An Ode to Cam’s Teenage Love Affair….

On Wednesday TLA asked me who the hell was I up talking to half of the night; and who the hell was TLA. 

Oh God. I didn’t realize till I was being probed about it by him how totally and completely mushy it is. There’s no hiding exactly what you think about someone when you call them not just a “Love Affair” but a Teenage Love Affair. 

I blinked. Looked down at his text. I couldn’t lie to him even if I tried. “It’s…” I couldn’t do it. Damn pride. “It’s T.L.A. That’s what they know you as,” I say firmly like that’s the end of the matter.

“TLA? What’s that mean?”

He’s so cute when he’s puzzled. I mean he’s cute when he’s not.. well, not really cute, more like handsome, and chiseled, and brawny and sexy… okay, that’s not the point. The point is he was puzzled. Ugh. Where is my backbone?

So I told him. “It’s Teenage Love Affair,” I texted back. 

I knew he was going to tell me how corny it was, or how silly and girlish I was being.  BUT!! He didn’t.  He told me that he liked that and he was feeling it and that the concept was cute.  I immediately exhaled. 🙂

As we were getting off the phone this morning, I asked him to give me a kiss.  “Muah” he said.  I later asked him did he love me.  “I love you”  he replied.  I asked him how much did he love me.  He replied, “A lot.”  “How much is a lot?”…”More than a little”, he said….Classic TLA.  I smiled and blushed with a school girl charm.  Held the phone as he hung up, and thought about all the possibilities.

I’m diggin him hard ya’ll

He has some truly amazing moments…We fight, we make up, and we move forward.  He’s a wonderful man though, with his flaws and all.  He tries to act like he’s hard, but he’s not.  He’s a big sensitive brother with a soft heart for only ME!  I don’t get to see him (but that’s going to change) but I get to see him daily in my dreams.  I experience him often in conversation.

How do I sum up my relationship with TLA?   Well lets see…our love is like going to an amusement park…what’s the point in going to an amusement park if we can’t ride all the rides.  Some of the rides suck yes…but it’s not like we have to stay on the rides that we don’t like.  We can get off, and go to the ones we like….Right now, I like to think of us as being in the concession stand….He wants popcorn, and well I want cake…but we’ve decided to buy both and share……….

I’m loving me some him…

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Head of House….

Sometimes I question whether I am built ever to be in a relationship.  Here’s the deal society has given man:  By virtue of being bestowed with a penis, he is to be a leader.  He is to be head of the household.  That’s it.  Possession of a penis, working or not, gives a man the upper hand when it comes to common sense, logic and guiding the way.

So if he, male possessor of the all-knowing and almighty penis, is to lead and head, what am I supposed to do?

Follow?  FOH!

I posed this question to Kewon, a.k.a the Mayor of Black Charlotte, a.k.a the Great Blaxby, a.k.a one of my best male friends.  He’s received his accolades not just for knowing (and introducing me to) everyone who’s anyone throughout Charlotte but for making sure they know him, too.  And he’s got a way of summing up male thought pretty concisely.

Kewon and I met in an atypical and ultimately classic North Carolina way.  I was in grad. school, and it was a bad hair day.  Instead of getting it done at the Dominican shop, I’d pulled my hair back into a low bun and twisted it up with a black hair band.  Standing in line, to pay for my lunch my rubber band popped, and my hair went flying out like one messed up pile of fluff.  “You have some thick hair,” said a man from behind.

I turned around to find a brown stranger.  I told him that I’d just lost my rubber band.  “Would you happen to need another one,” he asked.  He pulled a basic rubber band off his wrist and handed it to me.  I paid for my lunch and walked out the restaurant.

Two and a half years later, I was leaving an artist showcase and spotted a familiar face in the let-out.  The guy smiled.  I smiled back.  He crossed the street and asked, “Excuse the randomness of this question, do you remember the gentlemen that gave you his last rubber band in Carmine’s a while back?”

We became instant friends.

Today he brings me lunch from  Meskerem, a South African restaurant uptown. Kewon takes a bite of his Durban bunny chow while he contemplates the answer to my question regarding the roles of the sexes.  “Real men don’t follow,”  he says, immediately sussing out what I’m aiming for.  “So what are women supposed to do?”

“Follow a man who knows how to lead.”

“And from your male POV, when do women get to lead, exactly?”

He looks up at me from his curry dish.  He knows that I know his answer, I’m just waiting to hear him say it.  Again. “When they’re single.”

I stare at him, allowing my food to get cold.  He sighs and drops his spoon on the side of the dish so it clanks.  “You don’t want to follow a man?  Don’t get into a relationship, Cam,”  he says.  “Problem solved.  You don’t have to defer to anyone.  But just so you know, no real man is going to let a woman lead him.  You don’t want the type of man who lets you lead.  And if you don’t trust a man to lead you, why are you dating him, anyway?”

Point taken.  But that’s not the point I’m going for.  I want to know why men feel qualified to lead.  What makes them  “natural leaders”?

I’ve had this conversation with many a man, and many insist I should just let the laws of nature, biology, and/or the Bible be.  They don’t have a valid reason but insist it’s the only way to make a relationship work.  No one seems to recall that Ephesians 5:21 talks about husbands leading wives.  There’s nothing about boyfriends leading anybody anywhere.

I took the question to the grown folks, my two married aunts.  My mother’s two sisters.  They had been wives for about 25 years each.  I asked them if their husbands were the leaders of their relationships or their households.  They laughed.  Hard.  Thought it was the most foolish idea I’d ever introduced.  Their response was best summed up by Selene, who rhetorically asked, “How in the hell is someone going to lead me somewhere?  I’m a grown woman.  The only person I follow is God.”  She added that most people get the Bible verse screwed up.  Wives are to follow husbands.  Husbands, in turn, follow God.  “Every Black man you know spits that verse, but how many you know that go to church?”  Rakia scoffs.

That said, they both conceded that their inability to follow blindly was a source of great contest in their households, but they both preferred the idea of co-leading and arguing to following and man.  Occasionally, they let their husbands think they were leading just to keep the peace.

“Make up your mind what you’re going to do, then ask him like his opinion matters,”  Rakia suggested.  “He’ll feel like he made the decision, and you can go on and do what you want to do without him getting in the way.”

The men I spoke with who were married preferred this method also.  They wanted to feel like kings in the house, even if they were only akin to court jesters.  “Let me think I’m in charge even if I’m not,”  my Uncle Jessie told me who had been listening to my Aunt talk on the other end of the phone.  “It makes a man feel like a man.”

Sounds like the strategy of the oppressed or the underclass.  While I may be considered that by some for being Black and female, I can’t see myself playing that role in my own relationship.

I talked to a more sensible soul.  Ethan.  He had been married – “happily,” he said – for ten years, and he told me that a large part of his happiness was that he and his wife were equal in their relationship.

This!  This was all I was asking for.  I don’t need to lead a man, but I want equal say.  I want to be an equal partner.  Why is that so hard for men to fathom?

Then he added that he still considered himself the head of the house, and only once in a decade and a half of marriage has he “pulled rank” on his wife.

Rank?

I questioned his sensitivity after that.

He shrugged when I pointed out that a man who pulls rank does not really consider his partner equal.

“It’s fifty-one/forty-nine in my favor,”  he said.  “There’s no such thing as exact equality in a relationship.”

Perhaps that’s why Id’ rather date than be in one.

My already somewhat cynical view of relationships was deepening the more I broached this conversation.  Every time I asked, “Why can’t there  be two leaders?”  I was hit with some cliché like “Ships don’t have two captains.”  “Cars don’t have two steering wheels.”  “There’s only one quarterback per team.”

I have this seemingly rare and utopian idea of making decision with my partner.  We just communicate and negotiate until we reach a decision together.  And at the very least, we divvy up all the responsibilities as equally as possible and I make the call on my assignments, and he makes the call on his.  Is that too much to ask?

I was fretting over the issue.  So much so that when my friend Phillip (the best DJ ever) called to check on me, I asked him.

He paused his remixing he was letting me listen to.  “Is this a trick question, Cam?”

He knew me too well.  I gave him my most innocent sounding  “No.”

He didn’t believe me and asked me to explain where I was going with this.  I laid it all out, including the “What’s a woman supposed to do?  Follow?” line.

He thought for a moment.  “you both lead.”  A man who didn’t expect to lead alone?  They exist?  Or was he just saying it because it sounded good?

I challenged his comment.  ” Can you have to leaders in one house, though?  That won’t get tricky?  Who sits at the metaphorical head of the table?”

“Think of it like sitting at a round table.  That way, everyone’s equal.”

 

He punched the play button and continued letting me hear his remix as if the matter was done.

If only it were that simple

These Basketball Wives (or ex’s) need a Reality Check…

When is keeping it real, wrong?

I’ve been trying to avoid blasting Basketball Wives, mostly because as many people diss the show, there are many more — to the tune of 3.5 million for the show’s premiere — that seem to love it. And they watch more so now mainly because of the reality show star Tami Roman, who got her start on the Real World in 1993.

I get it — sort of. There’s something fascinating about a woman who holds no cut cards, and won’t hesitate to slap the brown off another woman, especially when she has it coming. We are of a culture where getting somebody told and keeping it real are prized personality traits. But Tami, a real-life “Angela,” the fired up, neck rolling, loud-talking heroine of Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married?,” has done nothing to be prized or celebrated. She is a classic case of when keeping it real goes wrong.

Her highlights of Season 2, include starting a fight at a ritzy Miami fundraiser where she popped off her shoes and tried to fight her co-star Jennifer Williams. Later in the season, she attacked another co-star, Evelyn Lozada. Monday night’s Season 3 episode shows a surly Roman jumping across a sofa and slapping “Basketball Wives” newcomer Meeka Claxton, which has resulted in a lawsuit.

I no longer watch Basketball Wives because of my distaste for watching grown women of color act a prime time fool. I saw the Twitter comments Tuesday morning, the day after Roman slapped Claxton, and pulled up the clip on YouTube. I was disturbed to find people declaring #TeamTami and practically congratulating her for winning a fight. I’m sorry (not really), but when grown women show their natural behinds—and other blurred out parts—in public, there is no winner and there is nothing to be cyber hi-fived on. It’s a lose-lose situation, if for no other reason than the very important one that it reflects poorly on the women involved specifically, and the ones who share their color in general.

Point blank: We don’t have the White privilege of being thought of individuals who act on their own accord. Even though we know the difference, mainstream society takes it as proof of ugly stereotypes about Black women and processes it as “Well, you know how Black women can be…”

Tami Roman doesn’t need our cheers or our co-signs. She needs to be told to sit down. That reckless behavior is out of order. It wreaks of lacking anger management and self control, and it’s appallingly obvious that she needs a therapist’s intervention STAT!  You might call it drama, entertainment, or funny. I won’t. I call it BS!

Tales of Myspace and Facebook…

 

I started a MySpace page years ago. And a couple months later, I declared to anyone who would listen “MySpace is the devil!” I hated having all my friends connected for all the world to see (In part, MySpace was the beginning of my Main Street theory about life.) Everyone was able to go on my page and find exactly who I knew, and could judge who was in my best graces by the Top 8 or 16 on my page. (Remember how upset good friends used to get if they didn’t make the cut? Or equally as bad, if they weren’t in the top 4?) I recalled laughing at how petty it was until one of my friends for almost a decade cut me from their top 16 and I was deeply offended. Then there was the time I realized the guy I was dating for a couple months had his ex girlfriend in the “Number One” spot and me way down on the page. Later I’d heard a crush had broken up with his girl and I didn’t believe the rumors until he took her out of the “One spot.” Stupid, petty, insane, I know. But I felt a way about it even if had too much pride to actually verbalize it. (In a moment of sheer insecurity, I did say actually hit my boy about getting cut from the Top 16. “Are we good?” read the random text. Thankfully, he assured me that we were.)

Because of all that, I avoided Facebook for years until everyone and their mother was on it. Facebook is even worse. Unless you actively change your alerts, the system updates all your friends to every move you make. Leave a message on an ex’s wall? The whole world knows. Go to a party that you didn’t invite someone to? They know as soon as you add your pics. After gaining so much insight into my friends social lives based on who they were adding to their page and hitting with random chatter (and feeling awful about a distant associate when I was alerted that her engagement had ended), I realized they had all the same information about me. (This was reinforced when a friend noted how many times a day a certain someone and I were posting on each other’s wall.) It was at that point that I changed most of my settings and declared Facebook to be the Devil 2.0.

One day, after reading yet another random email in my Facebook Inbox from some dude trying to “holla holla holla” and seeing ad after ad pop up about being single [ED. Note: my weekly Facebook ad reads “30 something and Single?”], which promised I would find relationship bliss by clicking some link, I decided to update my profile to minimize such outreach. Plus, I had just read some article about identity theft and how criminals will go on social networking sites to retrieve pertinent information that they can then use to get to your bank accounts. Being as though I work very hard for the $4.75 that is in my bank account, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to do some of the tips the article suggested.

First, I updated my birthday, so it didn’t list my birth year, then updated my hometown, a link I never noticed before (since you know nothing about me except what you’re currently reading, just know I am a very proud Charlotte girl!

I then changed my relationships status from Single to blank.

A few hours later I got a note from one of my associates asking when they were going to meet the new guy.

Huh?

Another message came in shortly after from another associate stating congratulations and good luck on my new relationship.

What?

Finally, a text from a girlfriend, giving well wishes and was very happy for me and the new beau.

OH, DAMMIT!

I didn’t realize that Facebook sends an update to all your “friends” stating what you’ve changed about your profile. With that relationship change, Facebook henceforth announced to all my Internet crew that I “was no longer listed as single” (with the nerve to put a little heart next to it.)

At first I was mortified, as most of us single girls would be. Who wants to have any part of their life put literally on full blast like that? I then recalled the SATC episode when Miranda, a then-single woman, was buying her apartment and had to write a letter to her mortgage company correcting their assumption that she was married. But what irked me more was just the unsettled feeling this relationship notification gave me. Don’t misunderstand, I’ve never really been one to wax philosophical about being in a relationship. As a testament to how un-desperate I am to be booed up, I’ve been in a situation where a relationship was staring me in the face and I stopped that train before it left the station. My status outing on Facebook was, in a way, an opportunity to reflect on exactly who I currently am.

I spent the weekend watching old SATC episodes on DVD (I’ve been watching them on TBS so long I forgot the original HBO versions with all the nudity and cursing!), exercising, cleaning my apt, and doing things I like to do. I reflected on who I am and how I got to this point in my life. My time alone gives me a chance to see my shortcomings, try to fix them, and appreciate and enhance my good traits. I won’t go thru the usual female rhetoric of giving random excuses for a man’s inability to commit; it isn’t going to change my current single status. I am creating the best me I can be (cue Army music circa 1980s).

So now that Facebook has forced me to come out of the closet and reaffirm my relationship status, consider this my formal letter: I AM SINGLE. *~Tear Tear *~*  😦

Rules of Engagement

When is it okay to date an associate’s ex? (note the distinction: I did not say “friend.” I will not date anyone my friends have dated or humped**)

For my entire dating life, I’ve operated by what I call the Golden Rule of Relationships. That is, under no circumstances do you date an associate’s former flame. That broad definition of a man who was once important but is no longer included anyone that paid for dates of anyone in my wide-reaching circle, all their exes (of

course), jump offs, one night stands, and anyone I was aware that a current associate was crushing on whether he’d expressed mutual interest or not. Oh, and no one remotely close to an ex BF and when asked not to pursue, take the L. I figure this is a ladies’ game and all must show respect to keep the operation running smoothly.

I was steadfast about this and it made sense because… Well, why would I want to violate these rules? Associates don’t need dick in common anymore than friends do. It’s just bad business.

But as the dating game continues, my social life keeps expanding to include more associates, and Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites unite the world in one common group associate-ship, it’s become increasingly difficult to meet anyone that hasn’t known someone I know in the biblical sense, much less paid for a few dinners. (My crew is 27+) That and I realized people were holding claims on people that were, frankly, ridiculous. Like, I’m sorry, you dated him in college. That was 10 years ago. Let it go. Or even: he was a JO for 3 months 3 years back and you want to call off-limits? Let it go.

Naturally, I thought the rules should adjust to accommodate the new social setting. So I planned up…what else? New rules, ie the Dating Code of Honor. It’s less about a preference for having dick in common (not preferred) with your Facebook friends and more about opening up a wider dating pool, less single ladies be forced to dabble with the oldies, the meanies, the uglies, the brokies and the otherwise dysfunctional and undesirable for the sake of meeting someone “new.”

So I set forth the following:

Rule 1:  Married folk must remove all exes from their personal basket and return items to the shelf for consumption by the general market.  Said married people are not obligated to hook up, arrange blind dates, or introduce their single friends to said exes.

Rule 2:  Currently booed-up people can still claim exes off-limits, if the ex is within the last three years.  Upon entering a monogamous relationship, they must release all exes with whom they parted ways more than three years back into the open market for general consumption.

Rule 3:  All college boos must be released back into the open market for general consumption at three years post graduation.

Rule 4:  All BIG’S remain off-limits to the circle of associates, regardless of marital/dating status.  This is a no if’s and’s or buts.  Break this rule, and it will get you cut off for an extended period of time.

Rule 5:  One-night stands are in play after ninety days.

Rule 6:  Jump-offs who have not been active for more than twelve months are fair game.

Rule 7:  Your ex’s inner circle of friends remains off-limits unless the ex grants permission.  His associates are fair game without asking permission.

Rule 8:  In the case of a man who has been “claimed,” i.e., an interest has been expressed, but a return interest has not been expressed, said man is in play of friends and associates after a period of seven days.