Monday, April 03, 2006

A View Of Prince Charming, Part 2

I've had some disastrous dates.

Some of them have been utterly clueless. There was the guy who, after mouthing off to a border guard and lamely trying to explain why his friend stashed a joint in the car (which led to a strip search), couldn't understand why I told him to fuck off when he "offered to make up for it on our second date." He called for about a week (with me refusing every call) before he got the message there would be no second date.

Some of them have been on another planet. There was the guy who picked me up in his cab, told me about his long range plan to open a checking account "someday" and his short term plan to get a leather jacket. Our date didn't come to an end until after he dropped off the fare he picked up as he was taking me home.

Some of them have been startlingly insulting. There was the guy who stopped by my cousin's home the day after we went on a date to borrow money so he could take another girl out, a childhood friend of the family, even though this was the same cousin who set us up. He was more upset about not getting the money than he was about me finding out.

Some have been unexplainable. There was the guy who backhandedly called me a gold digger (he sang the chorus of that Kanye West song before asking the waitress for the check) because I chose a Thai restaurant for our first date, even though he insisted on paying when he asked me out for lunch. ("It'll be my treat, I insist. You pick the place.") He also ate his meal, a rice and shrimp dish, with his hands and complained because the restaurant didn't serve Sweet & Sour Chicken. "I don't understand this food," he kept saying.

I didn't go out with any of these men again, but I continue to date occasionally because I believe the man with whom I'll spend the rest of my life is still out there. I continue to want to meet people, have great conversations, enjoy new experiences. I continue to want to believe my happily ever after will include a partner for better or worse.

Many of my fellow African American female peers have given up on this dream. A couple of days ago, I received a link to an article in the Washington Post about the decline in marriage rates among African Americans. A young man about 12 years old rejected the notion of marriage in a cynical, heartbreaking way:

"Marriage is for white people."

Has it really come to this? Have people in my community really succumbed to the stereotypes we're fed, the pressures we face daily, our reluctance to openly talk to one another about our fears and challenges, and given up on finding a partner? I'd like to think we haven't. I'd like to think that African American women who want a husband won't have to face a future without one because we aren't willing to face and deal with societal pressures and personal challenges together. I'd like to think that dating and marriage is not a black and white issue. My hunch is that, based what I read in advice columns, newspapers and websites, it's not. All of us - men and women, gay and hetero, young and old - crave companionship. We all need to be loved. We all want to be wanted.

Like I said, I've had some disastrous dates. I've had my heart broken many times. It's quite tempting to throw in the towel and never try again. Still, I know that if I give up, I'll become as cynical and as lost as the young boy in that article sounds. I'd like to think there's still hope for him, too. All he needs is a little love.

I do, too, by the way. If you know anyone you think might be a nice match for me, let me know. I haven't been on a date - good, bad, or ugly - in a while.

More to come later.


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