They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, but after a recent visit there, I learned a valuable lesson that I took back home with me: We have to improve the way we get women drinks at parties.
Earlier this year, I decided to reactive my Ask.FM account, thus allowing people to send me questions about whatever they feel like. As one would expect, most of these questions have been about relationships and dating, some of them are about life itself. Even the simple dating questions, like whether or not a person should text someone they haven’t heard from in a couple of days, comes with some sort of story before they ask me what they should do. I rarely ever get the kind of questions that are simple to answer such as asking me to list my top five jazz musicians alive, or where is the best place to go for a cup of coffee in Harlem.
But I’m not complaining. The dirty little secret about these questions is they help me too. I answer each question as thoughtfully as I can because on some level, I can relate to most of them. I know what it’s like to stress over an unreturned text. For most of my years dating, there was more confusion than clarity about the women I liked and the women who liked me, or why they didn’t anymore. Hell, I even had to go to therapy because at some point, the questions got too big for me to handle, and too deep for me to confide in my friends about. This means when I tell someone they should seek professional help, I am harnessing my own experience to provide that perspective.
I don’t know if I am giving people the right answers, but I’m confident I know what I’m talking about. (Also, to be real, I ain’t got the time nor the energy to look shit up for other people, so if I get an question that stumps me, I would tell them to look it up and keep it moving.) But no matter how well-versed I come off to others, I don’t think anyone is reaching out to me because, unlike Sway, I have the answers. If I had to guess why people open up to me, I would say it’s because I make people feel comfortable doing so. I’m vulnerable with my readers, so people are vulnerable with me. It’s a fair exchange, and to honor it, I would like to ask all of you a two-part question in hopes of getting some insight at the very least.
On Saturday, I am introducing my mother, sister, and niece to the other most important woman of my life.
The significance of this introduction has very little to do with the traditional meaning we attach to meeting family. I am not seeking approval of Gina from my mom. Gina is a grown woman and my mother is fully aware of who she is and how much she means to me. As a matter of fact, none of this is about either of them. It’s about me.
In October, 2013, my mother, sister, and niece came to New York City to visit. This was the first time since I moved here that they would be making the trek “back East” as my mom would say. When my mother surprised me with the news, that they would be coming, I sprung into action to make arrangements for a large gathering of my closest friends and the three most important people in my life. The two parties — friends and family — represented me in important ways. My friends were a reflection of the man I had become in New York City, a network of people who supported me in various ways. I wanted my mother, sister, and niece to meet the people who were there for me in the darkest days and happiest moments of my time in the big city. My family represented who I am as a son, a brother, and an uncle, the man from Seaside, California. I wanted my friends to meet the woman who brought me into this world, my sister who not only I protected but protected me as well growing up, and my niece, the little girl I live for.
Gina and I still had yet to meet.
After my last post, I realized there would be no way for me to republish every single Ask.FM question I get. The volume is just too much, and frankly, I don’t think every question is worth rehashing on here.
What I have decided to do is select a few questions, something around 10, and put them in each batch. These are questions that I feel were the best one for no specific reason. Maybe I liked the question, maybe I liked my answer. Whatever it was, I realized after the last post that I might want to be discerning in my approach to sharing all the questions and answers I get. Here’s hoping you all like this batch of questions as much as you like the last one.
On January 2, I decided to re-open my Ask.fm account after letting it sit idle for over two years. I can’t say this was entirely my idea. It was more like easily influenced. My friend Jamilah Lemieux started it and looked like she was having fun with it, so I thought, what the hell? Let me open mine back up and see what comes out of it.
What has transpired since is more than I ever expected. For long time readers of this site, you will recall I had a Formspring (the original Ask.FM), in which I took questions from readers who wanted some dating advice. My approach this time was just to have some fun, but what’s that thing Jay-Z once said about “you was who you was before you got here”? As it turns out, a lot of people still want my advice when it comes to dating and relationships, so I’ve been spending every single day, answering all these questions.
In addition to people wanting my insight on their personal situations and issues, I’ve also received a fair amount of questions about my relationship and other lighthearted topics, such as my favorite TV shows or what my last meal would be. I’ve loved every minute of it.
I never expected for these questions to come as frequently as they do, nor did I expect them to have the effect that they have on my writing. Since opening up my Ask.FM, I’ve been more inspired than I can remember. As my friend Maya tweeted to me yesterday, “A good question can be a great writing prompt.”
That’s exactly what these questions have become, which is why I’m sharing them on this site. I can’t just be giving all my good stuff away to Ask.FM. I realized very quickly, if I wanted to keep this going, I would have to find a way to make it work for me, so here is my first in what might be many Ask.FM related posts. Before we get into them, let me break it down.
Every day, I am going to answer the questions I receive on Ask.FM. Each batch is basically all the questions I received within that day. So for all these questions I have below, they all came to me from sometime before 12:00 AM today. Tomorrow, I will post all the questions that came to me before 12:00 AM on Thursday. After I’m done answering them, I will cut and paste the questions (all of which are anonymous) and my answers here on the blog. This allows for some readers who may not want to visit my Ask.FM page or sift through them all, to read the questions and answers in one specific place.
As some of you may have noticed, content has not been what it was when I first started blogging. What can I say? Life happens. Posting five times a week got tiring. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to that pace, but I know that doing things this way allows me to give this site some much-needed fresh content. But don’t worry, this blog isn’t just going to be post after post of people’s questions and my answers. You should also know that each of my answers, even the shortest ones, have been answered with genuine care for the person asking. I appreciate all of the questions and I don’t want to make anyone feel foolish for asking me anything. But as serious as I take the questions, I don’t necessarily take myself that seriously.
I am not a therapist; I am not a life coach. I am a writer, and as much as I care about helping every one of you, I also am using these questions as an exercise in developing my voice. Some of you may need real professional help and my words just won’t be enough. My number one goal in answering any question concerning somebody’s personal life or dilemma is to give you a framework for thinking things through. I don’t claim to have all the answers or the solutions. What I have is an idea and a take on how you might want to approach a situation. Ultimately, you should always do your thing over whatever thing I told you to do.
Full disclosure: Questions are left unedited and can be found written exactly the way they came to me via Ask.FM mostly because I can’t edit them on the platform. To be fair, I too have maintained the same standard on my answers. They are as I wrote them on Ask.FM. Exceptions will be rare, an asterisks next to my answer indicates I added that portion when transferring it over to the blog.
I’m listening and I’m answering your questions, even when they’re offensive. So, in the words of DMX, hit me with the question and the answer gonna be there.
When I was in college, I went on a date with a girl who I had my eyes on weeks before I got up the nerve to actually ask her out. It was one of those situations where I liked her before I even went on the date. She just had to show up and I would already be into her.
Show up she did. We went out on a Saturday afternoon to a huge Romare Bearden exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. At the time, it was the largest collection of Bearden’s work ever produced, and even though I was familiar with Bearden, I really was just trying to impress the girl by choosing a cultural activity for our date.
We spent two hours there, and by the end of it, I felt like I was actually getting somewhere with her. To keep things going, I suggested we go for a late lunch, and she agreed. I decided on a bar not far from campus that specialized in beer and burgers. We went inside, sat down, and looked over the menu. The waiter came over and, as is customary, asked us what we would like to drink.
My date chose their seasonal ale, I said I would take a water. When the waiter walked away, I turned to my date and saw she was looking at me with horror. “You’re really going to make me drink by myself?” she said. I was taken aback by her question. Not only did I not know I was in violation of some unspoken dating rule, imbibing just wasn’t something I enjoyed doing at that time in my life. I especially didn’t like partaking in it during the day, and though it was late afternoon, the sun was still out, which meant the only beer I would be having, if I had one at all, was root beer.
The reason I didn’t like to drink, is because I have an allergic reaction to alcohol. This doesn’t mean I can’t drink, but what it does mean is even if I take a small sip of alcohol, my face turns beet red and my eyes get bloodshot. A half-drank bottle of beer can make me look like I just downed a whole six-pack. This made me insecure about drinking in public. Whenever I went out, I usually wore a hat low to mask my face. It was the only thing I could think of to detract attention away from the reactions I had and the incessant questions from others about my state of fucked-upness.
I explained why I was having a water instead of a brew, and did so with a laugh because I thought her reaction was in jest. As it turns out, it wasn’t. She still didn’t get it. To her, it was no big deal that my face turned red, and it was rude of me to make her drink by herself. In her defense, when the beer arrived at the table, a top-heavy glass of amber-colored liquid with a frothy head, standing right next to my regular-sized glass of water with a lemon wedge, it did look like one of us was having a harder day than the other.
But rude or not, I had to stick to my guns. This wasn’t a pride thing, it was a comfort issue. I was still trying to make a good impression on our date, and I was convinced whatever points I lost for not joining her for some libations, I made up for them by sticking to my guns.
We never went out again.
For the sake of discussion, let’s say you have proposed taking a woman out for the traditional activity of dinner. The entire time you’re nailing your performance, and when I say that I mean, you’re comfortable, you’re being yourself, you’re making her laugh and she in turn is all these things and doing the same.
The temperature between you two is warm enough to know a second date soon cometh, but you also don’t want this first date to end after the check is paid. The thing is, you’ve already been sitting for 90 or so minutes at the same table in the same restaurant. I don’t care how great the company is, how satiated you two are, a change in environment is necessary if you want to keep the date going.
Gentlemen, for your consideration, I present to you my first dating hack: Suggest to her you two go somewhere else for dessert and coffee.
When you plan your date, having a dinner spot picked out is only half the battle. Make sure you also have a cafe/dessert bar picked out for after dinner. Don’t think of this as Plan B, this is Plan A(2). Your goal here is to extend the good times and warm feelings. Keep these things in mind when doing this.
Tomorrow, Gina is going on a ladies-only vacation with her friends to some island in the Caribbean. She will be gone for four days.
Now, if this was about five years ago, I would be completely and utterly sick over this. When I was younger, the idea of my woman going on any trip without me had my anxiety levels going up like an airplane. Even if we were in a perfectly good place as she packed her bags, even if I trusted her completely, whenever a woman I was dating said they had a girl’s trip on deck, all I could think about was the possibility that she might meet a Dexter.
Gina’s trip is a little different. She actually invited me to go originally, but for reasons that are I will save for another post, I couldn’t make it. As a matter of fact, I believe the original plan was to make it a co-ed trip, for all parties, and it just so happened things dissolved into what is now a women-only excursion. Besides, I’m not the same guy I used to be, and I’m not really worried about anything happening while she’s sunbathing on the beaches of this island she will be staying at.
But, it took me years to attain this level of calm as she embarks on a great adventure, and for the guys out there who still get knots in their stomach when their girl says she’s going on a trip and you’re not invited, I feel your angst. So for you fellas out there, here are five things you can do to, at the very least, quell your worries.
One of my boys who is married ribbed me the other day when I mentioned how in awe I was of the speed with which time has passed since Gina and I went out on our first date last year. He said, “When you’re married, that’s nothing.” I laughed it off, and then called him a relationship elitist, reminding him that he was once exactly where I was with the woman who is now his wife.
Today marks one year Gina and I have been together. We decided on this date after a month of dating because it was the day of our first date and neither of us have been on another first date since. We never had a conversation about being what the kids call, “official.” There was no serious talk about transitioning into a relationship, and I never formally asked Gina to be my girlfriend. To us, there were never any questions about our status because from the minute we sat down for our first date, we both kind of knew we were each other’s answers to the question, “What does love look like?”
I love my apartment.
In New York City, that is not something very many people can say, so I consider myself fortunate. Here in this city, having a roof over your head that doesn’t leak is a blessing, so having one that you adore, well, that can make even a poor man like myself feel rich. If what they say is true about home being where the heart is, and there being no place like it, then you can find my heart in a one-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor of a pre-war building deep in Central Harlem. My place is my baby.
When Gina and I first discussed living together, there was no talk of moving elsewhere nor was there talk of moving in with her. The latter discussion wasn’t even on the table because she was the one who lived with two other roommates. Besides, with the amount of money we would be saving if she moved in with me, it just made more sense for me to be the one making extra closet space for her belongings.
She’s now fully arrived, the last of her things retrieved over the weekend. Of course, there is still a lot to do including some clearing out of some of my old stuff, and some buying of new stuff where we can properly store old stuff. We need everything from pens for her dry-erase board, to shoe racks. The adjustments we’re making to this new lifestyle are mostly physical, but as everything around the place with which I’m most familiar begins to look different, so has my feelings towards it.
Gina has just moved into my apartment, but I already want us to move out, together. It’s not a space issue. The square footage of our apartment accommodates both of us just fine. My reasons for wanting us to move and live elsewhere together have more to do with truly feeling like we’re in lock-step towards building a life together.
This desire, to want us to establish ourselves on an equal playing field is shocking to me. Like many feelings I have come to experience since she’s come into my life, I had no idea her moving in would make me feel the ambivalence I now have towards my apartment. If someone were to offer a smaller place than the one we have right now, I don’t know if we would take it, but if we did, the biggest reason would largely be due to the fact that we get to start somewhere anew at the same damn time.
That idea, a fresh start together, is what enchants me these days. I’m absolutely in love with it. It’s like, cohabitation, in this brief time, has been great, but it’s merely scratching the surface of what I’m really trying to do with her. I don’t want to just live with my woman, I want us to create our own world together.