Could It Be That It Was All So Simple Then: Is Grown Really Sexy?

I miss Double-Dutch and the ice cream trucks.¬† I yearn for the¬†restless¬†summer days¬†spent reading Right On! ¬†Magazines and waiting for¬†someone to call my favorite video into Jukebox.¬† I want to spend a whole day with Barbie, Skipper, Ken and their dream house.¬† I‚Äôd like to dress-up my Cabbage Patches and line them along the bottom of my bed for some good conversation.¬† I want to rock my Garanimals, OshKosh¬†B’gosh, and take my Pillow Person to work.¬† My daily workout will be the Get in Shape Girl Aerobics VHS tape.¬† I want to watch the Snorks in the morning, My Little Ponies in the afternoon, and the Wonderful World of Disney at night.¬† Yet these days are distant memory.¬† I can‚Äôt bring that old thing back.¬† I‚Äôm a grown-up and yet that inner little girl is still so alive¬†in me.¬†

I don’t want to over romanticize¬†my child hood.¬† Truth is¬†I could never really jump Double-Dutch well, and¬†after an unwise¬†ice cream truck¬†purchase¬†I¬†got a now¬†and Later stuck to my tooth. Suffice it to say,¬† I was plagued¬†by a prevailing feeling of¬†awkwardness¬†and general insecurity due to relentless teasing for much of childhood¬†years.¬† Yet in still, the challenges of my¬†adolescence¬†pale in comparison to this grown folks business.¬†

Being an adult is just soooooo¬†hard.¬† I know this may sound terribly naive, but I grew up in a very¬†¬†sheltered‚ÄĒif not charmed‚ÄĒhousehold and I had no idea how rough it is out here.¬† ¬†Just like the clich√©.¬†I had to be in the¬†house before the street lights came on.¬† I went to private schools from the 1st grade through the 12th.¬† I never snuck out the house or snuck boys into the house, and come to think about it; just saying no¬†wasn’t even an issue because¬†no one ever asked me to try drugs.¬†

Instead of narcotics, I took lessons: piano, flute, karate, swimming; jazz, tap, and ballet; gymnastics, ice skating, singing, and drama.  Jack of many trades and masters of none, I had a wide breadth and depth of experiences in my youth.  But summer camp at the Y, plays and musicals at the Kennedy Center, family reunions, barbecues, vacation bible schools, and Girl Scout Troop 695 are now just distant memories.

Today, I no longer face the hurdles of catty neighborhood girls and rude little boys at school.¬† Now I’ve got real grown lady hurdles¬†like a mortgage and a demanding career.¬† I’ve got huge dreams that are going require¬†a lot of sacrifice and really hard work to achieve.¬†¬† ¬† I have the responsibility to be¬†a steward to the community¬†and serve others, who¬†are frankly enduring¬†through situations¬†far worst than I can even imagine.¬† Therefore, I do not write this as a rant or a complaint about my life.¬†¬†I’ve got it pretty good.¬† I have a great job, wonderful¬†friends, a supportive family, and a burgeoning¬†and always¬†entertaining¬†romantic life.¬†¬†

Yet, I just find the emotional, financial, political, and social roller coasters of adulthood a bit scary sometime. ¬†¬†I’m not even a parent yet, and I’m not sure how people do it.¬†¬† I can‚Äôt imagine a mini-me depending on moi to take raise into adulthood.¬† Even my dog looks at me with his pensive big brown eyes, as if to say ‚Äúare you sure you got this mom, cause I dunno‚ÄĚ? ¬†

With the stressors of unexpected expenses, crying babies, sick and aging parents and grandparents, tragic losses and disappointments, crisis of faith, new aches and pains arriving daily, not to mention overwhelming exhaustion and challenges to one’s  core beliefs, it’s a wonder we don’t all throw in the towel. 

Yet I am convinced¬†that I was built¬†for this: to live a life of meaning and purpose.¬† I was always a mini-adult; my grandmother played a large part in raising me‚ÄĒwhich met I spent a lot of time at the Fort Lincoln Senior Village Recreation Center playing¬†Kings in the Corner and Pity Pat¬†with old ladies.¬† I have a great understanding of people and I truly believe we are stronger and more capable than we give ourselves credit for.¬† To be intentional about living a happy, fruitful, and productive adult life means to ensure¬†your choices are aligned¬†to your values, your path is ordered¬†by love, and your tests are met¬†with faith.¬† Incongruence¬†between any of these areas puts us in that uncomfortable sphere of fear, anxiety, and doubt.¬† So love boldly, live fearlessly, and laugh always!¬† Grown is indeed¬†sexy ūüėȬ† Keep that inner child in¬† you alive.¬† Use your imagination and soar.

Swagaholics Anonymous: Addicted to the Cool Factor

At best, I’m a glutton for punishment.¬† At worst, I’m a masochist, but when it comes to affairs of¬† the heart‚ÄĒI must admit‚ÄĒI am an unabashed swagaholic.¬† I know many of you will argue the semantics of the now soccer mom appropriated term “swag“.¬† Others of you are simply turned off by it all together.¬† Even though “swag” is a relative term, and is likely going the way of bling bling very soon, for me it describes a ridiculously cool, quiet confidence that I suspect many woman find irresistible.

Swag is of course a slang for personal style appearance or attitude. ¬† An abbreviation of¬† “swagger”, the term was popularized by hip-hop artists¬† several year ago, but it really entered the mainstream cultural moment with the hilarious Toyota Sienna Mini Van commercials.¬† Soulja Boy had a hit this year with “Pretty Boy Swag, you can argue the artistic relevance of his unique genius.¬† You can even like the Swagaholics Anonymous Facebook group, a page for people with so much swag they need group therapy;¬† it only has 43 members.¬† Suffice it to say, swag has been with us for a while and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.¬† The terminology may change, but cool is cool.

Who does or doesn’t have swag is certainly relative, but it’s all about the image one presents to the world.¬† Yet my¬† penchant for cool¬† describes my addiction and it usually finds me head over heels for the¬† classic ladies man.¬† You know the heart breaker; the superstar.¬† He may or not be classically handsome, but he definitely has sex appeal. He¬† is¬† put together.¬† He has¬† his own sense of style, which usually includes a good shoe and a good watch.¬† While he won’t have too many words for you‚ÄĒwhen he does speak‚ÄĒhe commands attention.¬† He is smart, but not pompous about it.¬† His cologne will always be on point.¬† He walks like a ball player or a rapper, but is gainfully employed; who says you can’t have corporate swag? He can match wits with the best of them, and always leaves you wanting more.¬† You want to lock him down because he seems so unattainable, and yet in the back of your mind you know if he gets the best of you; you’re in trouble.

For every guy I’ve fallen for like this, I can see the danger sign flashing above their heads from miles out.¬† Yet, I am like a moth to a flame.¬† The cost benefits analysis in my mind always comes out in favor of playing the odds that this time will be different.¬† It’s not just me.¬†¬† I have met many women like this‚ÄĒswagaholics.¬† We all know the nice guy is the safer route.¬† Dating the one who is crazy about you is the healthier choice in the long run, but the passion and excitement of the bad boy or the ladies man can be very seductive.¬† I would¬† certainly never advocate compromising your dignity for this kind of guy; the first law of nature is self-preservation. ¬† Yet, I’m convinced there is no shame in craving a hot boy.¬† What you do once you get him presents a whole other series of issues, but I digress.

It really comes down to the extent to which one embraces the nice guys finish last aphorism.  In Niceness and Dating Success: A Further Test of the Nice Guy Stereotype, Urbaniak & Kilmann (2003) write that:

“Although women often portray themselves as wanting to date kind, sensitive, and emotionally expressive men, the nice guy stereotype contends that, when actually presented with a choice between such a ‘nice guy’ and an unkind, insensitive, emotionally-closed, ‘macho man’ or ‘jerk,’ they invariably reject the nice guy in favor of his ‘so-called’ macho competitor.”

I suspect that any preference among women for the bad boy is probably a combination of one’s upbringing‚ÄĒa lot of us have daddy issues, what society and the cultural moment values as masculinity, a bit of evolution‚ÄĒthe whole survival of the fittest thing, and the fact that many of us girls like a challenge.¬† A lot of us will say we want a sensitive guy because¬† its the right thing to say, but in reality we crave Mr. Swag.¬† Technically what we really want is a hybrid between the two archetypes, the sensitive and cool guy. Yet, it typically doesn’t work like that.¬† At least in my experience.

But you tell me you swagaholics out there.¬† Is there any hope for us or are we destined for 808’s and Heartbreaks?¬† Who has swag to you?¬† Pharrell? Kanye? Jay-z?¬† Idris?¬† For the non-swagaholics why do you prefer the nice guy?¬† Are these characteristics mutually exclusive, can a sensitive guy be swagged-out?


If I Were A Boy….: Is Chivalry Dead and Did We Sistahs Kill It?

My so-called dating life is often a platform for improvisational comedy, so I am careful not to extend my romantic foibles and fouls to the whole of Black sisterhood.¬† Yet listening to my gal pals has revealed a pattern that I cannot ignore.¬† It seems chivalry is dead and according to Dave Chappelle women killed it.¬† In general, many guys‚ÄĒnot all mind you‚ÄĒare not interested in courting us anymore and this saddens me.

First, I recognize this is not entirely the guys fault.¬† Why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free? Frankly, it may simply be more efficient in today’s economy to skip the wining and dining.¬† Yet, I yearn for the days of flowers and chocolates.¬† A little romance would go a long way for the scorned and broken hearts out there. In fact, there are some real incentives to be had, if Black men and women decided to kick it old school style in terms of relationships.

You see I like classic¬† R&B groups like the Dells, Heatwave, and the Mighty, Mighty O’Jays.¬† These cats knew how to woo a lady.¬† The lyrics of love songs like “Stay in my Corner“, “Always and Forever“, and “When a Man Loves a Woman” illustrate what relationships should look like.¬† There was a time when a man would sing about taking the stars out of the sky for his girl, and now what do we get: “Blame it on the a a a a a alcohol” and “Why Would You Wanna Break-Up?

The once cultural norms of the guy paying for dinner, driving, and generally putting in work to get a ladies attention has been replaced with us doing all the work. We are chasing the guys down like the last pair of size-7, heavily discounted Tory Burche’s at a Nordstrom Annual sale. I see women driving around men.¬† I’ve been there.¬† I see women paying for meals.¬† I’ve been there too.¬† This role reversal does not feel natural to me and I think it emasculates men to the point where they no longer feel a desire to be the provider. Frankly, they do not put in work because there is no need.¬† The marriage statistics treat good Black men like a commodity on the dating market, while they simultaneously devalue¬† Black women.¬† Moreover, a lot of guys in my generation did not grow-up with¬† their father’s in the home.¬† These momma’s babies are so often ruined that by the time they get to us ladies, they simply expect to be catered to.

There is also the matter of the nookie and the cookies.¬† Guys will tell us, if you want to be chased then don’t give it up too soon.¬† Noted.¬†¬† Yet, the sexually liberated among us will argue that we have the right to get ours, just like the fellas do and there is nothing to be gained by waiting.¬† Their motto: “if you don’t give it up, another girl will”. Yet if you subscribe to the anthropologically¬† proven notion that men are by nature hunters, then you must acknowledge there is a strategic advantage as well as a valuing of self that comes from resisting sex earlier on in a relationship.¬† All of us take an L in this arena every now and again, but when it gets tough I like to think of Anne Boleyn.

History buffs among you will know Henry the VIII became so enamored with Boleyn that he went on an unrelenting¬† pursuit to make her his mistress.¬† Yet she steadfastly resisted his attempts to seduce her.¬† He became so obsessed with Boleyn, he broke the entire nation of England from the Catholic Church to have his marriage to Queen Catherine annulled, so he could then marry Boleyn.¬† Moral appraisals aside,this man seceded his entire country from an entire church, and not just any church the entire Holy Catholic church, thereby changing the annals of history forever…and all because one chick would not give up the cookies.

Only thing guys will break-up nowadays is the dinner bill for us to pay our half.

I find myself sitting in the car watching my dates walk all the way into the restaurant only to find that I am not beside or behind them.¬† Many are shocked when I insist they not only open my car door but hold the door when I walk through the restaurant, as well. Most cats have so much swag there is no hand holding; or public displays of affection.¬† Moreover, they also want you to call them and text them, and we run the pace with a smile on our face because hell, a half a man is better than none…right?¬† I’d venture to say no.

I think there is something to be said for letting a man feel like a man.¬† This of course does not mean unwittingly meeting his needs‚ÄĒ¬† i.e. cooking and sexing ’till the cows come home without acknowledging your own needs. It does, however, mean raising your level of expectation from what think you can get to what you truly deserve.

All of us deserve to be the princess sometimes and sure we will kiss some frogs, but when true love comes a knocking and you walk through the door, chances are he’ll be holding it for you.

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