Photo by Shaunda Jay c/o nappy.co
“I had a really nice time tonight Olivia,” he said with a sexy smile I could get used to.
“Me too,” I replied coyly with the purpose of trying to be cute.
DeVon was probably – no definitely – the man of my dreams. He was the epitome of tall, dark and handsome, basically fulfilling my Idris Elba and Morris Chestnut fantasies. On top of that, he was ‘old school’ if you know what I mean. In this techie age that we live in, how many guys do you know are still down for a good old fashioned blind date? DeVon was, and just like I’m sure my Mom and my Auntie’s felt when they did this all the time in the 1990’s, I was actually quite nervous. But it was an exhilarating feeling!
Since I mentioned ‘techie’ age of dating, let me explain to you how DeVon and I even met. Now with all these online dating sites – some where you swipe here and swipe there – I chanced upon this new dating trend courtesy of my friends. For example, after many horrible first dates and even more dreadful online choices, my friend Jackie was in the business of finding a new way of dating – and she did. What’s so funny about it is that it’s not really new, it’s just like it used to be. Here’s the story behind what I mean.
“So girl you and Greg have been have going strong now for like three, four dates,” I teased. “This seems promising.”
Jackie smiled. I could tell she was in love.
“Yeah, it’s been really nice. Very different from before. All that swipe here and there, meet up with a loser at the bar who just wants to screw and then never see him again. I’m tired of it.”
“I’m just glad you didn’t get catfished!” I was kidding, but in a way I was serious. I mean the way this new ‘trend’ works could have easily had Jackie sitting on the couch next to Nev and Max from that MTV show!
“Yeah, I was a little concerned at first but, this is why I really shouldn’t have been,” Jackie began explaining. “See the fee to participate in this dating service is really high because they go all out to avoid that kind of stuff. You know, they do their due diligence and everything so all you have do is wait for the match.”
“Okay, but I still don’t understand how this works,” I replied falsely. I actually did understand how it worked. I just wanted her to think I was super interested so she’d help me get in. Now I know you must be thinking, she’s one of your best friends, of course she’d help you get in! But it’s not that simple. This is an elite dating club – very exclusive and not everyone is accepted no matter how many degrees they have or how much money they make. It’s not like these online dating sites where anybody can just create a profile – real or fake – put up some pics – real or fake - and then claim some empty characteristics and phony interests with the sole purpose of just hooking up. No. This club is for real people who want to meet real people, and they pride themselves on modernizing the old fashioned approach.
Accordingly, there are many levels to this club. First, you have to be invited in by at least three current club members. These are your references. The club calls this level ‘Recommend’. So at least three people who know you have to vouch for you and after you pay your fee, you are in. Jackie had previously brought in our friends Nicole and Beatrice who’d already told me they’d provide me with a reference. Now I was working Jackie and thankfully I was successful.
The next level is called ‘Facilitate’. This is the most important level. It’s where your references select another person’s references and they get together to talk about you in order to select what they all agree would be a good match. The anticipation during this level is so high. You have no idea what is being said about you or who is under consideration for you. To say your anxiety is off the charts is an understatement!
Once all the references decide, and here’s the even more old school part, you agree to exchange phone numbers with that match and agree that you will not Facetime, Skype or use any other method of video chat for the first three interactions with that person. The club calls this level ‘Contact’. During this level you will not text each other photos or anything. So in a sense you simply talk to each other and get to know each other before you actually see each other. Real old school right? Yeah, it is! My mom was like, “That’s how we used to do it in the 80’s and 90’s! We’d have our friends tell us about a friend and then after talking on the phone a few times we would meet up at the mall or something!”
Well that’s what I explained in the beginning - a modern take on doing things the old fashioned way! So as you know my references talked to DeVon’s references and thought we’d be a great match, and after the three phone calls I felt so confident of our compatibility, as well. Our conversations were awesome! We laughed at everything from old school R&B music versus new school R&B music, to which episode of ‘Blackish’ is our fav. We had deep discussions about who was right about black society, T’Challa or Killmonger, to even discussing what kind of President Michelle Obama might make if she actually ran and won.
We talked about our degrees, he a J.D. from UCLA and me a PhD from Emory. It was great. But of course we couldn’t help ourselves. We had to know what each other looked like! He described himself as being told he looks a lot like, “that brotha that played Taraji’s man in the movie What Men Want crossed with John Wall.”
“Well, I know who John Wall is,” I said giddily. He’s a professional basketball player in the NBA. I always thought he was handsome. “But who’s that other guy you mentioned?”
“His name is Aldis Hodge.”
You know I Googled him on the spot!
“Oh yeah I know this guy,” I replied. I just never knew his name. “Yeah, he played on this other show a few years back that I used to watch sometimes.”
Hmm… I thought. A cross between John Wall and this dude? Man, I may have hit the jackpot!
“So what about you?” DeVon asked. “Who would you say you look like?”
I thought about that. Who do people say I look like? Then it came to me!
“Well, I’ve been told that I kinda look like Janet Jackson.”
“Girl, get outta here!” DeVon chimed. “You know you sound like that girl from Friday, right?” We both fell out laughing. I’m sure I probably did sound like that. I love that movie. Ice Cube created a classic with that one.
“Don’t show up big as hell on the first date bald-headed with a Poetic Justice braid cap on!”
“Oh, Lord no!” I screamed out while laughing so hard I could barely talk. “Don’t worry I’m not big or bald!” I was crying laughing at that point, and super looking forward to our first date, which was in a matter of days.
We met up at a seafood restaurant on Bay Street. Perfect location, with the San Francisco Bay Bridge in the distance adding further sultriness to the mood set by the dimly lit candles neatly arranged at our table. We ate, talked, laughed and shared stories about our childhood and our dreams.
“You know what?” he genuinely began “I was concerned for a minute because you were talking about how you look like Janet Jackson and everything so, you know, I was scared.”
I lightly chuckled.
“But truth be told,” he continued. “You actually are much prettier than Janet Jackson.”
What, I thought. Is he for real?
Seconds later, the waiter arrived and placed the leather enclosed check on the table. He picked it up and offered to walk me to my car. I felt like I was literally riding on cloud nine. I’ve never had a first date go so well. I mean it was as perfect as a date could be until…
“You know, I just don’t think this is gonna work out,” he blurted out matter-of-factly.
I just stood there, leaning against my car door, stunned and thinking, was this or was this not the best first date ever?
“I don’t understand,” I confusedly replied.
“Well see, you’re nice and all, I mean beautiful too, but I typically don’t date girls like you.”
Huh? I thought. Girls like me?
DeVon hesitated. I could tell he was struggling to get the words out. And when he did, they hit me like a brick.
“See, you would be perfect…if you were just two shades lighter.”
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