Most people know the term paparazzi in English. They are are independent photographers who take pictures of high-profile people, such as athletes, entertainers, politicians, and other celebrities, typically while subjects go about their usual life routines, often with intent to sell their photographs to media outlets focusing on tabloid journalism and sensationalism, such as gossip magazines [paraphrased from Wikipedia].
In my life, I’ve had cause to coin the word mamarazzi to be those who end up talking about me from what they see of me, which eventually gets to my Mom. It’s a slightly rare situation, but I think many people have folks they know who would tell their Mom things those folks saw of them that might lead to curios questions from the Moms. That’s why I’m sharing the word, so those who might have use for it, can build it into their vocabulary.
In my life, things work like this with the mamarazzi. My Mom no longer lives in my small city. She’s quite far away, in fact. However, many here in the Vietnamese community, of which I am a part, still considers her like a matriarch of the community. Many of these people who have good relationships with my Mom are also cab drivers, being of the older generation of refugees to Canada, or their wives have good relationships with my Mom and still talk to her once in a while. With many cab drivers in a small city, they see me often enough when I’m out and about, considering I live in a small downtown area and pretty much get to most places on feet to be not only more visible than in a car or bus, but visible for a longer time it takes to make the commutes. That means anything I do that might perk interest, often gets picked up and, sooner or later, relayed to my Mom, by the mamarazzi.
The instance where it first became obvious to me was over a decade ago. I trained with Dalhousie University’s cross-country team as a mature student walk-on, almost in my mid-30s, among mostly 18-20 year old recruits who were pretty talented as we were a top notch team in Canada. I was only as fast as some of the top women on the team, being one of the slowest guys on the official team. There were some slower who didn’t make the official team.
By being similar in speed to the women meant I often trained with them, not only during the team sessions, but on off day and long runs. On several of those runs, I ran with two very fun and attractive young women on the team through downtown Halifax as part of the route. Not long after came some coy calls from Mom, at higher frequencies than usual, asking what I had been up to lately, in a lot of details, to the point I almost had to account for all the time during the week! When she could no longer hold out, she started asking about the off-day runs, and that was when it became clear what she was after. I lied to say I ran with a couple of guys on the team and she asked if I had done the entire run. Cover blown!
I often see one or two of those Vietnamese cab drivers on any run that has enough time on the streets downtown, as opposed to waterfront, park or out of downtown. I saw some of them during those run with those young women, and thought about what might be going through their minds for gossip, but did I think it would get told to my Mom over a thousand miles away, and have it come back to me to explain? No! Until that instance.
After that, I became aware of those cab drivers’ presence even more any time I was doing anything that might start conversations. Often that would be when I’m out with only one female friend. Other times, it’s dressing up in cosplay on my way to parades. Sometimes it’s walking around with a guitar like I was going to sit down somewhere and busk. However, I’ve learned to turn the tables on those drivers, or their wives who they tell these stories to that eventually get to Mom, and Mom herself. I’d turn the tables around by playing up things so that I could discredit those mamarazzi folks’ tales, making Mom pick and choose what she wants to believe in enough to quiz me about it later. For example, with some female friends who are not in relationships and with their permission, I sometimes would take and hold their hands seeing a Vietnamese cab driver first (or some other older Vietnamese being about town), for the fun of it. Some female friends even let me play along to hold them like a significant other while walking along, laughing and such, also holding me back in return. With some female friends, I’d even take them to Vietnamese restaurants where I know it’ll get reported, though I generally avoid them for the same reason. It’s just a matter of whether I were up to it.
All that said, I am extremely grateful to have a Mom who cares so much, and people who also watch out for me on her behalf. I know many people only wish they had a Mom who would care only half as much, if they have a Mom at all, still alive or not. However, to be fair, a little breathing room for me and/or sharing the spying with CSIS probably wouldn’t hurt, either. 😉