I met a guy at summer camp during the break between my freshman and sophomore year of high school. His name – I won’t tell you – but, I’ll say that he’s named after an American city. Ok, fine, let’s call him Trenton, just because. I even remember his last name, which isn’t a common one. I couldn’t tell you the name of my first grade teacher, but I remember his name.
His older sister, a pretty and vivacious soon-to-be junior, was the popular girl at camp. She held court in our room some nights, sharing her glorious makeup and beauty tips as we gossiped about the male campers we thought were cute.
I didn’t tell her I had a ginormous crush on her younger brother. What if she told him?! I’d be mortified. I think she figured it out though. I always grew quieter and bashful when he was in range.
They say girls love bad boys. I’ve never been the type. Ok fine, there was one guy in 7th grade who wore a leather jacket, Drakkar Noir cologne by the buckets, a silver chain around his neck, plain white T’s, Docs and only seemed mildly interested in paying attention in class. He always smiled at me flirtatiously. He turned out to be a big softie.
Trenton was a genuine nice guy with a warm smile and dimples that made my heart pound furiously. I live for dimples. If I could get dimple implants, I would (then again, voluntary surgery? Maybe not). One of our camp enrichment activities included sharing our deep inner teen thoughts as we formed friendships around a campfire, underneath the bright stars, on balmy southwest Texas nights, to the soundtrack of an acoustic guitar.
Trenton always had words of encouragement at the ready. I felt good around him and it wasn’t just that my head floated up into the clouds whenever I got within five feet of him. We each got assigned work duty at camp in exchange for free room and board. Each night we rotated through camp chores, some easier and more pleasant than others. On my night to clean up after dinner – one of the more tedious and extended tasks – he stayed after to help us out. It wasn’t even his night! Swoon.
We bonded over our love of the Pearl Jam Ten CD. It was the height of the grunge era and though I didn’t fit the profile of a typical grunge rock fan, the music spoke to my teenage angst. I nearly melted when he told me his favorite track: “Black.” That’s my favorite song on the CD too! We are so meant to be together! We listened to the track on a Discman (Hahahaha, I’m old). My heart threatened burst from happiness.
To this day, whenever I hear that song, I think of him sometimes, and I feel that happiness again for a moment.
Nothing ever happened with us; I’m not sure why. Maybe he was just as shy. Maybe I mistook his kindness and focused conversation for interest when it was nothing more than a guy being friendly. Who knows?
We fell out of touch after we left camp for home. These were the days before email, texting and Facebooking, so it was easier to lose contact with people.
I returned to the same camp the next summer, hoping he’d be there, but neither he nor his sister were at the session.
I never saw him again.
Everyone once in a while I think about him and wonder how he’s doing. I’ve Googled him, but had no luck. I imagine he’s married. I bet he has a beautiful wife and two perfect little children in a sprawling house with a Labrador retriever and a Siamese cat.
What if we’d been something though?
Is there anyone from your past you wonder about?
This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them you are helping to support this blog. Awesome. My words are my own.
My career counselor told me she thinks I have post traumatic stress from my last two jobs.
I laughed when she said it. The past two years have been intense for sure, but post traumatic stress? Isn’t that usually reserved for soldiers, victims of violence – you know, real trauma?
I knew my sense of confidence and self-efficacy took a serious hit with thejob I left in 2013. I admittedly felt a bit raw going into the next place. Like jumping into another relationship when you’re on the rebound. However, unlike a relationship, working to bring in an income is essential to my survival, since the only person taking care of me, is me.
My career counselor also astutely assessed: “You probably felt increasingly anxious when asked for things.” How did she know?!
Due to the nature of my last role, I received many requests (or “demands” depending on who did the asking) to the point where when my phone would ring or chime, even outside of work, I’d sigh wearily and wonder, “Who wants something from me now?” I am fairly certain I experienced my first anxiety attack at that place, so…maybe she was onto something with the post traumatic stress. She does have a psychotherapy background, after all.
She presented this unofficial diagnosis after I shared with her that while job searching – feeling as though my life were in limbo until I secured a new job – when I reviewed job descriptions and envisioned what the day-to-day work might look like, I felt such an intense aversion. Worse than my revulsion at the idea of spending an afternoon with Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Elizabeth Hasselbeck. As though one of those positions might beguilingly lead me into the arms of an invisible boogeyman, its massive hands slowly tightening around my dainty lady throat until I can’t breathe. Squeezing the life out of me.
Eep. So, maybe I am a bit burned out.
One morning, a few weeks after I lost my job, my youngest sister, C___, called me and when I answered, her words rushed out before I finished saying “Hello,”
“Keisha, omigosh! Ok, I know this is going to sound ‘all about me’, but can I just tell you? The best thing about you not having a job is I can reach you whenever I want to now!”
I chuckled. She was right. In the short time since I’d become a woman of leisure, she and I had spoken more often, almost daily. We even Facetimed! What is this magical world where one has time to face…time?
I traveled to Austin a couple of weeks ago for a needed vacation. Yes, you can need a vacation from the exhaustion of cycling through what I term “The Five Stages of Layoff Grief” and worriedly wondering what you’re going to do with you life. I also wanted to reconnect with another part of myself.
Having moved around a bit, people sometimes ask me, “Which place feels more like home to you?” Every place feels a bit like home to me. Each place I’ve lived and where I’ve experienced life in new and unfamiliar ways, has helped to shape who I am. The me that I am in San Francisco, the life that I live here, only represents one part of me, it’s one view of my world. Austin represents another. I have family there in the way of close friends and now my sister C___.
Importantly, in Austin, I’m more easily able to relinquish the fear of being vulnerable, fear of having my insecurities and weaknesses exposed. The walls that we gradually stack up as adults are more permeable in this place where I lived as a college student. There’s no putting up fronts with my Austin family. To boot, the town is friendlier; I could shed my tough city armor. I needed time away to breathe; to let the waist out.
I stayed with my sister, whom having newly graduated from college, just began a new job and rented her first non-college apartment. My last evening in town we assembled her new dresser while Mork & Mindy (RIP Robin Williams) and then The Cosby Show played in the background.
I loved being able to spend time with my little sister, doing nothing more than setting up her apartment. With our 13-year age difference and living so far away from each other, I miss/ed out on the chance to do some of these simple activities with her.
I also met up with several of my friends from college, including former roommates, my best friend and a friend, F___, with whom I keep in touch on Facebook, but hadn’t seen since we graduated over a decade ago.
Over breakfast with F___ – the food in Austin is excellent – we caught up on the goings-on in our lives since college. She’d worked for nearly a decade as a CPA until one day realizing she didn’t like it very much and didn’t want to do it anymore. As she described her emotional evolution, I identified with almost everything she described feeling.
I told her I felt like I’d become a robot. It happened gradually enough that I didn’t notice the spark fading from my smile, the twinkle from eyes. She nodded as I shared that working in the environments I did forced me to repress so much of my natural self.
Whether it be stifling my creativity and humor in writing a report – gotta be professional, no quips allowed! Or something as basic as adapting to the fact that a lot of people don’t say good morning to each other at work (or other social niceties) and you need to calm your friendly Texas ass down.
Simply not being able to say of the lazy, pompous blowhard with a penchant for taking credit for other people’s work and throwing others under the bus (and there are always these people), “This guy is a poison to the team. At least five people have left because of him, yet you guys are steady promoting this fool. If the company goes down, you have yourselves to blame for being blinded by bullshit;” or when you want to shout in a ridiculously contentious meeting, “We’re not curing cancer people, calm the fuck down! No one is going to die!”
F___ is currently exploring an interest in the film industry on the business side of things, and encouraged me to take some time to consider what’s I want to do next. As she smartly said, “Working for years and taking a couple of weeks off every once in a while isn’t long enough to get re-acquainted with who you are.”
She’s right. I’ve been out of work for almost two and a half months now and it’s not until just recently that I’ve felt even close to being me again. It’s as though I’ve been unwittingly enrolled in a crash course called: “Revisiting Keisha: 101.” I returned from Austin reinvigorated.
Perhaps my career counselor exaggerated a bit when she said I have post traumatic stress, perhaps not. I certainly don’t think my situation compares to more typical PTSD cases. I do know that I haven’t felt this free and light in a long while. I smile more, I laugh more, I write more, I read more and I have more time for the people I care for. Sunday night thoughts are no longer sullied with the pallor of the impending Monday morning. I’m enjoying seeing the world from a different perspective – it’s different with the daytime free! Even my career counselor, whom, up until a couple of weeks ago, hadn’t seen me in almost a year – since I took the most recent job – commented when she greeted me, “You look great! I can see it in your eyes.”
I don’t want to return to the way things were before.
Recently during lunch with a co-worker, Mighty* – we’ve bonded in our search for sanity in the crazytown that is our work environment – she exclaimed, “Keisha, I have to tell you! Something you told me really helped me!”
A few weeks earlier, on our way back from lunch, dodging poo on the sidewalk (dog? human? who knows), sidestepping a disheveled-looking man angrily muttering to himself and quickly breezing past a urine-scented staircase, – in other words, a not atypical walk in certain parts of San Francisco – Mighty told me how she’d fallen victim to a scam on a popular website – a website which began as a consumer-to-consumer auction site, we’ll call it, “eCray”.
She sold an expensive electronic item to someone who conned her out of four figures. Distraught and poorer, she complained to eCray’s customer service who told her due to some loophole, “Sorry for ya, but you screwed yourself. Sucks for you though, we get that. Maybe call a lawyer? Ok, bye! Please shop again!”
Clearly exasperated and frustrated, she concluded, “I guess I’m just out all of that money! It was stupid! I can’t believe they won’t do anything!”
I recounted to her the tale of my great battle against the big online bookstore that put many baby bookstores out of business. But, I didn’t buy a book from them, I bought something else, because they sell other stuff too, everything actually, it’s pretty amazing. Let’s call that company, “Jungle.”
Due to a botched transaction with a reseller (they have stuff for resale too!), I was owed a refund which I never received. At the time, Jungle’s customer service that was so bad and it angered me so much I wondered if I needed therapy, after all, it wasn’t all that much money. But, THEY messed up and THEY needed to give me back my money. It’s the principle of the thing. So, when Jungle’s customer service hit me with:
“We are sorry for your inconvenience, but our policy states that we must be money-hoarding automatons with fake names – because you know and I know my name isn’t really ‘Brad’ or ‘George’ or ‘Angelina’, but something less easy for the average American to pronounce – and we can’t give you a refund. But, sorry, that sucks ma’am. Ok, bye! Please shop again!”
Screw that. I drafted a letter and an email – old school and new school – to “whom it may concern”, about the small amount I was owed, why it was owed to me and the amount of ridiculous shenanigans and fuckery that ensued when I tried to reclaim my money thanks to their blood-pressure raising, script-reading, customer service. In summary, I added how I’m not going to be shopping there anymore because they’ve left a bad taste in my mouth and I will never be the same. Ever.
Letter stamped, dropped in the mail and email sent to the VP of Customer Service, the VP of Marketing and the VP of VPness. That should about reach at least one person high enough who will care that a customer is so upset she’ll take her fight up the ladder and tell the whole damn neighborhood about it.
A few weeks later, I received a lovely email from a VP expressing intense regret at the unfortunate experiences I’d endured at Jungle’s hands along with a refund for the full amount owed and a gift card to buy anything I like (you can buy Q-tips! Q-tips delivered to your doorstep in two days!).
When I finished the story about my battle against the giant Jungle, Mighty let out a big breath: “Wow, I didn’t think of that. You’re right; I should do that, because I am so angry! That is so wrong, they should be protecting their customers!”
At lunch, she recalled the telling of that anecdote and being marveled by my perseverance. I offered as explanation:
“I guess I just never take ‘no’ for an answer. I never really thought about it, but I think I just figure there’s always a way around most things. There’s almost always someone higher up who can get you what you need or another solution around a roadblock.
I just keep trying until I decide either it’s no longer worth it or I’ve exhausted my solutions. I ask myself, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ and decide if it’s worth it.”
I added, “I think it’s a family thing.”
Ready for another story within a story?
I shared with her how Last Christmas, back in Texas to visit the family, I went to the movies with my mom and younger sister to see the film Mandela. Unfortunately, an older version of Martha and the Vandellas were there too, gossiping like church ladies. Now this is Man.de.la, a movie about a man of great historical importance, who, along with his fellow South African supporters, suffered through much violence and debasement as demonstrated in evocative scenes. Imagine having your stream of emotions interrupted by obnoxious braying:
“Honeyyyyyyyy, I couldn’t!”
“Hahahaha, I know!“
My mom and sister periodically turned around presumably to mean-mug them. A few other patrons in the mostly empty theatre attempted to shush them, but they’d start right back up again, clucking away like plump hens freed from their pen.
Ordinarily, this is exactly the kind of shit that sticks in my craw. I have paid damn near the price of a concert ticket to sit in this dark theatre with strangers and my family, eating overpriced artery-clogging popcorn because the stuff is addictive, and these women here, these women here, are bleating their way through Mandela. Mandela!
However, I was more fascinated with my mom and sister and their fascination with Rude, Ruder & Rudest.
My sister huffed. Then she stood up. She is 22 and has more confidence and self-assuredness at her age than I had my entire high school experience. She whispered, “I’m going to find the manager.”
A long 10 minutes later, my sister returned, shortly followed by a young usher, who looked like he’s capable of nothing more than wrestling a stuffed tiger, peered toward the back of the theatre where the three assmigas have caught on and were silently behaving themselves.
He stood in place for a beat, probably sizing up the women, shrugged – I’m sure he realized they could take him and the stuffed tiger he wrestled – and he exited the theatre without a word to them.
We were not impressed.
For a blissful half an hour, the women remained largely silent, shuffling and shifting weight periodically, almost as though the pain of holding back their witty commentary might eat them up from inside, until finally bits of conversation, varying in volume from a whisper to audible travel-level and worked its way toward us:
“and then…yeah, uh huh…right, so then…and he…”
Gah!. We did our best to ignore their voices as they chittered intermittently during the movie.
After the film, my mom approached the useless usher and requested to speak to the manager.
“Yes, ma’am!” He immediately turned and headed for a private door.
I think he would have flown to the manager to get there faster if he could. My mom’s tone indicated, “I mean business. You better get moving! Nobody’s playing here!”
When the manager arrived, my mom and sister calmly explained to the him the pain we suffered through having our Mandela experience ruined: Do you know how much movie tickets are these days? And my sister/daughter is in town all the way from California! and this is what she has to go through? I just find this unacceptable. We did not enjoy ourselves.
I stood silently in awe trying to avoid breaking out in a full smile of pride.
In less than five minutes, we emerged from the theatre having received an apology and 8 passes to see any movie we like.
“I wrote to the Vice President of Customer Service at eCray like you suggested,” Mighty said, “and I got it resolved! It was so fast! They refunded all my money! I have to remember this! Thank you for your help!”
Sometimes it pays not to take no for an answer.
* Name changed for the sake of making my life easier
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.