“’Cause I am gonna
make you see
There’s nobody else here,
No one like me.
I’m special, so special.
I gotta have some of your
Attention; give it to me.”
“So funny that people see you really want a something, and put their confidence pants on…”
My bestie sure does have a way with words, doesn’t she? She claims that since I’ve started these confessionals, she’s fielded a few quiet inquiries about my availability (because apparently, this blog isn’t spelling it out for folks). She must have quite a vetting process since, so far, none of our mutual connections has approached me directly. If I didn’t know how incredibly honest, direct and matter-of-fact she is—yes, even more than me—I might be inclined to think she was embellishing, just a tad.
But I know one thing for sure: I don’t want any man who’d let the opportunity to date me pass him by. In fact, I’ve long said that I wouldn’t want the man who would let me pass him by in the street, and not at least attempt a respectful approach. Hell, if any random catcaller feels comfortable trying his luck, you can at least manage an “Excuse me, Miss”—especially if I’m smiling back at you. Trust me, fellas: it really is all in the approach.
Now, I’m of the opinion that attractiveness is entirely subjective (and that accordingly, there is a lid for every pot). But I also think there’s an assumption that so-called attractive people—women, in particular—must have attractive proposals flying at them from all directions. You know, just an endless buffet of options to choose from, if only we weren’t so…picky.
But what’s truer—especially in a city like New York, where women outnumber men 5:1—is that for all the attention and commentary a woman might attract on any given day, the amount of approaches from viable prospects is disturbingly, depressingly low.
Because in New York, that aforementioned endless buffet of options firmly caters to men, who have both an array and abundance of women to choose from. Apps like Tinder only amplify this fact, making it strictly a numbers game. With the odds skewed so heavily in their favor, a woman can easily be dismissed for the most minute of criteria—along with basics like age, weight, race, sexual willingness (which tends to operate on a dangerous double-standard), and (oft-presumed) fertility.
Now, many of you know that I’m merely stating the obvious. Others may think I’m talking out of my ass. I wish I were. I’d love to say this is just a theory. But it was heartily proven (for the umpteenth time) last night, as I shared dinner and drinks with a friend I’ll call “The Scribe”, and his younger brother (let’s call him “The Cavalier”)—men in their mid-40s and mid-30s, respectively.
You know, there’s an admirable confidence in a guy who knows he’s ahead of the curve: He’s educated, well-employed, good looking. And if he also happens to be Black, he knows he’s a rare bird, indeed (thanks to systemic oppression and the prison-industrial complex). There are many inherent dangers of being a black man in America. But if he’s managed to defy the odds stacked against him, he’s generally in no danger of being lonely for long. No, such a man knows that he can be picky, because he’s got options. Matter of fact, he has lots of them.
So, it was entertaining—but bittersweet—to listen to The Cavalier casually discuss his dating preferences last night. Currently, they apparently don’t include women with children (because…baggage), women around his age or older (because he eventually wants children), or “crazy” women. I never quite got the specifics on what qualifies a woman as “crazy.” But since he used the term to refer to the last several women he’d dated, apparently it’s a trait he initially finds quite attractive.
Now, are his criteria unreasonable? Not necessarily. But the—well, cavalier—way in which he discussed them was telling. Clearly, he believes he’s entitled to everything he wants. And, since he’s not bumping his head against the wall of his impending infertility, he feels can pick, choose and dismiss at his leisure.
Thankfully, I wasn’t romantically interested in him, since clearly, I wouldn’t have made the cut—being both old and crazy as I am.
But this wasn’t exactly a new conversation, either. I’ve heard this narrative repeatedly: on social media, media in general, and in many conversations with men eerily similar to this one. And what always stands out to me is 1) the expectation that the man’s desires be met, 2) his refusal to lower one’s standards, and 3) his confidence that he does, in fact, deserve what he wants.
When women—especially Black women—do this, we’re considered picky, and limiting our already limited options. Regardless of what we might be bringing to the table, we are repeatedly encouraged to remain open-minded, compromise on our criteria, and shorten “the list.”
Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of “the list,” primarily because I find it more limiting than liberating. In my experience, all of the best things that have happened to me have been unplanned; I simply showed up.
But I, too, have been somewhat conditioned to lower my standards, often settling for less than I have to offer. It’s a nasty habit; one I’m trying to shake. I want to want what I want, and believe that I’m entitled to it, whether the odds are stacked in my favor, or not.
But, there was another conversation I wasn’t expecting to have last night.
When we finally found ourselves alone after nearly ten hours together, The Scribe, who’d listened patiently—but with clear amusement—to his very entertaining younger brother, at last made his own intentions clear: he would like to date me. Apparently, he has for some time now.
Having met nearly eight years ago, it’s somewhat hilarious that this never came up before. Though, considering the fact that I was in back-to-back relationships for the first four of those years (which he begrudgingly respected), I suppose it was just a matter of timing. That, and the fact that he’s been living in Los Angeles for the last four.
So, yeah…there’s that. Yay.
I can’t even say that we’ve been close friends all those years. In fact, our initial interest was a professional one, made increasingly more familiar—and flirtatious—by the social media circles in which we’ve both orbited for years now. But admittedly, I found myself watching with curious interest as he found love last year, both inspired by what appeared to be the strength of the bond, and moved by his commitment to it.
Because…s**t like that never happens to me.
But timing is a funny thing, indeed. Much to my surprise, he returned for a visit to his hometown of New York a single man. And knowing—as do all of you—that I’m on (and in) the market, he was not going to let me pass him by. Not this time.
And though I think I’ve made my stance on long-distance relationships abundantly clear (hint: NO), I may have to make an exception. You see, this is a man who brings plenty to the table, as well; not the least of which is a respect and understanding that I’m exploring my options right now—publicly. He’s not asking me to change, or to stop dating, or writing, or to do anything…except give it a chance. He’s simply throwing his hat in the ring, and making it clear if there’s something there, he’ll make it work.
And I may indeed be crazy, but I think it might be crazier not to give it a shot.