Authors: Helena Andrews
Dear Toto, Kansas sucks. I get why you chose Oz.
Advanced balloon technology is on the rise, so
maybe we'll see each other again. Love, Cinderella.
Dirty Astronaut Diapers
Getting My Hair Undid
The Beatitudes of St. Clair
Riding in Cars with Lesbians
A Bridge to Nowhere
“Perfect Girl” and Other Curse Words
Helena Andrews Has the Best Pussy in the World
Walk Like a Woman
The New B Word
Your Sixteen Cents
Dex10 (12:01:10 p.m.): hey
Dex10 (12:01:40 p.m.): stop it!
Dex10 (12:03:10 p.m.): you win
Dex10 (12:05:00 p.m.): AHHHHHHHH
Copy, paste, and send. “Dude, what the eff does he even
by this? Win what? What, in the name of bearded carpenter Jesus, have I won?”
I'm consulting the oracle Gina, as is my ritual. But instead of divining my future from a mound of discarded hot wings, Gi offers me this:
“Dude, you ain't won shit.”
He's the Nigerian E-mail Scam of ex-sorta-boyfriends, trying to seduce me over cyberspace with promises of riches in the real world. Problem is, I'm black
I have a vagina, so my
Waiting to Exhale
intuition tells me this shit ain't for real. In the history
of the world, black women have won approximately three thingsâfreedom, a hot comb, and Robin Thicke. With a track record like that, it's obvious that the catchphrase “you win” is exactly thatâa verbal fly trap meant to trick me into letting him back in, into loving him again. All Dex10 needs next is my routing number and date of birth.
Too bad my DOB wasn't yesterday. I refuse to write his ass back. I can't. And even though I've been planning our pretend wedding for the past six months, pressing my would-be ring finger on the keyboard would be even more pathetic. So I'm staring blankly at the blank space in our dialogue box. Maybe we
be dialoguing. Maybe he'll tell me all the things he couldn't say when I was so obviously his and so ready to hear them and so not in my PJs with my hair in a topknot. My stomach's tied up in one too. Maybe he's come around. Maybe he's chaaanged.
Maybe I'm an idiot.
If I'm notâan idiot, that isâthen undergoing evasive maneuvers makes perfect sense. I'm not ready for Dex10 to boldly go where no man has gone before, flicking the switch in rooms usually kept dark. Usually I'll try it at least once with the lights on, but not this time. See, he's done all this before. He's already made me fall in love, then out, then in, then upside down, and then over it. So now, after having succeeded beyond all odds in ignoring his ass for an entire week, he claims I've won something. Get the fuck outta here with that bullshit.
Only Jesus knows how badly I want to fuck him right now.
The cursor is practicing voodoo on me, hypnotizing me with each black flash. It's like a neon sign pointing to the space where my thoughts are supposed to go. I could write a book about us there. I should've blocked his screen name instead of just deleting it. But then he wouldn't
I was ignoring him, and none of this would count. He has to see nyCALIgrl4 in bold letters at
the top of his buddy list and realize that she hasn't IM'd him in days and that she probably never will again!
The cursor keeps blinking.
“It's like that McDonald's game, dude. Monopoly. Nobody ever wins that shit,” says Gi, snapping me back to bitch and snatching my pointer, middle, and ring fingers away from the J, K, and L keys.
“Yeah, man,” I concede in an exhale. But who loses? Have I lost if I leave this skinny blinking bitch alone and never find out what I've already won? Or do I win if I do what I (what all of us) always do: keep it the fuck moving? I take a minute to stare at the cursor, to stare at my idle fingertips, to stare at my magical keys, to stare at virtual Dex. And then I ex out of “IM with nycaligrl4 from Dex10” and hope he knows how hard that was.
It's three weeks until I turn twenty-eight, so three weeks and two years before I hit thirty and my face melts off. It's been one week since I started my online campaign against Dex10, five months since we broke up in real life, and four days since I met this new guy with a cleft chin, so it's who-knows-how-long before my next nonrelationship. Call me Kiefer: my life has been operating on a ticking-time-bomb scenario for the past year.
“Dude, what is your life about?!” quizzes Gina every morning over IM like the opening bell of a boxing match, startling me into the ring of another Monday. The alarm to starting the day off single.
“Ummmm, who the hell knows?” I say, too exhausted to think of anything better.
I don't feel almost twenty-eight. Not an actual adult, I'm more adult-
. See, I'm just a girl. An awesome one, of course, but just one. And like so many other little brown girls my age, I believe the problem of loving, lusting, or even “liking liking” someone can be solved with a simple equation: x + y = gtfohwtbs (if “x”
28 years old and “y” = socially retarded men). So when Dex10
IM's me again, I react as if on autopilot because doing otherwise would be to go against nature. I'm just following orders:
Dex10 (3:14:46 p.m.): hey
nyCALIgrl4 (3:15:06 p.m.): what?
Dex10 (3:15:26 p.m.): oh
nyCALIgrl4 (3:16:14 p.m.): is there something specific you wanted? orâ¦
Dex10 (3:16:50 p.m.): why are you asking so many questions? i was saying hello
nyCALIgrl4 (3:18:56 p.m.): k
Dex10 (3:19:42 p.m.): am i on death silence?
nyCALIgrl4 (3:20:02 p.m.): ummm
nyCALIgrl4 (3:20:16 p.m.): i dont really have anything to say to you
nyCALIgrl4 (3:20:21 p.m.): have a nice life?
Dex10 (3:20:42 p.m.): ohâ¦
a badass. I am literally the baddest bitch on the planet. If there was a bitch contest between me and every other heartbroken, hissing, red-eyed, puffy-faced woman in the world, I would defeat every last one of themâhandily. People should start worshipping me. To that end, I've prepared a few imaginary lectures on the subject of bitching yourself out of a relationship: Step 1, treat him as you would a tardy Comcast guy after waiting from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.: with zero emotion save thinly sliced loathingâ¦
Yeah, I don't believe me either. I'm a bitch, but I swear I don't want to be. Really, I think I have to be.
What I really want is to grab this man and hold on for dear life, despite the fact that he kissed another girl in a clubâmore on that laterâand told me I was too perfect for him and that he liked me as “more than a friend but less than a girlfriend.” Cognitive dissonance, he called it. I want that blinking cursor to crap out all the words I'm thinking but not writing and turn that white space black like my heart. I want to see him naked againâjust once. I want to make him eggs again.
I want never to be in love again.
To make sure I don't backslide, I copy, paste, and send my badass response to Gina. The two of us do some preprogrammed LOLing, WTFing, GTFOHing, and I feel encouragedâfor now.
But what about later? If I lose this round, will there ever be another? I've wasted countless work hours Googling “marriage babies black” because, really, what's the point in finishing an article on the popularity of Sen. Clinton's pantsuits when I've been sentenced to a closet full of 'em. According to data from the U.S. Census bureau, in 2001 nearly 42 percent of black women over 15 years old (which I guess is marrying age now) had never been married, compared to 21 percent of white women the same age. Since 1970, the overall marriage rate in the U.S. has declined by 17 percent. For blacks, it's dropped 34 percent.
I hate mathâand acronyms.
Never heard of the AAHMI? Me neither. The African American Healthy Marriage Initiative is sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services. It has a Web site (although it's at a “.net,” which is considerably less convincing than an “.org”) and one hundred followers on Twitter. All those people get to hear its good news, like the fact that black families are less likely to be
headed by a married couple than any other ethnic group: 46 percent of black families “versus” 81 percent of all the others. Black families are also more likely to be headed by a single womanâ45 percent of black families versus 14 percent for whitesâand these manless women are popping out babies like it's going out of style. Sixty-eight percent of live births in our community are to unmarried women.
So, it's our stats
the rest of the country's, and there's no time to go to the cards for a decision. It's over. Technical knockout. While our women were snatching up college degrees and busting up glass ceilings, our men were getting snatched up and busted. We were dreaming of them and waking up alone.
Well, not alone aloneâremember, I've got an alarm clock.
This is how Gina and I say our hellos:
Dude. Dude? Dude, what the fuck. I don't know, dude. Duuuuude. Dude, yes!
We've known each other since back when I was lying about getting my period. I've been in love with herâno homoâsince the eighth grade. This is my longest and most serious relationship. In fifteen years, she's never said, “Hey, it's Gina.” I'd probably hang up if she did.
God, fifteen years makes us sound old as shit, doesn't it? I know, I know. At twenty-seven and counting, we're not really old old, but damn it, tell that to our uteruses (uterun, uteri?). Tell it to our mothers, who want grandchildren so badly they can catch a whiff of crappy diapers in the night air. Tell it to our fathers, whose abandonment is finally creeping up our throats with last night's Corona and grenadine. Tell it to our hearts that
are so tired of being broken that they'd rather stay that way than be fixed for a better smashing later. I'm telling you, it's been roughâsorta.
I mean, we're not spinsters, quite yet. But still. Our age is measured in accomplishments now, not years. Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes? More like five degrees, twenty-five boyfriends, six hundred Manolos. Marriage and babies? Waiter? At first I wanted both after my thirties, which according to
Sex and the City
were going to totally rock. But then I saw the movie, and those chicks looked wrinkly as hell.
Gina says she wants marriage before her eggs dry upâquote, end quote. The likelihood of her freezing them comes closer with each relationship gone bad. If whoever is acting right, the eggs are safe. Acting up? Then she Googles “cryogenics” plus “embryos” while giving me a lecture on advanced uterine aging. I want to tell her that our eggs
our hearts will be just fine. But I've never lied to her (except for that one time in 1994 when I pretended to have cramps).
“I'm on sabbatical from these dudes, man.” She sounds halfway serious this time. “I need a break.”
“Ummm, dude, you already know I feel you on that.” I want to say something cheesy like the white girls do:
Some guy is going to realize how awesome and beautiful and wonderful you are and then everything will be great and you'll have a wedding and a baby and a house and a life andâ¦
“They're messing my whole life up,” she says again a few weeks later while we're in a cab on our way back to my new “luxury” apartment. I've got door
âthey work across the street, though, in North Face uniform jackets, and take super long breaks whenever the cops come around. When we slide out the cab heels first, they study us from their posts. We ignore the
“compliments” they chip in on the dresses meant to entice better men. “Sex-zay,” they sing in canon. One swipe of my security key and we're safe.
Right now it's September in Washington, which means the annual legislative conference of the Congressional Black Caucus is in town. The CBC is to single-black-chick Washington as Fleet Week is to single-white-gal New York. Seamen? How 'bout degreed men! “Dude, I will be out there for the menses,” Gina e-mails in advance of flying four hours to spend half as many days scouring the capital city for the new American dream (political husband, professional wife, perfect children). We hurdled one party after another, double-daring ourselves to find someone worth the Spanx.
Really, the whole weekend was an exercise in corporal punishment. The highlights: One guy told me I had “award-winning calves,” then handed me his business card. Sweet but fat. Another asked me what I did for a living, and then before I could answer, he slipped me
card, which read “sartorial artist” in the fancy letters that should be reserved for wedding invites.
Dude, he's a seamstress
. Next! Then a friend, who starred in more than a few of my mental pornos, showed up with his jeans
He's gay, right? No!
I gave serious googly eyes to a few other prospects who gave me the side eye in return. Gina gave her number to some dude I said was a dork.
I stared at the back of his egg-shaped head for a few seconds, mentally compelling him to call her on Monday. He didn't.
The rest of our nights were spent pointing out who was gay (everybody), and then the weekend was over. Now we're headed home alone with each other.
It's practically scientific how hyped one gets before a night outâall hopped up on
and Coronaâand then how quickly hope deflates. We say it's because we're getting too old
for the club, but I swear it's because we're just bored of it. Plus, my feet hurt. Why's there never any place to sit the hell down?