Perpetual singleness has taken residence among my circle of closest friends. It’s made a comfortable home in the eaves of our respective condos and apartments, and snuggled at the foot of beds that are very regrettably used for sound nights of shuteye and sound nights of shuteye alone. It’s perched with audacious in-your-face-ness, there with a perky greeting in the morning and a sleepy send-off into the night. Singleness, my dear Clutchettes, is clearly a permanent housemate.
Still, we’re not all sad and dismal about it. Who has the energy to moan and groan about what we don’t have when there are opportunities to chase, experiences to seize, hustles to pursue? But every now and again something — another birthday, a New Year’s Eve alone, Facebook pics of a college homie’s wedding, an innocent but nonetheless insensitive comment by someone dying to know when we’re getting married — will remind us just how single we still are and how, in all of our life planning, we never intended it to be like this for quite this long.
So we’ll indulge in a Waiting to Exhale moment and vent or complain or sometimes just flat out bawl because, right along with the M.I.A. husbands are the not-yet-birthed children (for some of us, not me and my fast tail), and since the two work in tandem in our mental vision boards, it’s kind of hard to lament the absence of one without remembering that we’re also missing out on the joys of the other.
On paper, we really should be flying off the lot: We’re all smart cookies, all of us educated in some sense or another, some of us holding or at least working toward master’s degrees and Ph.D.s. We have a variety of interests that keep us busy and ostensibly will preoccupy us from smothering a man and robbing him of his space. We like sports. We make money and know how to manage it responsibly. We keep ourselves up physically by working out, throwing on makeup, and wearing cute outfits. We’re brimming with personality and spunkiness. However we opt to worship, we all love God and have very personal prayer relationships. We’re fulfilled, authentic, sincere.
There are probably a hundred thousand other bands of chicks just like us, but this is my crew. We’re all “marriage material,” whatever that term means now. But for all of the wonderfulness that is us, individually and collectively, the brothers just ain’t a-callin’ like it seems they should be.
Of the eight of us, some have kicked around the idea of dating outside of our race. I am steadfastly in love with black men — though I don’t discriminate about where in the world they come from, if that diversifies my options at all — so I’m not one of them. I can’t manufacture an attraction that just isn’t there. But hey, whatever works. In fact, two of my besties seemed destined for an international hookup, anyway. They stay pulling in smoldering looks and come-on lines from Italians and Iranians and Pakistanis and even an occasional Korean. And then one hauled off and stepped out and over into White Man Land.
She was so fed up with the arrogance of the brothers here in D.C. — some of whom will come out and tell you how sought-after they are just because they’re black men with good jobs, college degrees, and all of the furniture in their mouths — that she defected. She didn’t glance over her shoulder for approval or wade tentatively into the water. She Naomi Campbell walked to that thing and ended up meeting a really nice, if not a smidge off-beat, dude with mousy brown hair, sparkling green eyes and eggshell-colored skin. He had zero swag. He talked like a typical white guy. He didn’t have that Lance Gross, Idris Elba, Boris Kodjoe wow factor. But he was good to her; he cheerleaded her through the hardest semester of graduate school, and he doted on her hard enough to make all of us start stealing secret glances at Timmy in accounting.
The brothers, however, were not happy. On the streets, they heckled her when the new couple walked hand in hand, showering them with snide comments. Particularly called into question was her new boo’s ability to “handle all of that,” because my sisterfriend has that quintessential video girl shape that brings a rainbow coalition of men to the yard. It was bold-faced disrespect with detailed instructions about what she could do and who she could see if she wasn’t being satisfied, which not only called into question his manhood, but reduced her to a mere piece of flesh whose only requirement was to be smacked up, flipped, and rubbed down.
It wasn’t just the hoodrats from around the way. It was the white-collar dudes, too, the ones so in love with themselves that they forgot to fall for anybody else. They asked her why she was with him (nudging with their heads or gesturing with their eyes because they’re a little more tactful than Pookie and them out on the block). And, because they have a little education under their belts, they questioned her allegiance to her blackness and her people, even though they themselves would and probably did slob down a Becky at record-breaking pace.
The mentality was hanging out like Lil’ Wayne’s nasty boxers: If they weren’t having us, nobody should be having us. I guess we’re supposed to be doomed to be at the mercy of their selectiveness. It’s OK for black women to sit prostrate on the sidelines and watch that double standard get flexed over and over again as a stream of “our men” stroll by, proud as peacocks, with vanilla arm candy. But their reactions proved it was a whole other story when the Caucasian script was flipped.
In the end, my friend and her European boo thang ended up going their separate ways for a variety of reasons, none of which had anything to do with the hoots and hollers from the peanut gallery. She’s too strong-willed for that. But she did realize the cultural differences were something she hadn’t quite prepared herself for. Once, when they were in line at the store and an obviously bigoted saleswoman snubbed my homegirl, her man pish-poshed her anger as an overreaction. If you’ve been black all of your life, you know when to call that kind of behavior out on the carpet, but he couldn’t see around the comforts of white privilege and told her she was making something out of nothing. Little stuff like that.
She insists it was him, not necessarily his race, which means she’d be willing to try The Swirl one mo’ ’gain in the future. She’s with a brother now, and we’re all rooting for him because he’s good, down-to-earth peoples. Marriage material his darn self. But her boldness to try something new has given our little clan a different perspective. And given these saddidy chocolate boys here in Chocolate City a run for their money.