I want to tell you a story from my weekend but I don’t want you to think I am a mean person.
Why should I care, we are virtually anonymous. You don’t know me except what you read here. I do want to project a certain character; I want to appear witty and erudite, not vacuous and judgemental.
Yet I am.
Here’s what I will do. I will start with a prologue which will make this a long (but kinda funny) story so I can get this off my chest and you won’t think any less of me because people are less apt to read long blog posts.
How does that sound?
The story that took place this past weekend begins with a dog.
Animals are aways a good way to soften a tale right?
Well, a few months ago to celebrate J2’s graduation (and to counteract missing him when he went away to college) I relented and we bought a dog. A Staffordshire Terrier if you want to know the breed but her street name is Pit but we call her Malaya.
I know, I know what you are thinking. I thought that, too. When we first encountered her she was laying on her side in the cage in a submissive pose. She is a really sweet dog. She isn’t aggressive in the least, although I would never leave a small child unchecked around her because she is still a puppy and has the propensity to play too rough. I take her to the dog park and she runs to people not to bite but to lick (kiss). She has stolen many a lick kisses from lots of people at the dog park. You could just be standing there, looking at the sky, wondering if it’s going to rain and she will be beside you. Then suddenly Malaya will jump up and lick you as if to say, “I like you and you have not told me how beautiful I am yet.”
She is a beautiful dog. Everyone comments on it. I think she understands so she is vain and expects everyone to tell her how gorgeous she is. If she was human she’d be a budding porn star; she needs too much validation from other dogs and people.
Once J2 had company and I made Malaya stay in the kitchen with me. She knew there were people in the dining room who would want to love her, worship her so first she tries to walk past me but I stopped her and made her sit down. I turn my back on her to finish washing dishes and she crouches low to the ground and crawls out toward the door. I don’t realize this until she makes it past me and to the door. By that time Malaya realizes the jig is up so she runs to the dining room and begins to lick and jump up on J2’s guests.
“Oh, pet me, pet me. Do you like me? I like you. I do. I really like you.”
I have called her a slut and attention ho many a time when leaving the dog park. My daughter admonishes me for it, but has also noted out Malaya’s need for attention.
But this brings us to the real crux of the story: Mimi. My daughter is equally beautiful but also very awkward. And nerdy. And capricious. If she was skinny and white she’d be a Hwood star but because she is buxom and dark it makes her an outlier. I wouldn’t change her; I love her the way she is –well, except when she makes too many snarky comments in a half hour then I want to slap her but you get my point.
So, being a natural, big busomed, self-conscious black girl she doesn’t get many dates. I have tried to shape her, to give her pointers with dress and hairstyling but she is headstrong with the, “A guy should like me for me.”
“Of course they should,” I reply. “But men are also stupid. Okay, visual creatures but stupid just the same. You have to kind of give them the illusion first. Beauty covers many a flaw.”
So, since she doesn’t want to listen to me I told her to just wait. She’s in college and busy with school and work. I said, just work on you right now and when the time is right, God will bring someone to you.
She said, I am not looking for anyone so that is fine. That is a lie. I was her age once. We were all her age once unless you are her age now. When you are young and single you are almost always looking –unless you are a nun. For women, looking and actively pursuing are two totally different things. You can be looking by just going down the street looking your best or you can be actively pursuing by putting yourself out there by going to clubs, events –whatever.
So she said she wasn’t looking, but actually she was actively pursing a boyfriend. I told her the above on a Wednesday and on a Thursday she told me she had a date.
Now if you are reading this sit down because this is where it gets bumpy.
Me: I thought you said you weren’t looking.
Mimi: Yeah… well… I met him online where we talk about comic books. He was one of the few guys I talked to that didn’t misspell words and seemed intelligent.
Me: Where does he live?
Ok. Did you notice the two things I mentioned up above that sent up red flags? First, she met him while talking about comic books. Now, I like comic books and the boyfriend before my husband liked comic books so she has an interest but to hangout online talking about them sends up flags because — yeah, it signals basement dwelling buster.
Not all the time. Not all the time. But when you couple that with living on the Westside of Cincinnati… well… it didn’t bode well.
Anyway. So, I text my daughter: since you met him online I need some info on him if you are going out. J1 needs to meet him and I will need to get his license plate number when he pulls up.
Mimi: Do you want to see his picture?
So she texts a picture. And I will be nice and not post his real picture on here –yeah, I still got it. I never delete texts or emails. Not that I am saving them for anything; I’m just lazy.
So, I’m thinking this guy is going to be a nebbish, Jewish looking guy. That is her type. She loves, loves, loves goyish guys. The curly dark hair, big noses and shy smiles that we stereotypically see of Jewish men on television is her idea of a perfect looking guy. I am hoping for a young Ira Glass.
Instead I get this:
Okay, he wasn’t wearing a top hat, but he was wearing a kilt.
I said What the bleeeeep.
But I didn’t say it to her because she is a contrary person; I didn’t want to come out the box hating on him for her then to declare he was the best person who ever walked the earth. And I thought maybe it’s a bad picture. I have bad pictures. I don’t show those pictures because, like most normals, I’m vain.
That night he shows up at the house and, unfortunately for Mimi, everyone is there. Mimi comes upstairs to get us. J doesn’t want to come downstairs because he’s watching television. He likes for the men that Mimi dates to come inside, he just wants me to do the vetting.
He also doesn’t like the fact the guy is white. If the guy was black he’d go downstairs and say hi. If the guy was Asian he’d be pulling up a chair. But the fact the guy is white he’s nonplussed.
“Why isn’t he Asian?” my husband asked as we went downstairs.
Now. I saw the picture but that did not prepare me for what awaited. When I get there I’m like WTF again. Did he not realize he was going on a date? His hair was long and looked unwashed and greasy. He was wearing a ratty white button down and some odd apparatus around his waist held there by a chain. His stomach was large and his skin pallid. The photograph was his best.
Well, at least he didn’t smell like patchouli.
J2 sat on the couch playing videogames and Malaya sat on the rug. Yes, that was how ugly this guy was. My needy ass dog who assaults everyone with attention took one look at this guy and said, “You know what? I’m good.”
The only one who was not taken aback was J. Then my husband has no common social skills, social expectations, besides we were on home turf. J is good with greetings and small talks but if the conversations doesn’t veer soon into his common interests (sports, poverty, racial disenfranchisement) he quickly loses interests in the person before him.
Mimi said she and her date needed to leave and the guy reaches out to shake J2’s hand. The whole time J2 kept his eyes trained on the television but turns around to take his hand. J2 has a smile on his face, which is normal but then presses his lips together, squints his eyes. His shoulders are shaking and he lets out a slight giggle.
Malaya doesn’t even want to leave the rug to say goodbye to Mimi. She just cocks her head to the side and raises one ear.
When they leave J turns to me and says, “Wow, that guy was nervous.”
“Well he should be nervous,” I said. “That guy was ugly.”
“Be nice,” J said.
“How come I have to be nice and he’s the one that came out the house looking like that? He didn’t wash his hair, he didn’t put on clothes that fit, dude ain’t even try. He’s busted.”
Right here I will impute that I am not as mean as I sound. I know how black women are when we come to swirling, if the dude isn’t cute then what’s the point? Most black women say they won’t “step out the race” unless the guy is Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp. I am not that shallow. I wouldn’t want my daughter to be that superficial either.
But! There are levels. Someone with a certain level of attraction should be aimed for. Not saying that one should go for beautiful, but one definitely shouldn’t go for busted. Unless you are busted. Scratch that. Water reaches it’s own level. How is that?
I am not gorgeous, but I’m kinda cute. My husband is kinda cute too. So we match.
I couldn’t even make concessions for the guy’s job. He works at a convenience store. He doesnt’ have a college degree. With the etiquette classes, the college prep schools, the dance classes and the extra education classes I have invested into this child she better come up with something better than a buster. A doctor. An engineer. An IT guy. A community activist who wants to make sure that homeless people are well cared for so he doesn’t mind paying back the exhorbitant loans he’s accumulated because it’s truly what he believes in. Ok, that last one I might have to worry about because two folks with crazy college loans would be hard but I’d support both of them because he has a dream and she believed in him.
But a low-level, uneducated, retail working, dude? And he’s ugly, too?
Oh hellllllll no.
I am one of those women who jump ahead in my thoughts. When I first start dating someone I jump ahead to dating. And marriage. There were a lot of my name coupled with other guy’s last names when I was a teen, until I hit 17 and thought, “Why should I have to change my name when he isn’t changing his?” So now I was jumping ahead to a future with my daughter and this guy. They had only been gone for one hour. What would it be like spending holidays with this guy? Or worse a wedding! Future children? Oh, to have to tell my future grandkids their dad looked like a hairy swamp monster.
“Why would she go out with this guy?” I asked J. “This date better go badly.”
“It’s just a first date,” J said. “You worry too much.”
“And you don’t worry enough! What happens if they get along. Think about it. Can you see sitting across from that at Thanksgiving?”
J laughed. “It’s not funny,” I tell him.
“You are being mean,” he said for the second time that night. I want to punch him. “She knew what he looked like.”
“You wouldn’t be as nice if J2 brought home a female version of that.”
“J2 would never bring home someone who looked like that.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Talk to Mimi. Ask her why she would go out on a date with someone who looked like that.”
Ok I thought. Imma calm down. Let it go. Not worry until the end of the date. Talk to Mimi. Hope the date tanked.
Later I get a text from Mimi saying they were going to go to a movie. I panic and begin texting my friend Beau.
Me: Mimi went out on a date with a guy that looks like a troll. Is it mean to tell her that?
Beau: no, my mother once told me i had a funny lookin boyfriend
Me: How did you react?
Me: Did you keep dating him?
Beau: i just laughed. we broke up after a few mos. does he really look like a troll? does she think he’s cute?
Me: he came over with long greasy hair and he’s 27 years old. And he’s white.
Beau: make sure he’s got good credit or makes a lot of money.
Not making a lot of money, maybe has good credit. But is that worth it?
I think back to when I was her age. I “talked to” a guy who looked like predator except he didn’t have the long hair. Actually, he didn’t have any hair. “Talked to” is in quotation marks because I wasn’t really talking to him. I was just around him because my friend Grace was dating his best friend. She always tried to get me to date her guy’s ugly friends. The guy she set me up with –let’s call him Marquel– worked as a parking garage attendant. He had a high school diploma, dimples and talked like Mushmouth from the Fat Albert and the Cosby kids.
Whenever I saw him I couldn’t understand a word he said. How the hell you live in Cincinnati all your life but have an Alabama accent plus sound ghetto.
He tried to buy my attention and I let him. He bought me clothes and shoes, whatever I wanted. I wouldn’t even let him hold my hand let alone kiss him. My mother and brother Swerve (not his real name but the one he goes by) sat me down and told me I wasn’t being right. I nodded in agreement, tried to argue the guy wanted to do this for me and I wasn’t giving up anything in return. I don’t think my mother fully believed me, but my brother Swerve told me he was disappointed in me.
I said ok, and walked away in my new shoes.
I ended things with the guy when one night he insisted on getting a kiss. Grace’s boyfriend was tired of me playing Marquel and thought his homeboy should at least get some lip action. I looked at Marquel and thought, I can pimp my time for some clothes but my body? Oh hell no. I said good-bye to Grace, walked out the door and didn’t look back.
Now, 20+ years later I’m wondering if this is karma. What would be worse? If she did like him and I had to deal with ugly love (truly, ugly love) or if she didn’t like him and she was just playing him?
Both are kind of equal to me.
Finally, my daughter gets home. If she came home a minute I would have had the police out looking for her because along with being ugly he was also a stranger. I was so surprised I had forgotten to get his license plate number. But the good thing about him being so ugly and having his picture would be that I could call the police and they could flash his picture on TV. I am sure he’d be recognized instantly.
I come into her room, behave cooly like I wasn’t worried and she calls me out on it and said she knew I was.
“Well, you weren’t supposed to go to a movie with this guy,” I said. “Only out to eat.” Then I asked outright.”How did it go?”
She tells me she told him she wasn’t going to see him again. She didn’t like the stringy greasiness of his hair and during dinner he told her he was married but separated. He wanted her to know that.
He also told her women usually fell in love him first thing. He confided in her that women have often asked him to marry them after the first date.
I never want to lay eyes on these women in life. Never. Ever.
This is when I could lay into her about “The Rules” without fear of her dating this guy to get back at me. I asked her why she would accept a date at the last-minute. She said she had arranged a group date for the weekend with her best friend and her fiance but Penguin guy called back that morning and wanted to change.
We had a Cosby show moment where I told her to never do that again. Never date a guy you don’t know who won’t concede to a group date. Never accept a date at the last moment. Never forget what you are worth.
She concedes that she should have known something was wrong with a guy that even Malaya didn’t want to greet.
Which brings us to this weekend.
I go to see my big sis from another Miss. She is my sister-in-law’s older sister but after Wannie married my brother D our families became close. So, L is like the big sister I never had. She’s funny and gregarious. She can bring a dying man back to life with her off kilter insight. Her daughter Tiff has been battling leukemia nearly all her life; she also has the same sunny, funny disposition as her mom.
So, we haven’t seen one another in about a year so we had some catching up to do. We shared stories, shared news (J2 graduated, her son and wife are expecting a baby!) and we shared pictures. J2 at college, Mimi looking fierce. My new dog, Malaya.
So, I remember about Malaya and then Mimi’s date so I have to tell her the story. I prefaced it how I shared the story here with the dog and how she jumped up on everyone And then I remembered I had the picture saved in my cellphone.
I bring up the picture on my phone.
“Isssssz heee whi-ite?” she asked.
“Yes, but that is secondary,” I say.
I hand the phone to Tiff. She screams and laughs at the same time. Because of the cancer, she speaks in a halting voice that slurs a bit. You have to really know her to be able to decipher her speech.
“Oh my God!” she exclaims. “He isssssz sssssso uh-u-uhg-leeey.”
“What! Let me see,” L says. I take the phone from Tiff and hand it to L. Tiff still laughing hard and we all kick it up a notch when L looks at the picture and begins to laugh and shake her head.
“What was your daughter thinking?” L asks gasping for air. I continue telling them how the guy was so ugly even Malaya wouldn’t touch the guy and we are all laughing. L tosses the phone into my lap and then falls to the floor, on her hands and knees and Tiff and I laugh even harder. L sits herself upright against the bookshelf and a strange stare comes across her face.
Tiff and I are still laughing when L begins to shake a bit. “L?” I said. I get up and say her name again. “L?” she slumps backward, banging her head on the floor.
What the fuck? I thought? I killed my sister? Whatthefuckwhatthefuckwhatthefuck?!
I was already dialing 911 when I look over to Tiff who tells me to call 911.
I’m talking to the operator who asks me what is wrong and I tell her my sister passed out and I’m worried. I didn’t even touch her because I was that afraid. But I didn’t cry. They ask me for the address. I didn’t know. I suck with addresses. Really, really suck with directions. So I get Tiff’s attention who is still calling, “Mom”.
“I don’t know,” she said.
I run outside. The apartment is yards away from the main street but there are some little girls standing beside the door on bicycles. They look to be about 9 or 10.
“What is the address here?” I ask the girls.
“What is the address, where are we located? Do you live here? What street is this?”
Ok, it’s Baymiller and I’m about to tell that to the operator when I realize, “This ain’t Baymiller.” I know where Baymiller is and it’s waaaaay on the other side of where we are.
The operator tells me the ambulance is on the way but they need an address. I run back into the bedroom. L is sitting upright again. Tiff is fussing with her from the bed telling her she passed out. L is saying no, she didn’t pass out. I’m asking, “What is the address here?” and I go fumbling through the mail ont he bookcase.
Luckily I find a piece of mail with Tiff’s name and address so I tell it to the operator. I get off the phone and tell L that the ambulance is coming. She asks why.
“Because you passed out and hit your head.”
“I did?” she asks.
“Yes, you did!” Tiff and I yell in unison.
I call her son, G-Bear but wouldn’t explain why he needed to come quickly. L’s husband didn’t have his phone on him so I couldn’t call him. I didn’t know what I was going to do if they needed to take L to the hospital, ride with her there or stay with a bedridden Tiff but whichever it was I needed someone there with me.
The paramedics come and check her vital signs. Everything was fine but when she stood up they noted her blood pressure did drop too quickly. They wanted her to get that checked out.
“What do you remember before you passed out?” one paramedic asked.
“I was looking of a picture of a very ugly guy that her daughter went out on a date with,” L said.
“This ugly?” the paramedic points to his coworker.
“No, he’s a movie star compared to this guy.”
The paramedics leave her behind and she promises to call her doctor on Monday. As L is trying to piece together what happened her son and daughter-in-law arrive.
G-Bear asks what we were doing right before the episode and we tell him we were laughing at Mimi’s ugly date and we begin to laugh again.
“How ugly is he?” G-Bear asked.
I whip out my cellphone and show him the picture. G-Bear looks startled, then shakes his head. His wife, Mandy, looks at the pic and begins to laugh.
I pull up the Tiff’s wheelchair and get her to have a seat. She was pregnant and the last thing I wanted was for her to pass out, too.
“Why would she go out on a date with that?” G-Bear wondered aloud.
Sometimes you just have to learn to wait, I said. G-Bear waited a long time for the right one and Mandy came along. “I’m still waiting,” Tiff said. I’ve been waiting 32 years.
“He’s on his way,” L assured.
I had waited for J, I said. And the next day we’d be celebrating our wedding anniversary.
We began to talk about relationships and G-Bear made his way into the living room to watch college football. We talked about rushing into relationships, is the ugliness of loneliness better than being with someone who isn’t right for you? Does God plan for us to be with someone or not? What did it all mean? Deciding it better to be whole by yourself than a half waiting for someone else; God might be moving someone your way but the point is to be ready when he got there.
Speaking of getting there it was time for me to go. I had an event to go to that Saturday night. I hugged and kissed my family good-bye hoping to one day be married 35 years like L and her husband G. L told me to give Mimi a hug for her and if needed bring her down to talk to her so she won’t have any more dates like that.
“Tell her that one gave me a seizure, who knows the next one might kill me.”