Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Count your blessings...

Well, I know that I haven’t posted in a while. But this time, I have FANTASTIC excuses to explain my long absence. First, my dad has been dealing with some health issues that were pretty serious. I took time off from work to help manage that situation on the home front since my mom seemed to be pretty overwhelmed by it all. Long days spent at the hospital turned into short nights and then more long days at the hospital. This left very little time for me to get my thoughts jotted down, but it did give me a little time to think about some things. And whenever I start thinking that means… yep! You guessed it! MORE BLOG POSTS FOR YOU! Whoo-hoo!

Anyway, during this time, a very close friend of mine decided to quit his out-of-state job and move back to DC. He wanted to spend his days looking for a new position, but didn’t have a computer. So I, out of the kindness of my own heart, allowed him to borrow my beloved laptop for a few days. Which then turned into an entire week! So, that didn’t leave me much time or opportunity to write a post. When I told this friend that I needed him to return my computer so I could get back to blogging, he said, “You’ve gone longer than this without blogging. Nobody will miss you.” Well, he can just kiss my tookus because I know for a fact that I have been missed. (And I feel great about that, by the way!) I know this because I got cursed by several people who had been checking for new posts and finding nothing. And for that, I apologize. So, here goes a new post. And I’m working on a few more… hopefully, I’ll have at least two more to post later this week…

I wrote this post last week when I was feeling overwhelmed and a little bit depressed by my circumstances. But since then, my circumstances have changed for the better. You can't have a TESTimony with a TEST. And I was being tested. But, I'm here to tell you that God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. Amen. I still have a few questions, tho... LOL!

Ok, so we all know that there are some people who have fabulous lives. Everybody has that one friend that it seems can do no wrong. No matter what, s/he always gets what they want. A new job? Got that. In fact, they got the exact job they were looking for. No, better yet, it was the job they had always dreamed about and it was handed over to them with little effort. Wait, actually, it is a job that is BETTER than the job they had always dreamed about and it pays significantly more too. And, no their girlfriend isn’t just the most beautiful woman in the city, she is actually the prettiest woman on the East Coast, knits blankets for orphans in her spare time, sings in the church choir, AND cooks like Martha Stewart to boot.

And though you are genuinely happy for said friend and all of his/her happiness, sometimes you wonder why God seems to smile on certain people while ignoring the pleas of others. Sure, you are blessed, and you don’t even deserve the blessings that you DO get from God – truthfully. But you also notice that there are other people out there who happen to be ordinary people just like you, but it seems as though their blessings are constantly overflowing. And the question is WHY? Who are these people and what have they done to deserve them getting so much out of life? There’s got to be some reason why they are highly favored and the rest of us are just trudging along trying to make chicken soup out of chicken shit.

I’ll be the first to admit that these sorts of questions pass through my mind all the time. And, there are certain people that I encounter on a regular basis that manage to spur these thoughts. And I can think of quite a few people that I know personally who I could mention here in this post. They would actually be textbook examples of this phenomenon. But then I thought better of using their stories. Some of those blessed and highly favored people I had in mind do read this blog and would probably recognize their lives once I described and laid them out for the whole world (or at least the 5 or so people who read this blog!) to see. So, instead, I’ll go with someone who everyone on the planet knows and who has probably spurred these types of thoughts in millions of people’s heads.


Yes, that “triple threat” – the singer, actress, dancer (although she has really only mastered two of the three… guess which two??) – that we all know and love. You can’t help but give her the props that she is due. The girl seems to have it all!

A few years back, I paid over $100 to see Beyonce, Alicia Keys, and Missy Elliott perform in the Verizon “Ladies First” tour. I had liked Beyonce since her days with Destiny’s Child. But it wasn’t until I had seen her in living color that I began to respect her and her craft. She is a PERFORMER, plain and simple. I got my money's worth just as a result of her performance. She is the embodiment of the term “entertainer”. Through her whole set, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She belted out the words to every song enthusiastically, didn’t miss a note, her feet didn’t miss a beat. My friends and I were enthralled. Not to mention that she did all this for approximately an hour and a half and didn’t seem to have a hair out of place when she was finished. Now THAT is talent.

A couple of months ago, my mom and I were watching “The Beyonce Experience” when it aired on cable. By the end of her first set, my mom was out of breath. When I asked her what was wrong she said, "I got tired just watching her!" That’s how much energy Bey displayed. It was outrageous. Then, she belted out one of her slow tunes and I was in awe of not just her stamina, but also her level of talent.

My awe quickly turned to curiosity. How is it that one person could be so blessed? I mean, she has the stamina and the attitude and the look and the talent to back it ALL up. Not only is she a very capable vocalist, but she can also dance her ass off and (halfway - let's be real) act. And, of course, those three blessings weren’t enough for her. She also happened to fare well in the genetic lottery, which made her the lucky winner of a bodacious bod and gorgeous grill. Some chicks have all the luck!

But, I don’t believe in luck, I believe in blessings. And this girl is clearly blessed. Aside from all those things that I outlined about Bey up above, add to that the fact that she is also a multi-platinum recording artist in a very depressing time for the music industry where pirating and digital developments have caused record sales to plummet. Plus, she’s got a fashion line, House of Dereon. And even though the shit is a hot tranny mess, well, it’s STILL a fashion line! And, finally, she can take responsibility for snagging the most swaggerific dude in the game, the shrewdest business man in hip hop, one of the greatest rappers of all time, Jay-Z. The same dude who used to mean-mug the camera all the time now walks around with a constant grin on his face, looking like a kid in FAO Schwartz who has just been handed his father’s Amex Black Card and been told to "go crazy!".

So I wonder, what did Beyonce do to earn all these blessings? Was she Harriet Tubman in another life, bringing slaves to freedom in the North? Perhaps she a former nun who dedicated her life to caring for the afflicted residents of a leper colony? Did she take a bullet for someone? I mean, really, WHO DESERVES ALL THAT?

I’m waiting for an answer…

No really. I can’t answer this question, so I’m hoping someone else can! LOL!

Now, I know that maybe some of this sounds a little haterish, but trust me - it is not. Bey got SOME of her success through hard work and dedication. But to be able to have all that she's got... she also had the Lord on her side.

I get the fact that every generation has one or two pop culture icons who become larger than life. Beyonce is that icon for my generation. So, I can sorta understand that maybe God gives chances like this to one person per generation and Bey did something that found her favor in God’s eyes so that made her the perfect candidate for icon status.

I also recognize that, as the Good Book says, to whom much is given, much is expected. So that means that Bey has got to do some things to justify her blessings. I don’t know her giving history, but I’m sure that she finds ways to help out those less fortunate, which would include… basically everyone else in the world! I have no concrete knowledge of what she does or doesn't do, but I do know that God is expecting a lot from her... he gave her this kind of life for a reason. She better prove him right!

Anyway, even though I realize the extent of Bey’s blessings, the pills that are a little harder to swallow are those people who receive these kinds of blessings on a smaller scale. Like for instance, the friend who wished that she could get an internship for a record label and ends up skipping right over the internship and getting a job as a high-paid exec instead. Or that guy who wants to make it to the college team to play Division I ball and instead ends up going pro... as a first-round draft pick. Possibly it’s that young lady who wants to buy a condo and ends up getting blessed with a 20-room mansion. Whoever it is, sometimes it just doesn't seem fair. There are a million guys waiting to go pro, some of them just as talented as A.I. or LeBron or Kobe (barf). Why didn't they get the contract and the endorsements and the millions?

The examples I used might seem unrealistic and you are probably thinking that stuff like that doesn’t happen to "ordinary" people like me and you. But, guess what, everyone is “ordinary” until something EXTRAORDINARY happens to them. I’ve seen the throwback videos of Bey and Miss Kelly and the rest of them chicks singing and dancing in Tina’s beauty salon back in Houston. In those days, they were just ordinary girls, but then… something happened that transformed them into who they are today. And, when you think about it, there had to have been a ton of other girls also singing in churches and barber shops and talent shows who didn’t get the same kind of break that Bey and Kelly got. And those “ordinary” chicks are still just “ordinary” because that extraordinary thing, that BLESSING, did not happen to them.

Now, this is the second post where I’ve mentioned Beyonce. Trust that I’m not a Beyonce stan, but I do admire her and what she has achieved at such a young age. And, I’m genuinely happy that she has accomplished what she has. I just want to know… why her? Why not someone else?

I know you’re not really supposed to question the divine order of things. Sometimes, “why?” is not appropriate. I don’t really expect to get these questions answered in this lifetime, so don’t rack your brain trying to figure it out or anything…

I thank God for my many, MANY blessings. Although I haven't been blessed with Bey's talents (or her man, OR her millions) I've got a lot of amazing things to be thankful for. I still wonder why Bey is so blessed (and Oprah on a larger scale and a certain NYC pal on a smaller scale). But I am also not so dense as to be unaware of the fact that I have been blessed with exactly what God WANTS me to have. And for that, I am grateful.

So, God, no hard feelings. You’re still my homeboy and I’ve got nothing but love and respect for you. Keep on blessing Beyonce and them. And keep on blessing me. This is just food for thought…

Monday, April 14, 2008

It was all good just a week ago/"Beautiful" Part II

I am constantly getting cursed out for playing the "to be continued" game. I am glad that I'm able to make things so suspenseful. Lol! This is not a strategic move on my part, however, I simply don't want to bore you with stories that are so long you have to take a break and then come back and read the rest later. SO I thought it'd be better to give it to you in doses. Guess I was wrong... Anyway, Part II awaits. If you've ever been in a position like the one I'm sharing with you right now, challah if you hear me!

Then, the worst happened. I didn’t hear from Terrell for two days. I figured I was getting the brush-off, but at first, I did what all women do… I started panicking, thinking that something was wrong with him. So, I called a few times. Ok… MORE than “a few times”. I called his cell, his home (his roommate got tired of hearing my voice). If I’d had his work number, I would’ve called that, too.* I just couldn’t understand the sudden change in his attitude toward me. I mean, it had been all good just a week ago… literally. And, then, we crashed and burned. My heart was hurting and my head was spinning. And, so, I called Akil, not knowing what else to do.

Akil answered on the first ring and could tell the distress in my voice.

“What’s wrong, baby girl?” he asked.

I told him that I was confused and hurt as to why Terrell hadn’t returned my calls. I asked him whether Terrell was alive and I promised that if he was, in fact, still breathing, that I would kill him.

“Listen, kid,” he said (he had a lot of nicknames for me). “You might want to just go ahead and let that go.”

I felt like he had slapped me in the face. I mean, I figured that Terrell and I had just hit a snag in our very new relationship. But, his own best friend was telling me to let it go.”

“I can’t just walk away, Akil. I care for him. I don’t want to let it go.”

He was silent for a moment and then said, “Yes, I hear that you don’t know how to give up…”


That was all I could say. Wow. Obviously, word had gotten back to Akil that I’d been calling trying to track Terrell down. I don’t know who told him about my efforts to reach him. Was it Terrell? If it was, obviously he knew that I’d been calling him and was avoiding me. Was it Terrell’s roommate? Then that means that their whole crew was probably gossiping about Terrell and me and… obviously, Terrell knew that I’d been calling him and was avoiding me. And even though I already had a good idea that I’d gotten the brush off, now it was confirmed. Terrell had played me like an Xbox.

I cordially ended my conversation with Akil. Although I felt that he deserved a less than polite end to the conversation, my mother taught me to always be a lady with mine. So, I made sure to end on a positive note and told Akil that I’d hoped to see him around someday soon, but I was respectfully bowing out of this little game that his friend was playing.

I met some friends for drinks and, as I was walking into my apartment, my cell phone rang. My heart started beating fast because I was sure that this call would be Terrell FINALLY calling to clear up all this nonsense about me and him. But when I checked my phone, it was Akil. As soon as I answered I laid into him about how I thought that his friend was a fucked up, dog, fake-me-out player, bullshit artist who…

“[Brown Girl], forget about him.”


“I can’t forget about him! If only it were so easy. I really liked him. I can’t believe he’d just drop me like this!”

“But what about me? Babe, I don’t think you even get it. I’m the one who’s in love with you. Not Terrell. Every time you mention his name I just want to scream on you because you are so blind. He doesn’t love you, I do! Just forget about him and be with me. We would be SO GOOD together.”

I pulled the phone away from my ear and stared at it as if it were an alien with three heads.

Timeout! What is really going on here? Is this REALLY Akil on my phone professing his love? If he REALLY telling me that HE wants to be with me? Is this really happening? At this point, it’s 2am on a Friday night/Saturday morning and I have had more than a little to drink. Maybe this is all a dream. Yes, that’s it. It’s a dream. A drunken dream and soon I am going to wake up and Terrell will call me and will say “Good morning, beautiful,” like he had every day for two months. And then we’ll make plans to see each other later in the day and he’ll cook for me and rub my back and kiss my forehead and we’ll fall asleep next to each other and Akil will still be my cousin’s significant other and everything will be back to normal.

I blinked hard and took a deep breath.

Nope, it is still 2am on a Saturday. I am still tipsy. And Akil is still talking.

I put the phone up to my ear.

“… been waiting for you to recognize that I’m the one that you should be with,” he is whining at this point and I am feeling nauseous.

This guy cannot be for real. Number one – because I am in love with his best friend and he KNOWS this. Number two – because he has been dating my cousin who happens to be one of MY best friends and he could never think that I would betray her like this. Number three – because I am not even attracted to him IN THE LEAST. Number four – because he was my buddy and I didn’t want to lose him. But it’s obvious that now I was going to have to cut him off… even on the friend tip. Oh God, this cannot be happening.

But it IS happening and I have to cut him off.

“Akil. What about Terrell? I am in love with your best friend!”

“Trust me, shorty. For him, it’s not even that serious. He would never end our friendship over some girl.”

There it is again – Akil is giving me further evidence that my “relationship” with Terrell wasn’t as it appeared. I was obviously someone he kept around for fun and not because he really cared. And, if my heart hadn’t been broken before, it cracked into a million pieces when Akil referred to me as “some girl”. Just “some girl”. Nothing special…

This was a lot to take in. And my liquor consumption earlier that evening certainly didn’t make it any easier to comprehend what was happening.

“Listen, Akil. I love my cousin and I’m not going to mess up our bond over a dude. And I don’t feel right about taking up with the best friend of the guy I’ve been dating for the last two months. It’s just not right. You’re a cool guy, really cool, and maybe – if circumstances were different – there could be something more between us. But, for now, we can only be friends. That’s it, though. Just friends.”

Akil fell silent and I felt awful! After a few moments of quiet, he mumbled an awkward goodbye and we hung up. That was the last time I heard from him. And I never heard from Terrell ever again.

And this is what I think of when Snoop raps about a girl who’s hair is “long and black and curly like [she’s] Cuban.” I love the song, but I often skip over it because I am reminded of how confusing and hurtful those two months were. I am not sure why Terrell did what he did. And there’s nothing that makes me feel worse than not having any closure. All those times that I called him, I wanted him to pick up the phone and TELL my why his feelings changed. Why didn’t he want me? What did I do? Was it someone else? Closure is an important part of being able to move on with a clear mind and a whole heart. Unfortunately, Terrell never gave me the satisfaction of knowing why things ended so randomly. Within the span of two or three days, the apple of my eye became the bain of my existence. For all intents and purposes, Terrell disappeared off the face of the earth. Why? I’ll never know. For a while I was bitter. Each time I heard a name that even sounded like Terrell, I would spit out a string of curse words and wish him great amounts of harm.

Of course, I recognize that it’s his loss. And since then, I’ve learned my lesson n trying to get closure. I’ve learned that most times you won’t get it. And so, sometimes you have to find your own closure. When it comes down to it, I try to live my life without regrets. And I don’t really regret meeting Terrell. The brief time we spent together was sweet and exciting. It was totally worth it – to me. I do recognize, however, that our time together didn’t mean the same thing to Terrell and I can’t be mad at that. Some people “do it for you” and others don’t. I guess I was just a blip in his love life while he was a pretty memorable stop on my journey to find “the one”. At any rate, I wish him nothing but the best.

And, I lied. I do have ONE regret when it comes to the Terrell drama – he ruined “Beautiful” for me.

Asshole. (sorry, flashback)

*Yes, looking back on the situation, I realize this was stalkerish, but hey, I was young, dumb, and thought I was “in love”.


I made it just under the wire! It's only been six days since my last post - not yet a week. Today's post was a LONG one, so I broke it up into two parts. I'll post Part II by 10 am on Wednesday. I promise at least four posts this week, so check back tomorrow... you can hold me to it.

Have you ever been moving along with your life, minding your own business and then… BOOM! You catch a whiff of someone’s perfume or cologne, you see something that catches your eye, or you hear a certain song, and it brings back memories of days long gone? That very thing happened to me this morning on the way to work. I was listening to my iPod and had my “Sunny Day” playlist on shuffle. All of a sudden, I heard the opening bars of Snoop Dogg and Pharrell’s “Beautiful” come blaring out of my speakers. And, boy, oh boy, does that song bring back memories. The first person who popped into my head was Terrell. Cause that was “our song”. Even bestie knows that. Every time it comes on, she asks me about him. I wish I knew where he was, but it’s been YEARS since we’ve spoken. Our romance was intense, but fleeting, and it is one “relationship” that I still lament on a pretty regular basis (or at least when I hear Pharrell belt out the chorus to “Beautiful”).

Terrell and I met in my second year of law school. My cousin convinced me to go to a little whole in the wall down in Adams Morgan (a funky DC neighborhood with tons of bars and clubs) called Fasika – those of you from DC probably know it. It was one of my favorite spots back in the day. I wasn’t really in the mood to party that night – sometimes I get into moods where I just want to vege out in front of my television and it takes a lot of convincing to get me outside, but with a lot of pleading I can be persuaded to venture out. I threw on a T-shirt, some jeans, and some boots and a little lipgloss and that was about as much effort as I allowed myself to put into me getting ready to go out. We got to Fasika, stood by the bar and drank a little bit. And then the DJ got good. We hit the dance floor and danced and giggled and sweated out our hair (which, in Fasika, is really easy to do).

I saw a tall, handsome man standing against a wall watching the dance floor. And, then, I realized – he was watching ME in particular. So, I put a little twist in my hips just for him and we made eye contact more than a few times. Eventually, when he didn’t make a move, I just kind of forgot about him and danced with a couple other people. I finally noticed that my cousin was nowhere to be found. I ducked out on the guy I had been dancing with to head to the bar and see if she was up there. She was there, talking with some guy and sipping a drink. I went back to the dance floor and started to dance again, getting lost in the music. My cousin came back with the guy she’d been talking to at the bar. He introduced himself as Akil. Akil tells me that he thinks my cousin is beautiful and he hoped that he would be seeing more of her in the future. I noticed that the good looking guy I’d been exchanging glances with all night was still standing in the same place. I turned back to my cousin and Akil and I point – very brazenly – to the handsome man against the wall.

“You see him,” I shouted over the music, settling my gaze on Tall, Dark, and Handsome. “He is fine. Wonder why he won’t leave that wall?”

“Yoooo,” Akil says. “That’s my boy! I came here with him.”

Light bulb moment.

“Um… soooo hook me up!” I was feeling flirty and – for some reason – much more confident than normal.

“Be right back,” he said. And he hurried away to the other side of the dance floor where the man had taken up residence.

While he and Akil spoke, he and I did not take our eyes off each other. After Akil said his piece, both he and TDH made their way over to my cousin and I.

Akil took my cousin by the arm and guided her away. That left me and TDH alone on the dance floor (looking back on it, it seemed like we were alone but I’m sure there had to be at least one hundred other people around us).

“I’m Terrell,” he said. And I noticed that he had a slight southern twang.

“I’m [Brown Girl],” I say, taking his hand and shaking it lightly.

“Nice to meet you,” he said. He didn’t let go of my hand.

We just stood staring stupidly at one another.

Until he said, “Tell me about yourself.”

Of course, he was a lot taller than I am (that’s not hard to imagine) and I had to stand on my tippy-toes to yell into his ear over the thumping bass. I tried to tell him a little about myself, but it was too hard to try to carry on a conversation in that type of setting.

So, I yelled, “Give me your phone.”

And he did.

He watched my curiously as I punched in my cell phone number. And then I stood on my tippy-toes one last time and said, “Call me.”

That much he understood. We would discuss biographical information later, but for now we would enjoy the night.

We danced, hand-in-hand, for the remainder of the evening. And, right before the lights came on, the DJ played “Beautiful”. Terrell and I were done dancing and we just looked at each other while he mouthed the words to the chorus and smiled at me. And, at that moment, it was official. I was in love. Or at least in serious like. And for the rest of my life, every time I heard that song, I would think of him.

But, everyone knows that there can be magic in the club when the lights are off, but when they come on, reality hits. Not so this time. He was just as fine in the light as he was in the dark. In fact, moreso. After the music died down, we spoke just long enough for me to find out that he is from Memphis, Tennessee by way of Philadelphia, and he discovered that I was a DC girl. Which, for the record, counted against me, but I got a pass cause I live in the ‘burbs. We immediately clicked. The conversation flowed for about 30 minutes until my cousin was begging me to cut it short so we could get home.

We stood in awkward silence for about 30 seconds.

“Well, I’ve got your number. And, I WILL call,” he said, holding my hand.

“You better,” I said.

We finally let go of each other. And, about halfway down the sidewalk, we both turned and looked over our shoulders and gave a casual wave.

My cousin laughed at the silly grin on my face all the way back uptown. But I couldn’t wipe it off. I was walking on air!

It took him two days to call. Two, long, hard, miserable days. I kept panicking that maybe I hadn’t saved my number correctly in his phone. I was hating myself for not getting his number. All I had to do was hit the “send” button on his phone to capture his number. But, if I had captured the number, would I have actually called him? I probably would’ve been too embarrassed that he hadn’t called me first. Of course, I obsessed over it. I even told my mom about it who basically thought I was crazy for being worried that a guy hadn’t called me the day after he met me. I thought she was crazy for thinking it was ok for him to wait.

On the third night of him not calling, he finally, FINALLY decided to use my number. I was busy obsessing over him to Bestie and I heard the call waiting beep in my ear. I look at the number and don’t recognize it, but I have an idea of who it is. I answer on the second beep and he says:

“[Brown Girl].” It not a question, but a statement. As if I my name is the answer to a question he may have been pondering.

“Yes,” I say. And we pretty much go on from there. We talk all night. And he is more than I could’ve hoped or dreamed for. He is attractive, funny, intelligent, educated, employed (thank you Jesus!), without offspring, and – according to him – single. We had a lot of fun chatting each other up and finding out more about each other. He was from Memphis, but had spent the last few years of his youth in Philadelphia where his mom was a teacher. He came to DC for college and never left. He didn’t have a girlfriend, but had been in serious relationships before and wasn’t opposed to another. That was a positive sign.

I called my cousin to tell her the news. That we had spoken – and I was STILL interested. For those of you who don’t know my dating history know this, I meet guys ALL THE TIME. I’ll like them for five minutes, mull over their qualifications and then assess my physical attraction and nine out of ten times, I will lose interest. I don’t know what that says about me, but damn, for a person who’s actually interested in being in a relationship, I am waaaay too picky! Anyway, Terrell made the cut. Golly, did HE make the cut! When I told my cousin about him and how I was feeling about him, she said that she had connected with Akil and, based on the conversations we had with them, Akil and Terrell were best friends. How perfect was that? Cousins dating best friends! It couldn’t get any cuter.

My cousin made plans to see Akil on a Friday afternoon and we happened to have been shopping together before then. I decided to join her, so we drove over to Akil’s apartment and hung out for a while. I called Terrell to ask if he was coming over, but he was still working. I pouted while my cousin and Akil flirted with each other, play fighting and giggling all over the apartment. Finally, Terrell called. He had just gotten home from work, his roommate was having a party and he wanted to get out of the house. I rushed over to pick him up in my cousin’s car and brought him to Akil’s apartment. It was there that we kissed for the first time. And it was magical! I am a sucker for a good kiss…

Anyway, as far as I was concerned, he was my man. Of course, we hadn’t discussed being exclusive, but everything (in MY eyes) pointed in that direction. We spent the next two months kicking it… HARD. Everything was great. And I was falling in love fast and furious. He was all I could talk about and I’m sure that my friends were exhausted by my constant conversations about how wonderful he was and how I couldn’t wait to see what the future held for us. I could almost sense them rolling their eyes violently on the other end of the phone every time I mentioned his name.

Almost two months to the day that I met Terrell, I noticed that he was acting different towards me. For the first two months, he would call me every day around the same time without fail. And we spoke EVERY SINGLE DAY (this was before text messaging was really popular). But all of a sudden, his calls became less and less frequent and his behavior became erratic. He became distant, but was still in touch with me just enough to keep my interest peeked.

Now, during this time, I had also become very close to Akil. He would call me to check on me every now and again and, even though he and my cousin had cooled off a bit, he would hang out with me and Terrell on a pretty regular basis. Since we’d become such good buddies, eventually, I began whining to Akil about the way Terrell had been acting. He was the ear that I needed. He assured me that I had nothing to worry about. Terrell was just busy, didn’t know how to handle stress well and therefore needed space, but he would come around and start acting like his old self sooner or later. He told me everything I wanted to hear. And I believed him for the most part. But when Terrell was still out of pocket two weeks later, I’d had enough...

(Part II tomorrow)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

For Better or Worse... in the Heart of the City

I'm not even going to preface this post with any apologies. There is no point. Suffice it to say that my slacking is at it's all-time high. It is what it is. I know I'm wrong and I'm making no excuses. To give you an idea of how bad the process is getting know this, usually it takes me about an hour to write a post. In my current state of mind, it took me two days to write this post! Not sure what that's about. Guess it's that "restless and turbulent mind" thing again. Anyway, what you have below is a total stream of consciousness. See what you can do to make sense of it... Good night and good luck. ;o)

Sunday night, bestie and I lucked up on tickets to the Heart of the City tour, starring the true BEST of both worlds, Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige. Now, I have been to a LOT of concerts in my day – they are sort of bestie’s thang… she doesn’t miss a good one and I always tag along. So anyway, we came up on some tickets and they were nosebleed seats. Literally, I could’ve gotten a nosebleed because we were at the tippy-top of the Verizon Center here in D.C. I could’ve literally touched the ceiling since I was only one row away from the very top. I’ve been at concerts and games before and looked up at the people sitting all the way at the top and wondered why on earth they would’ve even bothered to attend the Wizards game or whatever concert if they had to sit all the way up there. But, even thought Jay and Mary looked like ants, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. No complaints here… other than the vertigo I experienced every time I looked down and the dizziness I felt as I was coming down the steps when the concert was over.

I was so tired on Sunday that I had pretty much decided I wouldn’t go to the concert. And I basically dragged myself to the concert with my eyes shut. But as soon as the first strains of “Real Love” started blaring from the speakers, I was on my feet and didn’t sit for the entire time after that.

At any rate, Mary J. was phenomenal! She tore it up! Her energy was awesome and she looks GREAT for her age. She’s been through a lot, but you can tell that she has finally shed all the dead weight and moved on with her life. I sang along to every single song that Mary sang. And let’s just say that her album will be the first album I’ve bought this year. I was moved by the lyrics of every song she sang off the new album. I had joked around saying that I wasn’t interested in the “happy” Mary because my main attraction to Mary in the past was the pain in her voice. When I was hurting, I could listen to her music and I felt like she understood what I was going through. And her music was like therapy to me. She and I moaned and wailed together over men who had done us wrong. Her voice reflected the pain I was feeling at the time. And no matter what, I knew I could count on her to be there when I was hurting.

When I heard her new stuff that was all about overcoming that hurt and getting out of the pain rather than wallowing in it, I didn’t readily accept it. I’m like, this “happy” Mary is for the birds. And, at first, I didn’t think it was believable. But then, I started feeling it. And I had to check myself and remind myself that me wanting Mary to be sad forever was extremely selfish and unfair. Besides, her emotions are immortalized in wax and will always be there for me to refer to.

But last night, Mary gave me what she needed. She may have forgiven those who caused her pain, but she hasn’t forgotten because that raw emotion is still in her voice. And, I must admit that I have never been a fan of Mary because of her talent, it’s really been about the feelings she stirs up in me. I never really thought she was a good vocalist, but last night she made me a believer. The woman can sing! She didn’t even lip sing one bit. AND she danced AND she ran across the stage. For a woman in her late 30s, she was doing the damn thing. She made me so proud! And she really just looked fantastic. I’m so happy for her! And she let’s me know that even though I’m almost 30 myself, there is still plenty of time for me to be fabulous. Thanks Mary!

And, oh boy, Jay… Jay just made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. He just has so much confidence and a lot of that difficult to interpret word – SWAGGER. His outfits were on point and I had so much fun rapping along to every verse. I knew the words to so many of his songs! I surprised myself. Although I heard that surprises popped up during concerts in other states – in Miami, Kanye and Timbaland made guest appearances and on Saturday night in North Carolina, Mary J. Blige basically confirmed the fact that Jay and Beyonce got married the night before. All we got was Memphis Bleek. Frigging Memphis Bleek! Jay is a loyal person. He just won’t let us forget us Memph no matter what! LOL! And believe me, without Jay’s support, he is utterly forgettable. And the whole while, I just kept looking at Jay standing there in his shades and his b-boy stance and all I could think was that Beyonce is a very, VERY lucky woman. And that brings me to the next subject:

Alright, so… according to my sources (although I cannot identify them by name, just know that they are reliable), Jay and Bey really did get married on Friday night. I can’t even express how happy I am for them. Congratulations to the happy couple! They are so amazing. She’s a triple threat (though she only does two things well), he’s a business mastermind and possibly one of the G.R.O.A.T. (greatest rappers of all time) – in my opinion. That is a match made in celebrity heaven. And based on the shelf-life of industry romances, their relationship has stood the test of time. Just think, they’re old pros. MANY people have come and gone during the course of their relationship. I believe they will last but only time will tell… I wish them all the best.

Someone that I know made an interesting observation. They said that getting married is the most positive trend that Jay has ever set. And, we can’t deny that the dude is a trendsetter. He decides to mention button-downs in one of his songs and all of a sudden throwbacks become yesterday’s news and every man in urban America traded in sportswear for oxford shirts. That was a great trend, but settling down with your girl and making an honest woman out of her is phenomenal! And thank God he has set that example. Now, hopefully, some of those same guys that look up to Jay for so many reasons, will then see that it’s ok to stop playing the field and find comfort in ONE person.

I have been thinking about this a lot mainly because the engaged dude is still around, believe it or not…

I won’t get into too much detail, because I think he reads my blog on the sly. But, for the record, I’m wondering why he is still coming at me on a daily basis even though he is getting married in seven months. Just yesterday, he told me that he and his girl had gone ring shopping. In the same breath he asked when I was going to go to dinner with him. Now, I just roll my eyes. And if he wasn’t so smart and funny and such a good listener, I would’ve just cut him off ages ago. But I like him as a friend and I have fought a successful battle to keep him straddling the friendship barrier. He’s got one leg hanging on the other side and all he’s doing is waiting for me to give him the signal so he can hop to the jumpoff side of the barrier and have his way with me.

At first his flirtatious ways were flattering and somewhat cute, but now they are just annoying as hell. I mean, we can’t have a conversation without him trying his hand with me. I am strong and, as I mentioned before, I respect relationships so, even though I don’t know his fiancée, she is always on my mind. I am constantly reminding him of her because he seems to forget that he is already taken. Or, at least the $10,000 ring his fiancée has been wearing for over a year suggests that he is already taken. But his heart – and certainly his d*ck – are still very much single.

A few weeks back he asks me whether I think he will change when he gets married. So I kept it one hundred with him and told him exactly what I think – NO, you will NOT change when you get married. Slipping a ring on a woman’s finger and then exchanging vows does not magically make you a monogamous person. As my father often says, “You have to practice like you play.” To make sense of the logic behind this saying, I’ll use a basketball analogy. You have a big game coming up in a few days. You plan to really kick the other team’s ass in the game. You’re gong to win – at least that is the plan. But while you’re preparing for it, you decide not to give your all in practice. You half-ass it, don’t put forth effort, don’t practice the game winning play. So, when game day arrives, you’re not properly conditioned and not ready to put your plan into practice. When it comes time for you to take the game-winning shot, you miss. If only you had focused in practice! You wouldn’t have messed up. You would’ve won. But you didn’t practice like you planned to play. And so now you’re a loser.

Well, Engaged is that lazy player that hasn’t been practicing AT ALL. So, when game-day comes (the wedding), he is gonna be rusty. I have no doubt that he will continue with his lazy old player-player ways. I am pretty sure that after the wedding this fall, he’ll be hitting on me and thinking of ways to lie to his then-wife regarding his whereabouts to make time for whatever girl has peaked his interest. He does that, you know? Sometimes, I entertain his advances long enough to find out what he’s planning to tell his fiancée about time he’s planning to spend with me. It’s always pretty creative stuff. And totally believable. If I were his fiancée, I would never suspect a thing. And that’s why I always make sure not to cross that line… because I have been here many, many, many times before.

The thought of it is sickening. He could get away with murder. And she would be none the wiser. While she is busy making plans for their wedding, thinking that she has finally snagged her Prince Charming, he is doing all types of wrong and disrespecting her in the wrost way. He says that he doesn’t want a relationship with anyone else, but he is interested in having sex with another woman. (As if the fact that he only wants sex somehow makes cheating more acceptable. It does NOT.) Mainly because, although he loves his girl and can’t imagine life without her, she doesn’t give him good sex. I argue that this a fundamental flaw and is probably something that won’t change after they are married. In fact, I’ve heard from more than one married person that in some cases sex gets exponentially more uninteresting once you become husband and wife. (I’m sure that scares the shit out of most single men.) So, imagine how boring sex must be if it already sucks before you even tie the knot. In my opinion, I think he is just settling. If you know that you are a sexual person with needs and desires that your partner can’t fulfill, then you are basically setting yourself up to fail from jump. You’re pretty much guaranteeing that you’re going to step out on your partner or at least consider it from time to time when he or she is unable to deliver.

While reflecting on this, I thought of another story that’s sort of along the same lines. My friend Billy is probably one of the sweetest guys I know. He lives in NYC and is good friends with my own personal Prince Charming (a post about him is coming later). I met Billy and P.C. on a trip to the beach in summer of 2004 (a very, VERY good year) and we’ve all be friends ever since. In June of 2006, I celebrated my birthday in NYC. Bestie setup a surprise dinner for me at a Cuban restaurant near the Meatpacking District and my NYC friends all came through and supported. We had a great time! Now, Karina and Billy kind of made a connection. I never would’ve imagined that they two of them would be remotely interested in each other (otherwise I would’ve introduced them sooner since Karina is a fab chick and Billy is an amazing guy). But as the night wore on it was clear that they were both smitten. I get a call from Karina a few days later to let me know that she and Billy had been kickin it. There was only one problem, she said. Billy had told her that he was still “friends” with his ex because she had gotten “sick” and he felt like she needed his support while she was going through her medical issues. This was a problem because Karina saw it for what it was – bullshit.

Now, I love Billy to death. And, truthfully, even though this was two plus years after I met him, I had never heard him speak of an “ex”. Although, according to the story he told Karina, he and the ex had only broken up in late 2005 and had been together for several years. Interesting how she had never come up in our conversations…

Anyway, Billy was explaining this to Karina in an effort to set her expectations low. Something along the lines of “now you know that this girl is still in my life, so don’t act funny when I talk about her or when you hear of her coming around.” He was making excuses for her presence before there was a need to really make up excuses. So, in an effort to get more information, I asked P.C. about Billy and his girl. P.C. says that, as far as he knows, (and he would know) they were still together and not broken up at all. Hmmm… ok, so by now, I am rushing to call Karina and give her the details of my conversation with P.C. But by the time she calls me back a few days later, they had already crossed the line from friendship to… something more. When I tell her, she’s not really surprised. Billy wasn’t all that suave and she pretty much saw through his story anyway. But she liked him and was disappointed that he had lied to her.

She called him, told him that she knew the truth and cut ties with him. I was proud of her for that. A few weeks later, Billy announces that he and his “sick” ex were tying the knot. He had proposed. They are set to be married later this month.

When I went to check Billy’s wedding webpage on Theknot.com, I noticed the little spiel that his fiancée gave about him. She really thinks she’s getting a prize. And maybe she is. For the most part, Billy is a decent guy. And I guess that’s what sorta scares me. By all accounts, he’s smart, ambitious, funny, respectful, romantic, and just an all-around nice guy. But even he fell prey to lying for the sake of getting into a woman’s drawers – while he was still in a relationship with the so-called “love of his life” (as said the wedding webpage… those things are hilarious!). Now, since he’s been engaged, has he still been involved in such debauchery? None that I know of. But he lives in NY, and I live in DC. He is not within eyesight or earshot of me, so I have no idea what he’s been up to. But, like I said, putting a ring on someone’s finger doesn’t magically transform you into a loyal man. You’ve got to want to change for the better in your heart and figure out when it’s appropriate for you to stop playing games. If Billy’s girl isn’t giving him what he needs, if she’s so lacking that he feels the need to hook up with people like Karina, then he doesn’t need to marry her! He needs to wait until the “real thing” comes along.

The whole thing is enough to make you want to reconsider getting married at all. What’s the point of making that so-called lifelong commitment if one of you will always be looking over the other’s shoulder at the next prospect. And why settle for someone who doesn’t fulfill your romantic and physical needs?

My personal belief is that when you meet the right person, you won’t WANT to cheat. You won’t need to ask yourself “will I change when this event or that event occurs”. You will just change cause you WANT to change. Because you want to make your partner happy. Because you wouldn’t dream of doing anything that would hurt him or her and so you suddenly learn how to keep your legs crossed and your pants buttoned.

Well, all I can say is that I feel like I played myself by even thinking for a second I could be involved with a man who is already involved with someone else. I just can’t bring myself to do it. And even carrying on a regular conversation with him makes me feel guilty as hell because I am aware of his intentions.

At any rate, it’s my fault for continuously entertaining the dude. I find him amusing and his humor is sometimes refreshing, so, I’ve been reluctant to cut ties. But now, his behavior repulses me and I am recognizing that it is because of women like me – who are mildly (or more so) intrigued by what he has to say and the way that his mind works – that he even has an audience. So, I’m taking a step back and reevaluating our “friendship”. Most of you will understand that every relationship needs to be “reevaluated” at some point to decide whether it is still of benefit to either of the participants. I am providing a distraction that this guy doesn’t need. And, I am not getting much out of our exchanges. So I think it’s time to let this one go. If the girl wasn’t in the picture, there’d be nothing to evaluate. But the situation is what it is and she is there.

But Jay and Bey. They inspire me. And, hopefully Jay (nor Bey), was considering other partners just a few months before their impending nuptials. The fact that they took their time to get to know each other before they moved onto marriage sets a great example for all those people who choose to progress backwards in their relationships with the baby coming first and then everything else coming after that… or never happening at all. Although I think this is a harder example to follow than trading throwbacks for buttondowns, my hope is that Jay and Bey and their relationship will at least inspire people to get a little bit of act-right and consider the possibility of joining together as man and wife.

It would, indeed, be the best trend he ever set.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Step Your Game Up, Pt. II

I do apologize for the recycled blogs. Things are going crazy over here. But, as soon as I can get my mind right, I got some thangs for ya.

Bear with me... I always keep my promises.

Hopefully, you haven't forgotten the first 5 tips. Keep following my lead and Date ..2 (and ..3 and ..4 and ..5 and so on...) is in the BAG.

6. Show her chivalry isn't dead.
Again, most of these things seem like common sense, but here goes: when exiting the car, attempt to open her door for her; if she does not wait for you to open the door, go to the passenger side of the car and take her hand in an effort to help her out of the vehicle; when walking on the street, walk on the outside of the sidewalk closest to the street, leaving her protected on the inside; when entering the date venue, walk a little ahead of her, open the door for her and allow her to enter the establishment before you; when the date brings you to a place where you will be seated, pull out her chair from the table; help her take off her coat and hang it for her; if she has to leave to use the restroom, stand until she leaves the table. These things might seem corny, but I guarantee positive results.

7. Be a good conversationalist.
Because this is a first date, you want to make a good first impression, so, I would suggest avoiding controversial conversation topics. Abortion is not a good topic for first date. Similarly, if you know that your date is a sports aficionado, then sure, feel free to talk to her about the record of the local football team, or the amazing play in the game last week. Outside of this type of woman, sports are not an exciting topic and I would urge you to avoid them unless she brings them up. I would also advise you to never discuss past relationships. No woman wants to hear you talk about your ex-girlfriend on a first date. This date is a time for you two to learn more about each other. Talk about your families, your jobs, where you went to school, what types of things you like to do in your spare time. If all else fails, tell her how great she looks and then compliment something she is wearing. That's sure to get a conversation started.

8. The Check.
No matter what happens, remember this: You are on a DATE. On a date – at least on the first date – YOU PAY. For everything. Even if she offers to pay, you don't accept. If you allow her to pay or to even go "dutch" (splitting the bill between the two of you), this is not a real date. You may be immediately banished to "friend" status. If that's what you want, then hey, you've figured out the best way to let a girl down easy. But, if you find that you really like this woman, pay for everything on the first few dates. Some women like to pay, so if she aggressively insists, let her; however, even these women will appreciate it if you at least attempt to pick up the check on the first date. Which brings me to another point – you know your budget for the date. Your date does not. So, please be careful that you don't take her to a place that you know you cannot afford. This is your responsibility. Take it seriously.

9. The Ride Home.
By now, if things are going well, be sure to ask her if she's ready to go home or if she'd like to keep the date going. If she doesn't want to go home, but you're out of money, then suggest that you take a walk or go grab a cup of coffee or something else equally low-budget. When you do finally head home, keep the conversation light. And, this is a good time to ask her out again. The biggest issue here is to kiss or not to kiss? I would let her lead. If she wants to kiss you, her body language will give her away. Try this: lean in for a hug and see where things go. Some women absolutely DO NOT kiss on the first date, for others kissing is no big deal. Since you don't know where this woman stands, play it safe and assume that she doesn't kiss.

10. Follow up.
Follow-up is important after any meeting and how you do it is critical. If you did not bring a token of appreciation to the date, I would suggest following up with one. Flowers with a note is more than sufficient. If all else fails, a nice phone call or voicemail with a request for a second date is just fine, too. Most importantly, call/email/stop by when you say you will. I mean, if you really like this woman, what's the use of keeping her waiting? If you're not interested, follow-up by email anyway and say, "Saturday was fun. Talk to you soon." Make sure that your message indicates friendship and not the intention of dating again. There is no sense in creating false hope, but you also don't want to burn bridges.

I know that some of this stuff sounds old-fashioned. But, hey, old fashioned works – even on us contemporary, sophisticated, independent women of the millennium. Grandpa got grandma, right? And dad got mom. Seems like this formula has been more than effective. Don't believe me? Ask grandpa. I bet grandma loved #6 back in 1945.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Step Your Game Up, Pt. I

So, thank you to "Home is Where the Heart is" for responding to my post with your own VERY detailed post. LOL! You should start your OWN blog! *hint, hint*

Anyway, "Home is Where the Heart is", your points are very well taken and I think I need to explain myself. I'm not trying to badmouth DC or blame DC for everyone's unhappiness. But for ME, it's just not that fun, dynamic place that you are describing. Obviously I don't think it's ALL bad or I would've run screaming from this town long ago. I happen to be one who believes that just because you're born in a city doesn't mean that it's the place where you're meant to stay for the rest of your life. I happen to be the only person in my immediate family who is a native Washingtonian. I tried to explain to my parents that if they had chosen to stay in their hometowns where their parents remained, then we wouldn't have the family that we have today. And, yes, you are right, things got lonely for a minute or two when I was in New York before, but I also had a LOT of fun in New York during that time. I mentioned the moment of extreme loneliness to prove a point. And, I ended up coming home for some health reasons that I'd rather not get into, but suffice it to say that I needed my mama and so I had to go home. Anyway, it wasn't the city that drove me away AT ALL. And my intention was always to return... I'm glad you love DC and that it brings out the best in you. But for me, it's just not that way. At least not right now...

Well, at any rate, the point of that last post is that I am actually a little worried that the City will lose it's charm if it becomes my home instead of my fun-filled vacation spot. I discussed this with my friend G, who is also a DC native, but now living in the West Village. I asked him whether my love affair with the City will end if I actually move there. He assured me that it would not. In fact, what he said was: "Brown Girl, if you move to the City, you will fall in love. And, being in love with the City is a lot safer than any other kind of love because, well, because the City won't break your heart." G, all that sounds good, but... we'll see about that.

So, the tough part (and the question that I was trying to answer in my last post) is figuring out whether I will actually make the move out of DC. I mean, I feel more vibrant, happier, more creative when I'm in the City, and those are feelings that I want to perpetuate. But, my dearest friends and loved ones are in DC. And leaving them is a really scary thing. The bottomline is that, if I'm gonna do it, now is the time. I have no kids, am painfully single, am in desperate need of a career-change, and have not yet achieved the American Dream of home ownership, so what's holding me back. I just don't want to be that 60 year old who looks back on her life and wonders... "what if"... But the jury is still out on whether I'll make it to NY. It'll take guts and a willingness to take a chance... both of which I am running pretty low on right now.

Tonight's post was originally posted on my MySpace blog in January of '07. I haven't posted on my MySpace blog since I started this Blogspot page and had actually forgotten about this post until I got a notice that someone had commented on it just yesterday. Apparently, it is still relevant. I am a busy little bee over here and will be for the next couple of weeks, so it's taking me extra long to finish my blog posts. As a result, I'm recycling one to pacify you until I come up with something new (I did add a few more details for you this time around). Don't shoot me! I'm working on something that could - hopefully - change my life. But... there WILL be at least one new post by the end of the week. Promise...

Anywho, onto today's post...

The last time I went on a date, the night ended horribly. A guy had been asking me out for months and I finally agreed to dinner. Everything was great… until the check arrived. There was an awkward silence between the two of us as we both stared the thing down. Finally, I faked as though I was going for my purse not really knowing what else to do to alleviate some of the tension across the table. But, rather than it being a "fake", it turned out that the jerk actually made me pay for my part of the bill. And, things had been going so well! When he called me for a second date – and believe me, I couldn't believe he would even ask about a second date – I politely declined and never returned his calls. If we had discussed going dutch beforehand, this wouldn't have been a problem, but it was made clear that this was our first DATE. And, in my opinion, going dutch on a FIRST date is just a dealbreaker (especially when no notice is given that I would be expected to pay my bill).

I really don't want to think of this guy as cheap or romantically challenged. I'd like to chalk this up to him simply not knowing any better (even though he is 30+, so I don't know whether he deserves the pass... by now he should know better). And, to prevent other women from suffering through similar embarrassing situations, here are ten steps to ensure a successful first date. Women are always complaining that chivalry/romance/selflessness is dead. Hopefully, this is a step towards getting today's man back in touch with your gentlemanly side and getting to that second date.

1. Call well in advance to schedule a date.
Please note that I said call. Text messages, emails, messages by carrier pigeons do not count. Asking in person is also a good idea. If you are interested in going out with a woman on Saturday night, have the common courtesy to call before Saturday morning, or even Friday. Women don't like to feel as though they were your "backup plan" because you didn't have anything else better to do. And, maybe she'd like to get her hair done, buy a new outfit, get a manicure and pedicure, etc. This also shows a woman that you respect her time. It is possible that if you wait until Friday night to ask a woman out for Saturday, she might have already made other plans with someone else who thought to call her SOONER!

2. Think "outside of the box".
No, I'm not suggesting that you take a woman bungee-jumping on your first date. What I am suggesting is that you go beyond the traditional dinner and/or a movie. Instead, ask her to go to a play or concert; a museum exhibit; a salsa dancing lesson with actual dancing to follow; a sporting event; cook dinner instead of taking her out. Give her something to talk about with her friends after the date is over. If you're not sure about what's going on in your town, check out the style section of your city's newspaper, ask friends about any exciting events coming to town; ask her what she might like to do. (It really is ok to ask if you're just clueless.)

3. Pick her up when and where you SAY you will.
I know this sounds like common sense, but sometimes, common sense isn't so common. Honestly, meeting her at the venue doesn't give the same effect as picking her up from her house (or another agreed-upon location) and escorting her to the venue. Most importantly, if you have agreed to take a woman out at a certain time, be sure that you actually show up at said time. Nothing infuriates a woman more than a man who doesn't keep his word. If you are late, this is not a good thing. If you don't show up at all… and you can't justify your absence with a doctor's note or something equally as official, you have probably ruined all chances for a second date. If you honestly can't make it on time or at all, in this day and age of cell phones, email, text messaging, etc., there is no reason why you can't give your date some fair warning so she won't be left high and dry on a Friday or Saturday night.

4. Dress for the occasion.
Do not show up for your date looking as though you just finished doing yard work. Dirty clothes, wrinkled clothes and the like are a turn-off. Surely, your date will make sure that she looks her best before stepping out with you. You should reciprocate. Of course, if the date is experiential and you will get your hands dirty, you should dress appropriately for the occasion. But, if you are taking your date for a night on the town, at least wear a button-down, collared shirt or a nice sweater. And, if you must wear sneakers, then be sure that they are neat and clean.

5. Bring a gift.
This, of course, is optional. But, you can never go wrong by bringing something nice to greet your date. Flowers are tried and true and always elicit a flattered response. Candy, traditionally a romantic gift, in these days of low-carb, calorie counting diet plans, may not go over as smoothly. (Although no warm-blooded woman can turn down Godiva!) Reflect on any conversations you may have had about what she enjoys doing, reading, watching. And, then, try to come up with something that she would appreciate. If she looks confused when the gift is presented, be sure to explain the meaning behind the gift. Even if you miss the mark, she'll appreciate your effort. A thoughtful gift gets you bonus points every time.

#s 6-10 after this commercial break...