I was around 10 years old when I first saw Dorothy Dandridge as Carmen Jones. Up to that point I was fascinated by Lena Horne’s beauty, Bette Davis’ diva attitude, and Marilyn Monroe’s sex appeal. I have always been drawn to the glamorous divas of the 1950’s… go figure! But when I first saw Carmen Jones, I was mesmerized by how she encompassed all three of the traits. She had presence. She was unapologetic; she went after what she wanted, and did it all looking like a million bucks! She was my inspiration. And to this day whenever this movie is on I stop everything I am doing, sit down and watch it with the same fascination I had as a 10 year old little girl. Dorothy Dandridge would have been 91 last week. In honor of her birthday I wanted to pay a tribute to her and the character that changed my life. Carmen Jones the original serial dater. Here’s what Carmen Jones taught me:
Be the life of the party!
Go after what you want.
It’s okay to cater to your man and take care of him.
Never be with a man who tries to keep you in a box
There’s nothing wrong with excitement when you are dating
When dating your philosophy should be: May the best man win! Too many times we are trying to win over the man instead of it being the other way around.
Don’t settle for less than what you want.
Having good girlfriends in the process of dating who have your back and love you unconditionally is priceless.
Always, always, always wear you lipstick, do your hair, keep your nails done, and be on your A game. You never know when you will bump into Mr. Right. NOT to mention the better you look the better you feel for yourself.
Don’t be afraid to keep it moving when you aren’t getting what you want out of the relationship
KNOW YOUR WORTH!
Don’t be the silly naive girl in the relationship. Always keep your power.
Passion is a MUST!
Every diva wants a man who gives her a little bit of a challenge. “You go for me and I’m taboo, but if you’re hard to get I go for you, and when I do then you are through boy. My baby that’s the end of you!”
Let the man take care of you!
Be with a man who loves you a little more than you love him.
Be unapologetic for who you are and what you want in life.
Last week was a doozy! There was a big black cloud that was following me everywhere I went. I couldn’t shake it. The more I attempted to run from it the more it kept following me. You know where you have one of those weeks where everything seems to be going completely WRONG! It’s one disaster after the next. Just last week the guy I had been dating for the last 3 months informed me he didn’t want to have any more children. Yes, the first man I had dated and liked consistently since 1932. It a fucking wrap! I noticed he was starting to pull back. We went out to Moon Shadows and watched the sunset. I was finishing a glass of wine when “Barry” dropped the bomb on me.
Barry: I’m not sure about having more kids. My son is 21 years old and almost done with college. I have stayed up many nights thinking about this since you and I started seeing each other. I really like you. I’m just not sure we want the same things. And if this wasn’t an issue we’d be on the fast track to marriage but I know it’s important to you and I am so conflicted.
I sat there looking at him. My first thought was to say to him what I was thinking, “Ummmmm…. I haven’t even slept with you yet and I’m not sure if I would a) want to marry you and/or b) have a child with you. What the fuck? I just wanted to order another glass of wine.” I of course took the grown woman high road.
Me: I can’t continue to date you knowing you feel this way. I just can’t chance falling in love with you and getting married and either you getting a secret vasectomy or even worse, I get pregnant and the whole time I am concerned you’re not excited about it.
Barry: I think you’re such an amazing woman and I wish things could be different.
Me: To be honest Barry, I could feel you starting to pull back and I knew deep inside that’s what was going on. But I really and truly appreciate your honesty. Good luck with everything.
Barry: Why are you saying that like I’ll never see you again?
Me: I’m sure I’ll see you around.
I’m not that woman who is going to keep seeing a guy knowing we want completely different things in life. What was going to do? Keep moving forward and hope and pray he changes his mind? Um… No! When a man tells you who he is, you have to believe him.
We finished our drinks. The silence was deafening. AND we had to drive ALL the way back to the valley. That was the longest 40 minute drive of my life. He walked me to my door. I took my final look at “Barry” gave him a hug and closed the door. I took a deep breath and a sunk to the floor and had myself a good cry. Not because I had fallen in love with him or even in a deep like with him. I had no idea if he and I even had a future. The shallow part of me was never attracted to his big ass over grown stomach. He was a 45 year old man that needed to go to the gym and go on a diet immediately! But I managed to get over that. At times he even came off a little cheap. This issue was slowly actually rapidly beginning to annoy me. There’s nothing worse than a stingy man! I cried because I was so frustrated! How many more disappointments did I have to go through? What if it didn’t happen for me? Was I destined to be one of those women with a great career and social life who ended up alone? Did I need to brace myself and begin to accept that love might not happen for me. And even worse yet, babies might not happen either?! I was enjoying my life. If I was completely honest with myself I wasn’t ready for a kid. Just a few weeks ago I went to my god daughter’s volleyball game after work. After stressing out and breaking several traffic laws to get there on time, cheering her on, and then taking her out to dinner afterwards. By the time I got home, I passed out. Not my usual wine induced pass out but I was genuinely and naturally exhausted. I thought to myself, “Shit, how in the fuck did my mother do this? And she had 3 kids and was doing it on her own.” I found a whole new appreciation for her and other mothers of the world. When did I become that poster child for the 35+ woman whose biological clock was ticking when I hadn’t even purchased the clock yet alone set the alarm?! What the fuck was happening? My cry was from pure and utter frustration. Thank God I didn’t sleep with “Barry.” That could have really clouded my judgment especially if the sex resulted in a great orgasm! I might have been like, “Kids are overrated!” Okay I digressed…
By the time Friday rolled around not only did I have the black cloud still hanging over me but I felt like I was slowly descending into a deep hole! I was in a funk of all funks and I wasn’t quite sure how to shake it. And it was NOT over “Barry” it was life in general. Was this the best it was gonna get? Was this my future? The last time I was feeling like this was around my 25th birthday when I went through a quarter life crisis. So I did what I did then. I resorted to my favorite show of all time Sex and the City. I had the full DVD set. So I could watch every single season. It always seemed to get me out of my funk before. And that’s exactly what I did for the entire weekend. I had just gone to the Bev Mo five cent wine sale. My wine storage and fridge was full of great wines. I was experimenting with various recipes and settled on eggplant parmesan. And I sat on my couch and watched Sex and the City for the entire weekend. I laughed, I cringed, and I reminisced. And by the time I got to Season 6 when Charlotte went through her divorce. I had a MAJOR “Ah….Shit” moment. When I used to watch Sex and the City 10 years ago it was pure entertainment. It was a familiar yet foreign concept. I could relate to these women but at the same time I couldn’t. But as I watched Charlotte deal with her over bearing mother in law and Carrie Bradshaw debate whether to continue dating Alexander Protrovsky knowing he had a vasectomy and she was 38 years old without kids. I paused the DVD and reflected on my life. This show was no longer a foreign concept. I was their target demo… the 35+ single woman living in the city. I was the living and breathing black version of Sex and the City the only difference was I lived in LA. And Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda didn’t have the added text messaging etiquette and social media of dating aspect to over obsess over. But I watched it with a whole new set of eyes. And realized why this show never got old. These four women each had a piece of my heart.
Miranda- She was career driven and independent. When she was feeling insecure she dove in her work. After keeping a wall up for so many years she final allowed herself to give into Steve. She was no nonsense. I learned there’s nothing wrong with having drive for a great career. And not being afraid to just say what the fuck is on my mind without apologies.
Charlotte- The hopeless romantic. Also, if you really watch the show Charlotte was having more sex than everyone even Samantha. But she packaged it up to look like a relationship. She went through the devastation of living in a fantasy world when it came to dating and men and her divorce is what shook her into reality after dealing with an overbearing mother in law and a momma’s boy ex husband (can we say déjà vu?). But ultimately she never settled. Her second husband might have been short, overweight, and bald. But he could keep her in the lifestyle she was accustomed to and he adored her. She found her gift in a package she never expected.
Carrie- Carrie taught me so many things. And watching her now I could relate to her on so many levels. The most important thing I noticed after having my “Ah…Shit” moment was Carrie knew how to express what she was feeling. It didn’t always come out poetic and pretty. And she most certainly had her flaws. But I learned to just be upfront and let a man know how I felt no matter how uncomfortable the conversation.
Samantha- I learned the most from her. She showed me it is okay to be single and fabulous. Getting married and having children does not equate to happiness. Happiness comes from living life on your own terms and not apologizing for it. It was just what I needed at this time.
I know I ultimately would like to get married again and have children. But until it is right I realized I have to make myself okay with where I am in the journey right now. I have spent so many years trying to control my future and worry about the what-ifs. What if I never meet my true soul mate.. What if by the time I meet him I am too old to have children… What if I can’t have kids… What if I messed up a good thing.. what if this is as good as it gets? Instead… my “Ah…Shit” moment made once again realize I need to live in the here and the now. After all, Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte ended up just fine. And yes, I am at the Sex and the City age. And it’s okay. I have had a journey of so many discoveries and learning who I really am. And damn it, my life is just as… if not even more fabulous the ladies of Sex and the City! I did a toast to the lessons and thanked them for once again being the sunshine that got rid of the dark cloud.
I’m baaack!!!! I have to apologize to my loyal readers. When I am on heavy business travel it gets a little difficult to post my blogs. You know what they say about excuses and I do not believe in using tools of incompetence. And I most certainly will not put up some random bullshit. I love y’all too much for that. So… I am still kind of seeing someone! Pause for reaction and gasps. Like I said before I haven’t liked someone consistently since 1932. And I am still sticking with keeping my guy a man of mystery. But I must say it has been an adjustment. I have spent so much time talking about shitty dates, crazy men, losers, freaks, disappointments, etc. It has been interesting to really enjoy someone and know the feeling is mutual. I was not expecting it. See, married people. That bullshit phrase that drives me and all single women nuts, ”You’ll find the man when you’re not looking,” has officially been proven to be utter condescending bullshit. What you should say to your single friends is, “Put yourself out there. You will not meet the right guy if you aren’t actively looking. It might be an unexpected surprise.” Do you see the difference? I just have such an issue with women who get in serious relationships and marriages and then get sudden amnesia of what it was like to be single. It drives me absolutely nuts!!! I really want to stress this point. Anyway… I digressed.
Being in this new… relationship (it’s scary to actually put that word in writing) definitely brings up a lot for me. The last time I really liked someone consistently I ended up marrying him and we know how that ended. So I find myself wanting to do things completely different this time. After going through the heartache and devastation of meeting someone and realizing that the person you fell in love with was not who they really were it takes time to learn to trust yourself again. And no, I am not being closed or guarded. I am acknowledging the feeling and allowing myself to feel it so I can address it and move on. Lots of times, we as women don’t allow ourselves to have a feeling because it seems wrong, we then hold it in, and from there disaster! But there are also those feelings of insecurity and craziness all women experience at the beginning of a new relationship. Is he going to call? When is he going to call? Does he really like me? Where the fuck is this going? Should I call him? He hasn’t responded to my text right away does that mean he doesn’t like me… Is he dating anyone else? Is he fucking anyone else? How soon is too soon to finally give him some? Once I do give him some will things change? Does he want a relationship? What is he thinking? Are we on the same page? It can be down right exhausting. You want to pull your hair out at the frustration sometimes! In my 20’s BM (before marriage) I would have these conversations with the dating experts…. My girlfriends (side eye). I love them but my goodness getting advice from your girls can drive you bat shit crazy if you’re not secure in your relationship. It will have you second guessing everything. One thing I have valued PD (post divorce) and now being a woman in my 30’s is my growth. I have been through the storm and have a heightened awareness of who I am, what I am looking for in a relationship, and I am unapologetic for it. Instead of going to my girlfriends to figure out what the hell is going on with my and the new guy I decided to do something completely different. I decided to go straight to the source. The Guy! What a concept! I was nervous as hell too. Because there was the possibility he would say something that would turn me off completely and our last few months of getting to know each other and courting and me letting my guard down would quickly turn into yet another post about yet another dating disaster. After another great date we were hanging out at my house and I had my issue of Essence magazine out on my coffee table. (Yes ladies, he does know about the blog and guess what he didn’t run away. He doesn’t read it yet… thank goodness). When The Bush Bitch was featured in the July issue of Essence magazine like any other proud published author I bought 20 copies of the magazine.
He ended up reading the excerpt. As I took a long swig of my wine it felt like it was taking him hours to read it. I felt… exposed. When people are reading your work you are vulnerable and completely exposed. It was a good sign when he chuckled a few times. Whew what a relief! Two things that was great about this small interaction. He liked my writing and he wasn’t freaked out by the idea that I write about relationships. Remember a few months back when I considered shutting down my site because I was worried that I would stay single forever because men would be afraid to date me? Remember those few folks that gave me advice never to tell a guy I am currently dating about my blog? I would like to take a second to give all of you naysayers a big “FUCK YOU!” Okay, I had to get that moment of childish behavior off my chest. I keep digressing! After he read the article and we got into an interesting conversation about relationships (which I will keep between the two of us) I was set up to have the conversation. Who knew my blog would be the perfect segway for a relationship conversation with a guy I am dating? Go figure! At this point I had nothing to lose. I took a deep breath as well as another sip of my “liquid courage” aka wine.
Me: So… I actually like you. I wasn’t expecting to like you. And I haven’t genuinely liked someone for a long time. But I want to be honest with you. I’m not into casual dating or casual sex and I am at a point in my life where I am—-
Guy: Dating with a Purpose.
Me: Exactly! And if you’re not on the same page that is completely fine and there are no hard feelings but I wouldn’t keep going out with you if we are not on the same page. I’m not saying I have a wedding gown in my purse, but I just want to make sure you know where I am coming from.
Guy: I hear you and yes we are on the same page.
In my mind I did the happy dance of relief. I also did a few cartwheels. But on the exterior I kept it cool, calm and collective.
Guy: I appreciate your honesty and clarity.
Me: And I appreciate you hearing me out.
That’s the only part of the conversation you nosey people are going to get. Again, because I like his guy I won’t be giving you the nitty gritty. After we had the conversation I was relived. Is this what it means to date like a grown woman? I was so used to playing games in my day or worrying myself trying to figure out what the hell these men were thinking half of the damn time. Little did I know all I had to do was go directly to the source and be honest. As women, how many times do we not have these open and honest conversations because we are terrified of what the guy will say? How many times do we drive ourselves crazy wondering if a man likes us? How many times do we play games to make sure the guy can’t figure out if we really like them or not? Or even worse, how many times have we slept with a man and had no clue where we stood with them and then attempted to have the conversation once the oxytocin is released and our feelings are all over the place? It was at that moment I promised myself I would be open and honest with relationships moving forward. We need to have pillow talk before our heads and other body parts hit the damn pillow! I can’t say I won’t have any emotional moments where my insecurities about being in a new relationship make me have major self doubts. I can’t say there won’t be moments when I am wondering what the hell these men are thinking. I can’t say there won’t be times where I call 4 different girlfriends trying to get advice and driving them crazy with my various scenarios. After all if we can’t do that with our girlfriends who can we do that with? I also can’t say I won’t have a few relapses of playing games about my feelings. After all we are all WIPs (works in progress). But what I can say is being open, honest, and daring to ask the questions that I need to know the answers to is certainly the way to go. My goodness, imagine if I had started doing these simple things years ago. Oh well with age and experience come wisdom!
©Monique Kelley and Confessions of A Serial Dater In LA, 2013-2019 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Monique Kelley and Confessions of A Serial Dater In LA with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Copying my posts and changing some of the words is still plagiarism.