Monthly Archives: February 2011

I’ll Be Late for That: Punctuality Pisses Me Off

 

Role Model for Us All

Let me paint a picture for you.

It’s been a while since you and your people have gotten together so you decide that you’re gonna plan a big dinner.  A week in advance you pick a trendy restaurant with a swanky vibe, make the reservations for 7 PM, and send out an Evite to the whole crew.  The big day comes and you’re so excited that you get there at 6:45.

7 o’clock rolls around and no one’s there yet.  7:10 hits and only two of your friends have arrived.  You ask the hostess if you can go ahead and move to your table.  The pretentious, aspiring model/actress barely looks up to remind you that Sexy Midget doesn’t seat anyone until their entire party arrives.

At 7:30, everybody’s finally in the house, so you walk over to tell the hostess.  She sighs, giving you that tight-lipped, constipated smile that women give men whose game is sub par, and informs you that she had to give your table away…and that there are no more reservations tonight for a party of 17.

Guess what, dumbass?  That was your fault.  That’s right.  Your inconsiderate, anal-retentive butt ruined the whole night.

Oh, stop looking like I just punched you in the stomach and rubbed your crotch.  It was your fault ’cause you failed to consider that your friends have hectic, tremendously busy lives just like you.  Or maybe the problem is that you actually don’t have a life.  Either way, it leads to the same place.  When making plans, it’s imperative that you allow space for the little hiccups and big bumps in the road.

Whether it’s parties, dates, or nights out on the town, follow these four simple rules to avoid strife and broken relationships:

  1. Never tell people the real start time for group events. These kinds of things tend to transpire on weekends, and weekends are packed with social events.  Give people time to move about their social calendars.  Or maybe the couples just wanna get a quickie in before they go out and get too plastered to do it later.  Whatever.  If it’s a party or an event at your crib, tell them it starts an hour before it actually does.  If it’s a meal at a restaurant, pad it by 30 minutes.
  2. Observe the 15 minute rule on dates. If Mr. Hotpants shows up anywhere within 10 minutes of the start time of your little dangerous liaison then he ain’t late, sweetheart.  However, if he shows up 11-15 minutes after the slated start then you have the right to issue his ass a demerit.  After 15 minutes, things done changed.  You can bounce on him like a lazy stripper, or stay, then use his lateness as a bargaining chip for one of your future fuck-ups.  It’s really up to you.
  3. If you’re “fake” late, use every tool at your disposal to shift responsibility onto the real guilty party.  (Hint: It’s never you.) You’re fake late if the host began the event on time, like a dick.  As soon as they start mouthing off, just look at ’em like they’re crazy and remind them that they violated protocol, not you.  If anybody else came late, get them to join the fray.  Pretty soon, the host will feel like the idiot that they are.  The same thing goes for dates.
  4. If you’re “really” late, just man up and channel Kanye. At this point, there’s only one arrow in your quiver: personality.  It’s time for a Jedi mind trick.  Again, look at the host/date like they’re crazy, then smile like Jesus is your dentist and say, “My presence is a present, kiss my ass.”

Yep.  Yeezy taught me well.

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Sex and Candy…Remixed

 

I doubt that Jay-Z spent any time near this Marcy Playground...

This joint is my remix of Marcy Playground’s “Sex and Candy”.  I’ve always loved the way that song perfectly captures how it feels to want someone…bad.  I took that and added a little bit of a creepy stalkerish vibe by way of a dark synth and a new rap verse featuring yours truly.  Couldn’t resist!

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Death to Chivalry: Notes from a Bearded Feminist

Death Knight

Maybe chivalry is actually UNdead?

Less than four decades after Roe vs. Wade, the thrust of the entire feminist movement is facing death by the most unlikely hands—liberated women.  I think a short history lesson is in order here, because I’m afraid that some of us may not remember how things went down.

Once upon a time, there were men and women, and the line between the two couldn’t be more distinct.  When a man liked a woman he pursued, wooed, and courted her.  Once she was his, the man’s romantic overtures could just as easily disappear as not, while the woman’s work as his de facto maidservant was just beginning. Her only comfort might be the fact that her husband was obligated to protect and sustain her and her children both physically and financially for life…at least in theory.  For generations these traditions were supported by Western society as a whole until, after a protracted struggle that began in the late 19th century and arguably reached its climax in 1973, women decided that enough was enough.

Sadly, less than four decades later, the very progeny of the women who stood up to men in defense of their rights are threatening to throw away the boon of that hard-fought war.  I’m talking about the fact that though most educated women will tell you that they’re strong, independent, and loving it, many continue to have the strangest affection for one of the most insidious tools of oppression ever created by man (and I do mean man)—chivalry.  You may call it being “old-fashioned”, or “traditional”, but it boils down to good old sexism, simple and plain.

At its core, chivalry is about the protection of property, and ladies that property is you.  Doors should be opened because you’re too weak to do it yourself.  Jackets should be draped over girly shoulders because you can’t brave the elements as well as we hardy menfolk can.  And men should always pay for dates because we need to proove that we have what it takes to support you once sign your life away to become our mother-whore.  (After all, when you pick up a stray at the pound, they make sure that you can feed and shelter the flea-bitten cur, don’t they?)  When viewed in the light of truth, how can any sane woman support chivalry’s existence?

The problem is that so few people have the stomach for truth.  (See my earlier note, “The Policy of Truth,” for more on that topic.) It’s much easier to think of chivalry as a set of quaint customs that demonstrate devotion and honor than as enablers of sexual discrimination and objectification. After all, it feels damn good to have someone treat you like royalty. If you can grab a free meal twice a week with absolutely minimal effort, then why not do it? If you can take a trip to some exotic destination on someone else’s dime, why not? I’ll tell you why not: there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Chivalry breeds resentment like you wouldn’t believe in the un-fair sex. The man that consistently drops his credit card for you will be looking for you to drop something of yours in return, and if it doesn’t happen, you’ll be labeled a gold digger. Actually, even if you do make like Beyoncé and let him get you bodied, he’ll probably still label you a gold digger. Now, maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t give a damn. It’s only fair that in exchange for my valuable time, I get something in return.” For any whores reading this, please persist in that thinking. It’s a completely appropriate mindframe for you. Unfortunately for the rest of you ladies, that philosophy only serves to reinforce the mistrust that many men hold for women but tend to keep to themselves…or use to inspire platinum-selling albums.

It’s time for strong and enlightened 21st century women to take their rightful place as the torchbearers for sexual equality. Chivalry was a necessity in the past because it served to bring a modicum of humanity to female-male relationships. Now that most Western women are in control of their own lives, it’s time to move forward. With that said, please don’t misunderstand me: men (particularly white ones) still have a tight grip on the reigns of power. If we don’t abandon the last vestiges of the old broken, oppressive sexual system though, this will never change.

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The Policy of Truth: Morality According to Depeche Mode

I thought the truth was supposed to hurt...

Now you’re standing there tongue tied
You’d better learn your lesson well
Hide what you have to hide
And tell what you have to tell
You’ll see your problems multiplied
If you continually decide
To faithfully pursue
The policy of truth

– Depeche Mode, “Policy of Truth”

Anyone who knows me well knows that I grew up in a Pentacostal household. Unfortunately, the many hours that I spent in church, listening to preachers yell until they were hoarse and watching otherwise sober-looking women launch into full-body convulsions, failed to produce any long term religious fervor in me (my God-shaped hole is HUGE), but I did learn a thing or two about morality.

One of the biggest lessons I gleaned was that a lie, whether an omission of an uncomfortable fact or an outright prevarication, was a bad thing.  My grandmother used to always say, “There are two types of people I can’t stand—a liar and a thief.”  I’ve come to understand that her equal distaste for those social pariahs proceeds from the fact that one simply can’t trust either of them.  And without trust, well, you have no way of establishing a relationship that any well-adjusted human would call healthy.  I went through life letting that precept shape my discourse with others…usually.

That I employed the word “usually” above should be a big hint that my perspective on truth-telling did became more sophisticated over time.  For example, I grasped fairly early on that there were occasions when avoiding the truth was actually one’s moral duty.  Case in point: if you’re living in Amsterdam in 1944 and a man with a funny cross on his arm asks you if you’re hiding Jews in the attic, and you are, you should politely reply in the negative.  That’s extreme, I know.  “Do I look fat in this dress” is a more common, yet equally life-threatening example.  The point is, sometimes you have to lie for the sake of the greater good or to spare a person from unnecessary hurt.

What has shocked me is just how broadly many people’s concepts of “appropriate” and “obligated” lying reach.  I’ve been personally admonished for being too honest with women early in my relationships.  On one occasion, a female friend actually asked me if I was purposefully trying to sabotage my efforts with one lady, all because I acknowledged that I still cared for a past girlfriend.  This was in spite of the fact that my other words and actions clearly showed that these emotional remnants weren’t a hindrance to our romantic progress.  In another instance, a friend recently complained to me that it was commonplace for folks in his company to willfully mislead potential clients about the readiness of product features.  The argument was that if the deals went through, they’d just “find a way to make it happen.”  WTF?!

As I see it, the problem with this expanded notion of the appropriate lie is that it can distort the fabric of our relationships.  We get locked in a kind of arms race, with lies as the weapons of mutually assured destruction.  We begin to lose trust in everyone, all the time, and in turn we start to feel increased personal pressure to hide the truth.  Taken to its extreme, I posit that we slowly lose our ability to even distinguish the valid from the invalid.  We could be staring truth in the face, but because we’ve become so blinded by the darkness of deception, we can no longer discern the difference between it and its twin.

Perhaps that’s just the way the world turns, and I should just get with the Depeche Mode program.  (God knows they were on point with “Personal Jesus”.)  All I know is, I’m tired of playing by the rules, only to find out that hardly anyone else does.  What’s worse, some even consider me the social deviant for doing it!  It seems that yet again, my idealism is costing me…I just hope that I don’t end up morally bankrupt.

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The Myth of the Lonely Black Queen

She don't look that lonely to me...

It’s time we put to rest one of the most stubbornly persistent myths in the black community.  I call it “The Myth of the Lonely Black Queen”.  Smart, successful, attractive black women are not lonely—they’re just unnecessarily picky.  Even worse, this selectivity is far too often based on a foundation of arbitrariness and contradiction.

Lots of upwardly mobile black women will tell you that they don’t need a relationship to complete them; that they’re not desperate for a man. But desperation is exactly the picture that so many women paint when they describe their supposed inability to find a mate.  How many times have you heard the cliché that all the “good” black men are either taken, gay, in prison, or (horror of horrors) with white women?  I mean, Tyler Perry is now the richest transvestite in the world because he mastered the art of transmutating this “woe is me” attitude into ticket sales.  The problem is that this desperation is about as real as a conversation in a strip club—it’s a convenient lie that many black women tell themselves so that they can avoid focusing on the real reason that they’re single: They’ve got plenty of options. Or at least they think they do.

I recently had a little back and forth on Facebook with a wonderful woman who was hit on by the owner of a restaurant that she frequents.  As he took her money at the register, without looking up, he calmly asked her for her name. She readily replied with the answer.  He then rapidly fired off a second question in the same unassuming tone: “Phone number?” She almost answered him without even processing what was happening.  The man’s quirky flirting style definitely had an impact.  After all, she used her Facebook status message to tell her friends all about how “cute” it was.  But guess what?  He didn’t get the digits.

Why not?  She says it was because “it’s become second nature” to say no to a guy who knows nothing about her other than how she looks.  Elaborating, she went on to explain, “I turn people down left and right for no other reason than it’s what I do,” and that she needs a “screening process” like a “referral system.”  Really?  That’s the kind of behavior I’d expect from someone who feels that she has more suitors than she could possibly know what to do with, and not at all like someone who’s cautious, yet aware of her precarious situation in the dating pool and therefore fully open to romantic possibilities.  I understand that that particular woman may not self-identify as being unable to find a good black man, but that modus operandi is all too common for many of those who do.

I can certainly draw on personal experience to put flesh on those bones.  My friends have heard the story about the woman who decided against a second date with me because I gave her $10 on a $15 cab ride…even though the meter was at $7 when I got out.  There was also the woman that cut things off because I canceled a date with her.  I told her that I was exhausted, but she assumed that the real reason that I backed out was that I was double-booked.  (Of course, I only found out why she gave me the scissor treatment much later—she never even bothered to tell me her doubts at the time.)  And then there was the lady with whom I shared so much chemistry that our first date lasted for four days. She eventually returned to her last boyfriend.  I could go on, but I’d rather not look like more of a loser.  The point is not that these women did anything wrong.  The point is that, in economic terms, this is exactly the behavior that we’d expect from consumers with relatively unconstrained options, but not from those facing a supply shortage.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Jenée Desmond-Harris’ recent article lays out the sobering facts confronting black women looking for a black man.  (Check it out here if you’ve been under a rock.)  It is unquestionably harder for you out there in the world of romance than it is for Bob, Amber, or even Tyrone.  Consequently, this is no time to be Little Ms. Picky.  I’m not saying that you’ve gotta go bottom feeding.  But if a brother is attractive and approaches you like he’s got some damn home training, don’t refuse his invitation to dance when just 30 seconds earlier you and your girls were poppin’ it so hard you almost blew your back out!

Bob Marley said, “In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty.”  A lot of females are yelling loudly to anyone who’ll listen that they’re practically dying of cottonmouth.  Ladies, recognize and realize that although it may not be raining men, there’s plenty to drink.  Most of it ain’t Bling H2O, but it probably ain’t bathwater either.

Post Script: Ms. Desmond-Harris did a superb job of addressing this phenomenon from the inside, but I still felt like a man’s perspective was warranted.  Plus, I’d already started writing this frackin’ thing before I read her article.

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Always Will?

The Southern Hummingbird

Ever heard Tweet’s “Always Will”?  It popped up on my iPod yesterday and I couldn’t help but play it ’bout fifty-leven times.  The sparse, acoustic guitar-heavy instrumentation combined with the smooth, almost celestial background vocals and Tweet’s heartfelt delivery are guaranteed to get me every time.

Not familiar with it? Here’s the basic gist:

Tweet loves someone, and she believes that this someone loves her.  In fact, she loves this someone so much that she declares that no matter the obstacles in their way, even if the distance between them is literally cosmic in scope, she bets that she “always will.”  And she ratchets the wager up a notch by proclaiming that this someone “always will” love her just as much.  It’s quite touching.  Really.

It’s too bad that it’s probably not true.  I mean, when you really think about it, to how many people have you personally said, “I’ll always love you,” or something similar?  C’mon, be honest.  I’ll wait.  Now how many of those promises rang true like, by the time you finished first semester in b-school?

Exactly.  Even if you meant it with all your heart and soul and being at that time, chances are that by now you’d cringe if you could do a Marty McFly and stand next to yourself when you lovingly whispered that sweet nothing in the ear of your boyfriend of four month’s time on a Holiday Inn couch after Senior Prom in 199X.  Crap, you’d probably even grimace when you think about the last time you said it.  When was that?  Last Valentine’s Day?  New Year’s Eve after that last shot of Henny (or Vodka Redbull for all my white folks)?  Your wedding day?

It’s OK though.  You can’t help it.  Human beings have an unrestrainable need to feel as though they have control over their own futures.  That’s why millions of us faithfully read horoscopes, wear lucky underwear before a big game, and (gasp!) say our prayers.  They’re all just as futile as trying to end interracial dating in Minneapolis or Seattle, but that doesn’t stop us from doing it.  There’s just so much in the world that’s out of our control, whatever little bit we can do to feel that we’ve taken some power back from the Lords of Chaos does our pitiful little souls good.

So we try to will ourselves into infinite romantic love.  I mean, what human condition is a better target for our self-protective efforts than the steamy, shivers-up-the-spine, daydreamy emotion that drives everything we do in our waking moments?  Yeah, I said it.  When we’ve got it, we can dance under water and not get wet, and when we lose it, a lot of us just drown in tears.  Who wants to deal with the latter?  I don’t.  Hell-to-the-damn no!  I saw “The Secret”!  Let’s just speak our love into perpetual existence!  If only it were that simple.

Wish on a star, wish on a full moon—crap, wish me love a wishing well—but love can no more be controlled than thunderstorms, or heat waves, or tectonic plate movements, or [insert force of nature here for dramatic effect].  Even R&B, for all of its syrupy, hyper-optimistic expositions on the subject, grudgingly recognizes this as the truth.  Think “I Keep Forgettin,'” “I Miss You” (Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, not Aaron Hall) and the best example: “Love Don’t Love Nobody”.  In the end, when it’s over, it’s over…and more often than not, it doesn’t take death to part you from your lover.  A nice smile or a nice fatty can work just as well, let alone the thousands of miles Tweet was singing about.

Did I convince you?  No?  I doubted that I would.  See, you believe that “real” love is eternal, despite the fact that 50% of U.S. marriages end in divorce and 75% of those who don’t are mostly unhappy.  You believe that sheer will power will keep you in love indefinitely.  You believe that you needn’t worry that your love could simply vanish – FOR NO REASON AT ALL.  And why not?  It feels good, don’t it?  Keep it up.

I bet you always will.

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