The Vicious Cycle of a Mama’s Boy Society


On Saturday morning I awoke to find that my new Nokia phone was not working. When something breaks in Spain, it is a huge hassle to get it fixed. Just to inquire about getting it fixed, I had to take part of the morning off in Madrid on Monday to go to the MoviStar (cell phone operator) store (it doesn’t open until 10:00am). When I finally spoke to the MoviStar agent, he told me that my warranty was only valid for 10 days at the store, but that I could go to the Nokia customer representative a few blocks away where my warranty would be valid for two years.

When the afternoon came around, I left work early at 7:00pm to be able to arrive by 8:00pm at the Nokia shop before it closed. When I arrived, there was another MoviStar agent who told me that the Nokia reps only work from 11:00am-2:00pm and then from 4:00pm-7:00pm. I was furious to say the least, and asked whether only people without jobs qualified for Nokia’s customer services.

Then I remember that this was all part of a much bigger problem: a vicious cycle of a Mama’s Boy society that makes getting anything done almost impossible. Strangely enough, what we call a Mama’s Boy in English, in Spain they call a Papa’s Boy (because he lives off daddy’s salary, even if his body is running on mama’s cooking). Allow me to explain:

In Spain, the standard working hours are 9:00am-2:00pm and then 4:00pm or 5:00pm to 7:00pm or 8:00pm. Stores generally open from 10:00am to 2:00pm, and then close for lunch and reopen at 5:00pm and close at 8:00pm. This makes it almost impossible to ever get anything done, incluidng grocery shopping, other shopping, going to the bank, or getting anything fixed.

What about the weekend? First of all, almost everything is closed on Sundays. On Saturdays, stores are open, but most smaller stores are only open until 2:00pm and close for the rest of the day. And banks do not open at all on Saturdays from June to September. Of course, I could get up early on Saturdays to get all of my shopping done, but once again the Mama’s Boy society also makes that difficult. Why?

The entire society is built around a structure that forces men to be dependent on their mothers, and I imagine, for their mothers to be depended on by their little boys.

You see, if you work and do not live at home with your parents, it is almost impossible to fill your refrigerator with any food. And when you get home at night from work, generally around 9:00pm or 10:00pm, you are also too tired to cook. There is also no time to clean,do laundry, let alone iron. Thus, mommie fills in the gap. She does all of these things for you.

In the US any male over, say, 20 who still lives at home is considered a loser with no future. A male who does not do his own laundry or who cannot live independently is considered useless. Ironically, in Spain it is the opposite. I know men in their 30s who have enough money to live on their own but do not. I even know some people who have purchased apartments but prefer to live at home. They always say the same thing, “you always live better at home.” That’s because they get a warm meal twice a day (people usually go home to mommie for lunch). Thus, while in the US living at home is considered a sign of weakness, in Spain it is considered clever.

The result is that almost no one “moves out” until they are married. Also, in Spain, the culture dictates that married people must own their own homes, as opposed to renting. This means that no one marries until they can afford a home. Then when men finally marry, they move from mama to a wife who is now expected to fill in her place. Unfortunately, times are changing and most families need two bread winners. This is the great challenge for Spain. Who is going to be your mama in the future when both husband and wife work?

And so the cycle continues with all of its manifestations. For example, Spanish people are incredibly unambitious professionally. They are most happy when they have civil servant jobs — jobs where, even if they don’t get paid very much, they can never be fired from. A society of people who are not interested in moving out of mama’s nest is also a society that is not interested in working more than absolutely necessary. I won’t even mention how many times a day at the office I hear a cell phone ring to hear someone answer, “Mamá”.

This does not mean that everyone sits together in one big family embrace. People are people, and because Spaniards generally live with their families in small apartments, no one ever wants to go home except for a free meal and to pick up their clean laundry. This combined with allegedly sunny weather also affects the working hours, permitting people to spend longer hours at the office, for when they leave work at 8:00pm it is still light out. To avoid spending too much time cramped up in a small apartment with nosey mothers, Spaniards also go out very late at night. Dinner is at 10:00pm at the earliest and people go out until 7:00am in the morning on the weekend, and generally go to bed between 12:30am and 1:30am on work nights.

This takes me back to an earlier point. Why can’t I go shopping on Saturday morning? Because I have been out on Friday night until 7:00am. For a good Spanish boy this would not be a problem. He loves his mama so much because she has already gone shopping to stock the frig and cook his lunch while he sleeps it off. And if he is a really good son, he buys his mama fresh bread on his way back home from the night club when the bakery first opens in the morning.

To conclude, as a foreigner with no in-house mama, I suffer from an empty refrigerator and the distant memory that dinner used to exist in a long forgotten world. I won’t even mention the impossibility of dating Spanish women who cannot understand why you do not want to go out until 7:00am on Friday night or why you are always tired and malnurished. A man may not live on bread alone, but a little bread in the refrigerator is not a bad thing either.

It’s all one big vicious cycle.



Filed under Living la vida española

9 responses to “The Vicious Cycle of a Mama’s Boy Society

  1. Chrissy

    I thoroughly enjoyed this!

  2. Well written cugino. Our kin from the boot suffer a very like “dysfunction”, so maybe it is a southern European condition?

    One thing that you negelected to mention in your article: we have a similar problem here, it’s just that “Mama`” comes in the form of the Federal Gubament.

    If you are an unambitious sprog in the U.S., with no desire to work adequately to pay your way, or in the greater instance, refuse to work at all, you can ride “Mama` Gubament” and she’ll take care of it all for you ~

    Well, except actually cooking the meal, that’s what McDonald’s is for in the U.S. We have our own form of the effeminate male here, and it is equally repulsive.

  3. eric

    You may (or may not) be surprised that milking the system is even much more common in Europe where any changes to the welfare state is completely taboo. For many people it is cheaper to live off of welfare benefits than it is for them to work. That makes it very hard for small businesses to hire young and inexpensive labor.

  4. TheCommentKiller

    In the U.S. the cow has no milk to offer the “welfare system.”

    As i have mentioned previously since Clinton state and federal welfare programs have been seriously slashed to pieces. So w/ the exception of SSI (supplemental security income) and SSD (which is the same thing, but for people with a long work history) one cannot remain on welfare indefinitely anywhere in the U.S., with very minor exceptions.

    And getting on SSI and SSD (where an individual has to prove that they are “unable to engage in substantial gain activities” for a 12month period) is practically impossible as the gov’t denys over 80% of all applications. Our office trains social workers how to make successful applications and we handle appeals- and we do all of the other public benefits work. And as i have said in previous posts, it is no joke trying to get on SSI or SSD.

    And in NYC that amount of money one gets on SSI, $710 per month for a person living alone (the amount goes down if you do not live alone), does not even pay the rent- which in NYC is over $800 per month (and that includes the Bronx, the Rockaways, etc.). Which makes no sense b/c SSI amount is supposed to be regional and based on cost of living.

    Welfare literally is workfare. You are on welfare for 6 months and then you have to get a job, it is just that simple. And Welfare in NYC gives only $215 per month for “shelter allowance” (rent); $100 per month in food stamps; and $61 per month in cash assistance. There is absolutely no way to make ends meet w/ that.

    So i don’t know too many people in NYC that are excited about “milking the system.” With lack of affordable housing in NYC (and the number of units rapidly decreasing) it is not fun being poor, particurlary if you are on Welfare and/or SSI/SSD.

    But the U.S. has paid: $426,206,310,927 (and the number is rapdily rising) for the war in Iraq which the gov’t has to justify a reason for fighting.

    So who is milking the system? And for what purpose? This war is going to have a much worse after-math than Vietnam. The regional instability has spread to the horn of Africa and will continue to spread as the costs (not just money) continue to rise. But the good new is the Bush and Cheney’s buddies are getting rich off of this war- those are the people milking the system.

  5. LMMFAO!!!

    I regret to be the one to inform you of this, but there are 49 other states in the U.S. … besides NY.

    So here, try a little something called perspective. Like, oh say, just for grins and giggles … the Midwest, where in all cases the majority of recipients of all welfare goes to minorities, especially the females (63% single females out of total) who pop out babies for more money. You know, those OTHER states like Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, West Virginia, Iowa … YES, they actually do exist, it isn’t a conspiracy!!!

    In Ohio the TANF funds are distributed in districts who ‘decide’ how those funds will be allocated to the applying populace. Immediately there is a 12 month grace, with a guaranteed 24 month extension for ‘challenged mothers’ who can’t graduate and get employed or can’t complete some form of training, paid for by the state, to obtain work.

    If you are an alcoholic or drug addict, (read: LOSER), you can get a free ride to college if you agree to a clean up program. One of the individuals I work with here had a brother at UD, ($28,000 / semester yr.), because he agreed to a drug rehab and retraining paid by the state.

    Exactly nine weeks after graduation (5.5 years*$28,000 on tax payer funds), he was back on the streets doing heroine and crack, and hasn’t been seen three months.

    Add to that a ‘gentleman’ I know who loves to tout the fact he’s humping the system for coin, after 3 failed retraining attempts (1 no name tech school for $32,000 tax payer paid, and two tries at Wright State in their rehab program/retraining at $22,000 tax payer paid), is still ‘waking up to jack off that vein and get paid by the government’. He receives $1200/month from a combination of SSI and state welfare and another $400/month in food stamps … oh, and on top of being a user … he’s a dealer and makes over $4,000/month from drug sales.

    I realise in your geocentric delusion, there is no other world out there accept the ‘underprivileged and oppressed’ … but then there is the whole OTHER world of pragmatic reality.

    It’s a system, and it will get bent to the will of those who willfully choose not to work, and even like to brag about being unemployed.

  6. TheCommentKiller

    NYC is actually one of the best places in the country to live in terms of the amount of money one can get from state and federal gov’t.

    The amount of your benefit depends on where you live. The basic SSI check is the same nationwide. Effective January 2007, the SSI payment for an eligible individual is $623 per month However, many states add money to the basic check.
    The following is a list of States that supplement the basic SSI amount:

    * California
    * Hawaii
    * Massachusetts
    * Nevada
    * New Jersey
    * New York
    * Pennsylvania
    * Rhode Island
    * Vermont
    * Washington D.C.

    In other words, these are the states that will give additional money to people on SSI. There is not one midwestern state listed.

    Thus, the figures you mentioned above are not possible.

    Moreover, one is not eligible for SSI or SSD, if they are able to go to school. That is Federal law as SSI and SSD are Federal benefits. The gov’t believes that if one is able to go to school they would be able to engage in ‘substantial gainful activity.’

    In addition, one is not eligible to receive SSI and state welfare benefits, with the exception of food stamps and Medicaid. And Ohio does not pay $400 per month in food stamps, unless the person has at least 3 people in the household.


  7. Well, here’s how it goes cousin.

    I don’t waste my time with very often with statistical state claims, because they are generally gross misrepresentations, and willfully so.

    Your claims fail because of the same obvious instance: pragmatic reality. Individuals who desire to take advantage of the system can, and will, to meet their exigent needs, whether believed or real.

    My polite suggestion is to try reading something to adjust that error in perspective, such as Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio.

    What we believe ‘ought’ to be true, doesn’t change what ‘is’ true. It’s valuable lesson that most of us learn the hardest possible way.

    Don’t bother to rebuke, I’ve watched 5 different segments of the wife’s family pull this off for over a decade, and that’s outside the number other people I know who, have and do, continue to rape the system.

    Lies, damn lies and statistics, as always.

  8. Arantxa


    Me ha encantado tu articulo…por lo menos todavia hay alguien que entiende porque todavia no he regresado a Espanha. Lo que no entiendo yo es porque sigues tu ahi…ya he leido que no es ni por la comida, las mujeres o el servicio de atencion al cliente…ya me lo explicaras.

  9. eric


    ¡Tampoco es por los salarios! Me imagino que será por representar una alternativa al Mama’s Boy. ¿Quién sabrá?

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