The woman pictured above probably has a prestigious degree and one of those ‘good jobs’ our mamas first coerce us into getting at 16. I’d bet she’s encircled by amazing friends who are cultured, smart and equally ratchet for added balance. Despite the popping that her melanin and 3B curl pattern are doing, though, something has her pressed enough to hit the white liquor bottle like its a midday custom. I’m willing to bet it’s because of an advanced aged run down. Some old-timey, Girbaud jeans wearing, gold toothed retired gangsta wanted the digits for the third time this week and its got her feeling low. Sis can no longer deal and somehow, I share her disposition. I am this woman and damnit, I’m tired. And drunk.
I asked one of my best friends what about me says that I want to be constantly approached by men who know or might have gone to school with my father. I should be used to this, since it has been happening since the age of 16, but recent events have proved that I never will be. After a good hearty laugh, she said it was the way I carry myself. That I’m all mature and what not. Say what now? Being fully clothed, rocking an afro, making eye contact and requiring that men call me by my first name, as opposed to “yo, yo shawty” is…mature? If the standards of my geriatric brethen is that low, for the love of God, get thee behind me! I don’t need this kind of stress in my life.
Two years ago, this conversation would’ve gone differently. [Much] older men aren’t my thing, but best-friend-in-my-head Solange Knowles married her long time mature beau Alan Ferguson and made it look good. She was 28. Alan? 51 and fine! Their situation, drenched in all it’s glamour and wealth, I dig. But my baby hairs and afros don’t quite pop like Solo’s, so my “dating pool” flows a bit differently. And by differently, imagine a 48-year-old salt and pepper dreaded lad with a mouth full of gold teeth, equipped with 6 children, one of which is small enough to still need a toddler’s car seat, wanting to shoot your club up.
Why can’t I have nice things? Am I bait for old men? Do men in the 25-35 age category think I’m wack? Still confused, I even (anonymously) asked Demetria Lucas D’Oyley what the problem was:
I hear you, Belle.
I could tell you about Mr. Rasta’s pseudo compliment — the one when he said I was beautiful like the women in his family: “you wear your hair like theirs, kinda heavy set, too,” — or that he initially lied to me about his real age, but that’d take away from F, the man who eerily followed me around the grocery store two weeks prior. Based on looks alone, I’d guess he’s at least 15 years older than me, which is still 5 years fewer than Mr. Rasta.
F, a sort of cute chubby chaser, was all in my steez in the dairy aisle. As I’m securing my carton of Silk’s Soy Creamer, I feel the presence of someone who’s cartless and has no business on this side of the store. When I pull my head up, I find a man who’s dressed like he paused his Sunday TV show to run and grab a bag of chips and beer on the fly — house t-shirt, ballin’ shorts and slides. You know, the signature I’m-free-ballin outfit.
He’s not staring at me, but he’s there and clearly out of place. I grab my creamer and walk to the fruit and veggies section. Again, my dude doesn’t have a buggy so I know he’s not about this shopping life tonight. This doesn’t stop him from parlaying by the mangoes, though. He’s there with a fake-interested look on his face, but by this point, I’ve figured out his game of watching me and made sure he saw my ass walk the hell off.
The store is closing and I rode with my mom. Since I beat her out of the store (because she refuses to use a shopping list), I chose to wait outside for her with my buggy full of bagged groceries. She calls and asks where I am. While explaining that I’m alone and outside in the dark, take a guess at who conveniently walks out to ask me if I’m married? Free ballin’ F!
Now I’m talking to my mama, who can’t resist the urge to push me on ANY decent looking man save for marriage, and F at the same damn time. The call ends and he proceeds with his Senior Citizen-esque series of questions.
Are you married? Do you need a ride? Why are you looking at me like that? What’s your name? Oh, that’s a unique name! Can I give you my number? Why are you looking at me like that? Seriously, Why are you looking at me like that?
I take F’s petty phone number and scold my mama for not moving quicker when she finally sashays through the automatic doors. Her first words weren’t “are you okay?” Instead, she wants to know if he was cute and if I’m going to call him. Mid eye-roll, I thought about the older pastor, who was easily older than Rasta and F combined, AND MARRIED, that was a little too “friendly” with me two weeks before this and wondered how this became my life!
This man, skin all smooth thanks to a fresh application of Gold Bond Ultimate Softening lotion, was slowly putting the moves on me (after ensuring I was of legal age, no less). After realizing that I was being primed by a married man of the cloth, I developed an He’s Too Old checklist for future reference:
- If at any reason I need to ask if you have a Medic Alert bracelet, you’re too old.
- If you ask me how old I am, then I tell you, and you say, “Oh, you don’t look that old at all.” Thanks for the compliment, but you’re too old.
- If you know either of my grandparents, you’re too old.
- If you cannot decipher the words and/or slang term on any of the comfy t-shirts I wear, you’re too slow and too old.
- If I need to know your medical history before we pull off in your Cadillac, you know, just in case, you’re too old.
- If I graduated with your grandchildren, you’re too old. (The fact that you even have them and are hollering is just…)
- If you have a spare handicap parking permit in your glove compartment for kicks and giggles, you’re lazy and too old.
- If I have to explain what text messages are, how to send and/or read them, you’re too old.
- Refer to my coveted time on Facebook or Twitter as being “on that thang?” You’re disrespectful and much too old.
- If your business card has religion images such as a cross, white dove, fluffy clouds or Jesus on them, you’re. too. old.
- If your go-to jewelry consists of a short gold Figaro or rope necklace with a cross or praying hands on it, He is not pleased and you are too old!
- If your last (or current) marriage has lasted longer than I’ve been alive, you should try again. Because you’re too old.
To clarify, there’s nothing wrong with dating an older man. My mom, who’s 8 years younger than my dad, swears by it. I’d like to think that my pops was smoother in his approach, though, and brought something valuable to the table, like being single, clear of multiple children, and wearing underwear in public!
The dating pool in my city is limited (and tainted) so I don’t know when a reasonable prospect will arrive. Until then, I’ll numb these quarter-life pains with a couple of shots while reluctantly considering life with an average man in his early 40s.
Ariel C. Williams is the Editor-in-Chief of Slay Culture and author of The Girl Talk Chronicles (Amazon). Sound parenting, storytelling without bounds, and providing a space where Black women and Black boys (like she and her son) are celebrated for their greatness are things that keep her going. Tweet her @ArielSaysNow.