My first semester of college was an exciting time. I hailed from a small town outside of Delaware that had a complete lack of social activity (ten black people, fifteen, tops). In addition, I had an unfortunate sense of style (sausage bangs) that followed me through my high school years. This lack of social activity applied particularly to the lack of viable dating options. Don’t get me wrong, there were black men to be found. However, where I lived, the very few black men in town liked their women somewhat lighter (white) than myself. In fact, rather than “The Home of Tax Free Shopping,” Delaware’s motto should have been: “A White Woman for Every Black Man.” You think I’m kidding. But, any lonely black woman from Wilmington who has ever attempted to get the black guy behind the bar to serve her a drink knows I speak the truth.
Atlanta was, to me, the proverbial buffet: plentiful and satisfying. So, like the fat girl at a smorgasbord, I was piling as much as I could on my plate at one time. And I was going back for seconds.
The first few months were a heady experience. I spent my time being courted by various and sundry men, I stayed up until sunrise taking walks and talking, I played cards and could talk trash with the best of them. But I noticed something strange as time went on. The guys that I was spending time with seemed to like me, in fact, they were downright giddy. But after a couple of weeks I would see these same guys spending their time with women that were . . . how can I put this delicately (Janice Rossi) WHORES. When I finally got up the never to call a potential suitor on his BS, he revealed something that I believe led to the eventual revocation of his Playa’ Card.
“I really like you. And eventually, when I’m ready to settle down, you’ll be the girl I’ll want to marry.”
I was stunned. It was then that I realized that the home training, my good girl demeanor, and everything that my parents drilled into my head (keep a quarter in your bra in case the boy gets fresh and you have to find a ride home) had brought me to this point. I was a dedicated, loyal, and creative girlfriend. I was as wholesome as whole wheat bread. I was the kind of woman that a man would be proud to call his wife. A woman that a man would be proud to have bear his children. I was the kind of woman a man would want to settle down with just as soon as he stopped fucking everything in sight.
I was on layaway.
Much like the shopping system of the same name, relationship layaway has a simple, but ingenious premise. You meet a girl. She fits you, looks nice on your arm, and you know that she is a timeless piece that will become an integral part of the wardrobe of your life. She’s also really expensive: mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Dating her would require personal sacrifice and some serious reduction in the other cheaper women that you’re life closet is currently cluttered with. Unwilling, or unable, to pay the price there is only one real solution for the horny, teenage college male: layaway.
So, like that winter coat that you want in the summer, sometimes the best thing is to have the nice store people to put it on hold. Payments are still made, but they are nominal at best. The item in question languishes in purgatory until you return to retrieve it. Or not. But, as any savvy shopper knows, things on hold have a tendency to disappear from one day to the next. Similarly, a woman sitting on the sidelines watching the man she loves behave like everyday is Madi Gras (show us your tits!) will eventually tire of being unable to join in the festivities. For me, the culmination of this was an embarrassing little incident involving my standing in the college square screaming into the sky in frustration (both sexual and emotional).
And so it went. I was unwilling to become “that girl” and they were unwilling to give up a diverse dating life. In the intervening years I’ve been put on layaway by the best of them: doctors, professors, and at least one Secret Service Agent (the secret: he couldn’t commit). Years later, I still get phone calls from those old beaus of college past. Some have settled down and found a partner. Others are still looking. I know what they’re doing; it’s just like old times: they’re still checking to see if the piece they left is on hold, still waiting to be claimed. But I know I’m worth more than they’re willing to pay.
I’m worth more than layaway.