Friday, February 24, 2006

Shelf Life

Men should come with expiration dates. It's only fair a woman know in advance how long a man is good for before he goes bad. Some guys are like cereal, and as long as you keep them properly stored, they last a couple months before going stale. Others are like produce, cause you've gotta use them pretty quickly before they spoil. Then some guys are like boxed rice. You can keep them in the cupboard for years and they'll still be as fresh as the day you bought 'em. Now in my lifetime, I've never dated a box of rice. Honestly, I probably wouldn't even know where to shop for one. For a few years, I hung out in the cereal aisle. But those Froot Loops didn't last very long. However, in the last year or so, I have the disturbing habit of hanging out in the produce aisle. That's the only way to explain my penchant for 2 week "relationships."
Before The Guy Who Shouldn't Make Me Cry came along (I went back to cereal with him), for some reason flies had longer lifespans than the men I was dealing with. I can't lie and say that I didn't know that these men weren't going to last forever. Sometimes a girl can't really commit to consuming a pantry full of unperishable items. However, I'm not stupid enough to purposely choose overripe product that's about to spoil (or just go through some shit right now). There are two ways to get your produce: in single servings or in bulk. In both cases you know going in that it ain't gonna last, however you expect the bulk items to last longer. In the case of single servings , it's okay to buy the produce that's really ripe, cause you only want it once (1 red delicious apple, 1 Sunkist orange), and then you're done with it. Sometimes when you've got a craving all you need to do is satisfy it and then be done. You buy in bulk when you need to get yourself through a season. You buy the bag of under ripe fruit and stick it in the fridge and stretch out the consumption over the course of several weeks until there is either no more left or rotting sets in. The goal is to use it up before it spoils, so as not to waste time or money. Now, I'm more of a bulk girl. I'm not a fan of single servings cause the satisfaction they bring is so temporary. I swear that the men I've dated over the last year didn't appear to be rotting when I made my purchase, but within two weeks they were maggot ridden. If had known they had such short shelf lives, I would've left their asses alone. But alas, I was fooled.
A couple of days ago I was on the phone with Chesty LaRue. She recently started seeing this guy she met while hanging out with friends. Old boy made the greivous mistake of not calling when he said he would and Chesty was already starting to wonder if it was the beginning of the end (failure to do what you say you're gonna do when you say you're gonna do it, is a clear sign of trouble). She mentioned that the men in her life seemed to crash and burn sooner and sooner into the involvement. This got me to thinking about my own dating life. I used to firmly believe that most relationships never made it past the 90 day mark. Those 90 days could evenly be divided into two distinct stages: heaven, then hell complete with a crash and burn finale. Nowadays it's seeming like 90 days is an eternity, I've seen a lot of budding romances killed within two weeks. One week of bliss and one week of bullshit before people decide to go their separate ways. There was once a time when I could expect a man to act right for at least a month. Now I'm surprised if a guy lasts a week before screwing up. There used to be a grace period when men were sweet, reliable, attentive, affectionate, and all the good stuff girls go for. That grace period gets shorter and shorter as I get older and older. What's up with that? If I'm honest with myself, I'm really past the point of wanting to buy produce. It's a waste of time and money to spend my resources on stuff that I know will go bad or just leave me hungry. Next time a dude comes my way, he better be non-perishable.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


If someone were to ask me what is my favorite thing to do, I'd probably say going to the club. Yeah I know that's the typical chicken head answer, but hey it's the truth, so if that makes me a chicken then I say, "BUKAAWWHHH!!!" But here's the thing, I don't go to just any old club. Over the past six years or so my tastes have become very refined. Only establishments catering to a predomoninately young (22-30) black professional (i.e. bougie) clientele, featuring the best DJ's playing hip-hop, R&B, and reggae, with no metal detectors at the entrance are eligible to receive my patronage. Well, that was the case until I moved to Grand Rapids. Now my favorite place in the world to be on a weekend night is at Billy's dancing my ass off to the best 80s pop music with a bunch of white folks. Why the sudden change? Well I still love hip hop music and the uppity Negro clubs like Vision in ATL and Float in NYC, however I've been forced to expand my horizons since that fateful June night in 2004 when I tried clubbing with the black folks in Grand Rapids. NEVER AGAIN!
On my first visit to Grand Rapids after I accepted the transfer my company offered, I decided to get acclimated to the place that would soon be my new home. I found a place to live within 48 hours, a church to visit, and even a salon to get my hair done. Wandering aimlessly around the "city" streets, I decided to find some potential friends and a good place for me to "back that thang up." Having no fear, I walked into a barber shop and introduced myself to the owners and customers. I told them I was moving to town very shortly and wanted to find the black folks. I asked where we all hung out and what clubs catered to us, making sure to clarify what type of place I was looking to find. Well Mr. Barber tells me that on Saturday nights all the black folks would be at the Howlin Moon. He assures me that it's not rowdy or ghetto (i.e. the club doesn't get shot up on a weekly basis) and the crowd is young and real cool. He flashes me a smile that would make Paul Wall proud and I thanked him for the information and decided to check the place out later that night. After I left I headed to the mall to see the caliber of shopping Grand Rapids would be offering me. Not shit, I soon found out. However, while browsing one of the stores, I came across a sales lady who appeared to be around my age. Once again I explained my plight (new to town, no friends, looking for a good time). She was really friendly and let me know that she would also be going to the Howlin Moon that evening and invited me to tag along with her and some friends. I was so grateful to find a companion that I didn't even notice that the name above her phone number was spelled T-E-Q-U-I-L-A.
I headed back to my hotel to change for the evening, then called my new found friend for directions to her place. As I'm driving across town in my rental, I notice that the closer I get to her residence, the more peeling paint, boarded windows, and collapsing porches decorate the houses. Still, I thought nothing of it. When I pull up in front of the address she gave me a pack of white T clad dudes are posted on the sidewalk just chillin. I walk past them without too much harassment and knock on the door. She answers dressed in a white cotton tennis skirt, a jersey, baseball cap, and Air Force 1s. Not exactly what I would wear, but it's all good. I thought nothing of it. A few minutes later we leave for the club.
Pulling up in the parking lot, I see that the full name of the joint is The Howlin Moon Saloon. Interesting even rhymed. But I thought nothing of it. The parking lot was a party in and of itself, with hordes of people congregating in what are supposed to be parking spaces not outdoor lounge spaces. But whatever, all I want to do is get inside and get my dance on with all the other young black professionals in Grand Rapids. Waiting on line I look around and see an abundance of throwback jerseys, Nikes, tatoos, and mouth jewlery. I suddenly thought to myself, "These ladies sure dress casual for the nice clubs in town." As I near the front of the line I hear the bouncer telling folks to get out their IDs and that the cover is $10, unless you don't have an ID in which case the charge goes up to $20. Interesting. Where I'm from, no ID means no entry...but hey different places do different things. When I finally enter the club (passing a metal detector), I see a sign above the entranceway that says "Marijuana smoking is NOT permitted." No sooner than I read the sign does the pungent aroma of the California sticky green invade my olfactory nerve. I step further inside the club and survey my surroundings through the cloud of weed smoke hanging in the air. The place is divided into two rooms with a bar in each one. The main room has a dance floor complete with a stage, a cage, and several poles, while the secondary room towards the back is equipped with an airbrushed backdrop and photographer to capture all the memories that will be made that night. Dudes are in white Ts and jerseys...not a single button down is in sight. A good number of the women favored spandex outfits to complement their rolls while they spent entire songs face down/ass up. I made my way to the bar. No one offered to buy me a drink but one guy did offer me a perfectly rolled blunt. In the midst of all this fun I lost track of my club buddy and her friends. No worries though cause I later found them on the stage making good use of the pole. I spent most of the night by myself wondering if The Howlin Moon Saloon was really as bad as it was looking. When I looked over my shoulder to see a pregnant girl with a glass of henny in her hand doing the chickenhead, I knew it was worse than I could've imagined. I finally decided to leave after some dude pushed his crotch against my ass as a way to ask me to dance.
I got in my car and damn near cried. I hadn't been to a club that trifling since high school and back then it was fun. I made the decision right then and there to NEVER EVER NEVER EVER EVER EVER go to a black club in Grand Rapids again. Looking back on it now, I guess there were some warning signs that should've let me know what I was getting myself into. The barber's platinum encrusted mouth should've told me that his idea of classy was probably very different than mine. Just the name of club alone should've given me pause. But maybe the most glaring oversight on my part was Tequila. I mean really, what should I have expected from a chick named after a bottle of Jose Cuervo?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I Ain't Saying I'm a Golddigger...

I want a man with money. Yes, it is also important that he is God fearing, honest, loyal, funny, dependable, good with kids, a good dancer, a good dresser, tall, dark skin, and bears an uncanny resemblance to Morris Chestnut. Yet and still, even with all that going on, the man needs to have money. It's a deal breaker. No money, no me.
After years of dealing with Broke Ass Niggas (who always go through some shit), I have finally decided NO MORE! And I've gotta say, it's about damn time. The idea that a man's financial standing does not matter is a sweet little dream (more like a nightmare really), and I've finally woken up to reality. As politically incorrect as this sounds, what's in his wallet does matter! It is completely naive to think that love is all a couple needs. Why? Glad you asked. With nearly 50% of all marriages ending in divorce, money is the #1 (or #2, I can't remember) reason for marital strife. 9 times out of 10 if the finances ain't right, neither is the relationship.
We're all adults (at least I hope we all are...the mental capacity of some of my readers is questionable at best), so I'm gonna put it all out there. At a certain point in a person's life, dating just to date gets really old. If there really is NO potential for a future (i.e. marriage) there's really no point in pursuing the relationship (unless the sex is incredible, then the rules change). When looking at a potential lifelong mate, being in love is just the tip of the iceberg. Marriage is effectively tying two people's fates together for a lifetime (or 18 months if your Jennifer Lopez). Guess what? That fate includes finances. From bank accounts, to mortgages, to insurance policies, financial wellbeing is dependent upon 2 not just one. Now I don't know about ya'll, but I damn sure will not willingly go down with a sinking ship. But ignoring a man's financial standing and trying to pursue a relationship with a Broke Ass Nigga is doing just that. If a man has no savings, no credit, lives in the payday loan building, and robs from his left to feed his right, he's not relationship material. I don't care how good he looks, how nice he is, and blah blah blah. He ain't ready to be with nobody but an Ameriprise financial advisor.
Last week I was conversing over IM with The Mama's Boy and he was in a tizzy over an email discussion on the latest hot topic amongst Negroes. Over the past weekend every black woman in America went to go see Something New, sparking debate over the relationship possibilities for professional black women. The movie quoted the statistic that 47.2% of black women do not get married, especially highly educated, professional black women. That's pretty daunting, if I do say so myself. And what makes it even more worrisome is knowing that I belong in the category of black women who comprise the majority of that 47.2%. So that begs the question, why aren't so many of us getting married. Many will say that it's because it's so difficult to find the IBM (Ideal Black Man - also discussed in the movie). Now what is the IBM. One would say it's the black male version of someone like me. College educated, professional, middle class to upper class, and blah blah blah (add in personal preferences as needed). So if professional black women are unwilling to be unmarried forever and can't find the IBM, that only leaves a couple of alternatives: either marry outside the race OR marry "down" (a black man with less education with a less prestigious or lower earning career/job). Here is where Mama's boy got all hot and bothered. He had issues with the whole idea of marrying down (as do I) and basically said that women who weren't willing to look at men who made less or had less education were golddiggers. But I think he's missing something with such a pat analysis.
The number of letters after a man's name or the number of zeros on his paystub do not make me look up to or down on him. I know a lot of dumb PhDs who ain't worth shit (well actually I don't, but I do know several PhD candidates). The issue I have is SECURITY. If a person is not financially secure as an individual, it is highly unlikely any couple he is a part of will be financially secure. Many women who are worried about marrying "down" aren't hestitant because they won't be cruising around the world on their honeymoons. They are looking much further down the line to children, work interruptions, and retirement. When life happens, and it always does, it's pretty smart to want some sense that the finances will be stable. There's this idea that a woman wants a man who is financially set, so he can spoil her and take care of her. Honestly, most professional black women already splurge on and spoil their damn selves. A man's money is not needed. So it's not necessarily about money in and of itself, but moreso money management. Now I have to admit that often times a lot of women are quick to assume that if a man has a degree and a certain job title, then his bank statements are all good. We all know that's not always case. There are plenty of janitors who are better prepared for retirement than their investment banking counterparts. But more often than not, the more a person makes (man or woman), the more healthy the finances.
In my quest for the IBM, I have NEVER dated a man who makes as much money or more than I do. Both the Idiot Who Made Me Cry and the Guy Who Shouldn't Make Me Cry made a lot less than I did. And at one point or another I wanted both of them a lot more than I wanted a 2.5 carat princess cut Tiffany diamond in a platinum setting with bagets (well it was a close tie). The reason I didn't give a rat's ass about their salaries is because these men knew how to work with what they had. They were stable, unlike other Broke Ass Niggas I've known before. And although there were issues in both relationships, none of them were money related.
Unfortunately, my homegirl Chesty LaRue hasn't been so lucky. She too has been willing to date men who aren't rolling in dough, but with pretty scary results. For some reason, Broke Ass Niggas flock to Chesty, and when they do, they have a tendency to suck her dry (financially that is). They are always short on the rent, the car note, the light bill, or a $1.00 value meal and need a loan to make ends meet. Being the kind person she is, Chesty is always willing to help, but whenever she needs help or just a repayment, these dudes are nowhere to be found. Now think about going through that situation til death do you part? Ain't that much love in the world, now is there?
In my lifetime, I've seen quite a few unhappy unions because couples overlooked how important money would be in their lives. Some have gotten through the tough times, others haven't. From what I can see, marriage is hard enough without adding harassing bill collectors and negative account balances to the mix. My mama always told me to marry a man with dough. For once in my life, I think I'm gonna listen to her.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Walking the Line

Ever had one of those moments where the answers to some of life's deepest questions become clear? Well I had one yesterday thanks to my friend The Mad Black Man. He's not really mad about anything, he just likes to imagine himself angrier than he really is. Anyways, we had a 10 minute chat while I was driving to my dentist appointment after work. During our talk he lets me know that he's swearing off women for a while so he can recover from his last girlfriend. In his opinion she was "crazy." Now, we all know where I stand on the topic of female insanity. It's usually caused by male stupidity/inconsistency/ambivalence/breathing. Now I knew he and old girl were having issues and I tried my best to give him a female perspective on why she was always complaining. Obviously, it did no good, cause they broke up anyways. I could honestly care less that the relationship came to an end. I don't know the chick personally and time with her took time away from me (and I'm the most important thing in EVERYONE's life). The thing that struck me is that his relationship began to end the day she exhibited what he believed to be crazy behavior. He never saw her in the same light again, so no matter what she did that was normal, all he could see was "crazy girlfriend." It's like a line was crossed and there was no turning back.
So this got me to thinking. In relationships nothing stays perfect forever. We're human so we err. But for some reason men and women view these errors differently. While a woman can take error after error after error from a man and still see the same sweet guy she fell in love with, it seems that it takes only one error by a woman for a man to see "the crazy bitch." If that's not a double standard I don't know what is. I don't know if women are just more forgiving, more lenient, more optimistic, or just more desperate, but for some reason we sure can take a lot of bullshit before we stop seeing a nice guy who just happens to have asshole tendencies and just see an asshole. A guy can break up with us over voicemail and not say a word for 10 months (ode to the Idiot Who Made Me Cry) and we'll still think that he's a great guy, just a great guy who's going through some issues. Why is that? How come through all the b.s. women can still see the guy they fell for in the first place. I'd like to think that I'm a pretty good judge of character. When a man slips, bumps his head, and starts acting a damn fool, I'd rather believe that it's uncharacteristic, than believe that I just chose the wrong guy. I mean, truthfully speaking, who wants to be wrong. Who wants to say that they fell for a completely insensitive jerk who'd rather clip his toenails than consider their feelings. So we look past all the bad stuff to see the man way down deep inside who is charming and caring and smart and funny and all the things we absolutely adore. I mean, he's still there, it's just covered in bullshit, right?
Well this same optimism or benefit of the doubt doesn't seem to be afforded to the XX choromsome set. We're sort of on a one strike and you're out policy. One instance of suppposedly "crazy" behavior (i.e. nagging, insecurity, arguments, whatever) and we're no longer the awesome girlfriend. That look of love in a man's eyes turns to a wary look of paranoia that says, "oh she's cool now, but when will she snap." Personally, I don't think it's fair. Why does one bad day or night or even hour erase all the great stuff preceding it. It's as though an either/or proposition exists. A woman can either be cool or she can be crazy, but in a man's eyes she can never be both. This sets up quite a paradox (am I using that word correctly?). If one drop of craziness can overtake a gallon of normalcy, it stands to reason that normalcy has to reign all day everyday. But that's virtually impossible. As I stated earlier, no one and nothing on this earth is perfect, so there is gonna come a time when we as women are gonna be less than pleased with our relationships and we're gonna wanna discuss it and it may sound like complaining and it may seem irrational. Passive aggressive silence is immature, so the logical step is to voice our issues. But with this paradox, how can we? In order to appear normal, venting is not allowed, cause when we vent, we're crazy. And once labeled crazy there's no coming back. It's like walking a tight rope and I must say I don't have balance like that and it's too exhausting to try and get some.
Maybe, just maybe there would be parity if somehow the tables were turned. Maybe if women started dumping guys at the first sign of bad behavior, guys would get a taste of their own medicine. Maybe they'd be the ones walking that tight rope with us watching their every move for a mistake. It would serve them right to be suspended high on a tiny thread, exposed for everyone to see, trying to stay on track wearing nothing more than some purple tights, ballet shoes and a tank top.