03 Sep Before My Turkish Delight…way, way, way before
I hate blind dates
Beth and Lizzie don’t.
Imagine having two best friends named Elizabeth. You don’t want to know the kinds of excuses I have to listen to, sharing a flat with them.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I had no idea it was my ‘Elizabeth’, that was meant to do the dishes this week.”
“My name isn’t actually Elizabeth, it’s Elspeth and I don’t care if that’s the Scottish version, it’s not the same thing!”
So against their I-don’t-like-my-name-being-shortened wishes, I dubbed them Beth and Lizzie; end of.
But, I digress…
Beth and Lizzie were now dating; they met their respective boyfriends through blind dates.
It’s been four months for them and zero months for me.
I know what you’re thinking…well, I think I know what you’re thinking…but Elizabeth and Elizabeth 😛 were nothing like that. There was no…“Maybe you’re too picky…” “Perhaps you should soften your tone…” “Men don’t like blah, blah, blah…”
None of that. Having said that, I did notice that they arranged a tad more blind dates than I cared to count.
Anyway, I went along. For my friends, I would do pretty much anything (within reason, I hasten to add!)
So, here we were at the latest one. Lizzie’s boyfriend, Mark, had managed to book a place for six at the very-hard-to-get-into Himalayas. How he managed it, he wasn’t telling.
Mark is lovely and cheeky and sometimes damned secretive.
But, *sigh*, I digress again
Anyhoo how, here we were, enjoying a sumptuous spread of various chicken, lamb and veggie dishes – Tikka, Tandoori and Shashlik with free re-fill glass jars of Mango lassi and scrumptious little packages of veggie samosas, when my blind date, Kelvin or was it Kevin, finished off his speech about women; black women in particular and why he had sworn off dating them and all their various aggressions.
In the silence that ensued, it occurred to me that I hadn’t actually been listening to him. I had been too busy tucking into my lamb kofta, but somehow, blame it on my bat-like hearing, his last sentence echoed in my head, loud and clear like Lizzie’s off-key bathroom singing.
Dabbing my lips with my napkin, I turned to him, “When you say aggressive black woman, what exactly do you mean by that?” I asked, putting the napkin down on the table.
“You know, black women that are loud, opinionated and think they have to fight back at the world every time.”
“So you think they shouldn’t – in your own words – ‘fight’, ‘be loud’ or ‘opinionated’?”.
“I mean”, he carried on smugly, “You have to agree with me that there are other ways to tackle their issues…”
“…Their issues, I didn’t let him finish, “like being told what to do with your hair for instance?”
Kevin or was it Kelvin, rolled his eyes and looked first at Mark, then at Sean, Beth’s boyfriend with a ‘you-see-what-I-mean’ expression.
Both looked back at him, mystified.
“You know what”, I said to him with equanimity, having lost my appetite, momentarily, for the fragrantly-spiced samosas that was next on my plate. “You are a cowardly, black man.”
His jaw dropped.
I wasn’t quite done.
Lizzie and Beth snickered, knowing the rumblings of an eruption when they heard one.
“You ask us to use contraception but you insist on ‘skin-to-skin’. You demand that we tie our tubes but you wouldn’t do a vasectomy. You want us to be childless and sexless before you marry us but you plant your seed in every hole that vaguely resembles a vulva. You want us to support you and ‘stand by our man’, but you quake in your boots and give the most puerile of excuses why the relationship wouldn’t work, the minute you see our string of degrees, deeds to multiple properties and keys to our Bentleys. I think, no, I know I’ll take my chances with being an aggressive black woman any day than dumbing down with a cowardly black man.”
Now I was done.
My appetite was back. My samosas were still reasonably warm. I popped one in my mouth, tuned out Kevin or was it Kelvin and chewed slowly, savouring every morsel, eyes closed.
I didn’t hear the rest of what was said. I had turned off my bat hearing until Mark’s cheerful voice cut through my garam masala and jeera bliss.
“So no more blind dates then, Jehlani?”
Lizzie, Beth and Sean were going red in the face, holding back their long-buried laughter.