I walked in the apartment at 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning, caught a few hours of sleep, woke up and started to write “Are Educated Brothers Opting Out of Relationships?” for Clutch Magazine. I wasn’t necessarily pleased with the quality of my article, but I was in NY on deadline with a busy day ahead.
Nonetheless, I submitted the piece to my editor, showered, dressed and headed to the city. Dressed in my blue jean shorts and an off the shoulder cream and navy blue Urban Outfitter top, I wondered if I was dressed appropriately for my blind date at 4:00 p.m. I threw my black stilettos in my oversized purse and headed downtown.
My godmother from St. Maarten was in town staying in a hotel on the lower east side (LES). I hadn’t seen her since she was in the states for Thanksgiving and wanted to catch up with her. LI and I also had planned on meeting up before my blind date. Walking down E. 50th street I thought about how nice the area was. It made me realize how well my godmother had done for herself. Her intellect and success inspired me. Not only was she smart, she was one of the realest and most giving people I knew. Here was a woman who spoke four languages, held one of the highest positions in St. Maarten, had an MBA, but had no qualms about dropping the F bomb in every other sentence or taking care of people just because.
We sat on the bed of her suite at the Kimberly hotel catching up. She cracked up as I relayed the stories of my blind date. She emphasized how big of an opportunity the BBC radio documentary was. The conversation shifted to LI of course. She already liked him based on what I told her. As I was talking about him he called. He was in the area and was going to take me to the location of my date on Carmine St.
My godmother asked did I want her to come to the lobby to meet him. Of course I did. I needed her to read this dude and tell me her first impressions; and I knew she would keep it 100. Plus, we needed him to add our BBM pins since both of us were BB challenged.
I introduced them and they talked for a quick minute. My godmother asked him about his Marcus Garvey T-shirt, he added our pins, then my godmother and I talked for a few minutes about when I was going to come to St. Maarten. I promised her I would spend time with her and my mother who was coming in town the next day since our time together was cut short because of my blind date.
As soon as we got outside she BBM’d me and said, “Hey Bene, I think he is A ok.”
Inside the station we held hands and showed gentle PDA, which put me out of my comfort zone.
“Why do New Yorkers show so much PDA? It’s unlike anything I’ve seen in any other city,” I said.
“Because we don’t care what anybody thinks of us. We do what we want, when and where we want. And if people don’t like it fuck em,’” he responded.
I thought it was so Samantha-ish from Sex and the City for LI to be walking me to my blind date with another man. He watched as I changed from my cream flats to my black heels. He said he would go to the park, read, write and do his thing while I was on the date and to call him when I finished.
I sat outside of Grey Dog restaurant for about 15 minutes waiting on Nina. While I was sitting outside a black man stepped out on his phone giving someone directions and I thought it probably was blind date #3, but I didn’t say anything. Nina finally arrived and we went into the cozy spot he chose for the date.
When I first met him I thought he was attractive. Not attractive in the way Andre was, but in a handsome grown man type of way. Nina left the recorder on the table, ordered herself a beer and left us to our date.
Ahmed had a clean-cut fade, was dressed in blue jeans, leather tan cowboy boots and a three quarter sleeve blue and white buttoned down. He was 36, no children, never been married and an attorney. I hadn’t eaten all day so I was anxious to order my grilled chicken Caesar salad. He had chicken tacos that looked and smelled delicious.
Our conversation was engaging. We talked about where he was from, why he was single, how he ended up in New York, what my future plans were, family life and much more. He asked me a lot of questions. He didn’t make the focal point of the conversation himself. I loved that he didn’t insist on discussing his career for longer than five minutes. In my experiences some accomplished black men love to boast about their position and he was the exact opposite. He did openly admit his troubles in dating had been because of his work schedule. He had been single since he graduated from law school in 2008. I figured at least he knew with the demands of his career that he couldn’t give some women what they required which was time.
We were so comfortable in our conversation we clearly went over the 30-minute time frame Nina had originally given us. What kind of date lasts for only 30 minutes anyway? She interrupted the date to debrief with Ahmed first. When they returned 10 minutes later Ahmed and I said bye. We didn’t exchange contact information, but he suggested I look him up on Facebook. Cue “he’s just not that into you.” I thought it was funny and a nice gesture. But what do I look like trying to find this man on FB?
Nina took me outside and asked me my first impressions. I told her he was attractive, smart, seemed like a nice guy, our conversation was good and I would be open to a second date with him. Then she wanted me to compare this date to the one with Andre. I stumbled over my words trying not to make it seem like Ahmed ran circles around Andre because it really wasn’t like that. Nina pried with her reporter skills saying it seemed as if I was much more joyful with Andre and indifferent with Ahmed. Maybe I was. I can adapt to any situation and relate to all types of people. But maybe with Andre I understood him because I knew that dude. My male best friends were Andre’s in many ways. So there was a certain level of comfort in talking with him in opposed to Ahmed. Both seemed like really nice black men, they were just completely different.
After the recorder was off Nina jumped up and down happy she had the ending to her documentary. All I wanted to know was what Ahmed said.
“He said much of the same things you did. He said you were intelligent, nice, pretty and he would absolutely be open to a second date with you,” she said.
By this time I could see LI was waiting for me. Nina was returning to London the next morning. We chitchatted for a few minutes, laughed and hugged. She told me to hit her up whenever I make it to London.
LI and I headed back to Harlem so I could change for Fela!. On the way back he told me had written a poem. Playing the blonde girl role I said, “Oh really. What is the poem about?” In the subway station he took his journal type book from his bag and spit the short poem to me. I was somewhat speechless. His talent was undeniable. I spit back the last two lines of the poem because they were what I remembered most.
In choosing my attire I settled on a peach criss-crossed strapped chic dress with black stilettos and a black clutch. Accessories were bare minimum. I settled on a black bracelet, no necklace and diamond stud earrings. For the first time since I’d been there I did my makeup. Seven minutes before he was to come back to pick me up the button on my dress popped. My weekend roomie saved the day by quickly sewing it back on.
When I stepped out of the brownstone he was waiting behind the tree and almost scared the shit out of me. He says when he first saw me the look on his face was one of awe. I don’t remember how he looked at me, but I remember him telling me I looked gorgeous. He was dressed in a pinstriped blazer, with a button down underneath, jeans and black sneakers. He was quite handsome.
Walking down Frederick Douglass Blvd. dressed like we were was interesting. An older man stopped to talk to LI and thirty seconds later a lady who was walking further behind him asked, “My husband flirting with your wife sir?” in her strong NY accent. Her words all ran together rapidly. It took me saying, “Huh?” and her repeating herself to figure out what she was asking. We laughed at this woman’s boldness in making sure her husband wasn’t up to no good.
Our seats were the first row on the left hand side of the Mezzanine. The view to the stage was probably the best in the whole theater. We looked around at the African flags hanging and wondered if all 53 flags were displayed. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if all 53 were up, I said no way. There were portraits of Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Ali and others. It was beautiful imagery. Prior to the musical I knew very little about Fela Kuti. Of course LI being the genius he is briefly schooled me. During the musical we were all smiles. It was revolutionary, soulful, the band was amazing, the sounds of the African drums made you want to dance, choreography was on point and the life story of Fela Kuti’s mission to change his country left me with chills on my arms at times. Fela! was hands down one of the best musicals I’ve ever seen.
Holding hands on our way to dinner he chose to put me onto B. Smith’s in Manhattan. A classy, elegant, black owned restaurant was right up my alley. Over wine and dinner the conversation was thought provoking as usual. Dinner ended with him deciding where we were going next. His friend who was a party promoter was throwing a party at The Vault.
The club was alright, but my feet were killing me; and I refused to wear flats in the club. You just don’t do that where I’m from. We danced for about two songs until I had to sit to rest my feet. Plus, the DJ was thee worst. I’m going to go ahead and say it, down south DJ’s are > NY DJ’s. LI disagrees being a native New Yorker, but truth is truth. Just play southern music in the club and your party will be a success. I promise.
We finally left after both of us had enough of the DJ’s lack of skills. Not ready for the night to end we headed to Union Square Park. I couldn’t believe how many people were sitting on the steps of the park at that time of night. I saw a chick cradled on her man’s lap facing him. Only in NYC I thought. Even though the park was closed we went under the chained rope and entered anyway. Who follows rules?
We sat on the bench for a while enjoying each other’s company. LI had to be at work in a few hours so we headed our separate ways. Not knowing if we would see each other Sunday we said our goodbyes.
I arrived back in Harlem at 5:20a.m. and texted him letting him know I made it in safely. I stayed awake to write Part II of the series and went to sleep around 7:30am.
I woke up to a text on Sunday from him saying:
“Call me when you wake up. There is a way I want you to start your day.”
I called him when I woke up and he read a new poem he had written at work that morning for me. It was a masterpiece in every sense of the word. Not because it was about me, but because his poetry is just great poetry.
So you see, I wasn’t pressed in any shape form or fashion about blind dates when I had real life dates as great as the one I had with him.
I don’t know where this guy came from, but I was happy he was here. I had one more day in NYC, which was the 4th of July. But my mind wasn’t on BBQ’s, parties, lounges or anything else celebratory for the holiday.
4th of July fireworks didn’t have jack on the fireworks I experienced while in New York.
*BTW: I did see him on Sunday.
**Will keep you posted on when the radio documentary airs.