I must have tried eight different approaches to this entry before finally arriving at the one you’re reading now. That’s because it’s Valentine’s Day, and I wasn’t sure how I wanted to handle it. Early on, I thought I might discuss the surprising revelation I had when I looked over my final blog entry of 2008. In it, I talked about the things I was going to get in 2009. And I quote:
1. I’ll start doing podcasts—reading my entries, musing on what matters to me and fielding questions from commenters, should anyone out there require my wise and timely guidance in an easily-accessible audio format; 2. I’ll sell my merchandise online and be the kind of webpreneur I keep threatening to be; and
3. I’ll find myself in a fantastic relationship with an unbelievably wonderful man who wants to ‘put a ring on it.’
Turns out I stacked my plate with three goals I never even got around to last year. Oh well. This year, however, is a different story. Even so, the thing that struck me was that last item: I was going to get myself a man, Honey! As casually as I might have drafted a grocery list, I had determined I was going to bag a man, too. Let’s see: three soy based organic Tahitian vanilla pillar candles…check! hypo-allergenic quilted cotton cosmetic squares…check! physically-mentally-spiritually mature, educated, funny, loyal, loving, and all-around stable marriage-minded man….doh!
It’s not that I’m opposed to lists because I am a crackerjack list maker. Ask anybody. Besides, I’ve already got several my-ideal-man lists lying around already. I’ve even read all the dating and relating books, including the ones that have yet to be written! Did you catch that one by the Harvard marketing MBA who developed an air-tight selling strategy for women over the firing line of forty? We were to leave no stone unturned in reaching our target market—rich and educated single men. Because if we did, we’d surely miss the rare and precious chance to pull our princes out from under their proverbial rocks.
Then there was the one about knowing if the guy was for me in two dates or less. Again I was to make a list and whittle it down to ten ‘must haves’ and ten ‘musn’t haves.’ I actually surprised myself with some of the non-negotiables I chose, feeling grateful that ‘softer’ traits like kindness and emotional availability won out over superficial attributes like a tight butt and big hands I’d prized so highly in my twenties. I also recall the visualization books imploring me to see and feel myself embedded in loving scenarios with the shining man of my highest good, and the step-by-step guides that walked me through the multi-layered act of bettering myself while consequently making space for Mr. Right to walk into my life.
So back to my last words of 2008.
When I read that line, I could feel the low drone of loneliness and frustration of repeatedly ‘losing’ at love laced with a wrenching desperation to fix what I saw as a ‘problem’ of chronic singleness. If there’s one thing I am, I’m a can-do, resourceful kind of woman, and if the books could tell me how to get my man doggoneit, I was going to do it. What could have been easier, right? I can read, I’m a good list maker, and, on occasion, I can take direction pretty good. Put it all together and bada bing bada boom…Heeeeeere’s Mr. My Everything!
So, yeah, that’s where I started to go with this Valentine’s Day entry, but I thought it might read a little less than optimistic on this day of romantic over-the-topness.
Still no muse.
So, lacking for inspiration, I did what any practiced professional with time on her hands would do—I surfed the web. Meaning, I scouted suitable topics.
Don’t ask me how A led to B, but within three minutes I landed in the thick of the Holly Robinson-Peete/John Mayer Playboy interview/Twitter business. In case you’ve somehow escaped this silliness, the short story is Mayer basically insulted black women the world over and offered a sideways compliment by saying he thought Peete was “gorgeous.” Not having heard the full context of his statement, Peete went on record saying she was flattered by his comments. Then she got the rest of what he said—something about having an honorary ‘hood’ or n*&@=*% pass, too—and blew up all over the news talking about how disgusted she was by his comments.
Apparently Mayer went on to make offensive remarks about gays after offering up his first-hand account of a recent round of tonsil hockey with a male friend in a nightclub. Not content to stop while he was behind, he ran down his former girlfriend Jessica Simpson in the process. (Lordy, from Burger King and offensive cartoons to mouthy exes and awkward high-waist pants, that poor woman just can’t catch a break!) Anyway, he toured the usual media circuit apologizing all over himself, weeping openly, and vowing to be less of an asshole from now on.
For three minutes more, I searched for the full interview so I could read it myself and determine how angry I needed to be. But the thing is that guy didn’t say anything a whole load of other people haven’t already said about people of color, gays, and women in general–black women in particular.
Now WTF, Kriste? What does this have to do with Valentine’s Day? you’re asking. To that I say, ‘Everything, people!’
Here’s why. When I started lathering up at this whole mess, I instinctively wanted to flip him the bird and retreat to someplace safe or at least less racially charged. But I couldn’t be mad at him because then I’d have to get mad at Imus all over again and then I’d have to roll out all of the high-profile black men and celebrity rappers who openly denigrate black women and never face the heat their white male counterparts do. See, it’s these men who, depending on the direction of the wind, classify women like me (and unlike me) as bitches, whores, babymommas, gold diggers, chicken heads, fuck puppets, and a litany of other slurs. All the way to the bank. It’s these men who stack their careers on the platforms of ignorance, homophobia, violence, and misogyny.
Lest I sound bitter or biased against these men, I must also add that because I’m forty, mocha colored, and sport natural hair, I’ve somehow been granted entry into a different tier of womanhood. Therefore, I might be considered a sistuh or black queen. And, yes, you may also read that as code for ‘altogether unattractive.’ Please don’t make me go there, folks, because I’m still trying to work my way back to Love.
Love is the real deal. Beyond any off-color comments and simmering centuries-old tensions that get stoked every so often, real Love is the stuff that lifts us out of the gutter and places us on high ground again (I’m referencing myself from the MLK piece here, fyi). Capital ‘L’ Love is the web or matrix connecting us all one to the other like cells in a giant body. Even when that body is sick, tired, and feverish from heaving. For me, it’s not a matter of whether I believe in this Oneness deal any more than it’s a matter of believing in the existence of tap water. Simply because I couldn’t do my energy work and readings if this weren’t the case.
And because it is the case, to John, Holly, Imus, and all the rest I’d say… Hmm, I don’t know what I’d say right now because I’m still trying to get back to my Valentine’s Day point!
Like I was saying, the fact that I felt like I had to jump through so many hoops to get a man for the purposes of somehow completing me were, in hindsight, missing the mark. Big time. I was unwittingly setting myself up for a huge disappointment in much the same way it’s unrealistic to expect that we’re always going to do right by our neighbors, you know?
So, rather than withdraw in frustration on this Valentines Day, a day of romantic jubilation and candied excess, I’m choosing to stay open to the possibility that this latest round of public discourse will inch us toward making real headway on all sides. I’m also choosing to believe that I’m already complete and pretty fantastic within or without any relationship. Otherwise, ignorant sentiments from random sources would truly ride roughshod all over me. Now there’s a mindset that changes the game entirely. And while we’re speaking of games and Valentine’s Day—just for shits and giggles, and on account of I’m uninvolved as of this writing—I’m going to share with you my fresh and new all-encompassing affirmation which I’m transmitting to the wonderful man who’s on his way to me right now—or whenever. I just came up with it: He Loves Me, He Loves Me Hot!