Summer is my least favorite season. I hate being hot, I don’t enjoy sweating and the creatures that emerge during the heat are usually not the welcome ones. Growing up, Houston summers were the worst. Blinding heat and the air wet and sticky with humidity. You’d walk outside and immediately wonder “Why did I even bother with a shower?” Being inside wasn’t a thrill either because a certain parent wanted to save costs by not turning on the A/C until the house itself was nearly sweating.
They say money doesn’t buy happiness and that’s true to some extent. However, having money sure can turn a lot of problems into non-issues. Extra money probably would have made turning on the A/C to cool an entire home, less of an issue.
To make the start of summer cooler, I’ve again teamed up with a group of bloggers to offer you – my dear, appreciated readers – a chance to win $500 cash money. That’s right, CASH MONEY to kick your summer off right.
As my 40th year grows nearer, my dad insists that I need to consider buying property. To him – and many other Americans – owning a home is one of the cornerstones of success. I remember when my parents bought their first home. It was a source of pride for the whole family – a huge achievement. Owning a home was a visual representation of having “made it.”
Several of my friends are homeowners. Some owned their homes by the time they were 30. They got married, bought homes, had kids: did things “the right way.”
I have no serious urge to buy a home. I keep thinking that one day it’ll hit me. This need to “settle” in one place. I can’t even fathom putting down roots. Right now it’s just me and the cats(tm). If I want to pick up and move to another city, I can do that with more ease than I could if I had a family or owned a home.
San Francisco is unlikely to be my last home. If I have children, I know I don’t want to raise them here, for many reasons, not the least of which includes wanting to be able to afford to feed these kids after paying the rent or mortgage. Which brings me to my next point: to afford to buy a home in San Francisco I’d probably need to auction off a few organs. I’m kind of fond of my kidneys, lungs and liver.
Last winter I finally sold my car and I feel lighter without it. It’s one less thing to think about. My car battery kept dying because I couldn’t be bothered to remember to let it run periodically. Owning a home is an even greater commitment than a car.
There was a time as a kid, when I would pore over house floor plans in the Sunday paper’s real estate section. I’d scan over all the homes for sale in the rich people neighborhoods of Houston and dream of what my future home would look like one day. I’d clip photos of house facades, floor plans and design ideas that fit my fantasy and taped them into a spiral notebook.
When we moved to Houston from Georgia, my sisters and I accompanied our parents on their hunt for our second house. Sometimes we window-shopped homes way outside our budget. The show homes were the best to visit because they’re fully furnished and staged to impress. Wandering through the massive living spaces with brand new neutral-colored carpeting, expansive backyards dotted with shade trees, winding staircases leading to “your” bedroom where you picture the posters you’d put on your wall, knowing damn well your dad isn’t going to let you hang anything on the walls of their new house.
I’ve marathoned my fair share of episodes of HGTV’s House Hunters. Even though I know theshow is rigged, it doesn’t dampen the joy of nearly overdosing on real estate candy. It’s all about the fantasy, the boost of delight from playing make-believe.
Still, owning a home isn’t a priority for me. It’s one of those things I think I’ll do “someday,” just not now.
How about You? Do you / have you own(ed) a home? Do you want to own a home one day?
My concerned dad, seated in front of me in the booth, waited to hear whether I was self-sabotaging my romantic possibilities and thus crushing his dreams of seeing more grandchildren. Grandchildren from his firstborn. No pressure.
I’d returned to Houston to visit my family for the Christmas holiday. My dad had kidnapped me from my parents’ house, where funnily enough I’d been regaling my mom with dating horror stories. He’d returned from running whatever errands dads run and whisked me away. He didn’t tell me where we were going. I didn’t know until we pulled into the restaurant parking lot. I guess we’re eating then.
I knew I wouldn’t escape this trip without one conversation with my dad about my love life. I know he just wants me to find love. Of course, what’s amusing is my dad spent a large majority of my existence trying to keep the male species a universe away from me. He’d warn me: “I know what boys are like, Keisha, I used to be one.”
Once in high school, a boy called our house asking for my older sister. Unfortunately for him, my father answered. I couldn’t hear the boy, but I did hear my dad’s booming voice sternly admonish,
Young man, when you call to speak to one of my daughters you first
say, ‘Hello, Mr. ___, how are you?’ Then you ask to speak to my daughter. Do you understand me?
No doubt by this point, the kid was shitting his pants and “yes, sir”ing up a storm. My dad has a way with words and a voice that rightly suggests you best not mess with him. He hung up the phone on the boy. My sister was teenage-d pissed, which is pissed with a large injection of crazy-hormones. To the four girls under his protection eavesdropping upstairs my dad yelled, “Don’t be having none of these knucklehead boys with no manners calling here with some foolishness!” My whole family is full of “articulate black people”, but get us worked up and the blaccent suddenly makes an appearance.
Decades later, here we sat, dad and daughter, released from her cage years ago. My dad was essentially asking me what was wrong with my pimp game.
I hate this assumption that single women past a certain age are single because they have unrealistic expectations. That may be true for some, but I don’t think that’s the case for me. Trust me, I’ve done the self-reflection.
I sighed, as respectfully as possible, before answering, “No. I mean, unless you think wanting someone who is gainfully employed, ambitious, open-minded, clean, socially conscious, knowledgeable about current events, has social skills and likes to travel, is having high standards. Even then, someone can have all these great qualities, but for some reason, there’ll be no connection.”
“For instance, dad, I have a guy friend who told me he wants a basketball team full of kids. First of all, nobody in this area,” I said, while pointing at my “womb” region, “wants anything to do with five babies. Second, I wasn’t then and am not now young enough to be popping out all those kids. There’s not enough time! So, needless to say, he’s out. He’s a good guy, but I don’t want five kids.”
He nodded, pensive, and asked curiously, “What do you mean by ‘social skills’?”
I thought back to a Match.com date I’d gone on last spring.
His appearance was fine enough, but you know how “they” say that a woman knows within some number of minutes of meeting a man whether she’ll sleep with him? Upon seeing him, sex-repellent particles filled my body with a rush. No way it was ever going down with him. But, I thought, who knows? Maybe his personality will change things.
We met at a cafeI suggested because although he asked me out, he had no plans to offer. I’d been in San Francisco all of four months at that time, so I had a limited knowledge of date spots. My criteria were simple: Yelp-approved food, on a bus line and alcohol available. Ain’t nobody here for a first date without the option of loose juice.
He arrived before I did and I’m perpetually five minutes early to places. Points for timeliness!
The conversation was a bit stilted. He was a little awkward, more than “first date jitters” awkward. If he looked like he wanted to fall asleep while telling me about his job, you can imagine how I felt hearing about it.
“You’re really pretty. You must get lots of dates on Match. How many dates have you been on?” he asked.
A proper compliment (yay!) and an odd followup. “Thanks! This is my first date actually.”
Are we supposed to talk about this? Like comparing war stories of the online dating game? Show our battle scars in the form of baggage and skepticism?
“I’ve been on a few,” he shared. “The girls are pretty cool. Lot of people who seem to want to go do all these crazy, adventurous things though. I’m more of a homebody.”
The sex-repellent particles buzzed in my body like crackhead tics, reminding me of their presence.
Nope, no sir. Been there, done that. Not looking for a homebody! I am sure he will find a compatible quiet girl who wants to be home with him indenting the sofa, but I’m not that girl.
I sifted through my arsenal of conversation topics, attempting to the keep the conversation lively, pulling a little too hard on my beer. If I drink it, this will be fun.
Out of nowhere he asked, “So are you really 3_? A woman I went out with from Match told me she was 36, but she was really 38. If I had known she was 38, I wouldn’t have gone out with her. I mean, I have to think about having kids. She said she gets more hits when she says she’s 36. I didn’t ask her out again.”
What in the? I sympathize with the woman; I’m younger than she is, but not by much. I could be her in a few years: single and increasingly worried about aging out of the window of much male interest; feeling the weight of my declining fertility. But, I don’t lie about my age, or at all, really. I have spent the majority of my life having to convince people that I’m not as young as I appear. When I was 13, my parents tried a few times to buy me the 12- and under ticket at the movies to get the discount (“Keisha, just pretend you’re 12 if they ask.”). I would expressly and proudly tell the cashier I was 13, thankyouverymuch. My parents couldn’t be mad; I’d told the truth. My truth cost them two extra dollars.
The idea that I would age myself down made me chuckle. He sounded a touch paranoid. “Yes, I am really 3_.”
“Can I see your driver’s license? Haha. I’m just kidding.” He totally wasn’t kidding. I pulled out my driver’s license to humor him (I covered my address; I am nobody’s fool).
“See? 3_.” He nodded, satisfied.
“So, do you want to go on a second date? he blurted. The only thing is, I don’t drink during the week. But, I drink on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Who said anything about drinking? I know I showed more affection for my beer than for him, but I still had a third of a pint remaining! And what’s with the rules? Drink or don’t drink, that’s your prerogative. But, to have a rule about when you’ll drink it? How very opposite of fun. Rules for what days of the week you will and will not drink seems rigid to me. I don’t do well with rigidity. It makes me feel…confined. What about Thirsty Thursday? No drinking on weeknights? Get outta here with that crazy talk!
We didn’t go out again. He was nice. Nice isn’t a positive descriptor though. It’s just there. Sitting. Being nice. Doing not much else. Nice doesn’t light anyone’s fire. Nice doesn’t wiggle eyebrows. There was nothing wrong with him, he just wasn’t right, for me. He was nice though.
I concluded the retelling of this date to my dad with, “I am a social person. I like to meet people, I like to learn about people, I like to entertain. I cannot be with someone who will be on me like a boil if we’re at a social event. Following me around because he can’t make conversation on his own. Fearing what words might come out of his mouth. That will get old fast. He told me he’s a bit shy and a homebody. I wasn’t interested. He was nice enough though.” I don’t mean nice in that “women always reject nice guys for bad boys” way. No mature woman with sense is still chasing “bad boys.” I mean nice as in, neutral.
My dad made a noise I can only describe as a cross between a huff and grunt – a gruff – indicating he was absorbing my words and ready to move on. We were done…for now.
There is no great answer to the question of why I am single in my 30s. I didn’t choose a career over love or any of that nonsense posited in silly articles berating women for their single status. I didn’t push away great catches. I wasn’t tossing Idris Elbas or even Stephen Colberts (smart and makes me laugh? *swoon*) aside on the regular.
I dated around in my 20s, with some difficulty at times (thanks Los Angeles), and eventually dated someone for a significant part of my 20s, but things didn’t work out, for which I am actually quite grateful, though at the time it devastated me. We broke up a couple of months after I turned 30 and I recall thinking with a heavy heart, “I am now a 30-year old single woman. I am that stereotype. I will never find anyone now. Couldn’t we have broken up when I was 28? Nobody wants anyone after 30.”
I’d fed on a societal diet of sexist, limiting, defeatist, panic-inducing, judgmental, regressive, unrealistic views of female self-actualization and dating. I’d internalized a lot of it. I know better now. Those woeful thoughts have long been expelled, like the absolute crap they are, and I have a more measured and optimistic view of my dating life.
I am single because I am waiting for the right person. Unfortunately, I only have so much control over when and how I may meet the right person for me. It may be cliché, but I do want to be with someone I feel like I can’t be without and not just someone I can tolerate.
I would rather wait for the right person than be with someone I know I’m settling for because it eases societal pressure and judgement. I fear ending up in a bad marriage or relationship more than I fear ending up an “old maid” with cats.
Speaking of “Old Maid”, I played that gameas a kid. It occurs me to now just what a horrible game it is. What a message to send to young girls; nobody wants to end up with the loser Old Maid card.
Kids, look at this poor old wrinkled lady. She’s ALL ALONE. She can’t possibly be happy ALL ALONE! BEWARE, this could be you one day if you’re not careful, girls! ALL ALONE!
I date. Of course I date; I’m a young female with a pulse who isn’t a dog. It isn’t all that hard to find someone who will take you out, well, kinda – the quality may be questionable. With some people, I get the impression they think I’m sitting at home many nights, deciding whether to knit or cross-stitch, sullenly dreaming of a Prince Charming scooping me up, self-pitying my life of solitude. If I even so much as acknowledge I think an adult human with a penis is cute, it’s “Oh! Is he single? Did you talk to him? Are you going to ask him out?” It’s all said with a great sense of urgency, as though men are high-speed trains running on a tight schedule and I need to hop on the next one coming before it’s too late and the train makes it to the final destination, marriage, without me. It’s not that serious. Like, damn, I didn’t say I want to babymake with him. I am out living the best life I can and having a damn good time doing it! I already have many colorful stories to share along with the accompanying memorable experiences, and I have, I hope, decades remaining to create even more, with or without a romantic partner.
When in I was in my 20s, out at bars, clubs and restaurants, as I often was, I’d observe a subset of women in their 30s & 40s and their intense pursuit in search of “the one” before the clock ran out. The pressure came from everywhere. They were constantly talking about men, dating men, looking for men, talking about ways to attract men, places to go to meet men. Their eyes would automatically scan any room they entered for eligible bachelors as they halfheartedly listened to a friend prattle on about what she learned in the latest self-help dating book You’re Single Because You’re a Smelly, Toad-Like Nice Girl (but too slutty). There’s Still Hope For You! You’re Not a Total Loser!
It saddened me for them, but I also saw these experiences as cautionary. Some women truly did seem desperate, which is attractive to few; others were just earnestly hoping to find “the one.” I never wanted that to be in the desperate class. I have better things to do in this short life than obsess over men.
I don’t really share my dating life with many outside of a small circle. People are at times nosy, gossipy and easily jump to conclusions when it comes to the dating life of a singleton and I’m not here to be anyone’s live episode of Scandal. Save it for Olivia Pope. There’s still a double standard in societal perceptions of the dating lives of men and women.
There’s also a tendency of some to second-guess your behavior, to try to help you avoid coming off as a bad catch, or to give you unsolicited dating advice, because obviously what you’ve been doing isn’t working. I appreciate the advice random co-worker who probably last dated in the ’70s. Unless you can tell me how you’d handle a guy requesting you text him photos of your its ‘n’ bits after one date, I don’t need to hear it from you.
My dating life is none of anyone’s business and it’s not fodder for others to live vicariously through. I’ve had coupled up people say to me, “I have to live through your dating experiences!” No you don’t. If you want to be entertained by dating experiences, date, shake up your own relationship or watch Maury. Single people aren’t here for the entertainment of the paired up.
I’m doing what I’m “supposed” to do. I date against my “type”, I try different avenues to meet people, I get out of the house, I smile, I keep clean, hone my feminine wiles, etc. There is nothing more “wrong” with me than the next person with flaws. Married people can be crazy as hell too. It’s just there is only one other person being subjected to their crazy.
I know who I am. I like who I am. I enjoy my own company and the life I’ve built for myself. I can make myself laugh hard. I’m not on some “I don’t need a man” trip. But, I am not going to invite someone into my life if they aren’t going to enhance it or
complement it, that goes for friends or more than friends. I am fortunate to have much love in my life between my friends and family. I don’t lack love.
I ended 2013 happier than I’ve been in a long time. And I ain’t even got no mans! So, I’m cool. Don’t pity single me.
My dad sweetly said to me during one of our now regular discussions of my dating life, “Don’t get frustrated Keisha; you’ll be fine. You’re a [our last name]. You’re gonna be just fine.” Awwww, daaaad.
My parents had a couple of friends over one afternoon while I was in Houston. My parents don’t entertain as much as they used to, so when my dad told my sister N__ they were “having friends over”, my sister joked, “You have friends? Having people over? Who are we? The Winslows?”
I left my parents and their friends to their conversations and hung out with my youngest sister, C___. It felt like we were kids again. In a different room from our parents, the grown-ups, as they did grown-up stuff. My dad called me into the kitchen where they were grazing on tasty appetizers.
“Say Keisha,” my dad began, “we were just talking about having more grandkids…”
I wrinkled my face and silently walked right back out of the room.
About 4 years ago, I was in Houston visiting the family. My younger sister N, suggested we breakfast at a cozy, vibrantly-decorated restaurant, known for their chicken and waffles, The Breakfast Klub, It’s owned by a Kappa (as in Kappa Alpha Psi: a black frat; famous for cane stepping; if you don’t know, now you know), so everything normally spelled with a “c” is spelled with a “k”, such as the “katfish and grits” dish. Kute.
As we were enjoying our Texas-sized meal, my sister, facing the window to the outside world, said casually, “Oh look there’s Solange.”
“How do you know it’s Solange?”
She answered me as though I’d asked her why her skin was brown and the bottom of her feet weren’t (seriously, someone has asked me that): “It just looks like her. It’s obvious.”
A minute later, my sister’s eyes widened as large as one of those creepy big-eyed cat memes and with her voice lowered, said to me, “Ohhhh.My.GOD, Beyoncé is here!! That’s fucking Beyoncé right there! Ohmigod!”
Sure enough Ms. Bey was there in the much-sought-after flesh! The first thing I noticed was that Solange is much taller than Beyoncé and the resemblance between them is much more noticeable in person.
My sister and I returned to eating our meals (which were very good, by the way), with huge-ass grins of shock and amazement. We were laughed and giggled at each other in between sneaking glances at Beyonce. Like a couple of damn fools. When I glanced over toward the entrance again moments later, I couldn’t believe what I saw.
Barely able to contain myself, I whispered to my sister, “Girl, motherfreaking Jay-Z is standing right there! That is Jay-Z. Hova. Mr. Jigga. What?!”
“Girl, I know!” she whispered back. We quietly squealed, 12-years old again. There was Mr. “Best rapper alive” looking like he’d just dusted some dirt off his shoulders, wearing black aviator sunglasses and a plaid shirt, tall and intimidating, standing next to Beyoncé who looked less like a glamorous music princess and more like a normal girl. She didn’t seem to have much makeup on and her skin was really light. She was dressed casually and appeared low-key, unlike her sister whom my sister commented, “walked in like she owned the place.” Little Blue Ivy Carter’s future momma looked like a girl next door. Only she looked like the kind of girl who is so hot you drive by her house just to see what she’s doing, ‘cause she’s so pretty she must be doing cool, hot people stuff, and you too must do this cool stuff. Not that I would ever do that.
I reached toward my purse to grab my cell phone to text my boyfriend at the time. He is a huge Jay-Z fan. Jay-Z could do no wrong in his eyes. If Jay-Z rapped, “Rub-a-dub-dub, a thug in a tub,” guess who’d be taking bubble baths? Just as I made contact with my phone, a stocky man approached me, put his hand on my shoulder (I don’t know you like that!), startled me and said with a terse voice, “If you’re thinking about taking out your camera to take a picture, please don’t. “They” asked me to make sure no one takes pictures.” Say what now? The phone wasn’t even in my hands. I told him, “I was just reaching for my phone to send a text message.” He gave me a knowing look, a look that said, “Girl, stop” and responded, “Ok, I’m just sayin…,” and walked away. I think the life of my first-born was just threatened telepathically. It’s likely he was the owner of the restaurant based on the way he kept buzzing around, inspecting the restaurant, protecting the prized customers. No sense in crossing him.
Jay, Bey, Solange, Solange’s son (a cute little thing with curly hair) and a man we didn’t recognize, were seated two tables behind my sister. Jay-Z sat next to Beyoncé, facing me. This kind of freaked me out. He had on those sunglasses looking all stealth and I couldn’t tell if he could see me sneaking glances at them. I don’t mess with a man who raps: “I’ve got ‘99 Problems‘ but a bitch ain’t one.” Beyoncé was adorable as she fed and entertained her nephew, seated next to her in a high chair.
To my left on a slightly raised platform, sat two body guards in suits, the overlords, scanning the restaurant for potential danger to their clients. Don’t look at me. I don’t know nothing ‘bout no trouble. Whereas everyone else – the peons – had to order their food at the cash register, Jay, Bey and the bodyguards received direct service. The bodyguards ordered fried chicken; I have no idea what Beyoncé & Co. ordered. I think their food was served invisibly. During all the commotion, the restaurant patrons were remarkably well-behaved. You could see the glances, whispers and smiles. A lot of folks were on their cell phones, including me and my sister. A table of little girls to my right didn’t release the grip on their phones the whole time I was in the restaurant. Their day was made. This moment will probably top growing boobs for them. Even the waitstaff animatedly spoke in hushed voices and laughed among themselves when they were out of earshot and the view of Beyonce & Co.
N & I called our youngest sister, C, to tell her about the sighting. Celebrity lover that she is, she peppered us with questions:
“What is Beyonce wearing? What does she look like? Can you hear what they’re saying? What are they doing now? What do they smell like? Go take a picture of them and if the bodyguards give you any problems, burn off!”
I was not trying to get arrested in Houston for celebrity stalking. “C, we gotta go. The bodyguards are staring us down.” “Noooo! I want to hear Beyonce BREATHE!!” Girl, no. She would have to try to breathe in the essence of Bey and Jay over the phone.
My sister and I finished our meals and sadly could come up with no reason to linger. So we paid and left the restaurant before the celebrity party did. As we made our way outside, we spotted two more giant bodyguards in suits, hovering around a black Ford Excursion waiting for their clients. These people don’t mess around.
And that’s what it’s like to breakfast with Jay-Z and Beyonce.
I'm Keisha ("Kee-shuh", not to be confused with Ke$ha). I am a (later) thirty-something, non-mommy, non-wife, who lives in San Francisco, California New York and has lots of opinions on lots of things.