Friday, February 18, 2011

Man vs. Dog

Since we’re on the subject of telling all my business, I have another confession. I got a dog because I couldn’t keep a man. My ex, Jeremy, had just cheated on me for the 100th time and I was devastated. In an attempt to rescue herself from my super stank and unpredictable attitude, my roommate suggested that we go to a pet store and play with the puppies. There was just one problem – I was deathly afraid of dogs! (I’ve probably told this story before, but so what? Humor me!) But, at that point, I was desperate to do whatever anyone suggested in an effort to improve my station in life. I was depressed, dejected and felt disrespected. I figured things couldn’t get any worse, so I might as well go with her to check things out.

Now, it had never been on my agenda to get a dog. My mom wouldn’t let me have one growing up because she knew that she would be the one that would end up caring for the animal even though I would’ve been responsible for bringing it into our household. She wasn’t having it. Between my demanding, high-maintenance father, my inconsistent brother, my needy self, and the little time that she managed to squeeze in for personal care, she had enough on her plate. So, I didn’t grow up with pets and I was afraid of them. I was afraid of dogs because I believed them dangerous but also because I wasn’t interested in sharing space or attention and I was lazy. I’m telling you all this to point out the fact that I never intended to end up with a dog.

Then I met Jeremy and, if I’d had any foresight, I would’ve realized he was a dog himself! He came from a different planet than me. I’m not talking Mars and Venus here; it was more than that. When I first met him, he told me that he didn’t have a checking account. I didn’t understand that. He worked for the federal government. I’d interned for the federal government the previous summer making a whopping $10 per hour and they certainly told me that their preference was to direct-deposit my check, which I was fine with because if it meant that I would have access to my money more quickly, then I was a fan. Of course, I knew that not everyone had direct deposit. Clearly, there were some people who elected a paper check, although I just assumed that it was because they were stuck in the previous century… it never occurred to me that it was because they didn’t have a checking account!

When I asked Jeremy his reasons for foregoing a checking account he said he used to have one but the bank kept “messing with my money”. Huh? Later, I would learn that his distrust of financial systems was inherited. One weekend morning, he came to pick me up for brunch, but on the way told me that he had to stop to pay his grandmother’s electric bill. I’m thinking to myself, You can pay utility bills in person? Interesting! I figured there must be some sort of self-service center for PEPCO that I’d never noticed. So, imagine my surprise when he pulled up outside of a liquor store. Liquor? Before noon? Okay. I decided I wouldn’t immediately judge because I had definitely enjoyed my fair share of breakfast cocktails.

“Why are we stopping at a liquor store?” I asked.

“I told you. I have to pay my grandmother’s electric bill.”

Come again? Paying bills at the liquor store?

I had to see this. So I unbuckled my seatbelt and followed him inside. He handed over the little payment slip that PEPCO sends with the bill, and then handed the cashier some cash. The cashier processed it in some kind of antiquated computer system, and then provided him with a receipt, and then we were done. That shit was outrageous to me. How do you know that the money is really going to get to PEPCO? Why wouldn’t you just send your payment directly to PEPCO by check?

I asked this last question to Jeremy and he informed me that, surprise, surprise, his grandmother didn’t have a checking account either! Now I felt like I was floating in the Twilight Zone or some shit. Especially since my own grandmother was notorious for putting a $25 check into every birthday card I’d ever received until I turned 26 and she upped the amount to a very extravagant $26. Every year since I’ve received a check equal to my age in dollars. I mean… this just didn’t make sense to me. EVERY adult I knew had a checking account. So… I was disturbed after discovering that Jeremy hailed from a long line of people who were frightened of the bank!

My mother’s words were ringing in my ears: “When you marry someone, you don’t just marry them, you’re also marrying their family. Make sure know what you’re getting into.” Could I really be okay with marrying into a family that was so quaint that they’d never used an ATM? What if we had kids and they were also scared of checks? I don’t think I could stand it.

Despite my reservations, I ignored all that and decided to carry on with Jeremy as if I never knew about his bank-phobia. At least he had a savings account and I’m sure that I could convince him to eventually open a checking account. *fingers crossed*

Jeremy also spent a lot of time at his grandmother’s house, which was in a “bad” neighborhood and closely resembled a shack. But here’s the thing – there were about fifty-eleven people living there, including granny, two aunts named after fruit (Peaches, Cherry, etc.), a crackhead uncle (literally) who was always trying to sell me something ridiculous like a showerhead or a smoked ham (oh, I’m not joking!), two cousins, a brother, and a “family friend”. Go figure! Between the fake flowers and cheap trinkets that junked up the living room and the plastic that covered every single piece of furniture, including the dining room table – YES, there was plastic encasing the freaking table – I was shocked that so many people could fit in that place, but more stunned that anyone would want to. His grandmother was polite to me, but I could tell that she was not happy about us dating. She thought I was “saditty”, and I guess I probably would’ve thought the same thing had I been on the outside looking in on my uncomfortable and judgmental facial expressions every time I felt I’d overstayed my welcome in the woman’s home, which for the most part was anytime over 5 or 10 minutes. This was his family and it was SO different from my own. And if I loved him – which I did down to my very soul – then I’d have to take them all, too. I respected Jeremy because I figured it took a real man to come from his hodge-podge background and still manage to make something of himself. So I bit my tongue, I compromised on my values and what I wanted in a man to make room for him in my heart. But let me tell you, lovies, whenever you settle for less than what you want, you always end up with less than what you settled for.

To whit, when Jeremy cheated on me with a hood rat the size of an elephant for what was possibly the third time in three years, I really shouldn’t have been surprised. Turns out that he’d been in a relationship with her even before he met me. So, actually little ol’ me was the “other woman”. Ain’t this a bitch?

Look, I’m bougie. Now, whether or not that’s a good thing is debatable. I mean it in the best possible way in that I expect certain things from people like… oh, I don’t know… that they have a checking account! And, of course, now I realize that perhaps I should’ve seen from Jump Street that Jeremy was never going to live up to my expectations, but I tried to ignore that, I really did. But what did I get in return? Check this out:

“Things with her are just different than things are between me and you. It’s like, with you everything is so easy. But me and her, we come from the same place. With her, we started at a time when things were really bad in both our lives, so we have a stronger bond.” Um… okay.

Yep, THAT is what I got.

Well, I was sick about it. I mean, don’t get me wrong – there was obviously a lot of other stuff going on between Jeremy besides plastic furniture, overcrowded houses, and a lack of a checkbook… I’m certainly not saying that his background was the reason he did what he did. That had very little to do with anything. But the issues I’ve pointed out were little things that bothered me enough to question our future and things that I had chosen to ignore for the sake of having a man. And instead of earning his respect, he resented me for it. Me and my background were just too different for him, so he flocked together with a true BIRD of his feather. Great. I was mad – at the situation, at Jeremy, but most of all, at myself.

Rewind to me and my roommate in this pet store and there’s a cute little MinPin with a fat belly sitting in a cage with two much larger dogs. When he saw me, he pushed past them and stuck his snout through the holes in the cage. I reached in tentatively (remember, I was afraid of him!), held him in my arms and fell in love. Jeremy tried to reconcile, but as the saying goes… fool me once, shame on you, fool me three times, and if I take you back, I’m the damn fool. Okay, that’s not how the saying goes, but it’s fitting for the circumstances. So, I could’ve had Jeremy, but instead, I got Capone. Like I said, I’d never intended to get a dog, but a woman betrayed is looking for consistency, stability, and loyalty, and where better to find all that than in an animal known as “(wo)man’s best friend”? It was love at first sight for me and Capone and from moment one a bond was forged. I’ve been his main woman for 10 years now and he holds me down, let me tell you. And despite the fact that we come from different backgrounds (he doesn’t have a checking account either!), he’s stuck by me and loved me unconditionally.

When Jeremy contacted me about five years after we broke up to tell me that he was getting married and having a baby, but the mother of his baby is not the woman he was marrying (yep, you read that right), I surprised myself by being shocked. I’m not sure why I allowed myself to be thrown off by anything he said, but I think more than anything it made me sad to see that so many years later he is still up to his old antics.

And that leads me to wrap up the story by saying this, dear readers: to call Jeremy a “dog” is an insult. The loyalty and respect that Capone has shown me over the years tells me one thing: Real men and even real DOGS don’t do the kind of shit Jeremy does. Which lets me know that I chose wisely.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Blogger's Dilemma

A unique set of challenges face anyone who decides to share intimate details of their lives with a bunch of strangers. These are the sort of challenges that face people who, say, write a memoir, or star in a reality show. And it certainly effects people who blog. Especially when the subject you blog about is relationships. And particularly when those relationships about which you’re blogging are ROMANTIC relationships. When you make the decision to blog about your personal life – or any aspect of your life really – you basically have to be comfortable with all your sh*t being in plain view. And that can get messy. I know people who have lost friends over details they’ve published in a blog post. I have heard of people who have lost jobs because of things they published in a blog post. And I have personally experienced the wrath of a partner when he discovers that you’ve been writing about the ins and outs of your relationship on a blog for the world to read. Now, let’s face it, the world ain’t reading this blog, but I do hope that someone other than me is reading it. I guess that says something about me – that I would share my personal thoughts, feelings, beliefs, hurts, triumphs, failures, etc., on the inner-nets. Is it weird? I guess. I have a lot to say, and my blog gives me a forum to say it.

Sometimes, I struggle with how much I should share on this blog. My blog is not private, so anyone can happen upon it and my soul is laid out for all to see on these few pages. But, giving it more thought, I’m not sure that I’m saying anything here that I wouldn’t say to someone straight to their face. Or, maybe I’m lying about that. My words are stronger in writing than they are when I give them a voice. I’m just more articulate in written form. So even though I wouldn’t necessarily be “scared” to say any of the stuff I write here, I may be less likely to actually verbalize it because it wouldn’t come out as clearly.

But in terms of what I would be willing to share about my private life, I’m pretty much known to be an open book. I have friends that will hook up with a dude and nobody will ever know it because they won’t admit to it… even to their closest friends. I’m not like that. When it comes to most aspects of my life, I’m an open book. For example, I went on a date this past weekend (more about that later… maybe), and this guy, who was REALLY into me, btw, was asking me a ton of questions. I mean, questions about everything, i.e., “How tall are you exactly?”, “Where did you go to undergrad?”, “Are you an only child?”, “Are your parents still together?”, “What made you decide to go into your current field?”, “When was the last time you were in a serious relationship?”, and so on, and so forth. And I replied. To every single question. Toward the end of the date, he said “You’re so easy to talk to. I ask you a question, and you answer it.” To which I replied, “Well, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when a question is asked?” And he said “You’d be surprised. Some women are very secretive.”

I was discussing that comment with my mother as we had our post-date recap. She said “That doesn’t surprise me.” And I said “It doesn’t? It surprises the heck out of me. It wasn’t like he was asking uncomfortable or extremely probing questions. It was conversation; an attempt to get to know another person. What would’ve been the harm in answering?” My mother says, “Well, the reason you were so comfortable with sharing is because you have nothing to hide.” Hmm… perhaps she has a point. I’m not embarrassed of anything that has happened to me, I’m not embarrassed of my family who – for better or for worse – have had their own questionable moments in history, I’m not worried about what people might think of me given my career choices. Okay, well… that’s not necessarily true (more on that later, too… maybe). But the bottom line is that I don’t see anything wrong with bearing my soul. What’s the big deal? It’s how I feel. I don’t care if you know that’s how I feel. I think that people who are more guarded with their opinions might see something very wrong with sharing so much of their inner thoughts. But, not me! And y’all get to reap the benefits of my loose lips. You get to know my life… whether you wanna know it or not. But then again, I guess you must wanna know all my business if you are choosing to read this blog. *shrug* Don’t take that as an insult; I’m glad you’re here! I’m just saying that if you’re reading, it’s likely for a reason, and that reason is probably related to wanting to know my business since I have chosen to write about my business!

One of my favorite movie lines of all time is when Amy Poehler is talking to Molly Shannon in “Baby Mama” and she says “Bitch, I don’t know your life!” Well… all y’all know my life. I hope that since I’ve basically forsaken all privacy and pretty much fed you my raw emotion, that you at least find it entertaining.