File this one under friendship. Last week, my friend Maria Jose came in town for a visit. Tiny little globe. We met in grad school in Florida. She is originally from Argentina and, at the time, I’d recently returned to the US after living in London (though I’m originally from Illinois). It was soooooo nice to catch up with her. Hadn’t seen her in 3 years. I miss her already.
This week is going to be a little insane — – socializing, working on financial stuff, dating, looking at apartments, editing my book, a couple Tribeca Film Festival events, etc. It’s my own fault. I’m horrible at compartmentalizing my life, and I easily overwhelm. When that happens, I withdraw — the rationale being, “I have so much stuff to do that I don’t even know where to start, so I’m not going to do anything.” The result? I get even more overwhelmed because I have even more to do. And, not to mention, I feel like I’m letting other people down. More about that later. For now, I’ll just tell you about a guy.
AÂ month or so ago, I meet a Polish dude who says he was a doctor. We go on a few dates. I haven’t written about him before because, during one of our early conversations, he told me he reads this site because he searched for my name online. When you google Twanna A. Hines, either Funky Brown Chick or my writing portfolio (TwannaHines.com) is usually the first hit.
“Why don’t you like to kiss on the mouth?” The Polish doctor asks me.
“What are you talking about?” I’m confused because, of course, I LOVE kissing on the mouth. And on the neck. And on the torso. And below the belly button …
“I saw one of your interviews and you said you don’t like to kiss on the mouth.”
“What are you talking about?!?!?!? I would never say that.”
“I saw you say it. You were talking with a British girl, and you said you don’t like to kiss on the mouth!”
“Ohhhhhh!” Slow on the uptake. [Remembers he's ESL and doesn't know American expressions. Talks slower.] “You mean the interview with Zoe?! I soooo didn’t say I didn’t like KISSING. I said I don’t like PISSING in the mouth; I said I won’t let aÂ man piss in my throat.”
So, now the Polish dude seems disgusted that I even talk about these things. Whatever. Life’s too short and I sooo can’t worry about what some random guy thinks about what OTHERS say. Anyway. Different, albeit it related, topic: Using the internet to snoop about your dates. I freely admit I’m a paranoid freakshow who assumes most Manhattan men I don’t know very well are willing to lie about damn near anything (their jobs, criminal backgrounds, marital status, etc.) to get a bit of ass. So, of course, I google the Polish dude, right? Guess what happens? Nothing comes up. Seriously. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Rien. Creepy, right?
“How do you you live your life as a doctor and go to conferences and stuff,” I ask a friend and her boyfriend, “without showing up online anywhere? Like, ANYWHERE?”
“Dude,” my friend’s boyfriend responds, “how to do you live your life PERIOD without showing up online somewhere? That’s weird.”
Good point. So, I start snooping. I go to the New York State site that verifies all regulated professions to check if the Polish guy is really a doctor. Guess what? His name doesn’t come up. Unfortunately, I don’t have a chance to ask the guy about it because: (1) I stopped calling him and he hasn’t called me since and (2) it would’ve been weird to say, “So, yeah, um, WTF? I was stalking you online the other day and I couldn’t verify your credentials. What’s going on?” So, here’s a question for you: Is it okay to snoop on your dates, boyfriends, lovers or others with whom you share the covers? And, if so, would you confront them if the info you found didn’t match up with the stories they’ve told you?”
I like being an adult better than I liked being a child. When I was little, I couldn’t choose what happened to me, where I lived, what was for dinner or other things. As an adult, my life in my choosing. I live where I want to live, eat what I want to eat and go where I want to go. Right now, I’m a writer living in New York City because that’s what I want to do. And, one of the perks of the freelance writing life is this: I can write about whatever the hell I want to write about. Stick with me. This is going somewhere. Okay, so, rewind. Years before I switched careers, I lived in the Netherlands and worked an office job. Random fact: When you’re hanging out in Holland and speaking Dutch on a regular basis, you learn new Dutch phrases for which you never had an English equivalent. For example, even now, when people talk about food borne illness, it reminds me of “mond en klauwzeer” (not “foot and mouth disease“) because it broke out while I was in Europe and I had to research it. That bored me. I don’t find sick farm animals entirely stimulating, and I hated that I had to do work that required I find out about mond en klauwzeer even though it didn’t interest me simply because it was my job.
Swine flu. Again, I’m not particularly interested in sickly moo-moos and oink-oinks. BUT … We already know animals contract STDs / STIs. And, of course, we know people have sex with animals. So, the only way I’ll write about swine flu is if I choose to do it because: (1) I — or someone I know — gets it or (2) people start fucking pigs with it and their genitals fall off from a rare and unknown sexually transmitted infection. I think THAT would be in interesting read. I like writing things that people consider “an interesting read.” It makes me happy. So, I guess that was a totally random post with a larger message: Live the life you want to live and do what you want to do. Heeeeeeey, I should title this post “Bestiality, Swine Flu and You.” ;)
Photo credit: image by Steve Woods.
BRO: I don’t get people who call New Yorkers on their office phones after 6:00pm. Go home, already!
ME: New York is an international city. It’s always “office hours” somewhere in the world, no? Maybe the person is calling from abroad or something and they don’t realize it’s “quitting time” in Manhattan.
BRO: I guess. When you say it like that, it makes sense.
ME: Exactly! Right now in Indonesia, there’s a little kid working the late shift in a factory so you can buy an overpriced basket in some chic import store a couple weeks from now.
BRO: But that kid wouldn’t call New York because they don’t have fingers or eyes anymore. Remember? They’re working with in a factory. Do you really think those child workers making 5 cents for 3 hours of work use office phones? Do you?!?!
ME: You’re too much.
THANK YOU to my favorite people and friends at YourTango for the shout out here and here about my How to Date a Black Woman post. It created a little buzz over on Yahoo’s front pages about relationships and other lifestyle-related stuff. So, if you liked the post, please vote it up. Today, I’m doing a bit of reporting for an upcoming article I hope to pitch to Slate. (It’s not about dating; it’s about politics.) Also, soon, I hope to file my latest piece for my regular spot at Huffington Post. More details soon.
In the meantime, because I’m researching and writing my ass off for pieces to be submitted to other media outlets [ ... and trying to figure about what's going on with my fucking comments section. Switched back to the old system until I get it figured out ...], I don’t have a full Funky Brown Chick post for you today. Keeping with the recent “interracial dating” themed items from the past few days, I thought I’d do a “roundup” of a few posts I’ve written about the topic:
- My response to the Do You Date Black Guys? question.
- Manly Mondays — my weekly celebrations of all things MANLY — includes black, Asian, latino, international and [gasp, gasp] white dudes.
- The post where I remind you that “interracial” doesn’t always mean “black” and “white.” What about our lovely Asian men?
- Remember black men love good-looking white guys who like brown sugar.
- Oooh, ooh, ooh and let’s not forget the one about assumptions people make about white men who marry black women.
I have permanent congenital hearing loss in both ears. When I was a little girl, the first time I told someone I’m hard of hearing, I think I was in fifth grade. The conversation at my school’s recess went something like this:
The Girl: TWAAAAANNA!!!
The Girl: Are you deaf?!?!? I’ve been calling your name.
ME: I didn’t hear you. I’m hard of hearing.
The Girl: [laughs, doesn't believe me] What?
ME: No, seriously. I was born with hearing loss and I’ve had surgeries on both of my ears.
So, of course — because kids can be shitty little assholes — the girl proceeded to pretend she was using sign language and did a so-called “mock retard” move by beating her hand against her chest. Thinking about it now makes me laugh because it was so fucking ridiculous. But, then again, I’m several decades removed from the experience and pain. Perhaps, I should’ve had thicker skin as a child. I didn’t. So, it really hurt my feelings.
We moved around a bunch when I was a kid. I was often the new girl who didn’t have friends in school, and I didn’t really fit in. I’m not a special case; I’m sure lots of people felt out of place in elementary, junior high or high school. Each of us has our own scars. One of mine is that I was sensitive about my hearing loss — mainly, because it was invisible. If I was Deaf, maybe I’d speech read, speak with a deaf accent or use ASL. And, of course, people would think it was insensitive to make jokes about my situation. But, I wasn’t deaf; I just couldn’t hear very well and it wasn’t something you’d notice unless you knew the signs. I still have them.
- My television is never on without closed captioning.
- During summer, if we’re in a room with an oscillating fan, I’ll turn it off or move away from it. You see, the background hum of the motor’s whirl blends with your voice and my ears can’t segregate which sounds are words and what’s just noise.
- Men with really deep voices who mumble annoy the shit out of me. I can’t hear them, and they frustrate easily when I repeatedly ask, “Huh? Sorry? What did you say?”
- If I’m on a street corner and you call out my name from the distance, I’ll spin in all directions to find you because I can’t tell from which direction your voice came.
- If we’re in a crowded place like a bar, I’ll lean into you much closer than others so I can actually hear you.
- In some cases, I’ve had a few people SHOUT at me when I tell them I’m hard of hearing. You need only speak louder; you don’t have to yell at me.
“Can’t you get a hearing aid?” people often ask. Hearing aids (and, quite frankly, sound in general) are more complex than I thought before I started really getting into this stuff. The quick and dirty is this: When people hear the phrase hearing loss, they typically think of old folks. Grandma and gramps aren’t “sexy,” so a lot of innovation in this arena isn’t as strong as it could be …. kind of like how HIV/AIDS didn’t get mass attention until Ryan White got it. My guess? Research about hearing loss will matter more when more people who “matter” lose their hearing. Come on boomers!!! I’m holding out for you!!! But, I digress.
In case you were wondering what any of this has to do with sex, dating or relationships … Rewind to last night. I’m reviewing a sex-related movie that hasn’t come out yet. The film’s people sent me an advanced copy so I’ll actually know what I’m talking about when I interview the director the next day. Sitting on my couch, I’ve just popped a bag of Orville Redenbacher‘s yummy microwave popcorn and I slip the DVD into the player. No closed captioning. I’m used to it. Because screeners are rarely captioned, it takes me 1.5 – 2.0X as long to watch them, rewinding and replaying the parts where people talked so softly that I couldn’t hear them. (You’d be surprised how often actors mumble on camera!) Ah, hearing loss. It’s certainly not tragic; it just is what it is.
Whenever men who aren’t black ask me, “What’s it like to date a black woman?” I respond by joking, “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never dated one. Ask a lesbian.” ;) For a while now, I’ve promised you guys a “How to Pick Up Black Chicks” post or something like that. I almost did it last August but, hey, life happens in the 24+ hours between my posts. So, when I sat down to write it the next morning, I got distracted and wrote about something else. Voila, finally, the wait is over: a list of DOs and DON’Ts follows below. Here we go. 5 Tips for Picking Up Black Chicks:
DO make it simple. If you’ve never dated a black woman before and you’d like to ask someone out, simply say something like: “Hey, are you free on Friday? Maybe we could be grab coffee or drinks or something?” Yep, my sweeties, it’s that easy. If you still need help, watch VideoJug’s How to Ask a Woman Out on A Date.
DON’T overcompensate. Rattling off endorsements like “I’ve always luuuuuved looking at black women” or “Black women have more flava” will only make you look like an ass. On a related note, under absolutely NO circumstances should you bust out in a spontaneous freestyle rap to prove how “down” you are. [le sigh ... if I had a dollar for every time ... ]
DO be truthful. Should the topic come up, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying, “I’ve never been on a date with a black woman before because ___.” Chances are pretty good your date will respect your honesty. By the way, on a related note, don’t lie. No one likes to be led on. So, if you don’t really want to DATE a black woman but you’d just like to FUCK one, there are plenty of places and opportunities to do that. Place a Craigslist add. Look into raceplay communities.
DO have an open mind. People are such unique and interesting creatures. We all come from different ethnicities, economic classes, educational backgrounds, religions (or not) and regions of the globe. And, of course, we’re all raised by totally different, crazy families. As a result, we each have very specific ideas about how the world works. When dating someone from a background other than your own, be prepared to brush up against ideas that may or may not run counter to your beliefs. In that case, resist the urge to think your way is automatically “right” and theirs is “different” (read: “wrong”). You might learn something new.
DO treat your date like a DATE. Duh, right? As a general rule of thumb, ask yourself: When someone goes on a date with you, who do they expect to show up? Tip: If you answered “you” instead of “your ethnicity” you’re right. I could be completely loony and totally off base with this, but I think most people want to be cherished / loved / cared for / desired / etc. for who THEY are. So, it’s kind of impossible for me to provide an exhaustive list of what works for every black woman because each of us is very different. YOUR date will have her own unique interests, likes, dislikes, values and expectations. Spend a little time getting to know her. Act like it’s a, you know, DATE. ;)
Photo credit: Image appears on Interracial Cupid
That show “The Cougar” begins 4/15 with Vivica Fox (pictured) hosting. I’ve gotta hand it to TV Land. They’ve done a great job cranking out programs that create buzz. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t TV Land the channel that reran old shows like Andy Griffith and Leave It to Beaver? Kudos to them for successfully wiping dust off their brand, transitioning from Mr. Ed the talking horse to slutty hookups with midlife crisis reunionees. But, back to The Cougar. TV Land has a Facebook page and a related slideshow of celebrity cougars. They also presumably played a hand at getting Vivica A. Fox (the host) and Stacey Anderson (the cougar) on yesterday’s Rachael Ray. AND, that chick Stacey is pimping out her gig on Twitter. So, of course, the Twitfolk have already created the hashtag #thecougar. Yep. Older women are the rage. C’est la vie. Speaking of the lovely French … they’ve dated older women since, like, forever. Or, have they?! Hmmm … Damn! I feel like I HAVE TO watch The Cougar — just to see what, if any, train wreck(s) occur. You remember Age of Love, right? Older women / younger men pairings are everywhere. Here a cougar, there a cougar, everywhere a cougar cougar. So, tell me, are you going to watch the show?
By the way … putting my social media consultant hat on for a second … Fucking hell! Can we hang a fail stamp on TV Land’s autostart videos? :( Silly idea: FORCE site visitors to watch your stuff; blast unexpected videos that shock the shit out of them and alert the visitors’ coworkers they’re playing on the internet at work. Smarter idea: Enable embedding and other social media features that: (1) help your clips go viral and (2) allow the user to choose when and at what volume level they’ll play the clip and (3) give your fans the option to “subscribe” to the videos for further updates.
Before I sat down to write the “How to Date Black Chicks” post, I scanned through new(ish) comments left on old(er) posts. SIDE NOTE: I’ve considered removing the date and timestamps from all my posts because the conversation often continues days, weeks or even years after I publish them. This, of course, is welcome. I read all comments — regardless when they’re left. Anyway, so, in January of this year, I wrote a post called “Is Marriage Worth It? I Say No.” Today, I read this new comment by a guy named Greg:
I returned this evening from dinner with a good friend. We are both in unsatisfying marriages and asked ourselves the same question. Amazing that I literally stumbled into your post after returning home.
I didn’t come up with a good answer when talking it over with my friend. I doubt I could come up with one now. All I know is that I have the choice to end it but, for some reason, I stay.
Perhaps the reason why has something to do with my parents’ marriage. For most of their 40-some years together, my parents cobbled together a relationship fractured by bitter fights, alcohol, financial troubles, infidelity and more. Some of those years, they barely spoke to each other. When they did, they occasionally discussed ending their marriage. But, they didn’t.
As life went on, they began to mellow. The struggles of all those years seemed to smooth their rough, unformed edges and polish their souls. In the end, they seemed to see something of the best of each other reflected back. It wasn’t passion so much as it was truth — the truth that, no matter how ugly things can get in a human life, the capacity to forgive and be forgiven will eventually bring out things far more beautiful than we imagine possible within ourselves. They were devoted to each other in those final years.
My parents passed away within 6 months of each other. My father was first to receive a diagnosis of terminal cancer. Distraught, my mother preceded him in death by dying suddenly four weeks after they were informed of his condition.
Were the last years of their life together worth the hard decades that preceded them? Could they have been happier if they had made different choices, perhaps avoiding marriage altogether? Could they have made something more of their lives? Perhaps. But the same could be said of any life. As one singer noted, “a thousand futures pass away with every choice we make.”
Instead, they stared down the stark consequences of the choice they made and the individuals they were. And, step by bitter step, they fought, forgave and forged on until, perhaps not even expecting it themselves, they became the people they aspired to be from the start — beautiful in each other’s eyes.
I don’t know if the same will happen in my marriage. The dynamic is different. We’re different people. Hanging around funky brown chicks may do wonders for me. My wife would probably see it differently.
Still, thanks for the question! And, thanks for a great blog filled with honesty and openness. I stumbled on you in a Twitter trend on as I fooling around with a new cell phone. One thing led to another…
People who know me well know I’ve had waaaay too many hurtful experiences to pretend the world is perfect and/or relationships are always pretty. So, I’m usually drawn to the brutally honest, really deep and incredibly touching things some of you share about your personal lives. I know a lot of you disagree with some of the stuff I say (i.e. my ideas about marriage & kids … oh, and, yeah, I figured some readers would find yesterday’s How to Date a White Guy post a bit less “funny” than others) — but I’m okay with that. The world’s most interesting when people respectfully disagree.
I’ve said it too many times to count, but the comments section is one of my favorite things about this site. So, whatever,Â just a quick message to say THANK YOU for reading and sometimes commenting. File this one under Reader Appreciation.