I understand what he is talking about – emotionally and practically. When I divorced, it took quite a while to get my mind together. The disintegration of my marriage was a devastating blow. He left me for another woman, something that can damage your psyche, your ego and your mind. I was slow to accept the reality of the split, mostly because my ex made a habit of pitting me and Chris (her name) against each other when he was in some way unhappy with the other. It took a long time for me to accept that my marriage was over and that I was again on the search for my soul mate. The first two years was dating hell. Then again, maybe it was better than I remember – I was younger, thinner and freer. But something wasn't right. Finally, about three years after the divorce, Andy (my ex) called me out of the blue. We hadn't spoken in years. But I had been thinking of him. Somehow, I had come to accept his leaving me for Chris as brave. I admired him; he broke his marriage to be with the woman he loved. That was a daring thing to do. How many times in our lives do we do what we want, what speaks to our heart against societal norms? Almost never. And I was ready to tell him this. But he beat me to the punch. He told me that I was a good wife and that his decision to leave was not as easy as I thought. We both broke down and cried and that was before I said my peace. That we forgave each other, I think, really freed our souls to move on. We'd never have to meet again. We'd gotten our informal "Get", a Jewish spiritual divorce.
And yet, after all these years, I am still single. I can't say that I've been in a serious relationship since. Nothing was more than a year and I can't decide if that was just my poor choices, fear of making a mistake or just the fact that I did not meet soul mate material. I have found that it is very difficult to reconcile your own emotional, physical and mental needs with what other people are looking for. And yes, one still needs companionship and intimacy. It's enough to put intimacy off; it's much easier to avoid the temptations altogether, isn't it? Dating yeah, but what happens when you meet someone you have a strong physical attraction to them? You don't want to move too quickly, but the chemistry is taking you there. What to do? You haven't been in the game for a long stretch and you're used to regular sex. Your ego is bruised and here is someone who finds you attractive, hey downright sexy. This person is telling you the things your ex repudiated. How long does it take to process a lost love? How long until you know your heart, your mind and your sex drive? If you carry forward, be warned, the body will may yes, but the actual going will be strange. Many things will go through your mind; you remember that you promised yourself to another, a person whose body you know well. You start to wonder what this new person expects of you. You start to wonder what you can give. Do you love this person? Do you have to? And the next morning, you will find this strange person next to you with a different scent, breathing that is foreign and habits that you cannot anticipate. It can throw you for a loop, that's for sure. And then what do you do? Is it the person's fault? Is it yours? Did you make a mistake? It all goes through your mind and you still want to talk, to connect, to be. It can be overwhelming and frustrating. It's a wonder that anyone dates successfully after a divorce.
So, what do we do? Well, I think we try to listen to our inner voice. And I guess we choose our dates carefully – like the person enough to want to spend significant time with them before we knock boots. There are so many ways to go, so many books you can read, friends you can ask. But, in the end, it's you; you and your heart. That's it. We come into this world alone and so shall we leave it. In the meantime, we hope we can find at least one person to stir the oatmeal with.
There is only one more original episode left of this quirky, fabulous show. The last episode runs next Sunday night at 10:30 pm EST. It's a wonderful show. Catch it!
Plus, you need to know this.
If you didn’t know already, dating interracially has reached mass acceptance by a majority of Americans – of every race. However, no racial combination is more explosive than black/white. People who will tell you in one breath that they do not approve of race integration in romance, will gladly champion, say the union of a white guy and, oh, I don’t know, maybe a woman from the Philippines that he met on a “marriage tour”. Black/white combinations are in a racial integration class by themselves. While the white woman (WW)/black male (BM) combination is the most explosive, I’m here to talk about the other one. The one that affects me – black female/white male.
It seems to me that having a black girlfriend, wife or lover is more like owning an old Datsun (remember those?). It may look great (alright, I’m stretching, but you get my meaning), be of superior design and get you where you are going when you need to get there; but somehow gets relegated to the garage - the garage down the street, across town or simply out of view
Let me start out by saying that a great deal has changed. Not that I was around back when things were different. But I know that my mom says that in the sixties, a real “Sista” would not be caught dead seen with a white man. As a matter of fact, my mother hinted that if a “Sista” did, she just might turn up dead. Well, thank goodness those days are gone. Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t wanna go parading around Tyler Texas, but most the of the country is safe. Right?
Brave soul that I am, my first crush in kindergarten, was on a little Chinese-American boy (note the correct use of an ethnic identifier). I probably thought that he looked a lot like Bruce Lee, who was my hero and the man I wanted to marry at the time. I had no problem having a crush on that boy. He may have had a problem with it, but I did not (guess I was always ahead of my time). Also in that turning point year (1974), I got my first kiss from a boy with blond locks and blue eyes. He thought that I was beautiful. At this time, can I voice my opinion that little five-year-old blond boys have absolutely the best eyesight. His mother however, I think, did not find me or my mother very beautiful at all. And she had plenty of time to study us as we stood outside waiting for him to emerge to go with us to play at my house. Do I need to tell you the end of that story? He never emerged. I was crushed and didn’t understand why my mother refused to wait longer for him to come out. But then, she was much older and wiser than I and had seen the ugly face of racism. That little boy completely disappears from my memories after that day. I wonder why.
Now I am older, but my mother says, alas, not a whole lot smarter, I look back on my childhood and see the patterns of subtle hate and distrust that I patently ignored. I thank goodness that I refused to see the difference in treatment, the reluctance to take a hand or stringent brush off. It’s true that I have experienced a few bouts of racism, including, in the second grade, being informed by a little Mexican girl that I was a “nigger”. However, in a grotesque twist of irony, I did know the meaning of “beaner”. Some might think that maybe by now I should’ve learned one or two things (like to stop messing with them white boys!). However, I’m still an idiot. It seems that I still spend my time waiting for white boys to come out and play. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. The part that makes me mad is that I don’t think that they know why they are choosing to stay inside and play with their GI Joes.
Lest you think that I have no basis for comparison, I have dated BM. The whole list of which, can be printed on the back of a matchbook - a very small matchbook. I didn’t think of it as filler or something to do until the white boys decided I was okay to play with in public. I dated those few BM, as I thought I dated all men. Because I liked them and figured it would be a good idea to get involved.
Caution: dating is probably not a good idea.
Most of the time I have been wrong about the men I’ve chosen to get involved with. But then, most women would probably report about the same failure rate. That most of the men I date are white, doesn’t mean that I date only white dudes. It just means I date the men that I am attracted to and who are attracted to me. These men were usually the ones who displayed the least path of resistance. In the past, these men have been overwhelmingly european. The ones that weren’t european were jewish. The ones who were not european or jewish were hip, artsy, creative, mentally unstable types.
This dating preference or practice of mine seems to, no, does make a great many people angry. Some of whom happen to be in my own family. They do not approve. But obviously I have not been too concerned with this development. I don’t know if I made the men’s parents angry, because as I alluded to earlier, most of the time I did not get the chance to meet them. Let me assure you that all parents of friends, co-workers and such that I have met have always liked me. That is liked me until I and that friend got really close. That seemed to make the difference. The double speak goes something like this, “surely you can be friends, but marry, live with, have a baby with, start a business with, have lunch with more than once a week, that’s going a bit far, isn’t it?” I resent the fact that with past boyfriends, I was not made known to their world at large. I want the chance to meet the important people in their lives and blow them away with the fact that I am black.
Because not everyone can tell I am black, especially on the phone. I don’t exactly sound “black”. Anyone can see that I am black; when they see me. Although I have to admit that I get asked a lot which of my parents is white. Answer: neither. I clearly look black. Can’t get around it if I tried; not that I haven’t been accused. I cannot say the same when someone talks to me or reads me or hears about me. Want the facts? What some ignorant fools might call the “race definers”?
Lived in Israel and Germany. Does not work for the government. Does not wear fake nails or have hair extensions. Favorite period in history is the Roman Empire. Is fascinated by ancient Egypt. Has a special spot for Brazilian jazz. There is so much that defines a person and almost none of it should give away anyone’s race. Are those things I mentioned white? Asian? African? Martian? I don’t think so. However, it seems that our society, both Black and White has decided that certain cultural choices determine someone’s race: music, clothing, speech, level of education and a few other incidental things.
I readily enjoy breaking down stereotypes. I know my history as a BW and I know my history as a human being. I choose what I believe to be the best lifestyle for my tastes and proclivities. My world, which I feel is the maximized best of the whole that I have experienced is my reality. This reality is afforded to me by my choices, all that I have been exposed to. I try to be the best of everything that I feel is good. Is that rejecting my Blackness? Embracing a Whiteness that will never be mine? I don’t think so.
If I am introduced to a potential in-law (when’s the last time that happened?) or parent of a friend for life, I would hope that I am breaking down their conception of who a BW is supposed to be. I don’t like chance to set the world straight being taken from me. It is frustrating to not be given the chance to show who I am, who I represent, who I am a part of and how that differs from what they think. And if that is living and breathing my politics, I don’t know what is.
Which brings me back to my original gripe. Am I not shown to potential parents-in-law until the very last moment or at least until he can think up some other reason why our relationship won’t work out other than because I am black? Or is there some other explanation?
Ladies, let me hear the amen chorus out.
“You’re way too good for me.”
Like anyone would consciously go looking for someone not good enough for them.
How about, “I’m just not ready to settle down and commit right now.”
And two weeks later you get the announcement of his wedding in Jamaica -- a week late.
Or my personal favorite, “let’s just be friends.”
Face it. Friends don’t let friends fuck.
I suspect that all women have heard these gems or their numerous variations that men seem to recycle with alarming frequency these days. But as a BW who usually dates WM, these little sayings take on a whole new meaning.
Once, I actually sat next to a not unattractive guy at a unusually frisky dinner. He said some enlightening (actually disheartening) things about race relations, especially sexual race relationships. My frequent platonic dinner companion, Jesse, divulged that his number one secret fantasy (that is, after the world’s #1 male fantasy, seeing two women make it together) is to sleep with a BW. Need I say that “Jesse” is white? BM apparently do not have this fantasy. They want to sleep with a WW. No cigaras with this black chick, but he echoed the often echoed, “once you have black, you can’t do back”. I didn’t bother to tell him that I had given plenty of WM their first taste of “black” and it seemed that they actually raced back to “white”! Jesse asked Not Unattractive Guy if he had the pleasure of sleeping with a BW (his loss). He said no, but his brother had. Jesse excitedly asked him what his brother said. “It was fun and is definitely something I should try before I get married.” Good thing that I was intoxicated at the time or my razor sharp mind should have thought of some kind of smart-ass remark. At the very least, I should have lectured him on the marriageability of legions of BW. I should have berated his master-slave, Madonna-whore complex. I should have stopped thinking about getting this guy into bed (moral superiority note: I did not sleep with this idiot!)
What did I do? I laughed at the naiveté and gullibility of white people. Yet another stereotype that I did not bother to topple. But then again, let’s be honest, sexual stereotypes are not the ones that the stereotyped is eager to dispel. Try “black men are hung like horses,” on for size. At least the sexual stereotypes that work in the stereotyped’s favor. Well not, “all WW are frigid”. The particular sexual stereotype that benefits me is that BW are dynamos in bed. And this is not mere conjecture. It’s a fact. This of course is not an excuse for my inability to put that clod in his place, but simply a walk down the sexual stereotype lane for you, dear reader. And if you believe that, you believe that asian men aren’t sexually attractive, I have two words: Russell Wong.
Still, I find it hard to live out my sexual life in a racially political world. And that is not even taking the whole safe sex thing into account. I have seriously considered becoming celibate (not really).
I am still not deterred.
Should I be? Should I worry that every time there is a missed date or casual decline, it is because I am black? Is the caution exercised by the men I date due to my inherent fabulousness as a smart, opinionated, cultured, action-oriented woman or simply because after a few dates, a couple of hops in the sack, the men suddenly wake up and discover I am a BW and this was going to be much harder than they ever imagined?
Give me an answer white America. As a matter of fact, anybody, please give me an answer. Men are just duds, right? Doesn’t matter which race you choose to date. They all suck. The sad part is that confirmation of that statement will probably make me feel a heck of a lot better - and, no doubt also the hundreds of thousands of women who have been involved with men.
Love. What a concept!
"Yes," I answered immediately; then I paused and added, "but they're all of food."
Marlon wasn't much interested after I told him that. I wonder what pictures he would have wanted to see – the Statue of Liberty maybe? But, we've all seen a hundred shots of lady liberty. How many shots have you seen of a sublime beet and goat cheese salad from Eleven Madison Park?
Not many I suspect! But I am here to cure you of that particular malady. New York will now be framed for me in terms of food, not ethnic food, not street food, but "foodie food". Surveying the pictures for this blog, I see that I have a lot of pictures of dishes, most of which weren't even mine. How was I going to describe the taste, the impressions of the moment, knowing that in most cases, I have forgotten? There was no one dish that I have to go back to New York to have. No, my joy was in the overall impression, the ambiance, the service, the other diners, the lighting. No, I won't be able to tell you what the single best dish was. I can only tell you about the places we visited and my broad stroke experience.
The Bar Room at the Modern
The first dish was a real mistake. Everything that followed was bliss; so much so, that I almost forgot to take a picture:
And this happened more than once during our trip – the food would arrive, we'd ooh and aah and promptly dig in, completely forgetting to take a shot of presentation. To prove the point, when something was especially good and we forgot to memorialize it as presented for posterity, we at least memorialized our clean plates!
Girls Night at the Gotham Bar & Grill
Start to finish, this experience was a winner! The ambiance as well as the food was top notch.
TablaWe did the restaurant week at this beautiful space. I can honestly say that every dish had a different take - an interesting flavor, but I would not be a must go place if I were giving a recommendation.
I heard wonderful things about this place - that is was for real foodies. Ah, but I think the moment has passed. The bread was awful. I've heard that if the bread is bad at a restaurant, you should get up and walk out. Well, it wasn't awful, but it wasn't great.
BouleyService, food, ambiance at this lovely spot was flawless. Every dish was amazing. It was wonderful seeing a trio of young men dining next to us. We found out they were 21. I thanked and encouraged them to continue dining fine (and bring their dates with them too).
The emperor has no clothes. Heard the vanilla bean french toast brioche was too die for. It was good, but everything else was a waste from the soggy eggs to the cheese grits that weren't v cheesy. Who messes up grits?
Eleven Madison Park
Ah, fine dining at its height. Oh, the service, oh, the presentation, yum. I did have the Muscovy duck for two that was good, but I can't say it knocked my socks off. However, I would put the experience down as one of the truly excellent dining experiences of my life. Be sure to hit EMP up if you're in NYC.So, my recommendation - dine in New York when you can. I didn't do much in the way of street vendors, bagels or other traditional New York fare. Next time.
In short, I'm feeling normal people's disease. I don't want to be normal. I want to be special. Writing about New York is bringing it all back; life should be a party and not a meeting.
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