Dudes Don’t

It’s common knowledge that men and women are different. Men have greater physical strength. Women are better at relating emotionally. A man’s body is a series of angles while a woman is a composite of curves.

But who knew that even the little everyday things both of us face flow differently?
My coworker Bernard broke it down to me:
Dining
“If I go out to eat, alone or with a guy friend, I sit at the bar,” he said.
“What!?” I exclaimed. “You wouldn’t sit at a table?”
He turned his head side to side in disapproval. “No, we gotta sit at the bar. Especially if I’m eating alone. If I’m by myself, at least I can talk to the bartender or look at the T.V. If a man sits alone at a table, he just looks sad.”
Hmm. “Not even a booth though? If there were four of you…?”
He sucked his teeth as he pondered.
Finally, he said, “Maybe.”
Movies
“When I go to the movies with one of my boys, we don’t sit next to each other.”
I laughed. “Why not?” Every movie I’ve gone to see, whether it was with a man or a woman, we sat side by side, occasionally brushing elbows as we shared the use of the cup holder/armrest.
“Men just don’t. He has to be a seat or two over or up. The only guy I sit right next to is my brother.”
Bernard shook out his arm as he finalized, “You need that space.
Beds
When I have guests over, I usually give them my bed while I sleep on my couch or an airbed.
But Bernard shook his head at that.
“Only my mother can sleep in my bed,” he declared. “I had a friend of mine come over and I didn’t see him brush his teeth once…he can’t sleep in my bed.”
I was intrigued. “Really? What if a friend of yours had major surgery and had to stay with you. Where would they sleep?”
A handful of seconds passed.
“My couch pulls out. They’ll be fine.”
I told him,” Well, there have been times when I’m visiting a friend where we share a bed.”
At that admission, Bernard responded with a blank stare.
“No…just no. Dudes don’t do that.”
Our differences are indeed amazing. 

Change

Whatever they were talking about had to be good. I heard Amy’s spirited alto and Bernard’s stubborn tenor going back and forth like a game of tennis.  As I got closer to Bernard’s desk, I heard, 

“It has to be a certain grade, a certain type.”

He wasn’t talking about meat. He wasn’t talking about a car. He was talking about hair. 


“He doesn’t date girls with natural hair,” explained Amy, her voice coated in disbelief. 


“No, it’s not that,” Bernard countered quickly. “But if it’s the dry coarse kind, then they have to straighten it.” 


His statement made me think.


 I wondered how many gorgeous and wonderful women he passed over because their hair coiled too much. 


I wondered how many of his girlfriends had hot combed their kinks into flat strands.  


And I really wondered, 

How much of yourself should you

modify

alter

 change

 add

 subtract

  for someone else?



Physical appearance is inarguably one of the strongest factors in attraction. Both men and women savor pieces of eye candy that walk into their lines of sight. But I wonder how much of what we do to change our looks is for ourselves.


Is it more to catch eyes….?


Is it more to keep eyes….?  


Even our personalities can be affected by what our significant other thinks. Audacity is carved into meekness. Thoughtfulness is sharpened into selfishness. What’s loud becomes soft. What’s low becomes high. 

Soon, who you were is gone. 

Relationships can be catalysts for change. But sometimes, they can refashion a person into someone altogether new. 


Not better. 


Not worse. 


But different. 

Be sure that you can live with the difference. 


When the relationship is over, you’ll still have to live with you. 

Shift

The text made my shoulders droop. Queasiness snaked through my stomach. Her distress fell on me like a bowling ball and I sharply exhaled from the sudden weight of it all. I staggered into the office stairwell, my vision blurred as tears filmed my eyes.  My heavy sigh sounded hollow in the empty stairwell as I tried to deal with the heaviness sitting on me.

“Lord, what’s going on with my family?”



My 16-year-old cousin Lianna has always been such a quiet soul. She’s never really shared much about herself to our family, only allowing another 16-year-old cousin, Tia, into her world. She is a proud Mommy’s girl, never seeming to leave her mother’s side and tagging along happily on tedious and often unnecessary shopping trips and errands. 

We know that she is reserved. We know that she loves music. We know that she loves her family.

But we wondered. 

About her sagging jeans. 

About her triple X size hoodies and T-shirts. 

About her utter horror at having to wear make-up.

About how she had to be forced to wear dresses. 

About her distaste for wearing her shoulder length hair in curls and waves and desire to wear it in cornrows. 


We wondered.


 And we found out when she told her mother that she was interested in women. 


Her mother weeped from the lowest part of herself, her heart broken. Once I heard what happened, I immediately began praying for my aunt and her reaction/thoughts about this ordeal. I  asked God to watch over my cousin, to free her from that spirit and to restore her heart, mind, and soul.


But while pondering and praying about them, I had to insert a spiritual addendum for Tia.  


Tia is a natural beauty and charmer. Her honey colored eyes and smooth chipmunk cheeks have given her many a high school admirer, a fact that she unapologetically enjoys. She was born to delight, easily eliciting smiles and laughs from anyone she encounters. 


Life hasn’t been so delightful for her lately.

Tia’s relationship with her mother has been typical, both rocky and smooth. But their 18 year age difference has put them on a level that fosters deep affection but washes away important boundaries.


 Recently, her mother did something out of the ordinary:


She viciously cursed at her and her 8-year-old sister. 


While physically disciplining the younger girl, her mother turned on Tia, who had intervened. Her mother spat at Tia to 

“mind her f****** business. Who the f*** is she?”

She then announced that she doesn’t give a f*** what the two girls eat for dinner because she wasn’t cooking s***.


The anger and the language and the viciousness with which it was used shocked the two daughters. They spent that night crying from hurt and fear. Tia had decided that she had enough and wanted to leave home to live with a relative. 


Tia’s text about the events collided with Lianna’s already spinning tornado and absolutely knocked the wind out of me. I tried to soothe and mend as I could, asking God for guidance, for direction and for words to say. 


Soon, I ran out of words. 


And strength. 


It’s funny; sometimes you don’t think anyone else sees the strain you feel. 


I asked my life coach to add them to her prayer list, which she did. But she also was concerned about me and told me something I forgot (which I often do):

“You need to shift all this off you and onto God. Cast it on the One who is really equipped to carry it.

Though we are to bear one another’s burdens, we certainly aren’t built to bear them forever or for long.


Shifting it off to Someone with stronger shoulders…




For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.
-Psalm 103:14

Pain

As a child, I suffered from severe stomach cramps. My stomach would wrinkle and crunch like an accordion and then stretch out like a rubber band about to pop. The pain would radiate from my belly to my thighs to my belly and then wash all over me, and I would lie motionless in a pool of nausea. 


Besides medicine,  I developed ways to deal with it. Curling up in a ball. Walking back and forth. But most of the time, I would gingerly sit down on our sofa and rock back and forth until the pain fled. In my mind, there could be no feeling worse than this. The stings and bangs and aches of the body were tiers above any other type of damage. 


But then I grew up and experienced pain that I didn’t even know existed. 

Bruised feelings. 

Broken hopes. 

A cracked heart. 

I remember one evening where my emotions were in complete disarray. I felt like I was suffocating.  Hurt and sorrow and joylessness were piled, one on top of the other. 

They were crushing me. 

On the phone was my sister, who was trying to lift them. She somehow made sense out of my breathless tear-laced phrases and said, 

“You are emotionally exhausted.

Take a shower and lie down.”

So I did. I laid in my bed with tears sliding down my skin, choking on this pain, praying that relief would come soon. 


I used to think that one was worse than the other. 


Not so.


In all its forms, pain hurts. 

Dollar



I was louder than usual. I was bolder than usual. But the statement was so jarring that I had no time to censor myself. 

“You did what?”

 My coworker Bernard repeated himself, reciting it once again with no shame. 

“I bought salmon from the dollar store.”

He smiled nonchalantly and nodded his head. During a shopping trip, Bernard had decided to take advantage of a great deal and purchase some dinner, stuffed salmon, from a dollar store. His previous food purchases from those stores always ended well,particularly when he bought one of his favorite snacks, Fig Newtons.


“You could get a whole fig in one bite,” he said, his eyes glazing over at the memory. 


 I appreciate the financial relief that dollar stores bring but I’m scared of buying anything from there that I have to chew, absorb or ingest. 


Their items cost a dollar for a reason.

 “So, how was it?”

Bernard began to laugh. When he got home and began to prepare the salmon, he made a disappointing discovery. 


There was only an inch of salmon meat. More than half of the “salmon” was breadcrumb stuffing.


What have we learned? You get what you pay for.