Ari’s Playbook on Dating

‘’What’s a pimp with no hoes/ you know the game and how it goes/ We trying to get chose.’’

– UGK “International Players Anthem” 

First let me say thanks Cam for asking me to write on your blog tonight.  Anytime I’m given the opportunity to talk via text, phone or blog I jump at it.  Though picking a topic was a hard one for me… It wasn’t until a conversation that I had with my boyfriend that this topic just fell into my lap.  I hope you all enjoy!!

For most of my 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 bu is no longer includes anyone who paid for dates for a woman in my wide-reaching circle of friends, all of their exes (of course), jump-offs, one-night stands, and any person I as aware that a current associate was crushing on, whether he’d expressed mutual interest or not.  Oh, and no man remotely close to an ex-boyfriend.  And when asked by a woman not to pursue, take the loss.  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 this rule?  Associates don’t need penis in common any more than friends do.  It’s just bad business.

But as the dating game continued, my social life kept expanding, and Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and Instagram and other social networking sites continued to unite the world in on common group associate-ship, it became increasingly difficult to meet anyone who hadn’t already known someone I was just meeting in the biblical sense, much less paid for a few dinner or drinks.  I also realized people held claims on people that were, frankly, ridiculous.  Like, I’m sorry you dated a guy in college…..ten years ago.  Let it go.  Or even that he was a jump-off for three months three years back, and you want to call him off-limits?  Let it go.

Naturally, I thought the rules should adjust to accommodate the new social setting.  So I wrote up…. new rules.  Yes, like Bill Maher. The DATING CODE OF HONOR is less about a preference for having a penis in common (not preferred)  with your Facebook friends and more about opening up a wider dating pool, lest single ladies be forced to dabble with old men, mean men, broke men, and all other undesirables for the sake of meeting someone “new”.

I set forth the following:

Article 1 – Married folk must remove all exes from their personal basket and return items to the shelf for the 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.

Article 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.

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

Article 4 – All great loves remain off-limits to the circle of associates, regardless of marital/dating status.

Article 5 – One- night stands are in play after ninety days.

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

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

Article 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.

The Exie Story

Have you ever had a moment when everything was going well.  Ya know the moment I’m talking about.  You and your boo are on the good foot; your job isn’t stressing you out, and all the bills are paid up.  That brief moment when you’re in the eye of storm.  Well metaphorically that’s where I am in my life.  I’m happy!  The birds are singing and the flowers are in bloom.  I’m in my proverbial summer.

With all of that being said.  I don’t really have anything to write about.  I could write about my love, and how it’s put a brand pep in my step.  I could talk about my quest for motherhood, or the stress of cohabitation; but at the moment I just would rather love up on my boo and let someone else do the work. 

So I called up some friends who owe me favors.  They agreed to help me out with some post this month.  Here is the first of many.  Sit back and enjoy the tales of my dear friend Natalia.

 

“At some point you have to make a decision.  Boundaries don’t keep other people out; they fence you in.  Life is messy; that’s how we’re made. So, you can waste your life  drawing lines; or you can live your life crossing them!”

Recently, I was on the phone whining to my former flame after another disastrous date.

Pause. I’m being dramatic.

He’s not my former flame and the date wasn’t disastrous. Exie is an “old friend” and the date? Turns out Mr. Amazing has a kid that’s almost a toddler.

Exie asks if this is the same guy who messed up my [electronic device]? It’s not. ED fell by the wayside too. Good guy, but he habitually referred to himself in the third person.

I get asked about other people I’ve mentioned to Exie in passing since we became “just” friends late last year. The lovely specimen who mispronounced any word over three syllables and some two syllabic words too (he was really nice), the producer who strung me along (Exie actually co-signed this one for awhile), the industry guy who… Hold up. There’s nothing wrong with him… except he’s in the industry.

Exie listens intently, pointing out more flaws that I seem to have forgotten about these dudes. Then he launches into how he still needs to come through my spot and fix the electronic device the other dude messed up.

Fifteen minutes later, I’m buzzing him in to the apartment. The first thing he says when he walks in: ‘’Daddy’s home.’’

I roll my eyes and fling his jacket on the back of a chair. He’s not staying long.

Exie, who bought the damn device (long story), undoes dude’s re-wiring (longer story) and redoes it back the right way. It takes him five minutes and when he finishes, he turns around with a stern father-look and says, ‘’don’t let no dudes play in my sh*t again, Nat.’’ I couldn’t tell if he was talking about the system or something else.

He’s being weird. I roll my eyes again.

I watch as he sits on the couch and fiddles with the remote. The previews for some movie come on.

‘’You testing to see if it works?’’

He just looks at me. ‘’You got any juice? Get the lights on your way back too.’’

‘’Um, you’re staying?’’

‘’I shouldn’t have ever left.’’

I plop on the couch and snatch the remote from his lap, flip back to cable and flick through the channels. The system is good as new.

‘’Why aren’t we together?’’ Exie asks like it’s a question I should have been expecting.

I pause in flipping channels, but I don’t look at him. ‘’Huh?’’

‘’You heard me.’’

‘’Cause we’re just friends.’’ BET, BETJ, VH1, VH1 Soul, MTV, MTV2…

He snickers. ‘’No, we’re not.’’

Er? ‘’So what are we then?

‘’When you need something, who do you call?’’

Oooh! Sex and the City re-runs on TBS. ‘’Depends on what I need.’’

‘’Stop being difficult.’’

“I’m not being difficult.’’

Exie takes the remote and clicks off the TV and surround sound. I look at him finally, giving him the undivided attention he clearly wants.

‘’When you need something, you call me. When someone else f*cks up, you call me to fix it.’’

I grab a magazine from the coffee table. Oooh Keyshia Cole on Essence! ‘’Is this about the ED?’’

‘’No, listen.’’ He waits until I put the magazine back and give him my full attention again.

‘’You need to talk? I’m here. You don’t want to be alone? I’m here. You got a problem? I get it fixed, you understand?’’

I nod. ‘’So like, where are you going with this?’’

‘’If I’m the one you always run to, why aren’t we together?’’

I thought, What?! but I didn’t mean to blurt it out.

‘’It makes sense, Nat.” He’s staring at the coffee table like it’s going to talk back. “We kick it, we party, we chill, we never argue. I still like you. I know you still like me.

‘’You think I like you?’’ I ask playfully, trying to make light of the conversation.

‘’Would I be here if you didn’t?’’ He’s dead serious.

Touche.

‘’So whatdoya think about that?’’ He takes my hand and I look at our fingers intertwined, then look up at him. For the first time in nearly a year, I think about us. He makes valid points. He’s dependable, reliable, likeable, fine. I’m definitely attracted to him. We don’t argue and he is fine. (Did I say that already?)

‘’Um… I dunno.’’

‘’You don’t know?’’ He nods, presses his lips together. ‘’So think about it, okay? I’m serious, Nat.’’

He reaches for the remote, leans back and flips back to the DVD. The opening scene to love jones flashes across the screen.

“love jones?” I attempt that one eyebrow thing again and fail miserably.

“It’s your favorite movie, right?”

“I didn’t tell you that.”

He laughs. “I read your blog.”

He motions for me to lean on him. I get his juice, cut the light and then I snuggle into his masculinity (a wall of man, it is.) Why haven’t I thought about dating Exie before? It makes sense. It’s just honestly never crossed my mind since we agreed to be just friends.

Could I date Exie? Is that really any different than what we do now?

When Darius fumbles his drink at the bar, I turn on Exie, look up at his face.

He looks down, kisses my nose. “Keep thinking. No rush.”