Fresh off the heels of a glorious Vegas trip, I received astounding news: My 29-year-old friend passed away in a car accident. I was stunned. Shocked. Heartbroken. I didn’t question why the sender notified me of such harrowing news in a text. I briefly wondered who she was and why she asked me if I ever dated the victim, but I left it alone. The important issue was that my friend was gone. I’d never see him again. I felt extremely guilty for not responding to his last text. I was numb.
When I asked the sender for more information, imagine my surprise when she told me she didn’t have any more. Why, you wonder?
Because my friend wasn’t dead.
When I was fleeing my classroom and bawling in the women’s restroom, he was at work. Alive. Doing things that living people do. While classmates were consoling me and helping me take slow, painful steps to the Metro–I rode the train home with my head covered the entire time–my friend was just doing business as usual. The sender admitted that she was his ex-girlfriend and, after seeing my name in his phone, she became jealous–to put it very, very mildly.
Needless to say, I was furious. I was truly grieving for my friend. For the three days I believed he was gone, a cloud hovered over me, and anvils sat on my shoulders. I couldn’t crack a smile, not even a fake one. Sure, I was relieved to discover that he was alive and well, but grief is not a state you just snap out of. I still feel heavy, sickened, slow. It doesn’t help that six years ago, two close friends actually did pass away in a tragic car accident. My brain still believes something is wrong–and that’s because something is.
This girl is crazy. She’s dangerous. The fact she can tell another person that a friend is dead is lunacy of the highest order. You don’t play about deaths. You can pretend you’re sick all day, but to say that a loved one died–and actually carry out the sordid joke for days–is insanity. Who does that?
Thankfully, I’ve talked to my alive-and-kicking friend, and he apologized profusely for his ex’s actions. Although I still can’t believe a person can be so tactless, cruel, and deranged, I have been able to smile and laugh more, just a little bit. With time, I’ll be completely fine.
So will she, with professional help and proper medication.
In case you haven’t heard, CNN suspended Roland Martin, a political contributor, for a pretty tasteless–to put it mildly–tweet about a David Beckham’s Super Bowl commercial.
Most people I’ve talked to have said that the gay community is too sensitive. Others say that he shouldn’t have been suspended, that only a foolish person would take his comments literally. But this isn’t about gay or straight or whether slapping the “ish” out of someone is appropriate vernacular for a prominent journalist.
This is, simply, an issue of human rights.
If he had changed just one word–“person” instead of “man”–his tweet would have taken on a far less offensive flavor. We’re not talking about animals here. We’re talking about living, breathing people with feelings. Martin has every right to his opinion, but he should have known his tweet wouldn’t sit well with some people.
Yes, the reasonable person would assume that Martin was only speaking figuratively. But whether he was speaking in jest or truly meant to start a slap-fest ’round the world, he’s a public figure. There are some things you just can’t say when you’re a talking head on a national news channel.
I hope Martin gets some much-needed sensitivity training during his involuntary vacation, plus a heavy dose of common sense. No matter who you are, public recognition plus public foolery always equals public shame.
I have my share of bad habits. I lose things. I zone out when people give me directions. I forget to pay my phone bill (thank you, Verizon, for your generosity). All in all, though, I think I’m a pretty good catch. So, if a guy is interested in more than friendship with me, he should avoid the following mishaps:
1. Laughing/joking too much.
I laugh ’til my head hurts. I’ve had laughing fits for upwards of twenty minutes. I find the humor the mundane. If something crashes to the floor in a silent room, I have to tuck my lips to contain my giggles. That doesn’t mean, however, that I want to laugh nonstop with you. Take this phone conversation, for example:
Me: “What did you think about the Time article on female genital mutilation?”
Me: [Side eye. Quizzical chuckle]
Me: [End call]
Laughter is not a substitute for intelligent discourse. If we’re talking about child endangerment or adult illiteracy, a giggle fit is especially inappropriate. Even if we’re talking about something more mundane, I’d prefer that you just chill out sometimes. Instead of being one of those I-don’t-have-anything-to-say-so-I’ll-just-laugh-like-a-hyena people, why not ask a simple, relevant question to move the conversation along?
Sure, a sense of humor diffuses negative energy and makes you feel good. But a guy who doesn’t know how or when to cut the comedy and be serious will most likely end up in the “just friends” category.
I met Joe online. Joe told me he was 25 and 5’11”. When I met him in person, his name was actually John and he was four years older and four inches shorter, with no premolars and a receding hairline. Don’t ask why I kept talking to him. The lies continued: The company he claimed he worked for had been closed for months, he lived with his sisters and her children (not roommates, as he called them), and he kept photos of girls he was supposedly just friends with on his phone.
As time went on–again, don’t ask me why I continued to entertain this person–he just got weirder. He showed up unannounced at my job with a bootleg “Sex and the City 2” DVD. He threatened to take back the gifts he bought me because I didn’t want to talk to him anymore. When I finally cut him off, he stalked me for over a year, no joke. I guess he finally realized I wasn’t playing about calling the police.
While John’s is case extreme, it exemplifies the tomfoolery that lying inevitably spurs. Just tell the truth. If you don’t have a job, say so, but at least put in a few apps every day. If you live with your sister and her six kids in a two-bedroom apartment and have a particularly grotesque case of OCD, that’s alright, too. Just be honest about it. That way, you at least give me a fair chance to say: Next.
3. Calling or texting at o’dark thirty.
I’ve been an insomniac since I was about 10. I’ve tried melatonin, popcorn, Calms Forte, CVS-brand pills, almost everything to get a good night’s rest. Bedtime is just a pain for me.
Even more annoying is when I’m browsing YouTube for tips on how to clean a dirty pair of Uggs at 2:36 a.m. and some random guy pops up in my notification center. What are you going to say that you couldn’t tell me 12 hours earlier? Do you expect me to respond favorably your booty-call-hour small talk? I hope not.
Most of my friends or associates know that I don’t like late-night calls. Still, some forget there’s an appropriate to time to call a lady. Like before 10 p.m. EST. Maybe a bit later for friends I’ve known longer. If you don’t know my middle name, shoe size, or place of birth, don’t call or text me late if you expect to be anything more a nuisance.
4. Buying me stuff at your own will–and then complaining about being broke.
Some men give compliments. Others give pedicures, Skittles lip balm, Snuggies, tickets to Tyler Perry plays, and steak dinners.
I can’t lie: I like gifts. But they don’t have to be elaborate. A simple bag of Sour Patch Kids will do just fine. It’s the begrudged gift-giving I have a problem with. Don’t buy me stuff like I’m Vanessa Bryant and then gripe about your No-be bank account. You only make yourself look foolish if you pretend you’re balling out of control.
I’m not looking for a sponsor. We don’t have to go to dinner and a movie three times a week. If we do, I’m willing to split the bill or take turns paying, and most of the time I’ll be satisfied cooking a lovely dinner at home and flipping through Fios On Demand. You don’t have to pay my train fare, nor must you pick out a pair of Jessica Simpson peep-toe pumps for me. Be honest about your budget and think about creative, economical things we can do together. Make me a collage instead of plunking down cash on something you can’t afford. That way, you won’t need a moment of silence when you check your account.
Attraction to the dude who calls you a snaggle-toothed, pizza-faced heifer only occurs in the movies, if even there. Nobody likes a name-caller. Well, at least I don’t. I usually don’t get along well with people who use the b-, n-, and f- (referring to gay men) words, just to name a few. Those words make you look like a callous buttwipe.
The world is a much sweeter place when we call each other by our given names, not the racist, sexist, homophobic ones folks tend to chuck at random. So just stop it. Use of those terms only reveals ignorance. And the last thing anyone wants is an ignorant man.
We women have our shortcomings. We talk about our hair more than the average man cares to hear. We get in other folks’ business more than the IRS. Some things, though, are as unforgivable as Diddy’s pop-group pimping. If you’re a woman who desires respect and admiration, I’d advise you to refrain from the following:
1. Wearing too-light foundation. There’s a rule about clothes—they always, always look better when they fit. Not too baggy, not too tight, but just right. The same rule applies for makeup. If you could double for Patrick Swayze in your NC45, it’s time to get a darker shade. Now, I understand that many of us still have hangups about our complexions. The media doesn’t help us. Several major cosmetics companies — cough, Almay, cough, Neutrogena — still think Lucy Liu is dark. Many brands, fortunately, do recognize human skin tones are vast. Trust me, brown paper bags are for groceries, and that’s only if you don’t have reusable bag. The shade that matches your skin tone — whether you’re Paula Patton, Jennifer Hudson, or Viola Davis — is always going to look prettiest on you. Anything lighter might make you appear insecure.
2. Wearing leggings as pants. Since the revival of these ’80s staples in about 2006, spandex has been up everyone’s crack. And not just the one you sit on. They’re much more comfortable than constricting skinny jeans, but they have been sorely misused. I was officially disturbed with the trend when, under the high midday sun, a fuller-figured girl’s blue-and-pink polka-dotted drawers stung my eyes. She was wearing leggings—as pants. With a tiny polo shirt. And her underwear gleaming right through them. Unless you’re working a Michael Kors runway, we commonfolk have no interest in seeing which pair of Hanes you pulled from the three-pack today. I don’t care if you’re wearing a thong, granny panties, or nothing at all [side eye] — leggings are not like pants, period. Your top should cover your rear. If not, find something else to wear and stop insulting us with your cracks.
3. Talking about your sex life on Facebook. I can deal with the fascinating I’m-doing-laundry posts. I can even deal with the 47th pic of you in the bathroom, though to much lesser extent. I cannot, however, bear the vivid details of your sexual encounters. Unless it’s snowing, I don’t ever want to read about white stuff in your status (Yes, I really did one time. I evicted her from the feed). Unless you have a dog named Richard and a cat named Fluffy, stop talking, now. Though we’re even more open about our sexuality than our predecessors, Facebook is the place where you share the family-friendly parts of your life. What happens in your bedroom isn’t anyone’s business. Take down those pics of you biting your finger, too.
4. Wearing heels higher than three inches during the day. Nothing says “I’m low-maintenance, sensible, and forward-thinking” like a five-inch platform pump at 8 in the morning. Nothing is more practical, comfortable, and stylish than walking up steep hills and stomping down escalators in four-inch Aldo wedges. Ok, I’ll cut the offenders some slack here. The right shoe can upgrade even the most basic outfit. And we all admire a girl with a mean shoe game. But please, for the love of Dr. Scholl’s, try to keep your heels lower during the day, at least while you’re running errands, commuting, or working (unless you, um, work at Stadium. Look that up yourself. It’s in DC.). You’ll avoid the Kevin Hart buckle and your feet will feel better. Win-win!
5. Talking in a baby voice on purpose. I love my 3-year-old nephew’s speech. Every basic word or phrase he says is cuter, sweeter, and funnier because it’s coming out his little voicebox. Sadly, I also hear that same chirpy chatter from people taller than 3’2”. I understand if your voice is naturally high-pitched. You can’t control that any more than you can control the price of a washcloth in Burundi. But if you’re using an irritatingly elfin voice because you think it sounds cute, you are sorely mistaken. No one agrees with you. In fact, most people just want you to shut up. I’m all about self-expression, so please, say what’s on your mind. Just leave the baby talk for Heidi Klum or somebody.
What other bad habits should sensible women give up?