Saturday, July 15, 2006

Don't Talk About People's Mamas.

Thanks, BitchPhd, for the discussion about Zizou's famous headbutt.

Sometimes, when brown folk get together, we talk about white people. We talk about how fearful some of them are of us, we talk about how theye're always drinking dairy, we talk about how they seem to love their mamas less than we do. Maybe it's not true, but that's what it seems like sometimes.

Once, in college, I was eating a hamburger at the fraternity house, and a guy named T came in and started telling mama jokes. Yo' mama jokes. I was like, man, don't talk about people's mamas. Of course he loved it, he told jokes about everybody's mama in the room. And everybody laughed good naturedly. Ha ha, oh T, that's a good one.

When he got to me, I said, don't. Don't talk about my mama.

And then he told a mama joke about my mama, so I said, take it back. Take it back, or you're going to wear this hamburger.

He made another joke, and I threw my hamburger onto his shirt. Mustard, onions, relish and grill grease, all down his front.

Hey! He cried angrily, it was just a JOKE! You ruined my SHIRT! It was just a JOKE.

I told you, T, with words: take it back, or you're going to wear this hamburger. I couldn't have made myself more clear.

It was a fucking JOKE, he said, this was a BRAND NEW SHIRT. You're going to buy me a new shirt!

You don't talk about my mama. I don't give a fuck about your shirt.

I walked out of the room, fully expecting to some kind of disciplinary complaint to come up during the week. They were going to call me before the chapter, and lecture me about my temper. And yes, I do have a temper. But my temper is not the problem.

The problem is that I value my mama, more than I value T's shirt.

So I was prepared to get kicked out of the fraternity that week. Seriously, why would I want to live in the same house with some white guys who loved a shirt more than my mama? What would have been the VALUE in holding my temper? A new shirt and a hamburger?

I was surprised that it was never discussed again, not even by my friends. I learned later that those guys all feared me.


Evil Jonny said...

Actually I think you are right. This is the reason [white] old people in this country get locked up in old folks homes rather than taken care of at home by the children they begat. Pitiful, if you ask me.

bitchphd said...

Why in god's name were you in a fraternity?

Actually, as a mama (whose son is currently in a stage where he absolutely adores me, which makes me feel awful in a way because I so do not deserve his love and probably break his little heart every time I lose my patience with him), more and more I feel like you brown folks have it right when it comes to respect for mamas.

I think part of the difference is maybe that anglo cultures are so allergic to physical affection? PK used to love his Spanish school so much more than his (anglo, Catholic, Canadian) pre-k and it always seemed to me that one reason was that the Spanish teacher was physically affectionate with the kids and tolerant of them being kids, whereas the anglo teacher was all about the rules and don't-touch-people and all that other stuff. It's kinda messed up.

john patrick said...

Why was I in a fraternity?

Silly, because I was a teenage fascist, of course.

I joined my freshman year. My sophomore year, it "reorganized," i.e., they kicked out all the guys they considered losers. In my junior year I was a vice president. In my senior year, the fascism go to me and I tried to move out gracefully. They tried to pull my pin, so I turned it in to them. Later they felt ashamed and gave me back my pin. Then I graduated.

bitchphd said...

People have the most interesting past histories.

ding said...

jp is really the only 'frat' boy i can tolerate.

re: mamas.
hm. i guess because no one ever talked about my mama (and it was clear that my mama was a different color than everybody else's mama so talking about my mama was already a little obvious) i can't contribute to the mama thing here.

but, there is a thing in the black community called 'playing the dozens' and mamas are a prime target. it is an accepted rule of engagement that if you play the dozens, mamas are open. one cannot get angry while playing the dozens, though.

if you get angry, you lose. you win by obliterating your opponent so they can't even muster a lame 'yo mama' defense.