Black holes Tony Deyal
Jamaica Gleaner
October 20, 2003

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IF YOU believe that the hole is greater than the sum of its parts, I have a word for you. It is "orifice".

It is an "opening, especially to a cavity or passage of the body; a mouth or vent through which something may pass." It comes from the Latin "or" or "os" meaning mouth (hence the word "oral") and "facere" to "make or do".

The on-line dictionary which provided the meaning concluded, perhaps in an act of misplaced morality, or maybe plain ignorance of the ways of the world, "one entry found for orifice".

The adjective formed from "orifice" is "orificial" so that when you hear that Government officials are out of the country on "official" business it might be a typographical error as the business in which they are more likely to be involved is "orificial", like going to their dentists in the United States or filling cavities (another name for "orifices"). That is why when they return they look a little down in the mouth or orifice. In some positions, for example the presidency, one has to differentiate between the person and the orifice. It makes a hole heap of difference.


This interest in orifice, as a word, started with a complaint by a lady I know that a virus or an allergy had clogged up all her orifices. At the same time I heard that the hackers were ganging up on Microsoft because of several "security holes" in the software.

Then there was the review of the latest Austin Powers film Goldmember which is a spoof on the old James Bond flick Goldfinger. According to the writer, "The latest instalment of the Austin Powers series adds nothing new to the winning formula of orifice humour and outrageous innuendoes." It is true that while many Caribbean people indulge in what we call in Trinidad "ole" talk, there are people like Austin Powers who, without being Jamaican or Cockney, prefer hole talk.

There is a lot of that going around particularly in countries like Trinidad where the words "hold" and "whole" are pronounced "hole". It is worse than our tendency to pronounce "weak" and "week" the same way. The whole or hole thing is very confusing. Take the phrase, "I can't believe he at the whole thing." In the mouth of a Trinidadian it becomes tautological since for some of them "hole" and "thing" are synonymous.

It gets worse. One calpypsonian sings about, "Hole day, hole night, Miss Mary Ann." We eat "hole wheat" bread or as my grandmother called it "hole week" bread. And then you are advised against a seven-day honeymoon because it is either very stressful or too long.

Then you think of people who might have a bad day at the orifice or whose stock response to those asking for handouts is, "I gave at the orifice." One can understand that "hole", being a four-letter word, is preferable to the seven-letter word "orifice" although one wonders what "Holetown" was named after. No golfer gets an orifice in one although some are capable of making eighteen orifices in one day, a feat that I both revere and reverse. Not being a golfer, I take about 18 days to make one orifice.


The substitute word for "orifice", "hole", is a study in itself. One hears of people being as much use as a "hole in the head". A fishnet is defined as a bundle of holes joined together by twine or nylon. Then there is the labourer who was told by his foreman to dig a hole in the road. "And what shall I do with the earth, sir?" asked the labourer. "Don't be daft, man," the foreman replied. "Just dig another hole and bury it." However, there are terms like "pigeon holes", and "square pegs in round holes". If the word "orifice" replaced "hole" the reader could jump to the wrong conclusion. For instance, unless you're into physics or astronomy, an Einstein or Stephen Hawking the term "black hole" could cause you to take offence and get so burned up you behave like an ash hole. Or the reverse, you might get sucked in to the point where you begin to see stars.

The same can happen if you use the word "orifice" in the wrong context, time or place. A girl invited her boyfriend to Friday night dinner with her father and mother who, she said, would go out immediately after.

Then two lovers would then have the house to themselves and could do whatever they wanted. The boy was ecstatic and went to buy some condoms. He told the pharmacist, "I'm really going to give it to this girl. I intend to plug every orifice in her body at least twice." That night, the boy went to the girl's house and his girlfriend met him at the door saying excitedly, "Come in and meet my parents." The girl's parents were already seated at the dinner table when they went in. The boy quickly offered to say grace and bowed his head. A minute passed, then ten minutes and his head was still bowed. "I had no idea you were so religious," the girl whispered to him. "I had no idea your father was a pharmacist," the boy replied.

Tony Deyal was last seen spending almost a hole day filling a salt cellar because of the time it took to pour the salt through the little orifices at the top.