of men and how their life experiences may be helpful for other men – and many women – in reaching personal objectives, overcoming challenges and finding their passions, while embracing themselves fully to live a life they can enjoy.

Veteran columnist BC Pires (Thank God it's Friday, which appears in Newsday) said while he does not consider himself a wise man, one does not have to be wise to give people advice.

Over cups of coffee, Pires was asked what advice he would give to young men, his response was: sex, drugs and rock and roll.

"Those are things you must do when you are young because when you get older you won't have the health for it."

BC Pires raises a toast to living your best life.

He referred to a statement by Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones: "He was asked the top ten things he learned after 50 years in rock and roll. His number-one thing was that you should begin playing rock and roll so you can have sex and take drugs. But after 50 years you have to take drugs so you can have sex and play rock and roll."

Pires said he was on the cusp of a lot of great things, for instance the right side of the lifting on the harshest age of sexual repression in the Caribbean.

"Guys just a little older than me got married after A-level exams, just so they could have sex. They then stuck with women, who maybe they loved for years or were philosophically in love, to make the most of it."

He said he feels pity for men who were products of that time because they were not able to live out their youth in its most authentic way.

"You're supposed to paint the town red when you're young. You're supposed to hang some genitalia on the walls like trophies – whether male or female."

Having been raised in a Roman Catholic home, Pires said there was guilt connected to anything related to sex and sexuality, as chastity until marriage was always an idea of any church, which he believes is a mechanism of control.

"If you can control people's sexual behaviour, you can control their behaviour completely. The only impulse more fundamental is the urge to defecate – and if the church could control that, it would. Constipation would be as prized as virginity and just as beneficial."

Pires said there's nothing to be gained from going into adult life in a state of sexual ignorance.

Apart from sex, drugs and rock 'n roll, he said it is important to live well, party and try not to hurt people, and live by the golden rule of "doing unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Asked what are two things to avoid in youth, he said sex, drugs and rock 'n roll – then laughed.

"You cannot do too much of it, you'll destroy your body and regret it later in life."

He said it is also important to avoid people filled with hate and those who are motivated by ill will, spite and malice because it is beneficial to them.

"You can get to the high elected office in the land or even the world, as Trump proves, by tapping into the really negative aspects of humanity."

Hard work is another feature of life Pires said cannot be ignored.

BC Pires gave up law to write.

"That old Churchillian thing is the absolute truth. If you love your job, you'll never work a day in your life."

Pires spoke of his days as a lawyer: he was called to the bar in 1984, then enrolled as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales in 1989, and worked in law for a number of years.

"I abandoned that because I really was not suited for it. The levels of hypocrisy were too great to deal with every single day. I wouldn't have minded it once a week. I could have better been a priest, faking it on Sunday for church."

He recalled a scenario during his time as a lawyer when he worked for a solicitor representing a football club: while she was pleased with how he handled the legal matter, she could not bring herself to brief a male barrister who wore earrings.

"She sent a message to me saying if I took off the earrings she would brief me and send me work. So I took off the earrings, because I said I'd only take them off if they cost me money. I threw them on my desk and met her in the coffee shop of the Hall of Justice."

Pires said during the conversation he saw when she looked at his ear, and when he got back to the chambers, there were three new briefs on his desk.

"So that's hypocrisy."

He said the path of least resistance is not always really the path of least resistance in life. Being born in a time where it was expected that each family should produce a doctor, a lawyer and a priest, "The last thing my father wanted me to do was to write. He far preferred me being a lawyer or a businessman, because those were the things that gained respect."

He said it was difficult following the path that felt most ideal for him based on external opinions.

When he left private practice and got married, Pires started working as a tax lawyer. From there he moved on to become a reporter, which he said his parents did not dignify with an answer when he told them. "My mother turned to my father and said 'I tell you that boy head eh good'."

But he's convinced if he'd spent the last 30 years working as a lawyer, he would already have died.

Newsday columnist BC Pires still believes in the West Indies.

"I would've remained a smoker and heavy drinker in a high-stress job and work would have been work. The financial rewards would have been far greater, but my family would have buried me already."

He believes in anyone doing what they love for a living, even if it does not pay a lot.

"If you're lucky enough to find something that you like doing, do that. You better get satisfaction out of it. And of course, you have to have a plan."

Pires said it is important for young men to know with age comes the knowledge that is only acquired with age and experience.

"Most men, until they are 35, have no real idea that they are going to die. And then after 35 you can't think of anything else.

"Be careful not to follow my advice blindly. But I would rather be where I am now, and have spent my life working on something that I love, than have plenty more money, but doing something I did not love."

In closing the talk over drinks, Pires said amongst the best things in his life is his family. He advises that people should not seek a soulmate, because there is no such thing.

"If you find someone with whom you can create a good family life, that's the greatest richness you could have. It is hard work, but it is the most rewarding work that there is. You are rich if you have human connections that last your whole life."

Asked how he met his wife, Carla Castagne, Pires said, "I met my wife where I met most of the women I’ve married: in the Pelican. People under 40 probably wouldn’t know it but it was by far and away the best bar in Trinidad, the only place where you might find the Chamber of Commerce president and a nutsman in real conversation, not just s--t-talk, over a beastly cold Carib."

On the night they met, both Pires and Castagne were engaged to be married to other people. "But, honestly, in an adult life filled with overpowering attractions to hot women, she stands out head-and-shoulders, and legs, above everyone else."

He describes his wife as hot-tempered, passionate, driven, fiercely independent and a complete maverick, saying he couldn’t do better. "Getting married is a little crazy: it’s like promising you’re going to have the same roommate for the rest of your life. We’ve only been together 22 or 23 years and I’m hoping to live another 20-30 years with luck but, already, I despair at the thought that she might go before me. How firetrucking dull life would be without her; and I mean that literally and figuratively."

Pires, who said he would not have imagined the rewards of family life, said, "My daughter, our first child, was born four days after my 40th birthday; she’s 21 now. We say she was the glue that kept my wife and I together as a couple and our son, 18, is the varnish that keeps the shine on us, as a family. Really, I think of us a maverick herd. We are a little flock of black sheep. They certainly changed my life fundamentally for the better."


"BC Pires the Wise One: ‘Youth is for sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll’"

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