Sunday, February 28, 2010

Summarizing Black History Month – It is all just a joke? (a guest post)

Today on BnB, we simultaneously wrap up Black History Month and Smart Guest Post Week. Our final contributor is a future muckety-muck somewhere in DC, I guarantee it. I call him "the Captain" but others may know him as SpkTruth2Pwr, the voice of The Apathy Remedy and a driving force behind The Younger Writers' Block. Show him some love.

As Black History Month (BHM) comes to an end, I would love to do a post-BHM wrap up.

You know- a post on how the story of our black ancestors is a story of hope in the midst of struggle and how black history month is an ode and a perpetual lesson for not only black people but also all people in America.

But instead, I can only approach the end of BHM with sadness.

Why?

I went to a Black History Month play this weekend. It was a community church production called "From the Slave House to the White House."

It wasn't a large crowd - mostly teens attending as part of a program. I was looking forward to it, The message behind it was progress and how our ancestors' perseverance made each generation keep pushing to make life better for future generations. I enjoyed myself.

But when I looked around, the picture I saw was disgusting and disappointment.

The teens, who were all black, were completely not engaged. The few that managed to view every now and then could not control or stifle their laughter.

  • When the actresses performed an African Dance routine, some of the teens would mimic them between a few stifled giggles and hi-fives.
  • When the actress on stage used the vernacular of an uneducated slave, the teens would crudely mimic the accent within their cliques.
  • When an actress screamed in fear of being caught by "massah" because they were sneaking off to read the Bible, the teens ridiculed her.
  • When the "slave child" lamented as she was torn from her mother's arms, the teens laughed and pointed.

I don't know. Maybe it's because my parents both can remember going to segregated schools. Maybe it's because I know that even though my grandparents were not slaves, they were bound by a system that left them dependent on the master who controlled them - sharecropping was just a euphemism for slavery.

But I was disgusted. To laugh at that history was to laugh at themselves. And the sad thing - they could not realize it or see past it because they were living to be "cool".

In the same way they laughed at the slaves' dance of jubilation, or the servant eager to read, society has done the same to these kids. And rather than being conscious of that fact - they have joined in and laughed as well at the notion that they themselves could actually be more than what they are labeled and expected to be.

It is an ignorance of self. I could dissect the root causes, and pontificate on the disconnect between the youth and their elders, technology, media, blah blah blah. It is important to treat the problem and not the symptoms, so making the connection to the actual problem is important.

But really I believe it all feeds in to a central theme - the Millennial Generation is ashamed of their history. I mean that past is not cool right? Slaves weren't rocking the latest in fashion were they? They were clearly some Bammas. Blacks of the past were largely a bunch of have nots, right? That's wack, weak, lame. Why keep focusing on all that trivial stuff and those largely vague themes - freedom, equality, struggle, justice, and opportunity? It's embarrassing to keep bringing up those days when we were largely uneducated, largely forgotten, and largely disrespected. We have moved on up with George and Weezy right?

Well sadly those days have gotten a bit brighter, but they have not passed to yesterday.

  • Those same laughing teens represent a population with a higher nationwide proportion of dropouts from high school.
  • Those same laughing teens represent a population that doesn't "have it all" - 24 percent of blacks live below the poverty line compared to 13 percent of the nation (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Those same laughing teens represent a population where 38 percent of black teens in America live with both parents. The next lowest was Hispanics, with 69 percent. (U.S. Census Bureau)

Those same laughing teens are being laughed at for willingly keeping themselves ignorant by neglecting their own history.

The message behind the play was good. But the teens in the audience were too busy thinking "that progress thing" was for another time, another wack/lame generation.

And it is that perpetuation of the disconnect with our history that will work against the progress so many of our ancestors fought to gain.

I was disappointed because these teens had no idea that as each chuckle escaped their lips, they were slowly drowning out the very hope and struggle that had allowed them to freely sit in that theatre. That with each joke at the expense of the "slave" in the play, they were trivializing the path to progress for blacks in America.

And if it is one thing that makes us look ignorant as a people, it is removing collective progress from our vision of success, and replaced it with our own interpretation.

We have the spirituals of the slaves, the courage of the freedom riders, the honor of the Tuskegee Airmen, the teachings of DuBois, the dream of Martin, the examples of countless black innovators and originators, and the inspiration of Barack. The only thing that is lacking is the youths to take these and continue marching onward and upward in the name of perpetual advancement.

But like a lion raised in captivity - no matter how great the potential to be a proud king, the lion will never see past its cage and hand-fed meals.

The cage of these black youths I saw was the cage of their own mind, and their own lacking sense of history. And because of that, they are willing to take what they are given, rather than demanding what they have the potential to achieve. And so they sit, never knowing they should hope for more - choosing to remain as nothing more than the next exhibit in the zoo that is society.

Only when our black young minds connect where they came from with their present and where they need to go will the faith of our ancestors continue inspiring the march toward advancement and expand our black history, which in turn will add another link in the chain of progress that has been American history.

What say you BougieLand? When did you start appreciating your Black History? What's will it take to drag these Millennials towards the reality check they so clearly have coming? Any final thoughts on Black History Month?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Why this will-Spring-ever-come weather is President Obama’s fault…


Yes, yes - I have the latest. Something else for the conspiracy theorists to kick around. This crazy weather is not climate shift, global warming or environmental pay-the-piper time. It is the direct fault of the 44th President of these here US of As. You know why? Because for more than 200 years, folks of all races, colors and creeds uttered these words:

It will be a cold day in Hell before a Black Man is elected President of the United States of America.

And here you have it…

p.s. Who's in on the collection to bribe Mother Nature to kick-start spring? I am WAY over winter.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Folks who cry Racism… when there’s none there to speak of (a guest post)

Next up on Smart Guest Post Week… Damon from This May Concern You. Dame brings his introspective eloquence to BnB with a look at racism… that isn't really racism. Show him some love…

At my best, I am a thinker. Don't get me wrong, I write. I love to write. But my love of thinking supersedes my love of writing. Hell, I think that I love to think about writing more than I like to write at times (yes, this can be a problem). At moments, I think aloud, and sometimes thinking aloud means that I take to some form of social media with my thoughts because I feel compelled to share what I'm thinking.

One of the few things I think about a lot, but I'm not to quick to share my thoughts on, is racism. I'll admit it. I do catch that "Christmas in July" spirit when it comes to writing about racism from time to time. I know that it's real. I know it's institutionalized and systemic. I've experienced my fair share of it, I suppose (I've been called a reggin in reverse by a former co-worker on a job before and had to deal with the fallout from it). I know that the term post-racial carries about the same weight as a Plies insulin analogy.

But though I think about it, I'm never quick to talk or write about it, especially in trivial "if/then" type circumstances. I feel as though that crying wolf mentality makes it so that the effectiveness of the worthwhile plea/outrage is marginalized. That, to me, is not a negative.

It's why I have a big problem with some of the discussion surrounding the Epic Beard Man fight. As I'm sure most of you know, a young black guy stepped to Saint Nick's brother Frank Whitebeard on a Norcal city bus. The black guy got handled. It was, well, epic. It reminded me back to Nolan Ryan and Robin Ventura. That fool got what he deserved for laying his hands on another person, especially an elder, over a verbal dispute of any sort save his mama.

But the one thing that didn't really cross my mind was racism. Yes, I saw race. There was a black guy. There was a white guy. Race was present. But I saw age, ignorance, violence and then race, a distant fourth. To me, it was an inconsequential bystander, well, just passing by. The novelty was the age gap and the whooping that commenced.

It was a surprise of sorts (similar to the shock that the crowd got when those girls from Zeta Tau Alpha, a white sorority, won their way into the mostly black crowd's hearts during the Sprite Stepoff. They were surprised that they held their own. If you've stepped for real, you know it wasn't that great. It was OK at best. But it has garnered attention because of the novelty -- in this case, race).

But notice how I've said very little in the last two graphs about racism. Race? A little. Racism? Not so much. Yet, somehow there's been plenty of talk about the racism that can be gleaned from the YouTube sensation (I had a healthy discussion with someone I respect and admire about it on Twitter). There's the idea that if they (the fighters) were two blacks or if roles were reversed (young white guy, old black guy) it wouldn't get the same spin. There's also the idea that it's getting its run because of racial heroics, whites being proud that the black guy got molly-whopped by a white man. But why the need to twist this story beyond recognition? It's about an idiot who miscalculated the ability of a man more than twice his age and got self-defensed and then some. Fight over.

I don't care to give a voice to the people out there who see this as some sort of racial heroism, especially when they don't come from behind the veil of Internet courage. Are there people out there like that? Hell yes. They exist. But, to me, it's unnecessary over-analysis because they have no sustainable voice. Pulling them into the light for two minutes is counter-productive.

It's like beating a busted pinata's spilled candy until you can't tell the difference between a Starburst Chew and a Jolly Rancher. People end up looking at you like you've got mad issues and they're scared to approach you for fear of dismemberment. Worse yet, they tune out you and your shtick.

Am I saying we need to be more cautious? Not really. I'm saying don't cry racism when you feel like someone's stepped on your toe but no one is in sight. To me, that's what this seems like.

That's not good, not when there are real issues of race that people overlook because they think we're swiping race cards that will surely return the error message "Insufficient Funds." I'm good for over-analyzing trivial stuff (I did so at the beginning of this rant while I was trying to find a way to get to my point). But genuine analysis shouldn't be wasted on "if/then" racial bits that do nothing but make people of other races hit the mute button.

That is, unless they're Martin-in-Boomerang-cue-ball-pool deep:

I'll indulge in that type of chicanery all day. Anyway, I guess I'm done thinking aloud for the moment. I'll give you a turn. Oh yeah, I love black people.

Alright BougieLand, what do you think? Are people quick to cry racism for EVERY perceived slight? Have you ever been is a situation where you had to stop and wonder… wait, was that racism directed at ME!? What did you think when you heard the Sprite Step-off was won by a non-black crew? And for the last time, who's with me to sign the petition to kill the phrase "post-racial" for once and for all? Thoughts, comments, love notes... it's Friday ya'll.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pop Culture is bleeding and you pulled the trigger… (a guest post)

Next up on Smart Guest Post Week, it's the fellas' turn. Kicking off Thursday morning with some knowledge dropped from the incomparable thinker, Inkognegro. If you have not had the chance, check out his weekly blog talk radio show: The Black Odd Couple. Today, The Inky One will be going on of the state of popular culture today and just who exactly is to blame…

In honor of my guest spot here in BnBworld, I celebrated by actually purchasing a copy of Chele's book, Heard it All Before. I say this not because I am looking for brownie points from her, or even because I think she needs a jump on the March mortgage. I bought it because it is part of my master plan.

What Plan???

My Plan to help rehabilitate Black Popular Culture.

After spending a considerable part of 2009 watching family, friends, and strangers decry and bemoan the state of popular culture: HipHop is dead, there is nothing on TV, all our legends keep passing away in music, all the books are about drug dealers and hookers, the movies are all remakes…etc. etc. etc. I had to say something.

While the simple answer is media consolidation and the endless appeal to our baser instincts, I am starting to see things little differently.

I think history has shown our propensity to view media consumption as an escape mechanism. As someone who uses media consumption for everything from a refuge to a store house for information to therapy to a babysitter to inspiration for all manner of tasks, I completely understand how irrational the decision making process can be when it comes to just what we consume from the mass media portals.

But seriously, folks, if you find yourself watching things because you enjoy talking bad (we'll call it snarking) about the proceedings, especially in regards to these celebrity vanity shows and celebrity incubator shows… are you part of the solution or part of the problem? I am loathe to outright criticize folks' viewing habits until those same people complaining that there is nothing "good" on TV on Tuesday are huddled around the Twitterverse hooting and hollering about the Thursday night hijinks of four women from somewhere near Atlanta who may or may not be housewives.

And while I don't begrudge anyone a guilty pleasure or two, I will say that filling your diet with guilty pleasures will seriously mess up your state of being.

Don't believe me?

Come along with me, let's play Chase the Foolery. Watch as your tolerance to foolishness builds up:

Watch as RHOA (said housewives) gives way to Fantasia for Real (and her beyond-ignorant brother Teeny) which gives way to keeping up with those girls with the famous Black Athlete Boyfriends (their names start with K) which gives way to the Bad Girls Club which begets Jersey Shore. One day, you'll look up and you will be trying to figure out how some random Italian girl ended up on the business end of a 2 Piece and a Biscuit, sprawled out on the floor of a lounge like she was a chalk outline model. And you were there to witness it all. (For those not in the know, just Google it).

During that time you could have read a book, or at least watched a show you actually respect and LIKE.

Unless of course…you LIKE such things, in which case feel free to take your lovely parting gift and wait for Friday's guest post.

As for the rest of you?

Remember as you snark and chuckle it up, that time is the only thing they aren't making more of, and time you spend watching escapist TV is time not spent stepping your proverbial game up.

The moral of the story?

You really shouldn't brag about how many eggs your chickens produce AND then complain about how much chicken shiggity ends up on your shoes. It's a package deal.

Alright folks, Monsieur Ink has spoken. Let's hear it. Fess up – who's guilty of escapist TV watch-n-tweet? What are your thoughts on reality TV today? Is there any redeeming value to these shoes (if so, please share!) And while you're in a sharing mood, please share what you feel is the best show on TV right now and why. The floor is yours, BougieLand… let me hear it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cue Aaliyah: “Dust yourself off and try again…”

Smart Guest Post week rolls on here in BougieLand. After yesterday's somewhat melancholy post, we're coming with the happy post today. A story of stepping back up to the plate and swinging for the fences and finally… FINALLY hitting a home run. Join me in showing some love to Tiffany in Houston. She isa charming, charismatic Texas chick newly engaged and newly unemployed (she did NOT see that one coming… damn economy). She blogs about the trials and tribulations on The Unemployed Bride. And just cause it's relevant, I've inserted a dance break before Tiffany's story: The lovely Aaliyah (RIP – Miss her still!) with Try Again from the Romeo Must Die Soundtrack:

Back to our program. Ms. Tiffany:

I was talking with a friend the other day and she was saying how she was excited that I was gonna blog this wedding planning thang and how I gave her hope that she could be married. And I do believe I have spoken to some of you in real life about how quickly my relationship moved. I met my fiancé in June 2009, we got engaged in December 2009 and the wedding is September 2010. That's pretty fast, at least for some.

And I hope that the fact that I'm getting married, at age 36, can be a testimony for some and give hope to others, especially with the bombardment of negative press that black women have been getting in the media as of late. (I realize that it's hard for ALL single women, when it comes to dating, for sure).

But the fact of the matter is: I was like many of my friends. I would date randoms and it wouldn't work out. The dude would look perfect on paper and be a complete asshole. I'm not a prude so there were probably some times that I probably slept with a man too soon and he got ghost. I was in a relationship with the same man, twice. (I am, OBVIOUSLY, a glutton for punishment.) I moved to Minnesota to be with a man without a ring, and then once I got there found out he didn't want to commit. I've been fortunate actually. I've dated some pretty decent dudes… they just weren't the dudes for me. Those who know me very well know that I have been very candid about my dating adventures and mis-adventures. Some of them were hilarious. Some of them were very painful. All of them were necessary.

I speed dated. I online dated. I asked my married friends for introductions. I got involved. I started going out by myself. I got my confidence up. I started working out. Didn't leave the house looking busted. I did all that. I tried to get busy living.

I would call my homegirls and cry. I would go to happy hour and bitch. I would pray. I would pray then cry. I joined the singles ministry at church. I journaled. Worked on my mental. Tried to get rid of the 'baggage'. Still tried to get busy living.

And yet, I would try again. Meet someone new. Date. Didn't work. Go through all the stages. Still was getting busy living. Notice a pattern there.

And yet, I would try again. Meet someone new.

I'm not a preachy chick. That's not my steelo. But the thing I really want to leave you with is this: You can't give up. If your heart's desire is to be married (not just a wedding), then you can't give up. You can't lock your feelings in a bottle, you can't withdraw from relationships. You may want to, but you can't. You have to keep trying, you have to keep putting yourself out there. Yet, you MUST try again.

I sat at my mom's kitchen table in May 2009, and told her that she needed to accept the fact that I was not going to get married. I told her that I had accepted it and evidently it was God's will too. She looked at me like I had two heads. She wasn't used to hearing me talk like that, like I was giving up. Like I was quitting. She said she didn't believe me. I met my fiancé the very next month. God has quite the sense of humor. Evidently, He didn't believe me either.

So, I'm getting married. To a man that I LOVE to bits and pieces. And who loves ME more than I know.

Because I tried. Yet again.

Okay gals and gents, you've heard Tiffany's tale and what say you… have a "try again" story to share? Words of encouragement and wisdom for Tiffany? Words of encouragement and wisdom for those of us trying again? Fellas, any of you feel ready to take the plunge? Any of you "already plunged" have words to share? Engagement stories? Basically – here's your chance to weigh in on engagement and marriage… whatcha got?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Saving Superman(Woman) from Relationship Kryptonite

As Smart Guest Post Week continues, we turn the keyboard over to frequent commenter, the wise and witty, Jayme C. That's Dr. Jayme to you. Jayme is a professional life coach, mentor, licensed psychiatrist, marriage counselor and friend. She has been married for close to 20 years and seen all manner of relationship tomfoolery yet for some reason, given the opportunity to write about ANYTHING in the world on my blog, she decided to write about me. Serious side-eye. At any rate, I did not (though I was SORELY tempted to) edit her discourse but instead present it to you in all its goodness. Without further ado – Dr JaymeC:

Sometimes my roles as mother/wife/life coach/counselor/friend/sistagirl overlap, merge and meld together. Such was the case when Chele called me the other night in what she calls "a state of überPisstivity". Her ex-boyfriend (the one I used to root for) had been calling and they were (for lack of a better term) negotiating the terms of reconciliation. A détente if you will. People, these talks were more delicate (and more explosive) than the Geneva Convention. They held nothing back, pulling out beef they had held onto since they were aged 15, 26, 33 – they went all the way there and back again. In the middle of their negotiations, Chele found out that he lied (again) about something major (again) and when she confronted him, he tried to repair the damage by acting as if she misunderstood the situation (can any of you imagine Chele falling for Ye Olde Okey-Doke - picture that!). It was the last rip in an already fragile and over-mended fabric.

Needless to say, she was understandably hurt and ticked off at him for pulling her back in and at herself for falling for it. When she finished telling me the story, I sat quietly and let it sink in for a minute. Though she sounded only a little down, she is the type to assess and analyze and dissect something over and over again trying to see if something different could have been done, if there was a clue she missed to avoid this outcome. And I knew she would beat herself up about it long after she flashed her trademark 1000-kilowatt smile and said all was well. Rest assured, she will bounce back as she always does and in time we will read a completely hilarious and candid post about it. But until then…

I hurt for my friend but I was also mad at myself for encouraging her to give it one more shot. If ever there was an example of love (even a great deal of love) just never being enough this relationship was it. I always felt that in his heart, her ex-SO really (truly) loved her and wanted to do the right thing. But now I realized he loved himself more. At his core, he was incapable of being who she needed him to be and instead of making a clean break and allowing her to heal, he kept coming up with new and different ways to deceive and hurt her. Whether he did this intentionally or not, I don't know nor do I care any longer. But at this moment, I did realize that my role was reassuring her that walking away (and never looking back) was absolutely the best policy. Finally, she noticed I hadn't said anything in a while.

"Umm, hello?" she asked.

"Yep, I'm here. I just figured it out." I told her.

"Please share."

"He's your kryptonite."

She laughed, "My what?!"

"Your kryptonite. That thing that takes away your power, makes you weak and puts you in fight or flight mode. The one thing against which you have found no viable defense." Chele loves her superhero movies so I knew relating this situation to Superman (she calls him Supey) would get my point across the quickest.

She snorted, "Hmmph, more like Lex Luther."

I disagreed, "Hmm, I don't know. Sure, Lex is evil but he needs help to bring down Supey. Kryptonite destroys just by showing up and existing. Lex is just an archenemy, you can put him behind bars and not think about him for awhile. There's no cure for kryptonite except staying the hell away from it… forever. Kryptonite may come from a place you love but it's no damned good for you."

"That's kinda deep... and ironic. Okay, I follow."

"The thing is – you keep bringing the kryptonite into your Fortress of Solitude. When the fortress is threatened, Supey doesn't have any safe place on the planet to hide. Long story short, I'm telling you: Jettison the kryptonite into outer space, rebuild the fortress, re-tie the cape and go make the world a better place."

"Jayme, you went all in on the analogy."

"Hey," I told her, "if you aren't the superhero in your own life, who is?" We ended the conversation soon afterward.

My point to Chele and to you, BougieLand is this: Learn to recognize the differences between the Lex Luthers and the Kryptonites in your relationships. One is survivable and you can stay and fight, the other will kill your spirit if you don't get away. Don't beat yourself up if you cannot recognize the Lex's right away. In most comic books, the archenemy generally starts out as the hero's ally… right up until he's not. Own up to your inner SuperHero and claim the power! If you fail, get back up. Even Superman didn't save the world on the first try.

Readers- If you have encountered an archenemy or a power-sucking spirit killer, what did you do? Do you have a fortress of solitude (a place you go to renew and revive)? If you could be any superhero, which one would you be? Why?

(For the record, I'll take Wonder Woman or Jaime Sommers <- -you young folk don't know nothin' about the Bionic Woman. Wonder Woman had the kick ass boots and Jaime could hear everything, run really fast and never have a hair out of place). Thanks Chele for letting me share (even if I did put some of your business in the streets). Okay BougieLand… the floor is yours.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Beefs, frenemies and BFFs – the ever evolving challenges of friendship (guest post)

For the record (and in case I haven't mentioned it eleventy thousand times), I love smart people. People who can communicate, engage and be witty (without malice). This week you will get to meet some of those people. Yes indeed, it's Smart Guest Post Week on BnB. Because I want to hear other voices, I appreciate the brainpower and I have a deadline in nine days. Today, I bring the always vibrant and verbose A.Smith of Diamond Dust. Enjoy and show some comment love…

What's the old saying? "People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime." It's really a feel good statement. It helps us recognize that not everyone is supposed to be in our lives forever. It can keep us on the lookout for those people who, if we let them stick around for awhile, might drain us of all the goodness we can muster in a sometimes not so good world. I mean this is a really good saying, full of all kinds of...uhh... well... stuff that makes clichés good. The only problem with it is it doesn't do the best job of explaining how you know which person fits into which category.

I actually believe we had it right as kids. Do you remember when you were younger and another kid would walk up to you and ask to play with the toy you were playing with and ended their request (which, now that I think about it, was more often a demand) with "I'll be your friend..."? I do. I think we had it right back then. Simple. Very simple. You give me that toy, we'll be friends. You don't give me that toy and we won't be friends. As adults we can hear all the nuances in that. The manipulation, the suggested temporary time limit, etc... but as kids, it was straightforward. When the toy was done with, the friendship had run its course -- unless the two of you found something else you both liked -- then the friendship kept going and if you realized that you seemed to always like doing the same things, well, eureka! Lifelong friend. No muss, no fuss.

Sometime during middle and high school, though, we learned that there's nothing simple about friendships. Your BFF today might be your greatest enemy tomorrow. Your enemy from yesterday? Oh, we like her now. Makes me think of a time in high school...

My Senior year in high school my then BFF had some serious beef with another girl in our class, Amanda. The specific details are lost but it had something to do with the fact that rumor had it Amanda was trying to push up on the then-BFF's ex. One random afternoon I was at her house, as usual, lying across her bed. We'd played the "what will we do tonight?" game ad nauseum and I was about to give up and go home. Out of nowhere then-BFF whirls around in her chair and says, "do you have Amanda's number?" I scrunched up my face and slowly nodded yes. "Well, call her and see if she wants to hang out with us tonight."

Flabbergasted is not the word for what I was feeling. I just knew she had some sort of really bad plan in mind that involved humiliation on a level that only a high school girl can create. I asked, "why do you want to hang out with her? I thought you didn't like her." Then-BFF just laughed, like I'd told a really funny joke, and responded, "Oh. That was last year! We've moved on from that." That night was the first night of many that Amanda kicked it with the then-BFF and I, as if we'd all been lifelong buddies. There was never an explanation, never a conversation. Everything just kept trucking like it all made sense.

Of course, what I fail to mention is that Amanda joined our 3-musketeer routine in part because we had an opening. See, the then-BFF had just kicked the other BFF out of the group. Friends become enemies and enemies become friends and you have no idea why.

I remember being very excited about going to college because of all the mature adults I would meet. People who were ready to put aside childish things and be for real about creating and maintaining real and true friendships. Boy was I wrong. College seemed to be the perfect opportunity for everyone to practice all the manipulation skills they learned in high school. And this post-graduate life? Well, look no further than the desk one over from you, or the cubicle behind you. We don't do friendships anymore. Like I said -- we had it right on the playground in elementary school.

Through trial and error, I've come up with a few "rules of thumb" and a handful of questions one might ask themselves as they navigate the treacherous "friendship" waters.

First, keep it simple. Friendships don't have to be overly complicated and it's usually about the time they get complicated that it's a good sign that it might be time to let go.

Second, don't be afraid to cut ties. This is one I struggle with. I'm not a fan of burning bridges -- and that's not what I'm suggesting. Rather, don't be afraid to tell a person (as a friend told me once, about another person) "you may be a good person, you're just not good for my life." If it doesn't feel like a good fit, it probably isn't. You wouldn't buy a pair of shoes that hurt your feet would you? Then why stick around in a friendship that's no longer working for you?

Third, don't be afraid to fight for a friendship. I know, I know -- this seems to fly in the face of what I just said, but all relationships hit rough patches. It's ok to want to fight for a friendship. Good friends, true friends don't come by all that often. If you have one, do your part, hold up your end of the deal and don't be afraid to fight for it.

Ok, ok, you're thinking, we know how to do friendships, but what about knowing what kind of friendship we're in?

Good question grasshopper. I'm glad you asked.

The reason that handy dandy cliché doesn't do much by way of explaining how you know who is who is because it's not cut and dry. You don't mix in a little baking soda and get your answer. But you can ask yourself a few questions...

Do you find yourself talking to this friend but really having nothing to say? Perhaps there was a period of time, typically before some major event, where you guys had all kinds of things to talk about but now, after this event, there's nothing to say at all. Lots of empty (and uncomfortable) dead space? More than likely this was a friend who was in your life for a reason. The tricky thing about "reasonal" (yes, I made that up) friends is sometimes they can grow to something more, if everyone puts in the effort. Be careful not to trick yourself into thinking that a friendship can be more than it is without any real work. All relationships take work.

Is this friendship on an even keel? Do you feel like you're giving more than you take (or, perhaps, taking more than you give)? If the friendship's not on an even keel and hasn't been for a while even though it used to be, it's probably a good sign that this is a seasonal friendship.

A lifetime friend is probably not someone you need a checklist for. They're the ones you struggle to imagine your life without. The ones you call first (or second, if you're lucky and have more than one) when something major happens. They've seen you cry, seen you happy. They're encouraging in times of doubt and honest when you're a bit too gassed up. They're far from perfect and they piss you off sometimes, but even then you appreciate what they bring to your life.

The biggest mistake we sometimes make is ignoring the signs. Wanting a seasonal friendship to be more than it is (without putting real work into it). Allowing people who are in our life for only one reason to stay around for more reasons until they've sucked us dry. We have to take stock of what's going on in our space because if we don't, we relinquish control.

To close, let me fill in some holes from the story I told earlier...

While we never had a conversation about why Amanda was suddenly cool (or why Lauren, the ousted friend, suddenly wasn't) I realized in the weeks before graduation that then-BFF had a master plan that involved a lot of trickery you'd never expect a high schooler to be capable of. Everything had been calculated. (This is a story for another time, but let's just say she managed to not only convince a girl her boyfriend was cheating on her, but get him to admit to it when he didn't actually cheat) When then-BFF realized Lauren was too much of a threat she put her on the outs and when she realized I wouldn't be a good fit for what she needed (someone to accept a lot of lies without asking questions) she called on an unsuspecting person -- Amanda.

Before we made it to our first year of college, then-BFF had stopped talking to me. She never told me why and I never got a chance to ask. In the years that followed I deduced that she had a much better handle on our friendship than I did. I was seasonal. I served my purpose, she let me go. I'd been following along, watching the way she dropped "old" and "trusted" friends like they were nothing, thinking our friendship was bigger and better than that. Truth was, it wasn't and if I'd spent more time paying attention and less time being self-assured, I probably would've seen the hammer before it knocked me out.

BougieLand -- how do you determine which of your friends are worth the effort? Any rules of thumb of your own to add? Any stories of mistaken friendship identities?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Supporting Black Authors: Sins of the Mother on Lifetime Movie Network TONIGHT


Brilliant author Carleen Brice, penned Orange Mint and Honey with the idea of telling a story. From there, she's been on quite the ride. Lifetime Movie Network optioned her movie and it will be on tonight at 8 pm eastern, starring Jill Scott and Nicole Beharie. Here's a clip:





Creative people of color, rise up! Please give this movie a look and come back and tell me what you think.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ask a Bougie Chick: Love & Relationship Edition

First a disclaimer: The opinions and advice shared on this blog are from the fertile soil of my mind based on my experiences. They are in no way professionally sanctioned or meant to influence anybody, anywhere, at any time. Thank you. ~The Management.

Hello BougieLand. Thanks for joining me this week while we explored some aspects of love and relationships. I enjoyed the week and found out that anytime we talk about sex, folks are going to go ALL IN. Duly noted. It's been far too long since we had an Ask a Bougie Chick session. The questions have been pouring in and yet I'm only going to answer two today. So, Ladies and Gents... without further ado (cue the game show music)… Let's Play Ask A Bougie Chick… (letters were only edited for spelling and grammar)

Our first letter comes from Audrina. That is her real name, she asked me to use her real name so she could be sure I was talking about her. Okay, Audrina from Minneapolis… here's your letter:

Hey Chele,

I love the blog and I've noticed that you speak a lot about your ex-boyfriends. I have an ex-significant other that I am considering going back to. We spent two years together and I really thought he was going to be if for me. He had a bit of a problem with the truth and fidelity but that was a year ago. From all appearances, he has really matured. I still care deeply for him and want to believe that it will be okay this time but I don't want to blind and stupid either. How do you know it's right? In your experience, does the second time around work out better than the first?

Audrina,

Thanks for the love. This question is near and dear to my heart. I recently wrestled with this very same issue. Let me break my answer up into sections:

First: When you say he had "a bit of a problem with the truth and fidelity" – that's a lot to digest. Without getting into your gritty details, I'm going to ask that you think about how you phrased that and let it marinate.

Second: What has he done in the past year to mature? You need tangible proof of improved behavior not "appearances".

Third: There's no way to know if it's right. Sometimes you have to step out on faith. But before you take that leap, make a list of what was great and what stank before. See how much of the stink is gone and how much of the good is still there. That way you'll feel less blind.

Finally: I haven't had great "do-over" success rates. There's generally a reason (or ten) when a relationship falls apart. Ask yourself what's different, if you are both willing to work that much harder this time around and to what end – what do you hope to achieve by reconciling.

And if none of my practical exercises work for you… follow your heart and pray for the best. Good luck and thanks for visiting the Black 'n Bougie.

Letter #2 comes to us from a gentleman in Florida. We'll call him Jimmy:

Ms. Bougie,

Me and my wife are just regular people. We live a good simple life. I never got a college degree but I do what I gotta do to make sure things are taken care of with my job. Not everybody is going to be a doctor or lawyer. My wife just finished up her degree and now she is not satisfied with what we have and who I am. She keeps talking about moving up to the next level. I thought we were here already. I was looking around her laptop and found your webpage. She reads it like a religion. When I asked her about it, she said she want me to read it so I can understand where she's trying to go.

She's started talking about changing our 'environment' and 'expanding our horizons'. I don't know what that really means or have patience for folks putting on airs and acting like they don't know where they came from. We used to take little weekend vacations fishing now she says she wants to go to Jamaica and Aruba and places I can't afford to take her. I'm not blaming you, I wonder if you are making your life sound like something people should have even when they can't afford it. Since the degree, her new job and this page we are not the same marriage. Just thought you should know.

Jimmy,

I'm not 100% sure what you mean by "just regular people". In my mind, I'm just as regular as the next person. By good simple life, I'm going to assume you mean modest lifestyle and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.

If you look around the blog, you'll see that I don't encourage people to do anything they cannot afford or are not comfortable with. Also, if you read the blog you'll see my life is not all roses and champagne. Lastly, if you read the blog you'll see that this is where I happen to come from so bougie is not an act for me. I would respectfully submit that I am not glamorizing a lifestyle of any kind, Black 'n Bougie is not the Jay-Z Big Pimpin' video for the up and coming. I do encourage people to get as educated as they can and achieve a level of success that they can be proud of – whatever that means to them. That's what I was taught; just passing it along.

As for your wife and your situation – people grow and change. It seems as though your wife, having achieved one goal is ready to dream a little bigger and step out from what you may be used to. Not to get all up in your relationship sir, but it seems as though your wife is ready to shake things up a little bit. You should really have this conversation with her and see what's on her mind. I would hope you can open yourself to her ideas and new direction since I'm told people within a marriage should be walking the same path. I hope this is the response you were seeking. I appreciate your feedback and thank both you and your wife for visiting the Black 'n Bougie.

These two were tough for me. I'm more at ease answering outlandish off the wall questions where the answer is glaringly evident. These I had to think about. What do you think, BougieLand? How did I do? Do you have advice for Jimmy & Audrina? Agree? Disagree? All thoughts and comments welcome.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lessons in Love: Bring on the Romance


Relationships are work. Good ones are like having another job. You have to interview for the role you want. While interviewing you must present your best self yet be honest enough about your flaws and failures so the person gets a true sense of your ability to file the position. Some pre-employment checks may be involved. Your references may get checked. Generally, there's a trial period before you receive full benefits. After that initial period is over, you're expected to perform. And you're expected to perform at a high level of competency at all times. You cannot get complacent in the role as there are always new challenges presenting themselves. If you start slipping, you will no doubt be placed on a performance improvement plan and given a warning. And if you still fail to meet the pre-arranged standards… chances are you will be fired. Without a recommendation. Think on it. I'm talking to the women and the men. It sucks to be fired. Especially if you could have avoided it.

One of the easiest ways to keep a relationship out of the "needs improvement" file is by keeping things fresh. Doing the same thing day after day is a grind and you wind up taking it for granted. How about a little spontaneity and romance. By this I do not (necessarily) mean trying out some new freaky-deaky move in the bedroom. I mean romance. Are you following me? Okay here's a BougieTale:

It's summertime. And it's been a long, hot long distance summer between me and the (then) SO. Tempers are starting to get a little short. Schedules are not aligning. One Wednesday, I traded in some miles and fly into town unannounced. I charmed the concierge into letting me into the apartment. I grabbed the spare keys to the Land Rover and headed to the grocery store. I didn't answer my cell phone all day. By 6:30 pm, my infamous seafood Florentine on angel hair whole wheat pasta was done. Wine was uncorked, flowers on the table, candles were lit, and I was in a really flattering dress with uncomfortable strappy heels on. I had just hit play on the mellow music mix and just finished twirling in a perfume cloud when I heard the key in the lock. Two steps down the hallway, he knew something was up. "Hello?" he called out. I stepped into his line of sight, "Hi honey, how was your day?"

To my surprise and dismay, his face fell and he fought back tears. Now understand this is a man that didn't go emo… ever. He came forward and gave me a bear hug and clung. Finally he said, "It's been a long day and it's been a long time since someone made this kind of effort for me. It's nice. It's just really nice." I gave him a glass of wine and sent him to take a shower while I set the table and I thought about it… How often does the man get the romantic gesture? Let me tell you ladies… it is greatly appreciated. You don't even have to go all "I flew in and cooked", it can be as simple as noticing that he has a pair of socks with a hole in it. Buy a new pair, put a funny card on them and leave it somewhere he can find it. Tell him you're giving him an hour of "alone time" to do what the hell he wants. Give him the last biscuit on the plate. I can tell you that sending my SO's favorite brand of gummy bears to his office in individual bags so he could share made me the coolest chick on the planet for little while. It's called a romantic gesture. It comes back to you twenty fold.

Fellas, I see you nodding your heads in agreement, "Um-hmm, brother wants a little romance too. Can a brother get a Valentine's day gift?' Yes you can but fellas... While you appreciate romance, some of us LIVE for it. And I'm not talking about the grand "baby don't leave me" gesture. Pour a sister a cup of tea on a cold night, bundle her up in her leopard print snuggie and leave her alone. Slap a post-in note on the mirror saying, "You're always beautiful to me." Sappy yes but do you know how appreciative a woman is when she is made to feel good about herself… and you're the cause? Suck it up for one night and watch the freakin' Lifetime-Movie-of-the-Week with her. Boil an egg and call it breakfast… are you catching my drift? It's not always the flowers and the candy or the dinner and the jewelry (though we love that).

One time I got all misty eyed over a package of SweetTarts and a Sprite. Don't. Judge. Me. It was the perfect pick me up in the middle of a very raggedy day. Oh fellas, just so you know: Cleaning the bathroom after old girl has been nagging you about it for a week is NOT a romantic gesture. It's an overdue household chore… no points for you. But running a bubble bath in newly scrubbed bathroom and putting a class of wine by the tub… now you've got it.

Before I go completely hearts and flowers let me add one more disclaimer. Ladies and Gentlemen, if your relationship game is shoddy all the way around and all you've got are romantic gestures – that's not going to work. The romance is just frosting on the cake. If the cake is nasty, it still gets tossed… ya feel me? I know ya'll are catching my drift, I don't need to beat you over the head with it. Do something nice. Keep love alive.

Tell me, what is the LEAST romantic gesture you've ever heard of? Is romance a lost art? What is the most romantic thing you've ever done, or have had done for you or wish someone would do?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Virtual Reality or Insanity? Do you know your online boo?


I distinctly remember the last words I said to a gentleman I had met online. We dated briefly but I became more and more irritated by the fact that who he was online and in emails was not who he was in person and on the phone. In fact, I would go as far as to say that he deliberately misrepresented his true self for as long as he could. Thankfully, it did not take me long to figure it out. So while standing in a parking lot outside of a jazz lounge in North Dallas, I summed up my feelings on the entire thing. "I don't think I ever knew you at all. And what I've gotten to know… I do not like. Have a nice life." And with that, I turned on my heel (twisted my ankle) and limped off into the humid Texas night. Yeah, I'm never that girl who can make the graceful exit.

Anyway… the truth was. I did not know him. I knew the person he had shown himself to be. In retrospect, I'm a little amazed at how much effort he put into the fake persona he showed me. And I wondered how long he thought he could keep it up? It had to be exhausting spending so much time as someone else.

I can be identified online as OneChele, Michele Grant, BnB, Michele MyGovernmentLastName, and Black 'n Bougie. I'm have two Facebook accounts, two twitter accounts, a blog for me, a blog of my book, a website as my author page and a blog talk radio profile. That's a whole lot of Micheleness up and through these internets. But no matter which iteration of Michele you encounter, guess what – it's all me. A little bit smart-ass, generally good-natured, lover of wine, seafood, books and bougenificence. If you talk to me on the phone - I'm still that girl, meet me in person – still that chick. My godmother, who has known me since the day of my birth started reading my book last week. She called me laughing, "You write EXACTLY like you talk and that's a good thing." Since she's one of the smartest, realest women in the universe, it was a compliment that I treasure. I share this to say that I am who I am. Unapologetically in any medium.

Unfortunately, not everyone is the same way. In fact, I would lay odds that over 50% of those twitter/Facebook/Match.com personalities are complete and total fraudulent representations of the real person clicking away on the keyboard. And I don't just mean a super-flattering picture or a change of relationship status. I'm talking about people who know they have crappy personality traits prettying up their prose for the purpose of online hoodwinkery. Yes, I'm making up words.

Let's take my friend Kevin. He met a lady on Twitter. She was smart, witty, her picture was cute. She became his twitter-boo. They elevated to an instant messaging system, then texts to phone calls. He described the phone calls as awkward but chalked that up to "I don't really know you" vibes. Finally, it was first date time. He went to pick her up and found her apartment in an area of town that did not match the standard of what she had described. But he was okay with that. He knocked on her door and a young child answered. Turned out she had three kids she had failed to mention, but he was okay with that. She came to the door and looked not one thing like her picture and was quite a bit older than he expected but still… he was okay with that. He had been charmed by her personality. He escorted her out to his car and onto the restaurant. By his description, this was the most awkward and painful 97 minutes of his life. To this day, he cannot figure out how the woman who dazzled him online turned into the unruly person he struggled to get through dinner with. I suggested to him that she had a ghost-tweeter… someone smarter handling her online game. He was appalled.

A female friend of mind met a gentleman on Yahoo Personals who was everything we was looking for. Romantic. Articulate, gorgeous, employed, no kids, smart. Loved The Wire and the Lakers with the same intensity she did. He cooked, he cleaned, and he was (by her account) brilliantly gifted in bed. She said it felt like perfection and it was oh-so-easy. Now here's the difference between her and me… when things are going too perfectly my conspiracy theory radar perks up and I start looking for flaws. I don't believe in perfection. I need flaws to know it's real. But this isn't about me. Moving on… three months into the good times, old boy went completely stalker. And by stalker I mean he had her cell phone cloned to check her ingoing and outgoing messages, he wanted to know where she was 24/7. When she got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, this ninja told her to keep the door open so he would KNOW WHAT SHE WAS DOING?! He joined her church, switched to her dry cleaners, and started shopping at the same grocery store. überStalker. A new apartment two cities over and a restraining order later she is free.

Some interesting stats: This weekend, I was treated to some twitter-tales of love. Apparently there have been a number of hook-ups, relationships and even marriages from the twitterverse. I was not aware of this. Facebook is now listed on pre-marital surveys as one way engaged couples learned more about their intended spouses. Online dating is now the number 2 way (behind introductions from friends) that people meet their mates. We are living in a plugged in, online, 140 character or less world… date at your own risk. I heartily encourage those of you who look for love in the twitterverse, blogosphere and online dating portals to place a premium on what you learn offline rather than what you think you know online. I'm also not against a background check. Folks is crazy. Because I love this song and it's relevant, here's Virtual Insanity by Jamiroquai (dance break):

And we're back… I also wonder whether chemistry that is manufactured online translates to "real-life" chemistry. I've had experiences (re-visit my eHarmony FAILS) where the chemistry did not translate and others where it worked (for a minute). So I wonder, what are your thoughts about online dating or hooking up with your twitter-crush? Who has tried it, how has it worked out? Has your Facebook profile helped or hindered your relationships? Is there any way to really know who you're chatting with without the face-to-face 'look you in the eye' factor? Maybe a broader question, do you ever really know who you're dating?

Tonight's the night - Blog Talk Radio launch of the Black 'n Bougie Radio Network

What are you doing tonight at 8:00pm central/ 9:00 eastern time? You need to check me out on Blog Talk Radio. I'm going to be joined by Professor Max Reddick of the Soulbrother v.2 blog and Paul Brunson, the Modern Day Matchmaker.


We're discussing Love in the time of Social Media and Online Dating. We'll explore whether Twitter, Facebook and sites like them have helped or hindered romance. We'll talk about online services, do they work? Are they worth a try? And we'll talk about cyber-flirting... when does friendly tweeting turn into cheating? Come by as we explore love and relationships on my inaugural show. The call in number for guest is (646) 378-1121, the chat room will be open five minutes before the show starts. I look forward to seeing you there!

Have any topics you want us to touch on? Leave 'em here and we'll give it a shot...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lessons in Love: Learning the difference between great sex and good love

"I really miss sex." These are the words that greeted me when I met a girlfriend for lunch a few months ago. She announced it just loudly enough that conversation at the surrounding tables paused for a minute and speculative glances were cast our way.

"Hello to you too." I greeted her and sat down. She proceeded to tell me (in gruesome detail) about the sex she used to have and wasn't having anymore since the untimely death of her relationship last summer. I nodded in a way to indicate that I was listening but not really trying to hear it.

"I think I'm going to get one of those buddies. You know, the no-strings sex friend?"

I laughed. In fact, I guffawed. I laughed so hard that tears came out of my eyes.

"What's so funny?" she asked indignantly.

"Girl, you are a serial monogamist! Have you EVER had sex with someone you didn't fancy yourself in love with? Someone you weren't in a committed relationship with?"

She shook her head, "But how hard can it be. Come on, it's just physical. Jump in, get off, move along, right?"

I said, "You want me to warn you now or just say 'I told you so' later."

"I'm a grown-ass woman, Michele. I can handle myself. Won't be any need for any 'told-ya-so', okay? You always think you know better than anybody else."

Alrighty then. I performed the universal sign for zipping my lips and finished my spinach salad.

You all already know what's coming, don't you? Fast forward a month to my phone ringing. It's the friend. It's the best sex she ever had. Details, sheets aflame, burning loins, the whole nine. She went on and on until I heard this sentence, "I mean, when the sex is THIS GOOD that has to mean something, right?" Le Sigh and Le Double Sigh. But wait, lest you think this is a case of a woman confusing lust and love, let me add that the "buddy" was cooing about the chemistry and "meant to be" as well. Innocently I asked, "How much time have you spent together vertically… clothed?" Long silence followed by, "Michele – you are such a cynic." That silence you hear folks, was me being officially done with it. "Okay girl, good luck."

And then the inevitable update two weeks later, "It didn't work out. I wanted to try for a relationship and he said he did too but he wants to sleep with other people. Who does that?" [Benefit buddies, that's who does that] To my credit, I made sympathetic noises and choked back the snarky comments bubbling up. No point in rubbing it in. The point is some people (both men and women) can separate the giddy high of post-orgasmic bliss from the giddy high of finding a soul mate. Granted, it's great if your best sex partner is your best friend but it doesn't always work out that way. Here are some tips to not confusing the two:

Do you have anything in common besides great sex?

Is this someone you look forward to seeing even if there aren't naked aerobics involved?

Can you have a conversation (non-sex-related) with this person?

Is this a person you would introduce to friends and family as an SO?

Do you know more about this person than where their ticklish spots are?

If you answered no to more than one of those questions, you are having a sexcapade, not a relationship. And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that as long as you don't confuse the two. But there are a few rules to avoid a feelings train wreck:

  • If you're going friend with benefit – be prepared to lose the friend if things go awry.
  • Be sure both parties understand what the situation is - don't assume you are both on the same page.
  • If your feelings change (for the better or the worse) let the other person know immediately.
  • Remember great sex can lead to good love and good love can lead to great sex unless they don't.
  • Desperation and clinginess are never a good look, when it's over… move on. Do not negotiate, beg or whine < -- no bueno

BTW Fellas, I have a similar story of a male friend of mine who tried to hit-n-run and got completely caught up. (a la Boomerang) So let's not make this a girl vs. guy thing. Please and thank you. Speaking of Boomerang - here's a classic example of one person thinking relationship while the other is thinking recreational romp: (partial nudity and sexual situations)

Later this week, we'll talk about what makes a "good relationship" but in the meantime: let me ask you, BougieLand… why is it so hard for some people to separate the sex from the love? Do you believe it's possible to really have "a purely physical" relationship or does someone always catch feelings? What advice would you give someone trying to turn their swerve buddy into a happily ever after?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lessons in Love: Once Bitten, Twice Shy should not equal “I quit!”

Brand new BougieTale to kick off Love and Relationship Week. This week, we'll be discussing lessons learned. In today's lesson, see how my current gun-shyness about relationships propelled me to act a complete ass and get called out for it. Enjoy:

Very up and down Valentine's Day weekend for OneChele. On the one hand, I did receive lovely roses from an ex-SO that I gave a laser-beam side-eye to before putting them in a vase and setting them to the side. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I was cursed clean out by a fellow I haven't even been out to coffee with. And when I say clean, I mean I got the wind up, "I hate to have to say this…" the full pitch, "And as long as I'm airing my feelings…" and the strikeout, "When you get over yourself you know where to find me. CLICK." Wow. Okay, before I make it sound like all of that came out of nowhere. Let me 'fess up.

Remember the dude (we'll call him Aaron) who sent the email asking if we could finally get together for coffee? The email came through 17 times and I thought he was begging in a stalker-y kind of way? Turns out Aaron sent the email once and some MS Outlook glitch replicated it. ANYway… I called him to say, "Hey!" and sure, we could get coffee sometime. Now here's where I'm just 22 parts of wrong: Every time he called to set something up, I had reasons why I couldn't go. Like a gajillion times in a row. Now before you all give me the "Oh, Chele!" let me sort of explain (list my excuses).

I do have this deadline. I was sick, I did have a gang of family descend for a weekend and on top of that… I really just didn't feel like going. Yeah, I said it. I just do not have the time or the energy to even TRY right now. Just the thought of putting on the dateable face and tipping out to make small talk seems a little exhausting. Add to the mix an ex-SO calling up with some reconciliation discussion that distracted me for a half second and I just wasn't feeling the new guy.

Which is what I SHOULD have said in the first place… I know this. Instead, I hoped that my vague promise of "sometime" would linger out there for a while. Aaron was not about "sometime." He called, he emailed, he texted. And too his credit he even asked, "Do you just not have time to pursue a relationship right now?" Seriously, he threw it out there. All I had to do was pick it up and take the out. But no. I didn't want to be the girl who pouts about not having a relationship and then saying I don't have time for one. And yes, a part of me liked the attention and wanted to keep him around until I made up my mind. Yes, I recognize this as a selfish trait. Moving on… What I cockily said was, "Oh, I make time for what's important." <- - those words will be come back to haunt me.

This past week he called and said, "What reason do you have for not seeing me this week?"

Ouch. Trying to do some damage control I said, "I'm sorry; I know I'm being impossible. I'm not sure I'm in a place to date anybody right now. I've had a string of unfortunate dating experiences and I'm not at my best."

**crickets**

After a super-awkward silence he said, "Really? That's what you're going with? After five weeks of excuses, you're going with the gun-shy fallback?"

"Oh I AM gun-shy-"

"What does that have to do with me? I haven't hurt you. I'm just trying to get coffee with a woman I thought was attractive and interesting."

Kevlar needed. Shots fired. "Um…"

"Why don't you think about that answer and get back to me before the weekend?"

"Oo-kay."

So right here was my opportunity to put on the grown-up girl pants and either say, "Okay let's go." Or "Not right now but thanks for your interest." What did I do instead? Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Yes, I'm coming across real shady right now.

Therefore, when Aaron called and unleashed his wrath on me telling me that I was a wishy-washy woman acting like a scared little girl, I really couldn't say much. When he said I could've just told him five weeks ago that I wasn't up for even baseline relationship maneuvers instead of having him call again and again… I agreed. When he said he wouldn't have thought I was the type of girl to string guys along for the fun of it, I was ashamed. When he told me he heard me say I make time for what's important and I hadn't deigned to carve out fifteen minutes for him, I winced. When he said I was too old to be playing with folks, I had no viable argument.

And when he hung up on me, I knew he was justified. Even knowing all of that, I couldn't just leave it there. I hate being the bad guy so… I called him back. And apologized sincerely, even went as far as telling him that if I had been treated like that, I wouldn't have been HALF as gracious as he was. And then I asked if he wanted to meet me for coffee at the Barnes & Noble where I had to sign some books. He said, "So this is a pity coffee? You think you can toss some last minute invitation out and I'll just hop at the chance?" I didn't answer. He sighed, "I'll see you in twenty minutes." [sheepish grin]

It was okay. He's a nice guy. No major sparks but again, I'm not on my A game and would not recognize sparks if they came in the form of 20-ft high firecrackers on the Fourth of July. And of course now I'm wondering... why DID this guy wait 3 years and 5 five weeks to have 45 minutes of coffee? I mean I'm cute but not all that! I can't think of anyone I'd wait 3 years and 5 weeks for... maybe Idris or Maxwell... maybe not - none of us are getting any younger. So, what is that about? Yes, now I'm just all in the weeds.

Aaron reached out later in the afternoon by sending an email saying, "I could tell from the way you left it that you are happy to slide me into the Friend Zone limbo. But before you do that, have you heard this song by Joe?" He sent a song that I actually really love. It's called Why Just Be Friends (song is great, video is sucky. Stay with me):

And in case I STILL didn't take his meaning, he sent some lyrics:

Now I know that love has failed you many times before.
But I'm trying to make you see that the only one is me.
So forget the other guys you dated long ago.
And just let your mind be free, let's be more than just friends.

Stop, drop your fears. Baby come get with me.
Give me your tears, I got the remedy.
Take down your shield, I'm not the enemy.
Girl I just wanna be the only one who can make you happy.

It's actually kind of sweet in a super-persistent kind of way. Interestingly enough, if I was giving advice to myself I would say, "Give the guy a shot. What can it hurt? When you get knocked down, you don't leave the ring. You get back up and come out the corner swinging." But how often do we listen to the advice given to us?

Okay BougieLand, hit me with it. You may comment on my idiocy OR you can share your own "once bitten, twice shy" tales. Would you wait 3 years and 5 weeks to have coffee with someone? Or just say hello… the floor is yours.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A few things I love …

Next week is Love & Relationship Week on BnB… I'm going in again. I'll also be premiering the Black 'n Bougie Radio Network on Blog Talk Radio. More to come on that. Revving up for all the love (and needing a break from the blaxporation of the past few weeks), let's pause for the cause and talk about a few things that I adore:

  1. Springtime: Winter goes buh-bye and the 100° days have not yet appeared. Everything is fresh, shiny and new. I know people love winter, the holidays are there and it's great cuddle time… winter is when my birthday happens and I hope to hit a beach at some point. Winter is when the SuperBowl is played. That is all. I know people love, love, love the snow. They think it's pretty and white. You know what else is pretty and white? Beaches. In the Caribbean. Those are pretty and white. And warm. Point made. I also am a bit of a gardener so Spring signals the start of gardening season as well. Easter dresses and the first barbeque of the season. Yes, I love Spring.

  2. Romance: I'm a sucker for flowers, candy, candlelight and soft jazzy music. Show me a happily-ever-after tale and I tear up. Take me for a walk in the moonlight and I'm happy. Pour me champagne, slow dance me around the room while singing in my ear… yep – that works. In so many ways, I'm that practical 'lead with my head' girl but underneath it all that chick who grew up on Harlequin novels and old MGM classics is skipping along making daisy chains for her hair. God bless her, she's a resilient thing.

  3. Intelligence: I remember thinking that I really hate ignorance but it's because I love intelligence so very much. Few things impress me as much as someone who has a brilliant thought and a smart, classy way to say it. Someone who can converse on a variety of topics and says things with meaning and purpose (not just to hear themselves talk) is a joy. People who think, write, talk and act with purpose and passion? I'm a fan. Creativity without callousness, informing without inflaming… I really enjoy people who can find the smartest way to live honorably. But I go on…

  4. Chocolate-covered toffee: It's my kryptonite. I only allow myself to have it once a year otherwise I'd be an extremely happy, pimply 300-lb woman. Chocolate-covered toffee is chock full of all the best things in the world. Chocolate, butter, sugar, maybe an almond or two. What's not to love? I recall being very angry at an ex-SO and the next day he FedEx'd a 5 lb. box of toffee to me. I honestly cannot remember what I was mad at him about. I told ya'll… kryptonite!

  5. Stuff that comes in purple: Let me quote from the movie ~ I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don't notice it~ I so agree. I have no idea what it is about the color purple that I love so. I've been told it's because it's a jewel tone and I wear those well. I've been teased it's because I think I'm royalty. [you mean I'm not?!] It's said that Prince influenced me in my youth. Hmm. Well let me quote a Whitney Houston song, "I don't know why I like it… I just do." So much so that things that I may not otherwise like become interesting if they are available in purple. Shoes, sunglasses, skillets, sheets – I literally have to resist the urge to turn my entire house shades of eggplant and amethyst. Tempting though.

These are just a few of my random loves. Fellas - do not send me purple roses dipped in toffee, taped to a dictionary with a Sade CD... I already see your game. LOL!

We all have things we love just because we do... Have any you care to share?

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