Appearances can be deceiving. If someone says they can’t they have never been on a dating site or to an outlet mall. Regardless of this vastly different world we must draw our own conclusions from what we perceive, but only after several glimpses of appearance
It is a Tuesday when I receive the message in my dating inbox. Since this is a site primarily for men of color, the man looking back at me with a suit and tie and pleasantly inviting eyes is, indeed, black as the ace of spades. Before reading the message I take a look at his profile. There isn’t anything in the about me field or even, what I’m looking for field. Pictures dominate the profile. There are a whopping 90 of them open to the public. I finally read what he has to say admiring his looks and image. His writing, however, is something just above chicken scratch.
“hi ther. ma name s paul. how r u doin”
I continue to Email Paul hoping that I can get something a bit more revealing from his emails but he can’t write. He can barely string together a word that’s spelled correctly “to” is 2 and “people” is “niggart” (what is that, anyway?) even though he knows I’m white. His images are a misleading hope, however, so I dish out my Google voice number and he calls me. Perhaps he is the kind of fellow who isn’t very articulate with writing. Perhaps he is a poodle in disguise, as well, but I will never know unless I get past this awful Email exchange.
From the word “hello,” I am swept off my feet. A calm and collected, thoughtful voice invades my ear for a smashing two hour discussion about why Magic is such a popular card game to the wonderment of metaphors. In short, he has won me over immensely and I almost forget how to hang up the phone.
I have enjoyed our phone conversation so much that when the date has arrived we meet one another at a bar in Chicago. I’ve managed to save up enough money to go on this date via cab so I have agreed to meet him in one of the many gay bars in Chicago. When he sees me he immediately runs over, stands still long enough for me to tell that he looks as he does in the photos but he sounds so opposite of his attire that I have to actually force him to say a word, complete with syllables. It’s completely different from the phone conversation a few nights ago.
“What up nigga.” is the greeting I finally receive after endless mumbled fucking trite. I think about calling him a cracker but I doubt he would even get the joke. Soon, I want to go inside really badly. I want to get a drink. I will definitely need one to finish this night.
The first golden moment shines just before we enter.
“Hold up,” he says before turning and loudly spitting on the sidewalk. Worse still, people near the glob glare at him. I want to be a puddle so I can sink through the nearest crack in the sidewalk but I am already at the entrance. As I enter the bar, I can’t help but think, “poor example of evolution.”
When we are finally sitting down I decide to see if my assumptions are wrong. Either I am really stupid or really gullible because the alarm bells are ringing in my ears so loud I can barely see, never mind hear, but I believe they are false. I ask him a bunch of questions. He talks exactly like black stereotypes on TV, speaking at 400 words a minute while bobbing his head. He is loud, too, and won’t tone his voice down. I literally have to grasp straws to say things to try to keep the conversation going. With every minute I am reaching for my drink, something he does not notice.
“So what do you think about voting?” I ask, clearly stupid beyond measure.
“Voting good!” he bleats. A child of five could understand this but, sadly, there are no children in sight. I down another glass, staring at him like a white carpet would eye a dog with diarrhea. He turns his bleating chasm towards me and utters a series of sounds. I am tempted to drink the bar out of wine but he suddenly gets up and walks in the direction of the men’s room. I look at my cell and realize I have been listening to him for twenty minutes and I haven’t understood anything he has said except for “nigga” and “voting good!” I call a cab but the cab won’t get here for another 10 minutes. Oh, the horror.
Machine mouth comes back, sits down, says something, drinks some more, and calls me a white something. I could play scrabble with his sounds. I finally give him a beam. He beams.
“I am so glad you have returned! “I feel so miserable without you, it’s almost like having you here.” he doesn’t falter though. To him, I have endorsed him. I decide that I better not order any more alcohol and order water.
“I guess you can have it,” he says with a straight face. Like I needed his fucking permission. The alcohol is slowing his speech down, but he is also taking off his clothes. I am horrified. Luckily another black man calls my name and I stand up. He is my cab driver. My date grabs me, drunkenly kisses me and says, before I tear out of the door and his life forever, “what you think nigga?”
“Well,” I say, “I never forget a face, but in your case I will be glad to make an exception.”