I’ve never watched Love & Hip-Hop, but folks’ comments about the show are enough to crack me up without ever having to actually subject myself to an episode. (Because if it ain’t a reality show about house flipping, wedding planning or crime scene investigation, honey, I just can’t be bothered.) Between Facebook, Twitter and entertainment blogs, there is so much feedback floating around I’ve learned the basics about the sordid storylines and the cast of characters carrying them out. My favorite snarks, though, usually come at the expense of Stevie J. who, up until recently, was but the tiniest blip on my celebrity memory reel.
I knew he was the creative force behind some of the songs I loved to jig to when I was in undergrad, those tunes that will forever be tied to the sweaty funk boxes I frequented—the gym, the old cafeteria, the basement in one of the newer dorms—where we herded inside to party. I knew his body was supposed to be something like a big deal, even though all of the hoopla was lost on me, who prefers the washed-up football player thick-um to the chiseled, muscly Adonis. I like a little meat on my man’s bones.
And I also remembered, through rumors and bouts of odd public behavior, that he was the guy who had poor Eve’s nose, legs and pocketbook wide open. Word on the street was she was strung out on the D and the same sources said Stevie had plenty of it to string her out with. Photos leaked, and we could confirm for ourselves that he is in fact holding, which lent credence to his legendary pipe game, even if he is slightly creepy in a leering, I-just-got-done-doing-a-long-
And so it went, that hip-hop love affair, with major blowouts seeming like cause to end the relationship but being healed over with the salve that is amazing, addictive sex.
You ever been strung out on the D? I have. I’ve been Eve. And like her, now that my hindsight isn’t obscured by an impeccable backstroke, I can give myself the slow headshake at the period when my better judgment got pimp slapped by lust. (Gosh, I really hope my mama skips reading this one.) I mean, I wasn’t buying nobody jewelry or matching fur coats or anything like she was—and I’m not so sure I would have even if I did have that kind of money—but I would hop in my little struggle buggy and take a two-hour ride from DC to Philly, plus gas and tolls, if that’s what the evening called for.
Once upon a time, I was just a good little church girl with my good little church morals and my good little church principles getting out of a ringless, marriage proposal-less relationship with the man I’d loved for eight long years. Enough finally became enough and when that hammer dropped, I ended that marathon stretch of going steady with enough sappy experience under my belt to write a string of mediocre R&B hits. I had done everything I thought I needed to do to, in my mind, to prove myself worthy of being a wife. But when that all blew up in my face, I invested that same energy into doing all of the obligatory petty things scorned women do when their relationships go down in a ball of flames: I trashed all of the stupid little teddy bears, I rounded up all of our corny mementos, I erased his contact information from my phone, which was more of a gesture of finality than a real ex-communication since, after almost a decade of dialing the same number and inboxing the same email address, I had everything memorized.
And then, after a few months of singleness, I got me my own Sleazy J. He was someone I’d known from school, not well, but got to know better through the miraculous connectivity of Facebook. For a while, I was stretched all the way out, doing drives of shame down 95 South at 4 in the morning, racing to beat rush hour traffic to get to work on time just for that darn good lovin’. That toll collector—it seemed like I got the same one every time—has seen me at my absolute worst. Hair all disheveled, makeup ringed around my puffy eyes. Some of you know the look, I’m sure.
The “he” at the center of all of this uncharacteristic behavior was all of the things I’m attracted to, but amplified: smart-alecky, intelligent, well-read but overtly arrogant and, of course, big boned. I’m pretty sure my mother would’ve rather Riverdanced in a rat pit than give him her approval since he wasn’t gentlemanly or friendly or even particularly nice. But I needed to rebel. From love. From obligation. From all of the things I was supposed to do, the same things that had failed me so miserably in the relationship I just knew was going to make me a missus. And so I gave myself over to focusing on being emotionally disconnected and physically manhandled. Literally.
We did make it out of the house every once in a while for dinner or a walk around the city, me and my piece of man candy, but our greatest memories were forged in the confines of a room reminiscent of one of those sweaty joints back in school. Six months flew by fast. But someone who grows up under the auspices of family and God and general do-gooderness can only go but so long before their conscience starts nagging, or they start getting all accidental lovey dovey, or both. You know what happened next: I got attached. I mean, come on. That’s the cardinal rule of no strings lovin’ and there I was, catching feelings. So I unceremoniously brought our little tryst to an end.
He was shocked. I guess perfecting the fine art of putting it down pretty much guarantees your spot as the breaker-upper, not the breaker-upee. I wasn’t a proponent of casual sex before that and couldn’t bring myself to cheerlead it, even as I was in the midst of doing it myself, because I feel like you lose something, a piece of yourself, every time you give it up to someone who just wants to shack up in your space without recognizing your real value. It wasn’t as freeing as I wanted it to be. I actually ended up ruminating over the end of that affair, not as deeply as I did the other one, but still reflecting on it nonetheless. There are plenty of dudes who have the Stevie J. potential and even more who are willing to give it their best shot, even if Mother Nature didn’t make their man package worthy of circulating in an email to a bunch of girlfriends. But that was it for me. That experience makes for funny stories and laugh out loud memories but I know now I’m not wired to be strung out on the D. At least not without a commitment to go along with it and keep me coming back for more.