In The Wake of White Supremacy

First, my angry rant: I don’t give a flying fuck about your white supremacy. I don’t give a fuck about your jobs. I don’t give a fuck about your education. I don’t care that the “White man is losing status in the U.S.” I don’t give a fuck about your xenophobia and nationalism masquerading around as patriotism. I don’t give a fuck about your fear that your tiny pricks aren’t satisfying your women anymore or whatever else is causing you to march through Charlottesville or whatever city you march through next. Fuck your white supremacy! Fuck your unjustified sense of entitlement! Because that’s what this is really all about, isn’t it?  I just want to live. Why does that bother you so much?

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Okay, I’m good now. I just needed to get that out.

Here’s my take on white supremacy in America:

Many of you (meaning the generic and overly broad “white” people “you”)  grew up in neighborhoods with good schools where restrictive covenants were made to keep people like me out, a neighborhood where the police frisked my family members on their way to work and put my father in the hospital, literally; a neighborhood where neighbors burned crosses as lawn ornaments when the rare negro got approved for a mortgage.  For decades, you got into college because your parents went there too at a time when tuition was $300 per year and my parents were not even allowed to attend. The G.I. bill that paid for your grandfather’s college had an exception for the Jim Crow Laws preventing my family from getting an education. You pledge loyalty to a fraternity that forbade black admissions and chanted just two years ago how “there would never be a nigger in SAE,” or one that held the same beliefs, only silently.

Many of you got jobs in the same factories your father worked and his father before him in a time when my parents weren’t allowed to occupy those jobs, and if they were, they were paid cents on the dollar for the same work. Every member of your family worked for the same company regardless of their credentials and they kept their jobs regardless of their fuck-ups. And, when you left the family business, you got a job because your dad knew a guy who knew a guy when my dad is the grandson of a slave.

Of course, this looks like supremacy. You were killing it when everything was yours for the taking just by being white. You got on a bus and others moved. You had special whites only drinking fountains and jobs reserved for white people only. At any given time, you could do the most heinous thing you could think of to a minority and wouldn’t even be prosecuted. Being white in America meant you were pretty untouchable.

I’m sure it felt great. I’m not saying you didn’t work hard. I’m not saying you didn’t accomplish anything. I am not throwing out every accomplishment made by “white” America. What I’m saying is there is nothing supreme about winning in a system that was built to cater to you. There is nothing supreme about accepting what was freely given. There is nothing supreme about playing playing in a whites only baseball league when others are blasting fastballs out of the park in an integrated league.

I get it, you’re afraid. You don’t know where your place in the world is anymore. The U.S. population is looking a bit more “tan” than when you grew up. Women are working. Gay people exist. The America in front of you looks less and less like the one you knew. You want to make America great again. You want to go back to a time when America looked great to you. Well, too bad. That time is over. Grow up and get used to it.  You complain about the liberal, leftist snowflakes protesting for rights and social justice, but, really, you are afraid of change because you are coddled, weak and unprepared.

While you were passing the mantle from father to son in perpetuity, minorities have been fighting and clawing to achieve anything. When you were going to college for free, minorities were sending only the best and brightest. When you denied us opportunities, minorities made our own. Everything you took for granted, we cherished. We fought for the dreams and promise of this country when you fought to keep it from us. When you were given rights, we became strong enough to take them.

We were forged in the fires of the very torches you carry to intimidate us. Your torches have set the world ablaze around you. They have lit our path in the darkness. They have made it easier to see the enemy even in the darkness. They have us a goal to work toward.When you worked hard, we worked harder. You fought hard, we fought harder. When our resume thrown in the garbage because recruiters didn’t want to learn our names, we improved our resumes until they couldn’t be ignored. When we were denied housing because of our color, we made our neighborhoods prosper. When we were told we we needed to be twice as good to be considered half as good, we went for six times better.  We became stronger under the weight of your heel. So, thank you???

Our success is your success. You still win. We aren’t your ancestors. We aren’t even ours. We are the children of the oppressed who understand suffering in ways that you never could, and we have no intention of inflicting that suffering upon anyone else. We don’t fight for human rights because we want to undermine the traditional American values, we fight for human rights because we understand the value of a diverse and inclusive world. We will build a system that provides opportunities to everyone who is willing to work for them, a system that protects the weak, coddled, and unprepared as much as it protects those who have been systematically oppressed. We will make America great. So, you’re welcome.

Your rallies, your violence, your protests are the panic of a dying animal, but where you fall, something greater will grow.

 

An Athiest And A Preacher Walked Into A Bar

…. and I dated both of them.

Two months from my wedding to neither of these women, what better time to start dishing on my exes, right? (My attorneys have advised me to clear this post with my fiancée before posting this… okay, we’re good!)

Also, Warning: This is going to be long!

First came the atheist, a remnant from my most successful dating profile ever, she was perfect on paper, but anything but in real life. Perhaps she will have the same criticism of me. She was perfect on paper, but in real life we couldn’t see eye to eye where it mattered most. She hit all the check points: Adventurous — check; Atheist — check; intelligent — check; bleeding heart liberal — check; attractive — check; dancing — check; timing — eh, not so much, but whatevs (yea, I said “whatevs,” like a teenage girl). The only place that we didn’t really click was on our relationship expectations.

Not her.

Not her.

I used to say, half-jokingly, that her version of a relationship was a lot like my version of being single. She went on a number of “meetings” that many people would have called dates. She would grind on strangers at clubs and stayed out with random guys until early in the morning. She intentionally led guys on for attention and had visible crushes on friends. Obviously, I was not okay with this, but I tried to tolerate it to avoid being called jealous, which I do have a problem with. The only difference between her version of a relationship and my version of being single was the physical intimacy with someone else outside of the relationship: that was her line — and even those the lines were kind of blurry at times, but, on paper, she was perfect. That’s probably why I fought so hard.

Her life wasn’t perfect either. I don’t mean to vilify her. (I mean, I’m okay with it if that happens, but that’s not my sole intent. :-p) She was going through her own things at the time — same as everyone else: family drama, work drama, exes and fake friends, plus a recent divorce. She was married young and hadn’t really had the life most of us got to have by that age. I was turning 30 and she was stuck at 23, mentally. At the risk of overgeneralizing, people in their early twenties can be pretty self-centered. It was like she restarted her post-divorce-life at the age when she first got married. I kept thinking that if I could hold out, she would grow out of it, like it was just a phase. The longer we were together the more I realized that it wasn’t a phase, it was the real her.

Nevertheless, I gave, and I gave, and I gave. I begged for reciprocity. Every inch was a battle. Every request was too much. She passed within three blocks of my house, daily, but refused to drop me off when I slept over. Normally, that relationship would have never reached relationship status and would have ended after she stood me up on our second date because she was day-drinking, but I was in a bad place and I was grateful to anyone who wanted me. I stayed because she was the first real hope I had since I had been engaged five years before. She was the first to accept me when I was depressed, poor, and living at home again. I was grateful because I barely liked me then.

Only she didn’t actually accept me. The facts of my circumstances were annoyances that went in one ear and out the other, like, “I don’t care about your mother’s cancer, just move out.” And I did, as soon as she got better, but even that wasn’t good enough for her. When I moved she refused to sleepover because, and I quote, “you don’t have paper towels yet,” which was really a pretext for “I made plans for after I leave here.” No surprise we broke up not even two weeks later.

I left because I was lonely.

I was a sex toy in the nightstand, the card in her back pocket, a man on a shelf that she played with whenever she needed attention but would never love. Real couples fight, we never did. Fighting with toys is crazy. I pushed the box she kept me in to the edge of the shelf, but I was too afraid to fall, until I did. The fall hurt. I was scarred and dirty, but real, like The Velveteen Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ – Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

I won’t say that she never cared for me. In her own way, she did.  I met her parents, vacationed with her grandmother, and she even introduced me to her ex-husband. She wanted to move-in together, eventually, and we even talked about having a family someday.  She wasn’t a monster. She was selfish and I was a distant, distant second.

At the end of the relationship, I vowed she would never be a page in Sean Adams’ history, yet here is in a chapter of my life I’m calling “Shelfish.”

So naturally…(huh?)… the very next person I dated was a female pastor?

Also not her

I wanted to get as far away from my ex as humanly possible, so I jumped at the chance to date the pastor. Honestly, I thought at worst, it would make a great story. Ironically, I met her with my “Naked Skydiving” profile. When she first messaged me, I thought it was an attempt at conversion, and I wondered if she read the part of my profile where I switched my religion from “spiritual but not religious” to “atheist.” She was an interesting character. She was an outdoorsy person and a poet, a liberal feminist and a pastor, sexual but conflicted.

I never fully understood how complicated the interplay between religion, feminism, and human sexuality was for women. I guess I still don’t, but never was that more clear than when I dated the female pastor. The sheer fact that I have to specifically identify her as the “female pastor,” instead of just “the pastor” should speak volumes about the complexity of being her.

I had been on the verge of leaving religion for awhile. I bounced from religion to religion before deciding that I was “spiritual but not religious,” then it a leap of faith — forgive me — to finally admit that I was an atheist. (I will write about it someday.) Obviously, that would present some obstacles to dating a pastor; though, ironically, my atheism was a relief to her. She sought me out on purpose. She told me that it was easier to date an atheist than a religious person because there was less pressure for her to be a perfect Christian, a perfect Mennonite at that.

She also self-identified as a feminist.

The two labels together had perplexed me even before I became an atheist. She wanted to be a sexually liberated, modern woman, while simultaneously preaching to girls in her congregation the value of modesty and abstinence. She often talked about how conflicted she felt. Her congregation wanted her married, but at the same time, they didn’t want her to date. They wanted her to find a husband in the modern world, while adhering to the strictest of religious tenets.

She cried all of the time. It was hard to watch. I felt guilty for knowing her. I felt guilty that every day spent with me was a wedge between her and her faith. At times, I worried for her safety. The weight of the world was especially heavy on her shoulders.

Also, not her.

Fortunately, she found relief in her poetry, where she took on a new identity, and really became a new person. The feminist shined through as she chose her mother’s maiden name for the stage. The meek, insecure pastor was a lion on the stage, who spoke with confidence and swagger. I would have liked to have known that side of her better.

 

Ultimately, things just never really clicked between us. I was beyond sexless relationships and she was always so morally conflicted about it. It wasn’t a question of if we would have sex, it was a question of why. I still don’t actually know the answer to that. I never pushed for it. I was still a little weird-ed out by the concept of a dating a pastor and I didn’t want to force a commitment. She initiated it, then pulled back, then initiated, and pulled back. At one point she contemplated abstinence again months into the relationship.

I felt like a constant mistake.

I stayed out of a sense of obligation. I was afraid of what would happen if I left. I didn’t want to be the one to drive her from faith. I didn’t want to be a user, I didn’t want to use her. Dating a pastor was awkward enough, but to break up with her? I couldn’t. So, I waited until she came to it on her own, with some help.

How could she give a sermon in front of a congregation that her husband would never attend?

That question did it. When she finally ended it, I said “I knew it wouldn’t work.” I should have let it go. She hated me for weeks for not ending it sooner and letting her wrack herself with guilt, but eventually she forgave me. It was never really about me. I was her exploration of self. By forgiving me she forgave herself for being human enough to love.

After this relationship, I shut down my dating profile, not because it was a bad relationship, but because the system was flawed. Both of these women, who couldn’t be more different, were matched with me in high 90’s percent compatibility, according to OkCupid. The subtle flaw in the system was that compatibility was based on the number of questions answered, so if I answered 100 questions and the girl only answered 10, but we matched on 9 of those 10, we would show up as a 90% compatibility. The bigger problem is that words don’t mean anything, or rather, they mean different things to different people. The word relationship has a different meaning to different people. Faith means different things to different people. I learned that the person on paper and the person in real life may not be the same person you think they are because you interpret things differently.

I also learned a lot about myself in those relationships. I learned that I love singing karaoke. I became more active in social justice issues. Love of my giant, goofy dog was a barometer for the length of a relationship. Neither woman liked him and he was the most important non-person in my life. I rediscovered my love of poetry and writing from heartache and pain.

I learned that I can fight desperately to for someone with all of my heart and it still won’t work out, but that’s for the best. If you give it your all, and you keep coming up short, move on. It’s not you, it really is them. I learned that I am deserving of real love despite my circumstance. I learned that I have value and I shouldn’t let anyone take me for granted. I learned that you can’t force yourself to like someone no matter how nice they are and that staying can be more cruel than leaving. I learned that religion isn’t as big of a barrier as it seems, it’s about respect and acceptance, not conformity. I learned that the artificial barriers I had set to weed out people, were meaningless. I could be impressed by a woman I reluctantly agreed to go out with or have my heart dashed by a woman who looked so perfect on paper.  I learned to open myself up.

Nearly a year later, I met my now fiancee on Tinder (see my love letter to Tinder.) because I was open. And by the way, she loves my our dogs, plural.

I’m Not Black, I’m O.J.

“I’m not black, I’m O.J.,” says, perhaps, the first black man in the entire history of the United States convinced that his celebrity had transcended American racism when charged with any crime, let alone the most grievous crime a black man could commit– the murder of a blonde, white woman.

In my opinion, he did it. Let’s get that out the way. He absolutely did it. I don’t know many honest, serious people who believe otherwise. Then ten-year-old me knew he did it, and I had less info than I know now. People cheering the verdict knew it. The car chase, the near-suicide attempt, the mountain of evidence, all of the signs were there. Innocence didn’t save O.J., neither did his celebrity status. Being black saved O.J. For what is likely the first time in American History, being black saved a black man from the vengeance of the American justice system, and the people cheered.

The O.J. trial came in the wake of the Rodney King beating and the LA riots. It was proven that racist cops really were planting evidence on black people after decades of black people protesting the same. The air was tense. Truthfully, the climate wasn’t that dissimilar from now. After incidence after incidence of primarily white police officers getting away with progressively more and more egregious highly publicized civil rights violations, the black community was at a breaking point. White America was afraid of more violence and a seemingly inevitable cultural war. The climate was uniquely right for O.J. to squeeze through, and then there was Fugerman. O.J. should have said, “I’m not just black, I’m lucky.”

It’s now fairly well-known that in the middle of the O.J. trial, his defense team redecorated his mansion, stripping his home of everything “white,” and re-imagining him as “super black,”dashiki-wearing, black panther, Swahili black. They sold it to the jury to hammer home how poorly white America was treating black America, and how this “black king” was being railroaded by the white supremacist American justice system, but he wasn’t. He wasn’t a “black king,” he resented being black and viewed it as something lesser, something to be overcome. “I’m not black, I’m O.J.” What he really said was, “I am better than that. Don’t lump me in with the rest of the black world. White people like me and I’m rich, I am not black anymore.” The not guilty verdict sealed in his mind his ascension.

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Then the civil trial robbed him of everything — his homes, his money; and even his trophies, his last claim to divinity. The severity of the civil judgment was the judicial embodiment of the white rage at his acquittal, but again he was lucky to escape with his life. History is littered with the bodies of black men who have been accused of less. Emmett Till was murdered for allegedly whistling. Rosewood was burned to the ground over a rape that never happened. Jack Johnson was imprisoned under a law designed specifically to entrap him for sleeping with white women.

O.J. actually did it, but peace hung on his acquittal. We needed him to be innocent, we really did. But, as people who have sampled ambrosia often do, he got greedy. He went back for seconds. He was dumb enough to commit a second crime with none of the original taint. The courts threw the book at him. Justice was finally served, a king was dethroned and the systemic injustices got another pass, because they were right about him all along.

For the rest of black America, we were left in our current early-1990’s-Los-Angeles-like status, being beaten in the middle of the road, as police officers take turns violating us as jury after jury acquits them, while tensions continue to mount. The verdict was a temporary break in the rise of racial tensions, in that black people felt vindicated by the justice system for once. On the other hand, the O.J. verdict gave white America a moral license to resume its lifelong war against black America, leaving some members of white America saying, “…but we gave you the O.J. verdict, so now we’re even,” like that single case was a trade for all of America’s historic oppression.

We aren’t all O.J!

In fact, fuck O.J!

Not only did he deny being part of black America, he took for granted his freedom that was earned on the backs of innocent black bodies that set the political climate that freed him. I would have rather seen a guilty high profile “black” celebrity go to prison for crimes he committed than watch thousands of nameless black people imprisoned for things they didn’t. His acquittal left the rest of us pleading for the lives of everyday black people to matter for their own sake in world that said “but we gave you O.J.”

We got crime bills and the renewed war on drugs… but at least we got O.J., right?

Being black in America is inescapable — it doesn’t matter your wealth, your celebrity, your notoriety, or your innocence, or lack thereof. Ask the Harvard professor arrested for trespass at his own home, or the tennis star who was tackled outside of his hotel, or Chris Rock who filmed himself being pulled over three times in his own car in his own neighborhood, or Trevor Noah, an immigrant, who has been pulled over eight times in his two years in the States. I don’t fault O.J. for wanting to escape the stigma and the pain associated with being black in America. I blame him for kicking dirt at the rest of us. Being black is not some thing to be overcome, it is something you are born, and with it comes a long, often painful history that only becomes greater when powerful black figures take up the mantle and hold it in high regard instead of seeking to cast it away.

Tall, Dark, and Handsome, But, Like, Not Too Dark

Probably my entire life, I’ve heard from women in books and on television and from girls emulating them this notion of the tall, dark, and handsome guy, so obviously my life’s goal was to be this tall, dark, and handsome guy.  Admittedly, there were some miscalculations: I’m not particularly tall, but I am average height, so I could date a shorter woman and appear “tall” to her; I’m far from devilishly handsome, but I have been described as “cute” a time or two, so maybe I’ll get a pass on handsome; dark, I’m black, so nailed that one, right?

No?

Dark doesn’t mean skin tone? Oh, it doesn’t mean MY skin tone.

Being black disqualified me from being handsome?

Oh.

Being average height and black makes me tall, and being tall and black makes me dangerous?

Whoa.

So tall,  dark, and handsome can never be me?

Actual Google search. Yes, there’s Boris and about 3 other black men in the first 100+ results. So yay??

First, of course, there are at least two interpretations of the term “dark” in this context.  There’s the literal sense that typically suggests a tan; and there is the stormy and brooding sort of dark. Still, the thing is that neither is ever really used with respect to an actual black person. It’s like the average black person cannot be considered attractive, or, at the very least, they are off limits. I came up with a name for women with this affliction, I call them “ABBY,” which is an acronym for “Anyone But the Blackie.”

There is a not-so-secret rule in a lot of non-black households that you can date anyone you want, as long as they are not black. This is a sentiment that I’ve heard from white people, Indian and Middle Eastern people, Hispanics, Asians, and even some other black people. It ranges from zero interaction to friendship only to, in more liberal circles, “you can even fuck them, just don’t marry one.” It’s not only black people that these rules apply to, but we are usually the final straw, resting at the bottom of the acceptability pyramid, falling below coming out of the closet,  joining a cult, and being homeless, just ask the cop who is on his third mistrial for murdering his daughter’s black boyfriend.

There is a long list of celebrities who have gotten in trouble for saying it out loud. Just this year, George Lopez was heckled by a group of audience members for saying the only two rules of a Latino household are, in this order, “Don’t marry somebody black… and don’t park in front of our house.” In Bend It Like Beckham, the main character, a British Indian woman, completely without controversy and protest, set up a hierarchy of people she would be allowed to marry, black was on the absolutely prohibited list. And even Donald Sterling told his black girlfriend that she can fuck black guys… but he didn’t want her being seen in pictures with them. Priorities, amiright?

Odds are you’ve heard it from one of your own family members and didn’t need my examples. It is such a normalized concept that good, close friends of mine have said it to me without batting an eye, including a friend that is MARRIED to a black person.

“It’s just something you don’t do,” she said.

This coming from a foreign citizen from a country with a black population smaller than my Facebook friends list. To her credit, she knew the stigma and stereotypes and still chose to marry a black man against the protest of her family, and they are still happily married. Her family came around, too, eventually. Grandkids have a way of doing that.

There are a lot of complex layers to this phenomenon.  Seeing as though, I don’t have a PhD in sociology, I will attempt to address them as broadly and incompletely as possible.

Kidding…not kidding.

The most far right end of it is just plain ol’ racism, with the hard R. I’m bored with racism. Racism has been a vastly unchanging cornerstone of  human existence.  I’m sick of it.  Racism is essentially people with the wealth of scientific discovery for the last two thousand years, sitting in a cave declaring themselves to be at the center of the universe. I don’t have time for these kinds of people anymore.  I just don’t. Nothing I say will reach them anyway.

The next category is a mixture of things.  It largely falls into the ‘ignorant bias’ pile. The pile is a giant mix of historical biases, tribalism, and media influence — it’s social conditioning.  It’s is the people who have never had a bad interaction with a black person, who may even have black friends, who still feel a bit weird around them for no other reason than their skin color and aren’t quite sure why. It’s people who say “Greeks marry Greeks” and talk about preserving the culture because someone of another culture wouldn’t understand or value your culture the same way. It’s someone who says “our people have always had problems with those people.”

(Side note: any time anyone says we have always done anything as an excuse for continuing to do it, remember my center of the universe analogy and slap them with it, metaphorically, of course, unless they really really deserve it.)

It’s people  who watch too much Fox News or read Breitbart articles and believe it without venturing to dig deeper. I’m just saying if you are going to talk about crime in black neighborhoods, also talk about redlining, poverty, and segregation. That’s it, Fox. That’s it. You’ve come so close at times. Just say it.

And just fuck you, Breitbart!

But I digress…

It’s people who will make an exception for every good and upstanding member of another ethnicity that they encounter,  while still clinging to their biases about the group as a whole.

It’s people who say, “you’re one of the good ones,” like I’m supposed to ignore the insinuation that the rest of my people are the bad ones.

 

These people are lazy. I can’t fault them for that completely because I’m lazy too at times. It is easier to stay in your small world where you are sure of everything, than risk going out into a bigger world and learning how foolish you were before. It’s less risky to sit back and speculate about the shadows on the cave wall than to go outside and investigate them, but it’s also dishonest and cheap.

I think the last category of people are the most fascinating and to a degree, the most honest. These are the people who understand how the world treats black people, judges it to be unfair, and then actively decide that they don’t want that kind of life for their own children. They may not harbor a racist bone in their bodies. They teach at inner-city schools and volunteer to tutor children. They coach predominantly black teams, and take racial slights against their teams personally.  They marched at a BLM protest. They are “woke,” in modem parlance, but at the end of the day they are still willing to say “it is okay for them, but not my own children.”

It is honest.

Truthfully, I don’t know how to take it.

How much further can you ask someone to spread themselves?  How long before your coach or teacher becomes a martyr?  Is that something you should even expect? Isn’t the goal of a parent to give their child a better world than they had? Would you condemn your own children, grandchildren to a life of strife, even if through no fault of their own?

The clear answer is no, even if it meant saying ABB and appearing  to be a racist at worst or hypocrite in the best light, but things dealing with race are very rarely clear. To give up is to give in to an ideology you don’t believe in. You must fight, but to what end?

I don’t know.

Life is complex. Love is complex. Attraction is complex.

I don’t have all of the answers. Everything I’ve said here I could be completely wrong. I’m just trying to figure it out like everyone else. It may be a mixture of all of the above and more. It may be people who have actually had bad experiences who are now passing it down like a family recipe. There is, of course, some degree of pure unadulterated personal preference, though that is in part subject to conditioning too. There’s infighting and reluctant acceptance.  There’s the threat and actuality of being disowned and cut from the family will, and the fear of losing touch with the community that raised you. I can only present you with more questions, the most important of which is why? Why should the color of someone’s skin seal their fate on life, love, and happiness?

I am a proud black man. If I could choose and do life over, I would be black all over again. I would take every slur, slight, and fist fight again, but I worry about my fiancée. I worry about her future, her safety, and her comfort.

Last year, I took her on a trip to Ireland, which overall was amazing, except for one part. We went to a nice restaurant, where we were effectively denied service. They greeted us, told us that no tables were ready, then took us to an area to wait.  Then another couple came and they were sat immediately. First, I chalked it up to a reservation.  They were dressed nicely, like maybe they had a plan. Then another couple came, they were clearly walking in off the street, and they were sat immediately too. Then the person who sat us came over and said it would be another 10 to 15 minutes.  I knew immediately was was happening. They wouldn’t say they wouldn’t serve us, they would just keep skipping us until we chose to leave or they closed.  I’ve seen it before. So we left.

I was furious.  Of course, I was.  But not just because it happened to me, but because it happened to her.  I was angry that she had to go through that because of me. I was embarrassed… embarrassed that racism was something she would have to learn to deal with because of me, like racism was some drunk uncle who she should expect to drop by unannounced, like it was a normal and inconvenient part of loving me. I wondered for the first time in our relationship if she would have been better off dating someone white who wouldn’t have to go through that. I like to believe the answer is no because no one, white, black or green, would love her the way I do, but I worry.

I worry about our future children.  I worry about my sons and the potential dangers they will face, because I have faced them. I worry about my daughters in a world of uncertainty and dangers I don’t even know to expect yet… but maybe–maybe I could I save them some measure of pain by saying “anything but black?”

Or, will I say love, even though it hurts?

What will you say?

Black Loves Blank

Today is a love day, so get your tissues ready.

I love “love,” romantically. I am infatuated with it.  I call it in the middle of the night to hear its voice. I drive passed its house.  I stand outside its window with my boom box playing emo love songs.  I love love.

Because I love love, I don’t accept that love has boundaries or barriers — not race, not religion, not gender. When you love, it is a force of nature outside of your control, like gravity. You are attracted and you fall. Sometimes you land harder than you hoped, but eventually you rise and fall again. You don’t fall for someone of a different hue and suddenly gain the ability to turn love on and off like a light switch, no more than can you force yourself to love someone you don’t. Though, I’m sure we could all agree on how handy that switch would have been with some of our exes, amiright?

I have fallen for a few girls in the different shades of gray.  I run too headstrong to stop and think about the complications until I’m already too deep into it to put on the brakes. When you date within the spectrum of the rainbow, there is always a fear that you won’t be accepted because you are the wrong hue. Occasionally, it happens… more than occasionally, it happens. And it sucks. There is nothing worse than loving someone who loves you back and not being able to be together. I imagine it feels something like when you hold two magnets apart. You can feel how badly they want to be together, the sense of urgency, the raw magnetism, the air literally becomes electric. Then you place a glass barrier between them, and if you let go, they will shatter the glass into a million pieces to be together.

Sometimes the glass is too thick to break, and the magnets slowly lose their charge and fall back into the pile of metal. Other times,  no matter how thin the veil, the two sides can’t connect, the attraction just isn’t there. I have experienced both.

Emma was white, very Christian, and from a conservative family in Tennessee.  I am a black man from Chicago. Our home lives couldn’t have been more different, but we met in a different country where the rules at home didn’t apply. Friendship came easily, love was hard. Long walks from class with friends on our study abroad quickly turned into awkward moments where our friends pretended not to notice how into each other we were.  As the program ran down, we were pushed to make a move. I had been reluctant because of the distance back at home because I knew she was someone I would want to keep seeing. She was reluctant because she grew up in a family where race-mixing was considered a sin.

The air between us was tense with love and guilt. She broke down into tears after our first kiss, then she explained why we could never work — her family would disown her over my color. After that, we had a two-week long goodbye, where, instead of separating, we only grew closer. We grew bolder, too, and more hopeful. We decided to try the long distance thing. We strategically leaked details about me to her family for weeks, so they would like me color-blindedly. “He goes to a top ranked university… and he is going to grad school in the fall… and has a great big family…and he writes poetry… and he’s everything to me.” I eagerly awaited updates on how the conversations went.

“And he’s black…” she said.

The conversations ended after that. Her mother cried and ran out of the room. Her father threatened her with physical abuse… so much for those Christian values. Things ended in an email. She wrote that our relationship couldn’t continue because she needed her parents’ financial support. I understood and I didn’t pursue her, we would never cross that barrier. And just like that it was all over.  No closure,  no clandestine meetings, no further communications, just like a light switch, who knew that gravity could be shut off.

The next girl I dated was black, by design. I never wanted to experience what I experienced again, so I made it a point not to. It was simpler to date “my own.” Ashley was black, but grew up in a predominantly white town, then went to a predominantly white college. I was her first black boyfriend. She wasn’t my first black girlfriend, but she was the first in awhile. At our predominantly white college, the black dating pool was small.

At first, it was nice not to stand out. It was nice not to have to fight about race. We appreciated the visible congruence, but that was all we had in common. My blackness was one of Ashley’s favorite things about me. She brought it up constantly. She loved how we looked together, but the longer we were together, the more I saw how dissimilar we were. My blackness was as important to her as it was to Emma but for the exact opposite reason, I gave her a protective cover.

After a month, it became obvious that we weren’t building a home together, we were building shelter. We didn’t talk. We didn’t enjoy each other. I was arm candy, a chocolate covered trophy. We were a reaction to our own individual hurt. Ashley’s last boyfriend would get angry and call her the n-word, my ex couldn’t date me because to her family I was one. The barrier between me and Ashley was a band-aid, yet we could never get close enough.  There was no grand attraction. It was a compromise to love without pain — it wasn’t love, it was convenient. It was settling for what’s available instead of seeking out happiness. I couldn’t live like that, so I ended it.  I would rather have hardship with someone I cared about than comfort with someone I didn’t. I would fight the next time and every time from then on.

Sometimes being just blue or just red suits you and you don’t need to be anything else. That is fine, too. Maybe you have found the perfect shade of red to match your red. Love is great wherever you find it, but until you find your match,  keep an open palette. “Red” is confining when you are more of a rose color, but “red” is the only label you have been allowed. You don’t have to be colorblind. Don’t put yourself into a box that you don’t fit in. My favorite color is purple — it is the coming together of opposites into something new.  It is the classic example of love, whether your blue is Capulet or Christian and their red is Muslim or Montague.

I fell in love with a purple. I love the way she loves. I love the way she exists in both worlds. I couldn’t imagine my world without her. I love better because of her. I love love again because of her.

To love love is to give yourself to whoever love sends your way. It is both the ultimate duty and the ultimate freedom — love for the sake of love.  Love the person who loves you back, despite your differences. Love the person who makes you laugh, intentionally and not.  Love the person who challenges you and is challenging at times that you can’t see yourself without. Love the person who makes you desire the future.  Love the person who puts up with your snoring because they would rather barely sleep beside you than sleep without you. Love the person that pushes you into adventure, the person that makes you a better person, and the person that makes you want to be still better. Love them like it is your calling, like it stirs you from your sleep and begs you to put words to page lest you forget them. Don’t love the person you’re supposed to, love the one you do.

Love her.

Then marry her this October.

Or, you know, whenever 🙂

How I Fell in Love With Hip-Hop

I didn’t grow up with rap music. Despite growing up in a predominantly black neighborhood, I went to a Christian private school in a conservative white suburb where rap music was frowned upon —  where being black in general was frowned upon.

Side note: My phone auto-corrected “rap music” to “real music.” That made me smile. 

I don’t recall if anyone ever said it out loud, but, there, rap music was associated with gangs, drugs and violence, and every other stereotypical black behavior conservative white people hated. Rap was the worst thing in the world. I was a “good” kid, so I didn’t want to be associated with that either, so I rejected it, too. I learned to love R&B instead: Boyz II Men, Dru Hill, 112, Az Yet, Shai, Bel Biv Devoe, R. Kelly, Jodeci, Blackstreet, and classic soul —  that was my “black” music. Will Smith may have been floating around then too, but I never really counted him.  He was safe. He didn’t curse,  wasn’t a “gang banger,” was generally upstanding… he was the Carlton of 90’s rap. 

I thought N.W.A. was too antagonistic and they were awash with controversy in the periphery of my childhood. Snoop just didn’t make any sense to me at that time. My father would listen to Regulate by Warren G on repeat for a decade, but that was his music, not mine. Though, I still can’t hear “mount up” without rapping the whole song.

Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise was the first rap song that I really loved. I fell in love with it after watching Dangerous Minds. Though it’s a classic “white savior” movie, it hit at the exact right time in my life. I was getting ready to transition from my life in the white suburbs to the hood, and I had been relatively sheltered. My father tried to protect us by keeping us locked in doors. We pretty much only played in our own yard with kids my dad permitted in. If we went out, we had to be home within in 20 minutes of the street lights coming on. If it took us too long, we’d find our dad walking to come find us. We lived surrounded by gangs, drugs, and violence and I was oblivious. We got dressed every morning, drove to the white suburb, and put on our best “white masks” and tried to blend in. We went to school there. We played there. Our friends lived there. Home was the foreign space.

The masks began to crack in fistfights with bullies. They always knew how black we were and they never let us forget. I don’t know what it was with white kids and spitting, but it was a popular form of antagonism. Fortunately, the white kids were afraid of my older brother. He was always getting into fights and they wanted nothing to do with him. Things got worse when he graduated. We lost our bulldog and I still had two little brothers to protect on my own. I looked to rap to show me how to act tougher. For nearly two years after my brother graduated, we got into fights nearly every day. The school never suspended or expelled anyone. They were too afraid of the bad press  following from the miniature race riots unfolding on the school playground. 

The mask finally broke when my favorite teacher told my younger brother’s third grade class that “if Rosa Parks had just sat her black butt at the back of the bus none of this MESS would have ever happened.”  Word spread quickly among the school’s few black families. The school was in a uproar. Our calls for her to be fired were met with platitudes and excuses. Instead, of firing her, they hired a black pastor, only they made him split his sermons with the white pastor. Then after complaints about his style, he was fired after only a few weeks, but still she stayed.

We couldn’t stay after that. 

I had to re-think my identity after that. My favorite teacher hated black people, she hated me and everything that I was, and I had spent a year worshiping her. My former favorite teacher broke my heart, and, in doing so,  condemned us to public school in the same poor neighborhood in which my parents tried to pretend we didn’t live. Dangerous Minds was a video representation of what I thought we were walking into, so I watched it like a documentary. Gangsta’s Paradise was the signature song to the movie, so I made it my battle hymn, and I loved it like a soldier loves the National Anthem.

Life was nothing like I thought it would be.  It was an underfunded school with sub-par facilities and outdated classroom materials, and all of the white faces were replaced by black ones. I was terrified. For the first time in my life the teachers, the students, and the community were mostly black, and I had spent most of my life until then hearing about how terrible other black people were and trying to be more white. After a few weeks of adjustment, I learned most things were the same — that most people were the same. Most kids cared more about rap and “footworking” than boy bands, but they still liked the boy bands, and I stood out for doing “white things” instead of my skin color. The only white girl in the class “talked black” and I was accused of “talking white.” The world was very different from my last one, but not as different as I thought it’d be.

There were fights, but far less frequently than I had been in before. There were gang bangers, who were mostly high school students hanging out on porches. Most kids did their best to avoid them, crossing streets, skipping various blocks, and running if necessary. Some kids would end up in gangs, but at school, we were all friends. It never really seemed like being in a gang was a choice, rather, it was something that just kind of happened. You lived in an area with a gang, your friends were in that gang, maybe your family, and it was safer to be in the gang than to be on your own, so you joined too. It was just a fact of life.

As an attention-starves preteen looking for acceptance, I did everything I could to fit in, short of joining a gang. I played sports. I hung out with the cool kids. I pretended to smoke weed once. I dated a black classmate I wasn’t interested in because the girls in the room decided that we were a couple, so I just went with it. (That’s just what middle-schoolers do: they randomly pair off into political alliance couples — it’s Game of Thrones with less murder and more drama.) I tried to learn how to dance “black,” even practicing in the mirror at home alone. I studied rap music to a point where I could carry on debates about the greats. I played the game until I didn’t stand out at all. At some point I stopped pretending to be “black” and became black, my own way, and in the process,  I fell in love. 

I fell in love with hip-hop when I fell in love with black people,  when I fell in love with myself. I had been living in a white world that was constantly telling me everything that was wrong about being black, so I avoided being “black,” stereotypically black. Then I lived in a black world with black people who loved being black and my world changed. It wasn’t a stereotype, it was a culture. It was our story. It was the story of the grind, the chaos, the oppression, the love, the strength and the perseverance.  I fell in love with hip-hop when I realized that I was only hearing one side of the story, told by people who would never live it, and would never care.  I fell in love with the story hip-hop told. It was real life. Someone once famously said that “rap was the CNN of the ghetto” or something like that. Hip-hop was my every day life. It was music, women, style, poverty,  violence, and the pursuit of a “good day” despite the struggle of my surroundings. 

It was real. 

I think Tupac was the realest of the real, a rap legend, the living representation of life in the ghetto. He rapped about the internal turmoil of love and violence, survival and morality, getting out and loving where you came from. His death was a perfect poetic irony.

Because of Tupac, I learned about Biggie. From Biggie, I learned of Nas. From Nas, I found Outkast. From Outkast, the floodgates opened. Wyclef, Coolio, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and 504 Boyz  became my “black music.” They paved the way for the Kendricks, Commons, and Kanyes, the Drakes, Childish Bambinos and Chance The Rappers. They were laying down tracks about a different black narrative to which I could march to my own beat and tell my own story. I fell in love with myself when I fell in love with hip-hop. 

I Am Not A “Nice Guy”

When did the phrase “I’m a nice guy” become the next “I’m not racist but ___.” It seems like nowadays anytime a guy,  especially online, says that he is a nice guy,  it is followed by him proving that he is not actually a nice guy. 

C’mon, the first sentence in his post says “before you reject the nice guy, or friend zone a guy BECAUSE HE ISN’T YOUR TYPE. ”  

Sorry, what?!

When did people start dating people they weren’t attracted to just for the sake of doing it? Of course,  you can be emotionally attracted to someone you aren’t physically attracted to, but that’s not what this is saying.  This is saying date someone just because they are nice, not because they are smart, or funny, or charming, or because there is deep and true friendship — no, do it because they are nice.

Nice is such a one-dimensional thing, yet there is so much to it. It’s generic and complex. You can describe a wall,  a flower, a piece of art, a gesture,  and a person as nice, yet every single person may understand it differently.  The classic joke is that when a girl describes her friend as “nice,” it usually means that she’s not pretty.  When a guy describes his friend as nice,  it usually means he is shy and/or nerdy. When I say “nice,”  it’s usually my generic way of saying “cool” or “that’s okay.” It is bland acceptance.  When I say a person is nice,  they are, but it says absolutely nothing about their value on the dating market. 

The default, bare minimum should be nice. If it’s true, then it should go without saying. No one wants to date a jerk. If you started your profile with that,  you would remain justifiably alone.  So what does “nice” tell me about you?  Nothing.  If anything, it tells me that you have nothing else to offer. 

Maybe your version of “nice,” just isn’t. Maybe you are a spiteful, judgemental, egotistical person who can’t imagine anyone being happy without you. Why would you want your “dream girl” to be miserable? On what criteria are you choosing this dream girl that her happiness means so little to you? Why is your  “nice” contingent on her wanting you? Maybe that’s why she didn’t want you.  Maybe she saw you for the petty chauvinist that you really are.  Maybe she knew that you weren’t really nice, that you were mean and empty,  and you didn’t value her as a person, that you would trade her in for a younger woman as soon as you lost your fascination with her looks. Why doesn’t your dream girl have a personality? And, what about you makes you worthy of her? 

You’ll hear a lot of guys talking about how some random attractive girl doesn’t go for nice guys like them, and they will sit and fabricate a terrible personality to go with this random person that they want,  but in reality her looks are the only thing they care about.  People are hypocrites even in their fantasies. Do you even know her? Have you even ever spoken? Are you even friends? 

Are you sure? 

There is no friend zone. She’s just your friend.  Grow up.  

I won’t pretend that I have never been that “nice guy. ” I had a near-identical conversion once with a girl I did eventually date, and that ended with us both looking for other people at different times during the relationship. Turned out that I only wanted her because I thought I should, but when it got down to it,  we weren’t actually compatible.  I complained that women didn’t want “nice guys” like me. I sat by all butthurt that girls I liked went for other guys, I didn’t look at myself. Then, I grew up. I lived my life, had adventures,  became more confident, and, suddenly (not), women became more interested in me.  It was a matter of time and character development. 

That’s it.

I stopped being a nice guy. I stopped resting on my being nice as my sole value, because, again, that should be a given with most people. I became a funny-ish guy with great stories and a couple dance moves that liked to write. I am far from perfect. I’m definitely not the most attractive guy in the room, but I have something to bring to the table. I stopped worrying about all of the people who didn’t want me and focused on just being me, and the rest fell into place.  

Stop being nice, be more.  

Just stop being this guy: 

The Not-A-Friend Zone

The friend zone is the place men and women get sent when the person of their interest sidelines them to pursue some jerk who will eventually break their hearts — but, like, totally not like you, though, you’re special.

The friend zone could really be called the place where men and women go to fawn over their disinterested friends.  I’m not hating. The friend zone was my dating life from about the age of five until I was thirty, then one day it hit me: I wasn’t being a friend at all. I was guilty of falling into the “friend zone” trap, which isn’t being put in the friend zone; it’s believing that there is a friend zone, or, really, believing that I was entitled to my friends just because I wanted them. 

always considered myself the Ross on Friends, the good guy waiting passively in the wings for a girl to come to her senses.

Pause.

If that last sentence hits you weird, it should. It’s a lot weirder when you say it out loud than when you write it in your diary. 

Would a real friend really spend all of his time hoping that their friends relationships fail? Would a real friend constantly disrespect the wishes of their “friend’ by pursuing them after they have been asked to stop? Would a real friend complain about how stupid their “friend” was for not being with them, undermining their judgment and independence? Now, before you answer yes defensively,  would you do the same thing to a friend you weren’t interested in? Would you want your platonic friends doing the same thing to you?  Of course not, that would be a pretty crappy friendship.

I remember getting into a fight with an ex-girlfriend about her guy friends trying to sleep with her. I told her that if her friends were constantly trying to sleep with her, they weren’t actually her friends, they were suitors. I would like to say that how hypocritical I had been hit me immediately, but it didn’t. It was years later when I read an article about the simultaneous fear and urge for women to date men, who are both their biggest threat and desire. I don’t even remember if the article talked about the friend zone. It talked about men’s angry response to being rejected and the danger it presented. I didn’t want anyone to be afraid of me, I was Ross.

Then I really thought about Ross. He was obsessive, greedy, and at times malignant. He dated and married several times all while being “in love” with Rachel. He sabotaged her relationships. He constantly challenged her mental acuity, sense of responsibility, and judgment…. but he loved her, they were “Friends.” (See what I did there!) In any other situation, someone like that would be considered an enemy, but because he wanted her, it was okay.

It’s not.

It is a sense of entitlement. I hate entitlement. It is saying that because you want someone they should be forced to want you, despite their own personal choice. Just think about that in the reverse. Should you be forced to date someone just because they are attracted to you? You like women your age, but someone 20 years older likes you. Do you have to date them? Take it a step further. You are heterosexual. Should you be forced to date someone homosexual who happens to have a crush on you? Of course not.

It is about respecting the choice and independence of the other person. I’m not saying it’s easy. We are all the victims of media messaging telling us the good person will eventually win and get the person of their dreams, but we know from real life that sometimes they don’t. Sometimes winning is finding someone who actually wants you.  In your friend zone moments,  you don’t understand how great it is to be picked, to be personally picked, because a person wanted exactly you. It’s the best feeling in the world, to know that you are special, to know that someone with free will and judgement that you respect wanted you back. It’s a lot better than resenting someone into liking you.

Again, it is hard. We all still root for the underdog in the movie and hope the skinny, broke, acne-ridden teen ends up with the supermodel, but maybe we can separate fact from fantasy and write a better ending in real life.

So here’s my promise, aside from the fact that I am getting married soon, I promise to be your friend because I want to be your friend. Friendship is the only goal of my friendship with you. It’s not a foot in the door.

Also, if there really is someone toying with your emotions to keep you around, is that really someone you want anyway? Is that person really even a friend?

My Review of “Pass Over:” A Play About Race And The American Dream

Full disclosure: I didn’t know anything about this play 10 minutes before I went in. I thought I was on my way to a completely different play, a comedy in fact, but there was a minor miscommunication and here we are, reviewing Pass Over.  I heard there was a controversial and scathing review of the play. I haven’t read it yet, but I will and I’m going to respond to that here too.

Spoiler alert, obviously.

My unbiased review: I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it either. 

For the first fifteen minutes of the play, I considered walking out. I heard more N-words in the first 15 minutes of that show than I’ve probably heard in the last three years combined and I am a black man with black friends and family who use the word. It was gratuitous, deliberately so, though that isn’t immediately obvious until later. So, for the first 15 minutes of the play, I sat stone-faced in a sea of largely white faces laughing at what, in my opinion, was an offensive caricature of black people — loud, cartoon-ish, n-word-dropping bums, always talking about their plans but never taking any action. Obviously, part of this is due to the “Waiting For Godot” influence.

True to that Godot outline, the play delivered a quality existentialist experience, weaving in a contemporary “urban” experience into a world of racism, strife and hopelessness, while the characters clung desperately to the dreams of a better life, only for hope to be dashed away repeatedly.

The actor playing Moses gave a great performance. He was funny, passionate, and commanding. In my opinion, he carried the play, and even transcended my initial misgivings about his character as a stereotype. I wasn’t as big of a fan of “Kitsch.” Again, his character embodied the buffoonery of a caricature of a black person throughout the play, so to some extent I can’t separate the actor from the character. My apologies. The actor playing the “out of place” white man and police officer, also gave a great performance.  His emergence was the first time I laughed during the play and pulled me off the edge of leaving my seat. He walked the line perfectly. His mixture of innocence, anger, and manipulation belied his role as a glorified “white devil” character type, making the story easier to get behind. Personally, I don’t love black and white character types and I am hesitant to embrace a character who is 100% any one way, especially in such a controversial context, but I think they managed to hold it together well-enough to convey a meaningful message.

I will leave my dive into the action there.

Final opinion: It’s worth a watch.

It’s gritty, trope-ridden, and, at times, hard to watch in the right and wrong ways, but it delivers a powerful statement about race relations and the Black American dream in modern times through the metaphor of Moses, the biblical character who lead the Hebrews out of Egypt, with a nod to Godot-style existentialism. You will leave the theater lost in thought and I think that was the writer’s intent. It is the start of a conversation, so see it and talk about it.

After reading the Chicago Sun-Times review of Hedy Weiss: 

I think Weiss’ criticism lacks a fundamental appreciation for metaphor and the representative aspects of a character playing a role. Her criticism is largely about the depiction of the white characters. That’s it. She felt the play cast “ALL WHITE” police officers in a negative light and was condescending to all white liberals, though she had no problem with the number of n-words dropped, nor did she care about the stereotypical depiction of the black protagonists, nor their strife or the admitted parallels to real-life race relations. No, just the depiction of the white characters.

Her article screams “all lives matter,” “blue lives matter,” and “but what about black on black crime,” as her review drifts away from the actual play and indicts real world Chicago crime, even citing specific incidents in the news, as if that had anything to do with the play, and as if black people are not allowed to ask for their lives to matter without first addressing all crime in black neighborhoods — the two are not interdependent.

To say the play unraveled in the pivotal last 10 minutes is to throw out every single meritorious point of the play because a white character suffered, briefly, (and lived) despite the heinousness of his actions throughout the play. It is the literary equivalent of justifying an officer shooting an unarmed black person even though the video evidence doesn’t support the defense.

Married By Tinder

… and a shameless plug for them to pay for my wedding… so, you know,  spread the word.

Tinder — the material used to start a fire.

Tinder — the “dating” app — catches a lot of heat for its perceived superficiality and commodization of individuals into a few pictures and little more than a tweet worth of a bio. But, “all it takes is a spark.” Man, if that’s not the logo, it should be. The best and worst thing about Tinder is that it is human.  It is exactly what people want it to be. It is no more superficial than its users and no less.

As a former, avid online-dater,  I have been on nearly every dating app ever made, and the truth is that it’s all the same at the end; it is all exactly what you hope to get out of it. I spent hours crafting witty, attention-seeking, Pulitzer-Prize-worthy profiles on other sites that lead to a series of tragic and questionable relationships,  at best.  At worst,  it was exactly what Tinder is accused of being — superficial, the only difference was the character limit.  I did exactly what I did on Tinder. I would “wink” or “smile” or “like” the prettiest girls, often without ever clicking on their actual profiles to give it a read, then as I got better at online dating, I would read just enough of the profile to create a message that seemed like I was genuinely interested.

Of course, there were times I was genuinely interested, but online dating is a numbers game. It’s the hope that of all the people you could potentially like, some of them will potentially like you back, and maybe,  just maybe,  one of them will be THE ONE.  After spending weeks checking obsessively to see if one person finally responded to my sincere and truly optimistic email — they never did — I learned not to put all of my eggs in one basket. Dating IRL is no different at the early stages.  You wink and flirt and laugh at unfunny jokes in the hopes that someone you might like will like you back. Just like Tinder.

Obviously,  I am invested. Tinder changed my life.  In four months,  I will be marrying the love of my life and I have Tinder to thank for meeting her. Tinder destroyed the long checklist of must-haves that I fabricated over the last few years of dating — just in time, too, because my fiancé would have never made the cut.  I am a thirty-two years old, not particularly religious, Scorpio, and reformed “player.” My fiancee is a devote Catholic, Sagittarius, with a relatively innocent past. She’s also a little older than me. On other dating sites, most of those things probably would have been deal breakers not that long ago.   In fact, I probably never would have seen her because my filters would have blocked her. Maybe those filters are why it took me so long to find her in the first place. 

She ended up on Tinder the same way I did. She had been on all the apps and websites. She had been in a few ill-advised relationships.  She was tired of putting in so much effort and things going nowhere. I almost ignored her even after we matched for the same reason. I was on my way to “Clooney-ing” it and being a career bachelor, you know, before Amal.

I thought,  “why would this be any different?”

I clicked through her profile repeatedly for at least a week before I finally said “why not.” We had four friends in common and she seemed to be a fan of Notre Dame like me. That was it. That was all it took to push me over the edge. Now here we are only four months from our wedding.  All it took was a spark. (I’m going to make this a thing!)

I used to think that a lengthy profile was necessary to feel like I knew someone well enough to want to take them out out on a date.  Turns out that it’s only enough to think you know some one, or to find out how creative of a lia—, how creative of a writer they could be.  Tinder was simple. It was honest.  Swipe.  Match.  Love.  Boom. No checklists. Very few filters. Just a boy, standing in front of a girl, asking her to love him.

Yeah, that just happened, a Knotting Hill reference in a post about Tinder!

Thanks, Tinder.

Sincerely,
A happy, former Tinder user