Tag Archives: Personal Space

I’m Married!!

16 Apr

….okay, okay. I’m not married. I’m not even engaged. Put the phone down, Dad. Mom, don’t worry, I’d never let you miss it. Calm down, Nico (we just talked about tying the knot in Niagara Falls – we didn’t actually do it).

I’m off to market today but before I go I wanted to write a quick post detailing previous encounters I’ve had in Santa Cruz— in this way we’ll be going to market together! Gear up, this entry pertains to being a ‘single’ woman (no visible man living with me) in Jamaica. As a result I have to — put politely -– perpetually field questions about my love life.

Here goes:
“pssst, white gyal. You look sexy.” A common compliment from Jamaican males across the island.

“mhm” I sometimes mumble as I try to quickly walk by (best to minimally acknowledge)

“Mi like ya, ya hear?”, as they step into your path so conversation can not be avoided…

“yeah, I hear.” I say unenthusiastically, while avoiding eye contact and continuing to try to move past them.

Sometimes they step right up next to you (umm, personal space?!) and look at you with such intensity and lust and sexuality that you can’t help but cringe. When this happens I squeeze my left hand between the tight space he has formed with out bodies and place it in front of his face while emphatically wiggling my left ring finger (which, un-coincidentally, has on it a pink ‘diamond’ ring that I bought from Claires, like, 8 years ago).

“I’m married.”, I pointedly say, “occupied.”

“Where your husband de? ‘im foreign? Yuh need a black man.” They so needlessly assert. Perhaps they will say something like “Yuh need two men. One man kyaan please yuh”. Or maybe they will charmingly quip, “yeah? Mi married, too. Nuttin nah wrong.”

I roll my eyes.

“Mi huzzy do a fine job. Now, excuse”, and I (try to) walk away.

“Just a minute, please”, they’ll say. “White man kyaaan please you. Black man strong-like bamboo. You waan fi ride my bamboo?”, clearly niceness stopped when they insulted my husband and his bamboo.

“Rude!”, I usually exclaim, outraged, and continue with major attitude, “Ya naaaa know me an ya naaa know mi huzzy, ‘im. Who teach you fi chat like suh? Mi never tink your wife (or mother) wan fi ‘ere ya say dem naasty tings. Ya out of order.”

I wish I could proudly tell you that at this point they back away and respect me, thinking, “wow, yes, that smart girl has a point: I don’t know her husband and she seems confident that she does not need another boyfriend. I think I’ll stand out of her way, give her space, and let her pass.”

Unfortunately, what usually happens is I have to push past them with shouts of “Mi kyan get your number?? Mi waan ur number. Mi like ya, ya ‘ear? Alright den, next time” echoing in my ears.

As I walk quickly, regain my composure, and try to reinstate my guard, the next man (almost immediately) comes over to me and says “pssst. Sexy. Mi waan ya…”

…And the beat of the Jamaican jungle goes on.

In the Peace Corps training they drilled into us “maintain a sense of humor”. Sure. That’s all well and good the first five times. But after 20 minutes and 10 different men, you just want to walk down the street!! So, in an attempt to keep things interesting for myself, I sometimes alternate tactics: Like, I’ll try and change the subject saying things like “Isn’t this really nice weather we’ve been having?” or “Do you like dogs, too?” in the hopes that I’ll stun them for a few precious seconds while I escape.

Occasionally I’ll pretend I heard them say something other than what they actually said: “Nope, it’s not yet 3:00.” Or “Yeah, I did see the new Harry Potter and I thought it was awesome. K, bye!”

I’ve also put together some lame combination of excuses about “not talking to strangers” or “I don’t chat patwa on the weekends, weekends are for resting” (yeah, I’ve said that).

To be sure, it would be awesome if all of this attention was because I’ve got a stellar personality, killer sense of humor, and am really really pretty… It seems a bit more likely that it’s because I’m white, American, and female. You’ll understand, though, if I still cling to the stellar personality bit 🙂

Had I made up that my boyfriend and I were married (and started wearing a ring to ‘prove’ it) while I was living in the US I feel like my friends would’ve been, well, concerned. But here? I shared my lie with several volunteers and was met with nothing but support and reinforcing examples of why it’s a good idea to lie to people about the status of your a significant other.

Dear dear.

Maybe today at market will be different…??
I’m gunna try and wear TWO rings!

Love and vegetables,