Clueless: Three Chivarly Conundrums That Continue to Baffle Us

***Before beginning, I want to remind everybody that Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm at Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime is available at Amazon.com.

Also, we’d like to thank you all for helping us reach #1 on Amazon’s Movers and Shakers list and #4 on Amazon’s Bestsellers in Love, Sex & Marriage Humor list!***

21st Century Chivalry” — chapter seven in Your Degrees Wont Keep You Warm At Night — devotes 3,000 or so words to the idea that there’s a certain way that men and women should treat each other; a set of guidelines that covers everything from “Facebook chivalry” and “Medieval freaks” to “Who should sleep in the wet spot, and why?” and “Should penis proficiency matter when deciding whether to make certain bedroom requests?

But, despite this chapter’s comprehensiveness and by “comprehensiveness” I mean “comprehensiveness sillinessthere are a few things about chivalry and social etiquette that I intentionally neglected to mention because, well, I just don’t f*cking know the answers. (Shocker, right?)

Thing is, I’m not alone. While most of us are somewhat aware of most of the rules of chivalry (even if we chose to ignore them), there are several chivalry/social etiquette conundrums that continue to baffle each of us, and I decided to shed light on three of them today so we can finally get some f*cking answers.

1. If a man and a woman are both approaching a revolving door, who goes first?

We already know how men and women are supposed to navigate doors, elevators, lines, and getting on and off public buses. Basically, all a chivalrous man has to do is position himself in the best possible place to get a clear look at a woman’s ass. (Think about it: everything from opening doors to letting women have your seat on crowded buses just gives a man a better opportunity to admire a woman’s ass-to-waist ratio.)

But, there aren’t any set rules for the revolving door. Does a man push through the doors first and risk his clumsy-ass woman getting her heel stuck in-between the revolving doors, tripping, and giving herself a grade-two concussion, or should the man allow the woman to go through first, risking his woman getting swept away by a sudden microburst of hoodrat activity as soon as she exits the doors?

Also, while we’re on doors…

2. Is a man still required to open car doors if a woman is driving?

I understand the reasoning behind opening the passenger door for a woman (you’re making sure she gets in the car safely, and, well, the whole booty peek thing), but what was once practical seems like useless pandering if a woman is driving.

Plus, if you open the driver side door for her, it now creates this awkward moment where she has to wait for your non-driving nincompoop ass to loaf all the way around the car before she’s able to take off, and those 10 seconds are all she needs to think to herself  “Damn it. I need to just run his ass over so I can get me a new man who actually f*cking drives. Damn Kappas!”

3. If you’re at a restaurant and your date decides mid-meal that the food needs to be sent back, should you continue eating your meal, or should you also stop mid-meal and wait for your date’s food to come back?

We all know that you’re not supposed to start your main course until everyone at the table receives theirs. In fact, most places make sure to serve everyone at the exact same time for this reason, and some waiters will even let the patrons know that a certain dish “takes a bit long” to prepare, which is just code for “Look. You can order this food. Be my f*cking guest. But, since this contrived-ass dish is going to take 180 minutes for us to make, be prepared to have the entire rest of your party pissed at you, and also be prepared to have me pissed at you since their pissed-offedness and your collective blackness basically ensures my tip will suck.

But, what’s the protocol for when your date returns the meal after you’ve already begun eating? Do you just sit there and stare at each other? Return your perfectly delicious meal as well? Give him/her some of your food? Tease them for ordering a sh*tty meal? Eat slower? Order more bread? Bounce? Bounce to the back and have a Applebee’s bathroom quickie? Who f*cking knows?

***Btw, anyone who thinks this is a too contrived scenario has obviously never been on a date with an actual human woman. At last count, the “she doesn’t like her food (even though they gave her exactly what she ordered) and now I’m the only one eating while her hungry ass is making goo goo eyes at my steak” thing has happened to me at least 171 times.***

Anyway, people of VSB: do you have any answers? Any proofs for these problems? Any results for these riddles? Any clues to solve these conundrums?

Also, can you think of any other chivalry conundrums that you just haven’t been able to solve?

The carpet is yours.

***Btw, if you get a minute, check out my profile on upcoming R&B group “The Maintenance Men” at Clutch Mag***

—The Champ

Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm at Night

Your Degrees Won't Keep You Warm At Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Mating, Dating & Crime Fighting

“People of VSB…”

You’ll find these three words at the end of many of our entries; a somewhat awkward segue linking whatever Panama or I happened to write about that day to a question or series of questions asking for your thoughts about it. But, while it may just seem like an easy way to encourage discussion, the main purpose of “People of VSB…” is to remind us all that this VSB thing is a collective effort. Sure, the bylines may read “The Champ” or “Panama Jackson” or “Liz Burr,” but VerySmartBrothas.com is each and every one of us who finds their way to VSB each day.

It’s the dozens of night owls who somehow manage to log on to VSB at exactly 12:01 am EST every day of the week.  It’s the grad student who half-jokingly says, “you know, I really should be studying. VSB needs to pay back my loans when I flunk out of school,” at the end of his 19th post-midnight comment. It’s the teacher who lists “yoga, VSB, and Starbucks” as her morning routine staples. It’s the accountant who minimizes his window whenever his boss walks past, and it’s the boss who goes back into her office after doing her “cubicle lap” and gets back on VSB. It’s the hundreds of thousands of comments (231,785 to be exact) accumulated since our beginning, a real community where names like Cheekie and WuDaMan and Miss T-Lee and Keisha Brown have real histories and real meanings.

Your Degrees Wont Keep You Warm at Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime is available for purchase at Amazon.com today.

It’s the perfect culmination of this unique discussion, this dogmatic engagement, this beautiful community we’re all a part of. It’s our salvo, our 235 page response to the idea that we — The Very Smart Brothas and Sistas — aren’t large enough or mobilized enough or motivated enough or smart enough or whatever enough to matter and make a sizable difference.

In the coming months there will be myriad articles, reviews, and stories about VSB  — pieces that’ll undoubtedly shed light on what we’ve been doing over here to those who weren’t aware of our existence — but our success and continued collective growth lies with each and every one of us, and I implore you all to spread the word about us.

Buy the book. (Please!) Buy the book for a friend. (Or two! Or three!) Share the link to the book on Twitter or Facebook. Write a review. (Good or bad. All feedback is welcome.) Start an email chain. Jog and tell a friend. (I’d say “run,” but I think I’m asking for a lot already.)

Do what you can to let the world know about us — the great, great “People of VSB.”

***A few more things I need to get off of my chest.***

1. Like I mentioned before, each of you all had a hand in the creation of this book. But, there are a few people who went above and beyond with their help. These people include veteran VSB-ers Ivy Street, Gem of The Ocean (twitter.com/GemoftheOcean) and Miss Patterson (twitter.com/misspatterson) and friends of VSB Deesha Philyaw (twitter.com/DeeshaPhilyaw), Nikki “Coco” Nokes (nikkinokes.com), Sarah Huny Young (phattygirl.com), and T. Hall (kineticculture.com), and I’m greatly, greatly, greatly thankful for each of their contributions.

2. When you buy the book, you’re going to be sent the “real” version, but the preview that shows up when clicking on the “Look Inside” prompt on the Amazon page is 3 months and 17 content, structure, and aesthetic edits old.

Again, when you buy the book, you’re going to be sent the “real” version, but please don’t click on that God-awful preview because it just shows a very, very rough draft version of the book. (Yes, I know that sucks and no, there’s nothing I can do about it right now. Apparently it’ll fix itself in the next few weeks.)

3. If you haven’t already, please join our mailing list so you can get info about National VSB Day (coming Feb. 10th), free book excerpts, and more.

—The Champ

Sticks And Stones: The power of words (and the danger of “going too far”)

Barring another snowpocalypse or Beyonce pregnant scare, “Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm at Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Mating, Dating, and Fighting Crime,” is set to be released Jan 24th—11 very short days from today. And, as you may have imagined, I’m a nervous wreck to the point that I’ve had days in the past week where I had to employ each of my usual sure-fire stress relievers—working out, playing basketball, writing, sex, drinking rum, masturbation—within a 12 hour span just so I’d be able to get five consecutive hours of sleep.

But, among the dozens of questions swirling around in my head—“Will people actually buy it?”, “Are there any typos we missed?”, “Did I use the right back cover pic?”—there’s one that’s been especially unnerving:

“Did I go too far?”

I’ve mentioned before that the book is a pretty accurate representation of what can be found on VSB. The same language and tone and the same types of jokes, references, anecdotes, and asides Panama and I incorporate daily are found in “Your Degrees…“, and people familiar with us and our work will (hopefully) appreciate it.

Thing is, we tend to employ a certain type of humor that can also very easily anger, offend, and disgust if read with or without context; sh*t that has the potential to hurt and harm instead of heal and be seen as humorous. I especially push this appropriateness envelope. For instance, one of my chapters—I say “my” chapters because, like VSB, the book alternates. Some chapters are written just by me, some just by Panama, and some were a joint effort—include the lines “Your French manicured toes will get spit at and came on” and “I can imagine it being hard to be a rad fem or womanist with c*m on your nose” within a two paragraph span. In the context of the chapter, they make perfect sense and are a perfect fit. But, by themselves they’re, well, offensive as f*ck, and to be honest, I’m kind of struggling to accept the fact that there will be people genuinely offended and hurt by some of the things I say.

And, while I’m no stranger to toeing the “offensive line,” what separates the book from VSB is that the comment’s section here at least gives me an opportunity to explain a misinterpretation or defend a certain stance. The book gives me no such luxury. Once it’s out there it’s gone forever—with my real name and real picture on it!!!—and I’ll go from being an occasional critic to one who’s being actively assessed and critiqued.

Yet, the assessment and critique part isn’t the source of my anxiety. In fact, I can’t f*cking wait to be judged, lauded, ripped, and evaluated. It’s the lack of control that’s keeping me up at night; the fact that once the first book is bought and the first page is read, I’ll have no more absolute say over how my words are interpreted and understood.

Anyway, going back to that going too far” concept, there’s been another recent (and much more serious) development that has made the power of words and their myriad interpretations a central issue.

As Gabrielle Giffords continues to fight for her life, an argument is brewing that the Tucson mass shooting was partially caused by an anti-government atmosphere created by some of the more outspoken members of the Tea Party. In “The Tea Party and the Tucson Tragedy,” Slate.com’s Jacob Weisberg argues that Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck share a bit of culpability and blame with Jared Loughner:

Often the two issues are blurred together, because if government is illegitimate, rebellion is an appropriate response (hence the Colonial costumes). Conservative entertainers like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin like to titillate their audiences with hints of justified violence, including frequent reminders that they are armed and dangerous. Palin went so far as to put a target on someone who subsequently got shot. Whether or not the man who fired the gun was inspired by Palin isn’t the point. The point is that you shouldn’t paint targets on people, even in metaphor, or jest.

While I do agree with what he says—inflammatory words create inflammatory environments—I can’t fully get behind the idea that, while they’re definitely antagonistic (some would even say “vile”) people, the Palins, Becks, Sharon Angles, Andrew Breitbarts, and Michelle Malkins of the world should be held even partially accountable for the actions of an unquestionably deranged and nihilistic man. You do that, and every rapper who’s ever uttered the word “gun” should be held accountable for every inner-city murder, and everyone who’s ever produced, starred in, or directed a romantic comedy should be forced to pay the fees for any American’s divorce.

Still, I’m no idiot and neither are they. Each of these pundits and politicians are intelligent enough to know exactly how influential charged words and impassioned rhetoric can be, and my hope is that each of them are still human enough to at least admit to themselvesYou know, maybe I went a bit too far that time.” An apology isn’t as necessary as the realization and acceptance of the power of their words and the consequences of their word’s effect on others.

Then again, maybe they’ve already accepted this, and maybe they just don’t care. And, well,  maybe I need to learn how do to the same so I can finally get some f*cking sleep.

—The Champ

“Very Smart Singles” and more….

2011: The Year of The Very Smart Takeover

In the 690 posts and 225,000 comments since the first VSB entry (“emotional” cheating. the ultimate oxymoron), we — Panama, Liz, and I — have been asked dozens upon dozens of questions; queries ranging from the silly (“Does The Champ decorate his deez for Halloween?“), the waaaaay too serious (“When are the VSB’s going to tackle the rampant rapes by American soldiers in Afghanistan?”), and the f*cking stupid (“Even though I’ve never actually left a comment on VSB, didn’t bother to attach any writing samples, and didn’t even make the effort to get your names right in this email, can I guest post on VSB next week?“)

But, one question seems to pop up more than any other; a question we never really gave much serious thought to…until now.

“There seems to be a great community of like-minded and intelligent people here. But, I need to know where and how can I find the Very Smart Brothas and Sistas in my city?”

Enter “Very Smart Singles”, the Verysmartbrothas’ answer to that question. Taking a cue from the popularity of My Single Peeps, Very Smart Singles will pull from the thousands of VerySmart and single fans of VSB, showcasing those who choose to participate.

Here’s how it will work. A person (male or female) submits a picture and a short (150-200 word) and witty (well, as witty as you can be) bio to our email address. Included in the bio should be their general location (i.e.: DMV, Greater Atlanta area, etc) and the name they prefer to have on their profile. (For instance, if your name is Kimberly Johnson, you’d be “Kim J”, “K.J.”, or “Kimmers”)

We’ll then post the pic and the bio on the Very Smart Singles page (which is currently under construction). People interested in possibly meeting the Very Smart Single will email us, and we’ll then contact the Very Smart Single, giving them the contact info of whoever expressed interest. From that point, they’re on their own.

Although the page itself is still under construction, we’re currently accepting submissions so that when the page is ready to go, we can hit the ground running. If you’re interested, email a hi-definition picture, a short bio, and your location to contact@verysmartbrothas.com, under the heading “Very Smart Singles”. You’ll hear more about this in the next few weeks, but we hope to have the page up and running in January.

***About “Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm at Night”***

After reading some of the comments here and on Twitter about this book, there’s something I felt the need to clear up. Although this looks, smells, and is titled like a relationship book, it’s not really a relationship book. Well, let me put it this way: it’s as much of a “dating and relationship” book as The 40 Year Old Virgin is a “dating and relationship” movie.

The book involves many of the same types of jokes, pop culture references, and asides regularly featured on Very Smart Brothas. And, to be quite honest, we’re just as concerned with people being entertained by and enjoying the book as we are with the relationship aspect of it.

For instance, the book –which is 250 pages long, and well be sold for $14.99 — contains (at least) 50 footnotes. Here’s two of them:

[5] Admittedly, if she’s from Cincinnati, Ohio, this is probably true. Seriously, I’ve been to 40 different states, 4 different countries and 2 different continents, but women from Cincinnati are easily the most sexually forward. Just thinking about the things I saw at Club Ritz and Annie’s a few years ago makes the Bible I keep on my dresser catch fire. Basically, it’s the most underrated place on Earth to have a bachelor party. –T. C.

[7] For those unaware of who is he, Ezekiel “Freekey ZekeyJiles is the least talented member of the Dipset, the most ignant and least talented popular rap clique in New York City — a place which has been producing the least talented rappers in Hip-Hop for (at least) the last 10 years. He’s also business partners with second most untalented member of the Dipset, Jim Jones, a man who also happens to be my personal nemesis (even though he’s probably completely unaware of this fact) –T.C.

Not exactly what you’d find in your typical “relationship” book.

Anyway, between the book, the Very Smart Singles site, and the nationwide VSB day at satellite locations across the country (oops. I don’t think I was supposed to say anything about that yet), there’s going to be a lot going on here in the first part of 2011.  I’d ask you all to bear with us, but we wouldn’t be in the position to do the things we’re planning to do without your ongoing support, so you “bearing with us” is pretty much a given, and I probably would have insulted your collective intelligence if I even asked that question.

Instead, and on behalf of the VSB crew, I’m just going to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday weekend. Be fruitful and multiply and sh*t.

—The Champ