—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)
There’s a scene in season one (I think?) of The Wire where the scene opens with one of the cops (“Herc”) trying to move a pretty large desk that’s stuck in a doorway. He’s not making much headway, and his struggle is so obvious that a couple more cops stop what they’re doing and help. One even gets into the room by crawling underneath the desk so he can help on the other side. Still, no progress. After a few more futile moments, every cop present stops what they’re doing to help, half on one side of the desk, half on the other. This doesn’t help at all. The desk doesn’t budge.
At this point, the cops—exhausted by the struggle—all stop for a second to catch their breath and think of a better way to move the desk. While they’re all standing there, wiping the sweat out of their eyes, Herc says (paraphrasing) “Damn. At this rate, we’ll never get it out.” As soon as he says this, another one of the cops (I think it was “Carver”) looks at him incredulously and says “Out?” Herc replies “Yeah, we’ll never get it out.”
As soon as he says this, the other cops roll their eyes, shake their heads, and mumble different variants of “motherf*cker” in his direction before going back to their desks, all coming to the same realization: The desk wasn’t moving was because while everyone else was trying to get it in the office, his dumb ass was trying to get it out.
This scene was meant to be a metaphor for the futility of the drug war, and how much time and effort is wasted on it doing things that ultimately counteract each other. But, while thinking about it the other day (I have random moments of Wire-based nostalgia. Don’t you?), I couldn’t help but think that scene also could have been a metaphor for how we (generally) view dating and relationships.
All of the blogs, books, podcasts, Nightline specials, panels, interviews, features, shows, oral histories, news stories, and web series devoted to this topic have the same underlying theme: Helping people get into and stay in relationships.
This is understandable. Being in a healthy and happy romantic relationship is something desired by most people—mankind’s existence is somewhat dependent on it and shit—so it makes sense that we’d devote a ton of resources to help make that happen.
But, maybe we’re going at it backwards. Maybe all this talk about relationships has helped to cultivate a condition where people eschew all common sense to achieve this elusive goal. Maybe instead of putting the focus on getting people into relationships, we should be more concerned with getting people out of them. Maybe instead of thinking of a break up as the worst thing that can happen to a person, we should start to recognize the beauty in them.
Yes, the beauty. The beauty in recognizing that certain fundamental incompatibilities are never going to change. The beauty in being willing to free yourself from some contrived commitment to get a return on an investment that you know will never be recovered. The beauty in not having to make excuses to yourself and everyone else when asked why you stay if you’re so unhappy. The beauty in enjoying singledom and not allowing external factors to pressure you into doing something you’re just not ready to do yet. The beauty in the hundreds of thousands of people back on the open market after freeing themselves from non-starter relationships; people who may actually be perfectly compatible with someone who’s currently single, but will never know as long as they stay in shitty situations. The beauty of taking time “off” to legitimately work on yourself. The beauty in saying “No” and continuing to say “No” until you’re completely ready to say “Yes.” The beauty in shifting our focus from getting people into relationships to convincing them to leave and stay out of shitty ones.
***BTW, today is the 2nd anniversary of Liz’s twenty-somethingth birthday, so if you see her, please wish her a happy one and buy her a shot. If you don’t see her and can’t buy the shot, just read a random Bible verse to yourself on an Apple product in her honor instead. If, while you’re reading the verse, you happen to come across Liz, continue reading and give her a lapdance***
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)
It’s been a pretty shitty last couple of weeks for everyone’s second favorite ambiguously everything R&B singer. First, he provided the universe with perhaps the 11th or 12th most gif-fable high-profile moment of the year. (Can’t crack the top ten. Those all belong to Chris Bosh.) Then, adding insult to injury, the woman hit by his star-crossed stage jump may sue him.
In between all of this, Miguel also found the time to piss off Black America’s whole entire ass by tweeting that we (Black people) were the most judgmental people in the world. As expected, he was roundly criticized by (mostly Black) folks, who obviously failed to see the irony in throwing negative judgments at someone to prove that they’re not judgmental.
Although Miguel was wrong (more on this in a second), it’s not hard to see why a person might believe what he said. We (Black people) collectively possess many positive attributes. We’re (generally) great at picking up the words and melodies of songs we’ve never heard before while in church, we’re (generally) a pretty forgiving people (well, forgiving of men and boys, at least), and we’re (generally) adept at f*cking Kardashians.
But, we also tend to have somewhat rigid definitions of things like masculinity, sexuality, and religion, and this does have an effect on how we perceive, assess, and ultimately judge people. Obviously, this doesn’t encompass all Black people. Not even most of us. But, the few this mindset does apply to tend to be very passionate, very demonstrative and, unfortunately, very influential. They’re basically Black America’s Tea Party.
That being said, there are dozens of other types of people far more judgmental than the typical Black person and even the Tea Party Black people. Naming them all would take a couple hundred thousand words, so I’ve limited it to a few.
Diehard Sports Fans
Maybe sports tends to attract people with judgmental personalities. Maybe sports culture itself cultivates that way of thinking. And, maybe Justin Bieber got tired of being mistaken for a White lesbian from D.C. and decided to dress like a Black one from Baltimore instead. Either way, no one is more provincial, territorial, irrational, and ultimately judgmental than a diehard sports fan (And yes, I’m including myself).
Very Liberal People Living in Very Urban Areas
Ironically, the demographic who prides itself on being the least judgmental only extends that lack of judgment to people who share the exact same world view as they do.
Old-Ass Black Men
Do you all remember that entry from a year or so ago when I joked that one of my goals in life was to make it to 60 just so I could be an old-ass Black man and be granted the old-ass Black man privilege to say whatever the f*ck you want to say without any fear of reproach that every Black man over 60 seems to have? Well, I have a confession to make. I wasn’t joking. This remains the only human want I still have.
Perpetually Single Women Who Happen to be in New Relationships and Also Happen to Have Single Friends
Every woman reading this who happens to be single and happens to have a homegirl in a new relationship is solemnly nodding her head while remembering the time last week this homegirl snidely suggested that she “might actually find a man” if she “stopped wearing all that damn gray all the time” because it “scares good men” (presumably “good men” like her new boyfriend) “away.”
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)
Pay for dates.
Introduce her to his friends.
Let her know where he lives.
Make long-term plans.
Be seen in public together.
Be seen online together.
The actions listed above are just a prominent few of the many things I’ve heard…
1. Many women claim that—despite however many requests they’ve made—the men in their lives just aren’t interested in doing.
2. Many men claim that they just don’t do.
Usually, when you start to dig deeper, you’ll find that the man’s reluctance to do these things is out of “principle.”
“You know I don’t believe in marriage.” he’ll say over an half-eaten plate of under-cooked garlic parm chicken wings. “You also know I love you. Why isn’t that enough?”
“You know we’re together, and I know we’re together.” he’ll remark while watching back episodes of Hannibal, “Why does it even matter if everyone else knows? What’s the point in telling people and having them all in our business?”
“I’m just sayin.” he’ll type while in the comments section of his second favorite blog. “It just doesn’t make any sense to automatically foot the bill on a first or second date. I mean, she got a job too. Why do I have to be the one to pay?”
Initially, their reasons will make perfect and practical sense. I mean, a marriage is just a piece of paper, right? Why does any one need to know about your relationship? And, what logical sense does it make to pay for a woman’s food if her ass makes more money than you do?
But, after the smoke clears and the dust settles, there’s only one realization left:
Those guys are full of shit. All of them. Every single one.
How am I so certain?
Well, let’s say Beyonce happened to break up with Jay-Z or Zoe Saldana happened to be single (and happened to be dating brothas) or Rihanna happened to be sane. Basically, let’s say whoever the baddest and finest woman of the moment happened to be happens to be single and very interested in one of those guys. Do you really think that if they happened to have a shot at locking down Kerry Washington, they’d still be on that “I don’t believe in marriage” shit? Do you think they’d refuse to allow Nicole Beharie to post and tag pictures they’ve taken together on Facebook? Do you think that if they finally were able to somehow land a date with that bad-ass chick at the gym that they changed their workout schedule for just so they might “accidentally” bump into her one day, they wouldn’t be ecstatic about paying for the first few dates?
Basically, their “principles” are opportunity-based…which means they’re not even really principles. Just arbitrary rules he’s found no reason to break.
Now, I can already see a counterargument formulating in people’s heads.
“I mean, of course they wouldn’t act that way if they had a realistic shot at Beyonce, but how realistic is that scenario? I mean, I know I’m cute and all, but I’m not Beyonce.”
You’re right, hypothetical woman asking me this randomly specific hypothetical question. You’re not Beyonce. But, that’s exactly my point.
We (guys) talk a very good game. I know this for a fact, because I am one. We’ll say what we’ll do and won’t do, and we’ll appear to be very insistent, stubborn even, about our relationship mores and principles. But, for 99.9999999% of us, all of those principles are thrown out of the window once we meet someone we really, really, really, really like.
The source of much (not all, but much) of the dating and relationship-related angst I’ve witnessed and read about—and the source of the “full of shit”-ness cited above—stems from the fact that many women find themselves in situations where they’re dating someone who just isn’t very excited about them. Maybe they’re not actually Halle Berry or Kerry Washington or Nia Long or whoever, but if a man is excited enough about a woman, he’ll think of her (and treat her) with the same regard he would with any of them. She would effectively be his Beyonce. And, if she’s his Beyonce, there’s no f*cking way he’s insisting on dutch first dates, no f*cking way he hides her from his friends, and definitely no f*cking way he allows “I like you, but I’m not ready to be in a relationship right now.” to escape his lips.
And, for women upset that the guy you’re romantically involved with just doesn’t seem that excited about you and is dead-set on his principles, the “goal” isn’t to convince him to change his mind. Just, well, just find someone who doesn’t need any convincing. We’re all full of shit¹. We just need to find the right person to help prove it.
¹Women are (generally) full of shit too, but today just happens to be about a particular type of man’s particular type of full of shit-ness
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)
We’ve all heard the story.
Boy approaches Girl while at annual Delta Sigma Theta “Twerk For The Cure” sickle-cell research fundraiser. Girl, slightly impressed by Boy’s confidence despite his quite conspicuous reverse widow’s peak, gives Boy her actual real phone number. Four days later, Boy and Girl go on first date at Irish/Cajun fusion tapas bar. Date goes extremely well. Boy covers tab for this date, as well as the next three Boy and Girl go on. By the fifth date, Girl offers to cook for Boy—a Bougie Black Girl’s way of saying “We go together now, and I’m officially open to the idea of f*cking you.”
Boy and Girl go on a few more good dates—all on Boy’s dime—while both becoming more and more convinced that this is will turn into a relationship.
It does. They officially make it Facebook official eight weeks after the first date.
I know it’s not the most politically correct and/or progressive thing to say that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to court, but the scenario above—where the man foots the bill for the majority (not all, but the majority) of the dates that take place while courting—is the right way to do things. If you disagree, that’s fine. You’re wrong, but you’re allowed to be.
(Yes, I understand that many of these types of “rules” were crafted at a time when it was just more practical and financially prudent for a man to always pay while in the courting phase. I also understand that it may not make much logical sense for a man to be expected to pay even if the person he’s dating makes more money than he does. But…well, there is no but. Just shut the f*ck up and f*cking do it.)
But, while the rules and the general financial responsibility of courtship are generally understood and agreed upon, what happens when courtship ends? Basically, we all know who is supposed to pay for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd date, but what about the 51st, 52nd, and 53rd? Is there a “right” way to handle the bill when an established couple is out to eat or any other date-like activity?
In theory, this seems like a question with a pretty practical solution. If you’re a serious couple, you’re likely sharing expenses. And, if you’re sharing expenses, you should—in theory—also share date expenses. But, as anyone who saw After Earth last weekend will remind you, just because something should work in theory doesn’t mean it actually will.
There are people who believe the courting dynamic should last for the entire relationship. Basically, aside from his birthday and those rare and random days when she finally apologizes for some bullshit that she’s always done—and, despite the apology, will continue to do—the man should always pay. Others believe that couples should take turns, which, although this seems to be the most reasonable choice, can get weird if someone starts keeping count (and someone always does).
And, while splitting things 50/50 is the best idea in theory, who wants to be 40 years old and still going on dutch dates with your wife?
I guess the best thing to do is just to communicate your financial expectations before the “real” relationship starts instead of assuming that you’ll both be on the same page. But, while this also works “in theory,” I just can’t see too many women with the balls to interrupt a conversation on a date with “You know this shit’s on you for the next 50 years, right?” while happily clutching a forkful of lobster.
My advice? Just don’t date Deltas.
***BTW, today is Panama’s birthday and shit. So, if you see him today, buy him a shot. If you don’t see him and see me instead, just buy me the shot and we’ll drink in his honor***
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)