Truth is I’m tired, options are few. I’m trying to pray, but where are you?…” – Take Me to The King, Tamela Mann
Before I continue this post I’d like to address the elephant in the room – “BIH WTF HAVE YOU BEEN?” I know, I know, it’s been awhile since I’ve shared anything on this website. Those that know me have personally asked me in person/via phone/text/DM why I stopped posting to my blog. My answer, a combination of things: (1) adjusting to a new balancing act of working a very demanding (relatively) new job with my life and (2) reoccurring tech issues leaving me at the will of my tech-savvy guy (he also works a very demanding job so I benefit from his services when he has the time), and (3 – Perhaps the most weighted reason) I lacked inspiration and hit a creative slump. I won’t get into the details here because they no longer matter. All that matters is that I’m back and will be making a concerted effort to post on a bi-weekly basis until I find ny rhythm again. Now, without any further adieu, Decline.
If you follow me on Instagram (IG), you’ve already seen my animated instastory teasers which I presume lead you here – am I right? If you’re not following me on IG: (1) go do it right now and (2) I’ll catch you up. I hadn’t gone on a date in a year, a entire three hundred and sixty -five days (DAMN). It wasn’t because no one was checking for me, but moreso because I wasn’t really ready to put myself back out there again (post break-up). Sure, I’d broke bread and enjoyed cocktails with male friends here and there, but that was it. Those meetups didn’t constitute a date in my eyes because I didn’t consider these men romantic interests, I never got (1st-date) dolled up, and I never expected my companion to pay – all pre-requisites for a date in my eyes. To fill my non-dating life, I stayed busy by working out religiously, relaunching this blog, getting into photography, hanging out with friends, and spending many nights alone in my apartment healing and preparing myself to be vulnerable again. What lead me to the date that I went on earlier this month after a long ass hiatus was a fortuitous invitation from Tennesha Wood, host of the entertaining & raw podcast Dating, Love, & Relationships. My episode (S2, Ep5 – if you have iTunes click here –> https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dating-relationships-and-love-drl/id1318896337?mt=2 , if you don’t have iTunes you have check the podcast out here on Spotify –> https://open.spotify.com/show/01nBLctmkhrUzneFd1VEwN ) was centered around my most recent relationship and touched on a multitude of things that made listeners either slide into my DM’s with words of praise and/or express admiration or simply follow my IG page for their viewing pleasure. One “slider” in particular caught my eye, his name was *Alan.
Alan’s message was short, sweet, and most importantly, respectful. His concise message (laced with genuineness) excited me and intrigued me enough to respond and to click his profile to see the face behind the words. It took me awhile to actually find a photo of him on his feed because I had no clue what he looked like. His profile picture was super small, showing only a profile view of him with a had to the back and a full beard (yaaaaaas beard – I’m a PROUD pogonofile), but didn’t show his full face. I looked through several professional (black & white) photos of podcast hosts and guests, as well as other folks that he photographed before finally finding him. A tall, chocolate-skinned (I’m also in luh with the cocoa), man with a beard, that likes to shoot? JACKPOT! I went back to our DM correspondence and engaged him a bit more – being especially vocal about my desire to shoot with him in the coming weeks. He seemed to be down for it so I took that as a “it’ll happen soon”, clicked follow on his profile, and he followed suit, and I pretty much forgot about it.
Shoot Yo’ Shot
A few weeks went by before I heard from Alan again. Sure, I received a random IG “like” here and there from the pictures that I posted, but no more messages. “Maybe he needs a nudge”, I thought to myself as I sent him a message. I chose to come on a bit strong because I’ve come to realize that men are simple. Sometimes they don’t pick up on signals unless you spell that shit out, so I shot him a message letting him know that I was impressed with a few of the recent photos that he’d posted and told him that I was interested in linking up for pointers on how to turn my photography up a notch. Again, he responded with brevity letting me know that he was interested, but failed to set a date. Now I’m a bit ballsy, I have a way of getting very “in-yo-face” when I want you to see me or want a direct answer. I straight up told him that I found him attractive and that I wanted to meet up with him to not only shoot, but to get to know him. These direct tactics usually have a favorable outcome, but some reason (I found out why later) it didn’t work with Alan because he curved me! ME!!!! Da fuq??? Now, I’m as down to earth as the rest of em’, but I’m from New York and I have a certain innate cockiness that all native NYer’s possess. Why didn’t this man take the bait especially after he slid into MY DM first? Inquiring minds wanted to know (well, my inquiring mind), so I did what all girls do – turned into Inspector Gadget on that ass and made it my mission to figure out what had changed.
BOOM. Although I’d been active in Alan’s DM’s, I wasn’t active on his feed. Little did I know that my detective work would be super easy. I perused his feed for all of 1 min before I realized a new favorite – a lovely Latina with a head full of dark colored curls. “Hmmm. Maybe he recently did a shoot and was sharing some of his work?”, I thought to myself. After all he had several other people on his feed that he’d caught with his lens, she must’ve been one of them. However, this one felt different, so I dug a little further. I started to read some of the captions beneath photos of this pretty woman and saw what I needed to see – Alan had a lady. I started to think about our exchange from the very beginning and felt a tad foolish. As nice and respectful as he was he never actually asked me out upon reaching out to me. He simply shared his thoughts on my podcast episode and liked a few of my IG pics. I started to laugh to myself because I realized that I’d jumped ALL The way out the window with the thought of Alan and I going out, never once asking him if he were in a relationship. Oops. *Unfollows with the quickness*. Ahh well, that was fun.
Tables Will Turn
In honor of #TBT I chose to post a few of my favorite pics and videos from my most recent trip to St. Thomas and you guessed it – I acquired a few more “sliders” into my DM , including Alan. *Rolls eyes with annoyance*. I don’t like when men share overly complementary words with me when they’re in a relationship. It’s tacky, unwanted, and annoying AF. So when the compliments came from him I responded with one word – “Thanks.” That didn’t stop him (because like I previously mentioned, men are simple and somewhat aloof) from proposing a specific date for us to connect for a photo walk in Williamsburg. As nice as this sounded, I was still turned off. He had a girlfriend, WTF was he shooting his shot with me for? I stepped to him and told him that I’d unfollowed him weeks ago after learning that he was in a relationship and apologized for overstepping my boundaries by suggested we meet as I was unaware of his relationship status. Long story short: They’d stopped dating weeks prior, he didn’t realize I was into him, and was very interested in getting to know me. Suddenly I became excited again at the thought of my dry spell being over and allowed myself to get lost in the wave of excitement that took over my body. He took the initiative (which I like) and set a date – we would meet after all of these months in Williamsburg, BK for a photo walk on Sunday – August 5th.
You’d think that after months of going back and forth that we’d engaged in actual conversation huh? Nope, we relegated our conversations to IG DM’s even though we’d exchanged phone numbers weeks prior. I though it would be a good idea for us to speak on the phone before connecting for our initial meeting that Sunday so it wouldn’t be awkward. Alan phoned me on Friday, August 3rd, but I missed his call due to me falling asleep. The next morning I reached out to him. I tend to wake up before 8:00 am on weekends so I shot him a text message to see if he was awake as early as I was and he responded. I gave him a call and enjoyed our lengthy conversation full of laughter, discovering our commonalities, and learning about each other’s backgrounds.
Alan was also a native NY’er, born and raised in the Bronx, had been engaged in his previous relationship (not with the Latina, but with another woman), was a dog lover (I swooned learning this because I absolutely LOVE and adore all dogs), and worked as an engineer for a pretty notable podcast under a major company name (which I will not mention). I also learned that he was he was raised in the P’s (aka projects for those of you that may not know what this) by his mom and eventually made it out into a house after years in public housing. Cool, no judgement here – everyone has a past right? We went on for about 3.5 hours until he had to cut the phone call short due to prior plans that he had with his family. Yet another gem I thought to myself, all of these things and he’s close-knit with his family? This was going to be a dope ass first date. There was however one thing that he mentioned that rocked my world, but I tried to not let it get to me… He was MUCH younger than me. Gabrielle Union-Dwayne Wade age gap younger than me. I’m not in my 40’s like Gabrielle, but I am in my 30’s and this dude was in his late 20’s. FUCK. I almost cancelled our date, but I told myself that I owed it to myself to see this through this small thing and thought about the words of Aaliyah “Age ain’t nuthin’ but a number”, right?
As quickly as my excitement arrived, it left. Reality hit me and I was not ready for this because I forgot how to date. How do I play “coy for the boy”? How do I not turn a first date into an job interview? How do I not dominate the conversation and allow him to lead? These questions and many more flooded my mind as I went through my wardrobe to settle on my first date outfit. I wanted to come across as demure, flirty, sexy, and friendly all in one, so I settled on the Zara number pictured below. A breathable (it was HOT AF in Brooklyn on August 5th, comfort was key for me) cotton-blend, off the shoulder and ruffle, seersucker patterned dress would be the look of the day. I thought about pairing it with all-white low top Chucks because of my current knee situation (I worked out for weeks with a man that had NO business training me or anyone else because he wasn’t certified and am now dealing with the repercussions of putting way too much weight on my knees), but decided against it since I already had to put on my eye-sore of an accessory (my black knee brace) and instead put on a pair of flat gold slides.
Before linking up that afternoon (2:00 pm to be exact), Alan confirmed our date in the AM and told me that we would meet at Sea, the local “fancy” Thai restaurant. It’d been years since I’d been to Sea for a date as it wasn’t a usual go to for me or for the men that I normally dated, but so what. This was going to be a super casual first date and I was more than open to having a lovely lunch at Sea on a laid back Sunday afternoon.
After a little primping and makeup I called my Uber and rode to the restaurant with angst. It felt good to be nervous (in a good way) about something. I started to think about all of the possibilities of the day and my excitement grew. A lot can change in a year – a year prior I was on the verge of leaving a relationship and this year I was putting myself back out there in the running for my “one”. It felt good and I promised myself that no matter what the afternoon brought, that I’d go with the flow, take it slow, and enjoy myself. After about 20 mins I felt the butterflies forming in my stomach. We were near the restaurant and it was time to get out and meet Alan!
I stepped out slowly, took my shades off to increase my visibility, and proceeded to walk towards the front door when I felt a tap one shoulder from behind. I wish I could tell you that I was pleasantly surprised. I wish I could tell you that Alan looked just like his pictures. I wish I could tell you that I was overwhelmingly attracted to him, but I can’t. The man that greeted me was NOT the man that I saw on Instagram. (Sidebar: Does this constitute as a Catfish?) I took him in as I flashed a smile and decided at that moment that this would be our first and last date. He was tall (about 6’2″) and chocolate, but that’s where my interest ended. I’ll spare you details with his looks because that doesn’t matter, just know that he was not for me.
I played it cool while trying my hardest not to show my lack of interest in him, quickly gave him a friendly hug, and entered the door that he held open for me. He may not have been my physical ideal, but at least he was a gentleman. We were greeted by the hostess and quickly seated at a table near the pond for the duration of our dining experience. I sat across from Alan, taking him in some more and literally feeling his nervousness. Since I knew that I didn’t want anything to become of “us”, I did my best to make him feel calm by lightening the mood with jokes. Eventually it worked and his obvious awkWEIRDness died down (he stopped playing with his scraggly beard (yeah, even the beard didn’t look the same from his pictures) and started to make more eye contact. The waitress came around and proceed to place my order – a lunch special item that came with an appetizer and an entree, a spring roll with drunken noodles w/ basil & shrimp and a glass of plum wine. Alan opted for something much lighter, an order of calamari. Bizarre… maybe he was eating light – *Kanye shrug*.
Our food arrived and we shared while talking about things that we’d touched on the day before – his previous engagement, life in the Bronx, his job, and traveling. I’m not sure how I missed this the previous day, but he dropped a bomb on me. Call me superficial, I don’t care, but this one turned me off extremely. I asked him about life in a house after spending so many years in public housing. You see, I thought Alan was a homeowner or at least a renter like me, but I was wrong. Alan sounded confused when I asked this question and quickly let it be know that he still resided in the P’s…. with his brother… and mother. *Swallows deeply*. Strike two. The waitress came back to refill our glasses with water and to get his order for his entree, but he told her that he was still deciding and instead ordered another glass of plum wine. Again, very bizarre I thought, but ah well – I was enjoying my meal. While the food was good, Alan’s company wasn’t. I started to rush through lunch because I started to pick up on our age differences – he wasn’t much of a conversationalist and I was getting bored. At this point all I wanted to do was go outside, check out the neighborhood art scene, learn some new photography techniques and take my ass back to the Stuy. My haste came to a pause when the waitress bought the dessert menu over to our table. There was nothing more refreshing than the thought of a scoop of ice cream to cool me down before going outside into the heat to walk around. Alan and I shared the taro bread pudding dessert and started to wrap things up.
I don’t remember a lot of what my brother told me growing up (because I spent years trying to forget it), but some things stuck – mainly the good stuff. He told me to always make small talk when the bill arrived to the table because it’s a good distraction for the guy. So, I did my due diligence and made small talk as Alan presented the waitress with a blue card that had the PayPal logo on it. A few minutes later the waitress returned. “I’m sorry sir, but this card did not go through, do you have another card? It was declined.” Strike FUCKING three. This had to be embarrassing for him, so again I lightened the mood. “These things happen, I know that when I purchase items outside of my norm my bank freezes my card and sends me an alert to discuss suspicious activity. Maybe you should call them?” I suggested. He sat there and proceeded to fiddle with his phone, but I didn’t notice him making any calls or getting any alternate cards from his wallet. I went to the restroom to get cell-phone service and texted my sister. I was DISGUSTED. This fool had the audacity to ask me out on a date and didn’t have the funds to clear an inexpensive meal where HE opted to dine? I calmed down, returned from the restroom and saw that the declined receipt was still on the table with his PayPal endorsed card. Then I thought to myself. OMG, was he attempted to pay for our meal with a pre-paid debit/credit card? I was now even more disgusted. I sat there and waited for him to pick the phone up and clarify things, but it never happened. “So, is everything OK?”, I asked. “I’m not sure what’s going on. I submitted an invoice to my manager last night and he hasn’t paid it yet.” It was at that moment that I decided that the date had come to an end.
I took my Bank of America debit/credit card out of my wallet and summoned the waitress over to me. I paid the bill, all of it and added tip (because the waitress was on her shit, this clown wasn’t). The total, approximately $65.00 with tip. We gathered our things and started to make our way out of the restaurant when Alan shared his embarrassment and offered to pay what he had on him. “Sure, what do you have?”, I inquired. “About 22.40.” “Of course that’s what you have you late 20-something year old BOY”, I thought to myself. I told him to keep it and told him that when I went outside where the reception was better that I’d send him a PayPal invoice for $30.00. We made it outside and I immediately sent him an invoice and stealthily ordered an Uber to get me as far away from this mark ass trick as possible. Again he expressed his embarrassment and I told him that in the future he may want to check his funds before confirming a date with someone. Would you believe that this fool proceeded to take his camera out to show me some of its features? FUCK YOUR CAMERA and FUCK YOU is what I wanted to scream, but I refrained because there was no need to be a bitch. I let him know that the date would be ending because I was no longer interested in shooting. My Uber arrived in what felt like the longest 3 minutes ever and I said goodbye. I gave him another friendly hug and made my way to the white Honda Accord waiting to whisk me away.
Hours later, to my surprise I received a PayPal notification from Alan. He was a man of his word and paid for the meal (minus tip), $55.00. I quickly transferred the funds to my account because I already saw that his money was hella funny and blocked his ass from IG. That was that.
This is why I opened this blog post up with “Take Me to the King”, because my ass IS tired and (dating) options ARE few. I am TRYING to pray and am wondering WHERE ARE YOU? Yo – on God, when I finally meet the man that I’m supposed to be with I’m gonna punch him in his fucking esophagus for making me wait this long and deal with these broke down busters! Despite this wack ordeal, I’m still in it to win it. I’m not sure where my next date where come from, but I am ready to give it my best shot while maintaining hope, going out on fun first dates (where I BETTER not have to pay again), and will never forget to …
*This dude’s identity was spared because I didn’t feel the need to reveal who he really is. He knows who he is and he knows that has work to do.