The first time “Best Thing I Never Had” sailed through my speakers and into my heavy rotation, I had an unexpected amen moment right there in the driver’s seat of my little struggle buggy. I mean, I like Beyonce and all and I think she’s an awesome entertainer, but I’m generally drawn to music with a lot of depth, which means I’m more likely to have Jill, Erykah, Goapele and Teedra on deck. But every once in a while she drops a gem, and from that very first listen, that one has always managed to make me smile. Hard. Now that is a girl power anthem. And it doesn’t even include a dance sequence.
It reminds me of a really ugly place I was stuck in once upon a time—two years ago now, even though it seems more like a century—when I was steady plotting, planning and pleading for the man I loved to love me back. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. In fact, in the beginning he was designated as The Rebound Guy, the dude who was going to help me get my sea legs in the dating world after my boyfriend of eight years—eight long, engagement ringless years—forced me to put a toe tag and time of death on our marathon relationship. After spending most of my 20s booed up with dead weight, I was understandably a bit disillusioned with love and happily ever after.
So there I was, fresh out on the market, pumped full of encouragement and advice from my homegirls, instructed to play the field, revel in my singleness and most importantly, treat them suckas like hoes. For as long as I could remember, I’d always had a man. It certainly hadn’t been anything intentional. But it also meant I’d skipped the chapter of The Womanhood Experience where you meet new guys and go out on casual dates. When a guy I’d known in passing from college starting flirting with me heavy on Facebook, he seemed like as good a place as any to brandish this new, unfettered attitude towards relationships.
Random status comments turned into steady inbox messaging, which spilled into texts and eventual phone calls until we met for the first time in a public area with plenty of escape routes in case one or both of us felt shortchanged by misrepresentative profile pics.
After battling traffic from Baltimore to DC—and admittedly leaving the house way too late to make it there on time in the first place—I showed up an hour late. If he was pissed, he didn’t let on. In fact, the whole date was easy, like we’d known each other way before The Book brought us together. Our chemistry was crazy. We debated about social issues, talked about hip-hop, laughed at weird-looking passersby. It was magical. He admitted it was the best date he’d ever been on. I was convinced that if this was what dating was like, I’d be A-OK.
The last thing on my mind was snagging myself a new man. I knew that. My mind knew that. But my heart ain’t listen. Without that heads up, it didn’t just fall in love. It somersaulted into it. Problem was, my Facebook Crush didn’t want a girlfriend. And remember now: I was charged with being footloose and fancy-free my doggone self. But as a handful of dates turned into a regular hangout schedule, I started to wonder why he didn’t want me when a swift kick of good, common sense should’ve told me that, if I ever had to ask myself that question, I needed to be thankful that he didn’t.
I’m pretty sure now in retrospect that I was trying my best to force my vision of how perfect we’d be together on him. He wasn’t catching it. It was not contagious. But that didn’t stop me from selling it. In the meantime, he was reaping the benefits of my infatuation. I hang my head in shame to admit how many times I hopped in my faithful hoopty to drive from my apartment in DC to his place in Philly just because he said he wanted to see me. The appropriate term here, I guess, would be strung out with just a touch of goofiness. On top of wasting gas money and precious hours of sleep schlepping up and down I-95 like an interstate trucker, I compromised my self-esteem and my heart by dragging out the inevitable.
Every woman eventually gets to a point where being stuck on stupid gets old. My a-ha moment took longer than it should’ve to arrive. Hear him tell it, it came right as he was about to make that commitment. Of course now, when I look back, I’m fully aware that he was ultimately doing me a favor by not booing me up. So when Beyonce sings thank God he blew it and thank God she dodged a bullet, that’s the part that really makes me throw up my church lady hand and do a little wave of praise. I could still be stuck there or worse, moved from that dud to another one who gave me more writing material and maybe inspiration to pen my own song—even though Lord knows I wouldn’t need to be the one to try and sing it.
I love me some Snapped and I get a good chuckle off a good tale of ex-girlfriend get-back but honestly for me, the best revenge is bumping into him and being my normal, sweet self. I know he regrets stringing me along because he told me as much. I appreciate his honesty. But more important than his Confessions of an Apologetic Would-Be Ex is my own regret for offering myself up to be treated like an option instead of a necessity. I gave myself permission to be played and was a partner in my own self-deprecation.
I can’t imagine Beyonce getting dissed but whoever the fool is who did it is probably somewhere out there wanting to chew on a razor sandwich. He missed a good thing, true. But I didn’t.