10 things i learned while in NYC for “the modern day matchmaker live”

definitely didn’t meet on the train

1. i’m not a relationship “expert”

to be honest, i didn’t just learn this in new york city. although i’ve co-founded a relationship-centric website and have benefited personally and financially from this particular “expertise”, i’ve never considered myself to be a dating and relationship source.

sure, i’m aware that (some) people do appreciate my advice and insights, but i’m also aware that this appreciation stems more from my ability to write dispassionately, objectively, and wittily about a subject most can’t be dispassionate, objective, and witty about than any deep reservoir of relationship knowledge.

actually, this dispassionateness is exactly why i’m not an expert. as pleased as i am to be able to help cultivate positive relationship discussion, i’m much more interested in the reaction to my writing than the reaction to what i actually say.

i’m bringing this up because this lack of passion is made even more apparent when sitting on a panel next to people like demetria lucas and kenya stevens, women possessing infectiously palpable energy when sharing their thoughts about relationships. when they spoke, their heartfelt anecdotes and advice and made it seem like they believed they were spreading the gospel truth. when i spoke, it felt like i was speaking on a subject i researched and observed instead of something i’ve lived and felt (which is kind of, but not really true, but more on that later)

2. sister toldja is…a sweetheart

although i was very aware that the uber-angry, man-shanking view some have of her wasn’t true, i assumed she’d be somewhat laconic, sarcastic, droll, and occasionally acerbically funny. basically, i was expecting to meet a womanist daria morgendorffer. sh*t, i even read her blog entries in a voice that can be best described as “what janeane garofalo would sound like if she grew up in brownsville”.

to my surprise, sister t is actually much more, for lack of a better term, southern than i imagined her to be. bubbly, gregarious, and affable, she’s much more belle than bea arthur, and it was bit unexpected to find out that everyone’s favorite feminist is one of the girliest girls i’ve ever met.

3. apparently, new york city is the world’s biggest nightclub

between the 8 dollar toll just to get into harlem (a fact which made my friend remark “i hate this f*cking city” at least 246 times in a 24 hour span), the drunk-acting drivers, the practice of just throwing trash on the corner, the randomly out of place and lascivious white women, and the seemingly perpetual background music (in the 22 hours i was there, i can’t remember not hearing any music for longer than a 30 second span. it felt like i was on the world’s drippiest episode of  sesame street), new york city is exactly like every wamo night in pittsburgh. who knew?

4. saying “hey, dumbasses, don’t listen to me or anyone else on the panel” probably isn’t the best thing to do in a roomful of people who paid 25 dollars to hear you and everyone else on the panel speak.

i won’t go into too much detail, but lets just say that my (paraphrasing) “hey, the problem with us (black people) is that we spend too much time listening to relationship experts” comment went over about as well as a fart on a submarine.

5. new york city is obviously filled with a bunch of dumb ass dudes

i know this seems harsh, but how else can you explain that roughly 15 guys showed up to an event filled with roughly 300 tipsy women practically ovulating by ovary osmosis? seriously, that show was like a sam’s club for single black men. there hasn’t been that many single and sexy black women in one place since wilt chamberlain’s wake

to be fair, i understand why a guy might have been hesitant to attend. while a favorable female/male ratio is a good thing, 15 women to every man shifts the speed from “favorable” to “f*cking ludicrous” and completely changes the approaching/bagging dynamic. also, the brunson factor would have made things more difficult than usual.

to expound, as a straight man, i feel absolutely no shame in saying that paul brunson–the modern day matchmaker–is, well, mr. perfect. why does this matter? well, any guy trying to holler at a woman at one of his events will have to deal with the “wait. i wanted a pocket sized paul to take home, not your mundane ‘i could have saved money and just met your ass on the train’ ass” factor.

when you add this to the fact that i haven’t even mentioned that approximately 10 of the ninjanets most popular black male personalities (brunson, anslem from nakedwithsockson, jozen from untiligetmarried, slim jackson, streetztalk, and seattle washington from singleblackmale and threewaystotakeit to name a few) were in attendance, and each had a sizable fan base present, maybe the black men of new york city aren’t so stupid after all.

6. everything sounds smarter with a british accent

i’m not saying that lola adesioye’s accent tempted me to transcribe every word she said the entire night into my gphone, but lola adesioye’s accent tempted me to transcribe every word she said the entire night into my gphone.

7. liz is liz

***debating whether to say anything about liz not attending the show because she didnt want to wait in line…despite the fact that i left her a complimentary ticket and all she had to do was go to the box office and say her name. yeah, i probably shouldn’t say anything about that. i’m sure she’ll attend the next time her friend and business partner drives seven hours through the appalachian mountains to nyc to appear on a panel***

8. there’s a quote from the wire for every situation

i drove up to new york with my closest friend. he coaches basketball in europe and just happened to be in pittsburgh last week, and i convinced him to make the trip with me (i also had to convince my cousin to let us stay with her, no small feat since my man is 6’8′, and most people aren’t too keen on having anonymous giant n*ggas sleep on their couches).

if you’re a vsb regular you probably know how much of a wire diehard i am, but my man (who actually introduced me to the show) surpasses and sh*ts on my wire fandom. seriously, if you asked him to rank the three most influential men in his life, his answer would probably include some combination of his dad, God, and bodie broadus.

anyway, with us two in the car together for approximately 14 hours–the round trip distance between nyc and pittsburghof a 30 hour span, every situation turned into a scene from the wire.

stuck in traffic? quote bunny colvin’s “f*ck you? no, f*ck me!!” from season three.

problems with the onstar system? quote avon’s “little man stay f*cking up” from season one

waitress mixes up your order at IHOP? do your best marlo stanfield ”my name is my name!!!”

i could continue, but i get the feeling that the 17 of you still reading this want me to move on.

9. i still get surprised when meeting “regular lurkers”

after the show, i got the chance to meet approximately 15-20 fans of vsb, all people who told me they read regularly but never comment. judging from our stats, only maybe 2 to 3 percent of the people who read participate in the conversations, but i still have a tendency to assume that the only people reading are the ones who comment regularly, and it still shocks me to actually see evidence of how popular we’re becoming.

10. i’m not built for this sh*t…not yet, at least

the “written vs spoken word” dynamic came up in private conversations with sister t, anslem, and nikki “coco” nokes at various points of the night. basically, we all discussed how awkward the shift from “online persona” to “in-person” can be for us and our readers, and how difficult it can be to construct your words when speaking so that they have the same impact they usually do when they’re read.

for some this is a non-issue. panama, for instance, has a bit of a stream of consciousness writing style that allows his messages and insights to be heard the same way they’re read. on the other hand, much of what i write is specifically written just to be read; the types of language and humor i insert in my entries would lose their meaning if heard aloud.

this “problem” isn’t unique. most people who consider themselves to be writers and/or introverts tend to be somewhat underwhelming public speakers. but, in this particular instance, to promote the brand and myself, i’ll have to continue to step out of the comfort zone of my controlled keypad environment. and, occasionally, i’ll feel as unenthused about it as i was thursday night.

hopefully i’ll get better at extemporaneous “shifting” in time, but for now if i’m addressing a large group of people (panels and podcasts included), i need prompts, a script, a timeline, and at least three rum and cokes before i can get completely comfortable.

with that being said, between the pre-show, the interview with sister t, the panel, and the afterparty, i actually did have a great time. i even got to witness a live matchmaking, ate an apple and three mcdonalds double cheeseburgers, somehow managed to actually remember the names of five of the vsb lurkers i met while drunk, and had two of my favorite writers tell me that i was one of their favorites.

not quite an entire wheel of cheese, but still pretty damn impressive.

—the champ