I’ve been single for six months and 24 days. In the grand scheme of things this isn’t a lot of time but now that I’m staring down my 27th birthday, I’m hit with a constant feeling of impending doom.
The familiar sound of the iPhone’s message trill sounded, too loud for first thing on a Monday morning. I slapped my hand over the device and slipped the toggle to silent before it had a chance to sound again.
Ahhh, it was my boyfriend, J, eloquent as always.
I think we need to talk.
Oh goodie. Not even a “good morning”. This was not going to be a conversation I wanted to have, especially not in the office. I pushed away from the desk, my rolling chair rolling a bit too vigorously and rolling into the desk behind me. The desk’s occupant glared. It looked like I had disrupted her morning manicure, the toppled bottle creating a problematically sticky pool of polish on her desk. There are only a few professions that lend themselves to such daytime trivialities. I spend my days within the walls of The Addison Agency, a moderately sized advertising agency located in a moderately sized Mid-Atlantic market. I’m “in” the market research side of the agency — one of the few places in the world where a love for quantifying people is seen as a personality positive.
Hi, I’m K. Yes, it’s short for something, no I won’t tell you what. I’m 26 years, 10 months and 16 days old. I am ethnically Black American, socio-economically middle class and familial-ly privileged. If you couldn’t tell, I dig statistics.
I’ve been quantifying my own life since I was a kid, setting “benchmarks” for achievements was my ultimate childhood hobby. Growing up, I was adamant about setting benchmarks– what better way to check your life’s progress then by setting hard and fast rules early on? I was going to be the youngest, the best, the smartest at whatever I put my mind toward. And, for awhile, I was doing it. But I’ve been missing my mark lately, like, the last four years. Accorded to the timeline I made when I was 12, I’m supposed to be celebrating my 3rd anniversary and expecting my first child at any second now. Instead, I am single and damn near suburban with no prospects in sight.
To say that I don’t have a type is an understatement. I have dated all up and down the social stratosphere– rich, student-poor, members of the upright citizens brigade and boys who were destined to see the inside of a jail cell at least onceor twice. Even though I, with my carefully untamed mini-fro, brown skin and outrageously large earrings look the part of “Militant Sista #1”, I think I’d be more accurately cast as “Non Threateningly Black Girl #2.” Men of all races like me and I like them all right back. My mother insists that being petite framed and large eyed lends me the universally appealing look of a baby, but I think it’s a little deeper than that. My size probably does have a lot to do with it– even though I’m a size two, I have what the boys call a “phat ass.” Not quite a body that will make it into rap songs, but for men tackling their first bit of Blackness, I’m a good girl to start with.
In a city like mine, I have found dating to be an exercise in settling. I have willingly gone out with men I would have been utterly unenthused about in almost any other circumstance. Single men here tend to come in three varieties: the trifling, the adolescent and the dull. In a city where most of my contemporaries seem to be married and popping out babies like 2012 is really the end of the world, wrangling up a suitable partner is kind of a chore. I have been on no more than two proper dates in the past year. Two. Yes, one…two. It’s not that I don’t asked out but making it to the date stage is a gauntlet that most of the men I meet don’t make it through. On these two dates, I found myself at dinner — once at Friday’s, the other time at Chili’s. Ladies, if you are like me, you are currently wrinkling your nose in distaste, perhaps you’re giving a little gasp. But that’s not even the worst of it. My market may be small, but we are known for our food. We’ve got food so impressive that we have managed to be featured on the Travel Channel’s Man Vs. Food and The Daily Beast’s “10 Fattest Cities” in the same year– and that, folks, is no coincidence. So when a guy asks me out to dinner, I’m at least looking for a good meal. Someplace that shows a little about his personality, his style, his creativity. But instead I was invited to dine at two of the foremost bastions of middle American mediocrity. Well, I guess that tells me something.