Tuesday, September 23, 2008


HARLEM, September 23 -

This guy broke into my apartment a few weeks ago when my roommates and I were in bed. My roommate heard him come in through the kitchen window, and she kicked him out. As he stumbled out the front door in a crack-induced haze, I could hear him say "make sure you close that window, mama."

The break-in was bad, but why does everyone call everyone 'mama' here? I don't get it - maybe because I'm Canadian, I guess. I always thought that mama was something people called their girlfriends in special circumstances...that's what happens in music and on TV (e.g. 'hey mama'). But even the huge old man who works at the bodega calls me mama, in a fatherly way, in fact. And more disturbingly, my other roommate's boyfriend calls her 'ma,' but only when he thinks he's in trouble.

Urbandictionary.com lists this as the seventh definition of the word 'mama':

"referring to a close friend that you care about and trust; i.e. Hey mama, how was ur weekend?"

But that definition only gets 13 thumbs up and 14 down.

Anyway, I'm warming up to it. I guess people here are just strange like that. I heard my super call the Verizon serviceman 'baby' the other day.

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