Mi radda be in de Caribbean.
“Let’s see what happens, eh?”
Dat’s what de weddermon seh after im mek im predictions fi a bone-chilling wintah stahm headed toward alla wi dis weekend. Coincidentally, a de same phrase de revrand used after I and I chups de bride a mi wedding in Ochie, which is weh mi a go – inna mi mine, if nah physically – when mi need fi wahm up. Mek wi go a fareign – come back to Jamaica with mi, if yuh please, an alang de weh perhaps mi cyan dispel a few misconceptions about de island.
While de bredren back home in Connecticut shoveled outta one ole eap a snow, dis yah what did happen dat January day: mi Jamaican wife Ingrid and I walked good: offa de beach past a huge, tatched-roof bar called Boonoonoonoos, got a cup of Overproof on ice, strolled acrass a woodahn rope bridge spanning a dazzling, waterfall-teemed swimming pool, an posed for some pictures inna gazebo by de watah before blissfully jamming de night aweh to reggae riddims.
Mi toughts always turn to de Yard on mi anniversary. I and I seem fi get older and colder with each New England wintah. Cho! It a frickin’ freezing in yah, Mr. Bigglesworth. Mi editah a gwaan ave one badderation of a time with dis article, which mi writing with mittens pon mi haan. Johnny Osbourne knew what im meant when im seh “love in de winter should be as wahm as de summer sun.”
Imagining I and I at de resort weh mi got married would be easier from a tanning bed, but fi de dermatologically friendly solution, mi turn to mi wife fi inspiration. A combination of spicy Jamaican food fi nyam and pulsating dancehall beats cyan get de blood flowing inna mi extremities, but dey a nuh bettah weh fi start dan with de wahming, sooding sounds of de unofficial Jamaican language, patois (pronounced PAH-twah). In de time mi ave known Ingrid, mi ave learn many phrases, but patois a challenge fi de mon who grew up in suburban Connecticut (pronounced lily-white).
Doah dey a some French influence, patois has been described as “broken English,” mose likely by people who nah unnastaan de language and mus derefore denigrate it. I and I ave done some research on patois, and discovered dat a easier fi learn de language itself dan to unnastaan its linguistic origins. Suffice it to seh dat like reggae, patois is characterized by lilting riddims and an almost musical flow of conversation. I and I cyan only manage a speakey-spokey “broken patois” – Zamaican, if unu will.
Wa mek patois vex me so? Aside from possessing de Caucasian DNA strand dat mek mi incapable of doing de buttahfly or choosing fashionable clothes – is dat other dan de occasional tourist pamphlet, it almost impossible fi fine written instruction dat nah pon a T-shirt with a cartoon Rasta dem.
Dis yah a good place fi debunk a few myths fi readers who nah go a Ja., becah nobody likes fi dem myths a bunk. I and I gwaan dispense with de most common Hollywood stereotypes and replace dem with Zam stereotypes, albeit ones developed from mi great love fi mi Jamaican bredren, sistren and pickney dem. For genuine facts, please consult de Jamaican who cotch pon de neares cahnah or fine a writah with a likkle hint of journalistic integrity. [Editor’s Noat: Dese are usually de writahs widout mitten pon dem haan.]
Myth #1: All Jamaicans are Rastafarians. Mi know hundreds of Jamaicans, but mi nevah met no Rasta. Rasta a religion with stringent dietary restrictions – known as ital – against processed foods. Chances are dat if unu met someone in America who claim Rasta, dem know how fi black up, but de dietary restrictions galang as soon as de munchies kick in witin de Domino mon delivery radius. How ironic dat ital people cyaan nyam Ital-ian food.
Myth #2: All Jamaican Music is by Bob Marley. Dis yah an unnastaannable misconception, givahn dat de supposedly deceased Tuff Gong mysteriously seem fi come out with a new album every year, and even more surprisingly, a new pickney. To name a few, im musical offspring include Ziggy, Cedella, Stephen, Damian, Ky-Mani and, um…Shemp. Outside de Marleys, a greyt numbah of modern reggae tunes are remeks of oddah songs. Fi instance, Sean Kingston’s two recent hits are repackagings a Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” an Led Zeppelin’s “D’yer Maker,” which interestingly nuff, is a pun on de wud “Jamaica.” Dey a x amount of oddah songs dat are more appropriately cyalled dancehall or slackness. Dis yah genre, lesser known by mose Americans, is devoted almost entirely to – how shall mi put i’? – wokin’, slammin’, slappin’, jooking, cocking it up, cyabin stabbin’…i.e., sex. Curiously, de word screwface nah have nuttin’ to do with sex.
Myth #3: All Jamaicans Have Dreadlocks Under a Red, Yellow and Green Hat. False. Sometimes de tam a all one colah, like when dem pon a jyob intahview. Seriously, dreads are also largely associated with Rastafarianism, and dem difficult fi manage, so most people nah ave dem. Mose of de tams are simply loaded with a felony amount of ganja. Dis facetious pint leads mi to…
Myth #4: All Jamaicans Smoke Ganja. Not if dem wan fi stay outta prison. Marijuana is universally celebrated in reggae music, but it jus as illegal deh as it is hyah. Dreadlocks serve de dual purpose of softening de blow when de Babylon dem bash unu with dem nightsticks.
Myth #5: All Jamaicans Drive Taxis. Despite de requisite appearance of “Wacky Rasta Cyabbie” in every screwball Hollywood comedy, a nah tchue. If unu evah tek a taxi inna busy city like New Yahk, unu know dat de cab drivahs weave dangerously in and outta traffic, driving ovah sidewalks an pedestrians at breakneck speed. Jamaican drivahs, by comparison, are fucking crazy. De island falla English customs, so de popular wahrning is “De lef side is de right side and de right side a suicide.” Curiously, mose roads are only wide nuff to ave one side. Unu may ave heard fi pass de dutchie or koutchie pon de lef-haan side, but nevah, evah, pass a tour bus pon de lef or yuh ennup stuck inna grill. Nuh, nah in Negril – in A grill – on de front of someone cyaar dem. De second mose important traffic rule in Jamaica is dat goats ave de right of weh. On a related note, when preparing curried goat, de meat should be tendah, so be sure fi cook it inna de dutchie, not inna grill.
Myth #6: All Jamaicans Have Nine Jobs. Dis stereotype a popularized depon In Living Color. Mose of de Jamaicans mi know are extremely hard woking, but on average dem only ave seven jyobs. De statistics were primarily skewed by mi wife’s breddah and sistah, who togeddah held 38 percent of all American jyobs between 1988 an 2005. De trick was to remembah which part dem wok dat week and show up fi de 10 percent discount. Now mi breddah-in-law is in de Army, and unu may scoff, “one measly jyob?” Howevah, im do more before 9 a.m. than mose people do all deh. Im be all dat im cyan be!
Mi teory about multi-jyob Jamaicans is dat dis yah de result of de phrase “I and I,” which is frequently used by Rastafarians in place of “me” or “I.” Depending on how toroughly unu research de phrase – I and I personally exten mi search all de weh to de tird entry of de Google results – “I and I” refer to de oneness between an individual and Jah; or it invokes i-man physical and spiritual duality. My ipothesis is dat some Rasta unwittingly filled out a jyob application with de phrase “I and I cyan drive a forklift and plant de corn,” at which pint de hiring managah, tinking “I and I” was two people, gave im boat jyobs. De rest a history.
Myth #7: Jamaicans Use the Terms “Hey mon,” “Irie,” and “Cool runnings” in every sentence. Unu cyan tank de Jamaican tourist industry fi dis fallacy. De higglas dem smart nuff fi know dat if dem repeat dese yah phrases itinually, American tourist shoppahs coming off de cruise ships will nyam it up like a nice plate of mackerel rundung. If unu really wan fi learn patois, coo pon a few tips from my experience.
First, repeat funny sounding wuds, like fenky fenky or chaka chaka. Next, peppah unu tahks with incomprehensible proverbs, like “Im dat eat too many plantain a breakfast gwaan feel Anancy bite inna de bush.” Extra pints if yuh wok a mawga dog into de saying. Finally, tief de H’s hout hof words dat ‘ave dem, hand put dem hin front hof words dat don’t ‘ave dem. Hunnastaan?
Since wi sign wi marriage cerfiticate, Hingrid – dat’s “Ingrid” with de hextra haitch – and I ave logged approximately 3,650 nights, not alla dem blissful. But like de famously fleeting Caribbean showahs, mose of de rainfalls ave ended as soon as dem began, leaving everyting a likkle healtier in de aftahmath. When yuh live with a West Indian, yuh haffi prepare fi de occasional hurricane, and like any relationship, wi ave had dem too. Yuh jus haffi be wise nuff fi bod up de window dem and staan undah an archweh until de cuss-cuss blow ovah.
What mi would nah geev fi a wahm Jamaican breeze right now. It a tirteen degrees outside an mi aving difficulty getting mi frozan face, which could stop a bullet, relaxed nuff fi speak patois. In fact, mi aving trouble typing de wud patois. Mi no know if it’s becahs of de mittens dem or de frostbite, but it keep a come out as “patios,” see it? Mi probably shoulda stop before mi galang pon a tangent about lawn cheers. Did mi mention mi met mi wife inna furnichah stahr?
 Many rivers to cross, but only one swimming pool.
 Call me mout-a-messy.
 Mi cyaan do de buttahfly and mi certainly cyaan dweet with ease. Also, dey a nuh such ting as “easy skankin’” fi de white man. It’s all difficult.
 Hear me now – mi nuh falla fashin.
 Blouse and skirt not included.
 Kiss mi neck back! Yuh nevah been to de Yard an yuh cyan read dis?
 Writahs with nah mittens mus shop from de Cole Haan catalog.
 Mi tink dat instead of Rastamen, dem should be cyalled italics.
 Nah fi be confused with Bongo Mon. Doah similarly, if Bongo Mon nuh come witin tirty minutes, de song is free.
 Shame and scandal, indeed.
 Other popular musical forms include ska, dub, soca and airhorn. At the Juilliard School of Music, mi majored in Airhorn, with a minor in Talking Over the Music While It’s Playing.
 Aldoah mi suppose if de sex good nuff, unu gwaan ave a screwface.
 Coo yah! An Ital 3!
 Dis yah one bashment unu wan fi avide.
 Too dangerous fi wi.
 Doan worry – mi nuh teary…mi jus ave an ipothesis. No Bill Zam no cry; no Bill Zam no cry.
 Not de turd entry. Yuh meh tink mi writing a shit, but mi tahk bout de numbah tree.
 Nah fi be confused with de model Iman, who also appen to ave a nice pyair of dualities.
 On de nightshift.
 Before yuh look mi with your scorn, yeh mon, I and I can build de cyabin, too.
 Nah fi be confused with man a jah, a.k.a. Haile Selassie.
 Some Americans on cruise ships also ave boat jyobs.
 If unu cyaan tell yet, My Experience is nuttin like Bounty Killer’s. Lawd a mercy! Mi nuh know what de hell im a seh.
 A fuckery dat!
 Braap braap braap, buyaka buyaka.