Proposals, Grand Gestures, and Why They Don’t Make Everything Better

Joe-Budden-and-TahiryRecently in Negronia aka The Land of Monday Nights on VH1, Love & Hip-Hop: New York star rapper Joe Budden proposed to longtime on-again, off-again girlfriend Tahiry Jose in a rip off of Common’s “Come Close” video sans the deaf chick, Mary J. Blige, or a knit hat.

Joey had Tahiry meet him in Times Square where he paid off somebody to run a video of him and other people holding up signs with various statements about love and companionship, etc. At the end, Joey stands there with a sign indicating that he has a question which is, *drumroll please* “will you marry me? This is where sh*t got real. See, as a man, what you don’t want to happen is the woman to hem and haw and tell you to stand up. Public proposals gone wrong have informed us over time that this is the opposite of what you want to happen. She told Joe that she didn’t want to marry him like this because just a few weeks ago he was f*cking up like only Joe can and then all of a sudden he’s trying to marry her because he decided that this is what he wants now and she should realize that he’s a changed man because of this grand sweeping ass gesture.

As opposed to saying “uh huh honey” she was like, “nuh uh girlfriend.” Insert your own flamboyance.

In the moment while livetweeting this travashamockery of a proposal (it did seem a bit staged) I stated this:

I’m going to attempt to place myself in the high-heels, flats, and boots of women everywhere because I completely understand this. In the minds of many men, we think that what all women want is the ring. And not just the ring, but what we feel like it should symbolize. She complains all the time and tries to front me off on all this stuff but she just wants that ring. Yoncé got her out here thinking I don’t really like it because I never put a ring on it. No matter how much I f*ck up or how much I don’t listen, the ring will wash away all that negativity and she’ll understand that I love her and shut the f*ck up with the complaints and the trust issues and all that. [There is a small percentage of women who want the ring bad enough where they think this will actually make things better.]

This is asinine and wrong. I’m a man so I’m about to tell on myself a bit (okay, a lot) here. Allow me quote another individual that isn’t myself:

“I’m a guy. Since when do we get anything right the first time?” – Alex Hitchins , Hitch

I feel like the biggest want from any woman towards her man is effort. Pure, simple effort. Sometimes this takes us a while to get right. But there are those of us who almost never do. But effort.

So what you bombed on a date; did you really try to make her feel special? Did you attempt to show her that you cared enough to think about what she may want to do? Did you plan? All women (yes, ALL) will cut you slack as long as they know you gave it a real shot. Did you say you were going to stop f*cking up? Well, what did you do to show her you meant it and weren’t just handing her wooden nickels? Did you do anything differently? If not, then you put forth no effort. And anybody paying attention will notice. And do you know whose paying attention? Do you? Do you? Why am I asking so many questions? And asking questions twice? And asking questions twice?

Women. The woman who asked you to show and prove is paying attention. That hurts more than the ACTUAL f*ck up that takes place. The lack of consideration and effort to be who you claim you are is what annoys women. This is why grand sweeping gestures fall upon deaf ears. For one, history teaches us than when folks do something huge and outside of the norm they’ve usually done something wrong.

Or b) just don’t get it.

If you’ve said you would do something and haven’t made any changes, proposing isn’t going to get you to that promised land my n*gga. Hell, it begs the question, what do YOU think is the promised land? I can’t even blame a woman for asking a man why he would want to marry her considering recent actions that indicate otherwise. Joe talks a good game. But it’s also his profession. Despite his lack of significant fame he is actually one of the better wordsmiths in the hip-hop game. You can disagree. You will be wrong. Fight me. But talking a good game for nine years becomes transparent. A woman knows what to look for and she probably knows what “giving a f*ck” looks like on your part.

So, what’s going to be different aside from the title? “Wise man once say marriage don’t fix problem. Marriage highlight more problem.” Wise man English no so good.

So while she has all of this going through her head while you’re on bended knee a solid two weeks out of f*cking up major – and yes we major, for real homey, we major – she is thinking about the fact that, this fool thinks that proposing is what I really want.

Newsflash: She doesn’t want to get married. She wants to stay married.

Well she wants to get married too. Let me not even pretend that’s not the case. But when you’ve been through as much sh*t as they have, you actually know what you’re getting in the status quo. And maybe that staus quo isn’t enough. Sure the ring is great, but what comes with that ring? If you’re a man who is constantly f*cking up, what is she really winning aside from a ring?

And while I’m focused on the ring because of the episode that spawned the discussion, the fact is a sweeping gesture is just that. It’s a grand show in the moment. But what happens in the next moments?

I’m aware that all of us menfolks don’t think that making one grand gesture will make up fro all the stuff we don’t do. I’m also aware that you all are aware that most of us are aware that any number of us do exactly what Joe did: come to the realization that he wanted to be with her and figured the best way to show was to propose, never mind the past. To be fair, MANY people – both men and women – wish that their pasts could be stricken from the record, even amidst the situation they’re in. It takes a lot to give somebody a blank slate.

Point is, and this is getting long, and yes, that is what she said, a grand gesture does not a problem fix. It’s a start…but you should never start with a marriage proposal.

Not for nothing, I’ll be surprised if Joe ever proposes again. In a wicked twist of fate and irony, rejecting a wedding proposal that is serious usually deads the relationship. Oh love, you are a wretched unicorn. But it is pretty serious to say that you don’t want to spend your  life with somebody that you do love.

Ladies, am I on message here? Fellas, am I missing something? What’s the verdict on grand gestures?

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. YOU DONT WANT TO MARRY ME COOL I’M JUST GONNA CHILL OVER HERE AND EAT RAVIOLI aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Who’s Winning: Jay-Z Or Joe Budden?

Along with being quite possibly the only place on Earth (well, the only place on Earth outside of prison) where you might able to purchase Kevin Hart DVDs, lobster rolls, sneakers, lightly-used cocaine, and insurance all in the same day, the barbershop is one of the few places that consistently manages to at least whelm. Perhaps you wont be overwhelmed, but you won’t be underwhelmed either. While other entities sometimes have a mystique that surpasses the experience, no one ever visits a popular Black barbershop for the first time and leaves thinking “That kinda sucked. Don’t know what the big deal was.”

This experience is largely due to the fact that the barbershop’s dynamic ensures that there will be a diverse group of men—students, garbagemen, drug dealers, teachers, lawyers, bloggers, etc—of all ages. And, when you sit a diverse group of men in the same general area—with no women around—conversations happen. Interesting conversations. Conversations that you may not be able to have anywhere else.

For instance, last week the discussion was centered around the new season of Love and Hip-Hop. And by “the new season of Love and Hip-Hop” I mean “Tahiry Jose’s religion-inducing ass.” For the uninitiated, Tahiry Jose is the ex-girlfriend of B-minus-list rapper Joe Budden. She was made internet famous a couple years ago when Budden would occasionally release mundane home videos of him and Tahiry doing things like “making dinner,” “arguing about soap,” and “sitting on chairs.” In each video, though, Tahiry’s, um, assets were the protagonist, antagonist, climax, rising action, and exposition, and this exposure led to her being featured in numerous Black magazines, several videos, and now Love and Hip-Hop.

Anyway, the conversation then segued to Joe Budden’s dating history. Now, despite the fact that I’m sure there will be a few of you who are hearing Joe Budden’s name right now for the first time ever, he has two very notable claims to fame in certain segments of the Black male population.

1. He’s one of the best mixtape/freestyle rappers ever. (And, to be clear, not freestyle in the “top of the dome” sense, but freestyle in the “spit 16 or 32 written bars over someone else’s hot beat while you’re in the studio on Shade 45″ sense)

2. His dating history.

From Esther Baxter and Gloria Velez to Yaris Sanchez and Tahiry Jose, Budden has been romantically linked to a dozen or so of the most famous (and unfortunately named) video vixens and internet models ever. While none of these women are household names, any male (Black, White, or Laker Fan) familiar with any of the popular urban magazines (King, XXL, Smooth, etc) definitely know who each of them are.

(There’s also a popular sub-conversation about Budden’s history that basically asks “How the hell is he able to bag all these sought after women?” There are a few theories—he makes great use of social media, he’s well-endowed, etc—but mine is a bit less flattering. I think the only difference between ***insert random rapper or ball-player*** and Joe Budden is that while ***insert random rapper or ball-player*** may sleep with these women on the low, Budden lets everyone know who he happens to be dating. Basically, for people in those circles, these women aren’t really sought after at all, and he just makes public what others are doing privately)

This knowledge prompted one of the patrons in the shop to remark “Budden is f*cking winning! Don’t no one have a badder batch of bitches than he does.” While I was appreciating the unexpected burst of alliteration, the entire shop predictably co-signed. Emboldened with confidence, he took it a step further.

“Shit, Jigga aint even f*cking with him right now.”

The utter audaciousness of that statement quieted the chorus of co-signs. One of the barbers made a face so stank it looked like buffalo just pissed in his beard. Undeterred, he continued.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Beyonce is the baddest chick in the game and all that. But would you rather have Beyonce or a different Beyonce every month?”

Surprisingly, he was quickly and vehemently shot down. (I honestly was surprised how unanimously that particular population of men disagreed with him.) A statement made by one of the older barbers summed up the general sentiment.

“That’s your age talking, yo. Beyonce is a dimepiece worth a billion dollars. The point of the game is to end with the best chick possible and build something with her. Game over. End of discussion. You a f*cking fool if you think otherwise.”

Regardless of how you may personally feel about Beyonce, I’m assuming that the vast majority of the people reading this agree with the barber. While a revolving door of King cover girls may seem appealing, ultimately the best, the most mature, and the smartest thing to do would be to find one woman to build with, a woman who brings her own considerable goods to the table. In the game of life, Jay-Z is beating Budden so badly that they’re not even keeping score anymore.

But, if you remove Beyonce, Budden, Jay-Z, and the video vixens from the discussion, the conversation changes. If given the choice between A) meeting the person of your dreams and spending the rest of your life with that person or B) meeting, dating, sleeping with an assembly line of unfathomably attractive mates, which do you choose?

The “obvious” answer, the politically correct answer, and my answer are all the same: Finding the person of your dreams, and maintaining a good to great relationship with them is the easy choice. But, this choice isn’t so obvious to everyone. George Clooney, Derek Jeter, John Mayer, and, shit, Rihanna—all people who have the ability to date pretty much whoever they want and have been romantically linked with dozens of different extremely attractive mates—might argue that option B is better, and they’d each probably have a very convincing argument.

There’s still no doubt in my mind that when comparing a Jay-Z (a person who has met and married the “person of their dreams”) and a Budden (a person who meets and “greets” a different woman of a hundred thousand wet dreams every month), the Jay-z is definitely “winning.” But, I also have to admit that not every one plays the game the same way (or for the same purpose), and just because I think you’re playing wrong doesn’t mean you’re not “winning” too.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)