Tips.

As a singleton, invariably, 1) I’m offered someone’s murderous son/nephew/cousin/friend/random guy on the street as a potential marriage partner, and 2) I receive plenty of tips and advice about my future marriage. Here are a few of my favorites, along with a bit of commentary.

A good marriage consists of two forgivers. I’ve heard this more than once, and I like it. To me, it means that I can forgive him for forgetting that I occupy our home when a game is on and he can forgive me for reacting…melodramatically. (Think screaming “you obviously don’t love me” from our upstairs balcony.) marriagetip

Marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s 100/100. Another good one. I may be functioning at a third-grade level when it comes to Math and numbers, but this is clear: he will 100 percent buy me pretty presents and I will 100 percent love him for it.

The first year is the hardest; it can make you or break youMy mother said this to me. I believe her. I mean, yes, I imagined Idris and I just swimming in sunshine and roses that first year, but I don’t doubt that there will be some growing pains: what to name our yacht, pestering him to leave the outgoing message on my cell phone, reminding him about our weekly galas in the city (he can be so forgetful)…

Never go to bed angryTrue. But what about infuriated, incensed, and/or enraged?

All humor intended.

Happy Wednesday.

I’d Like to Marry for Money, Please.

Got your attention, huh?

When I was a teenager, I was like most young girls. I read Tiger Beat and BOP magazine TigerBeat BOP magazineand dreamed about Jonathan Brandis and New Kids on the Block and other movie/TV/music stars. Cute was everything. Whenever I imagined being married in the future–well, quite honestly, I didn’t want a husband; I wanted to be Angela Bower, work in advertising, have a home in Connecticut and a penthouse in NYC, and have a fancy, pretty boyfriend who worked in fields like I didn’t quite understand, like venture capitalism or investment banking or stocks and bonds. And moonlighted as a singer or poet. It was light and fluffy, as dreams should be.

How things change. Being in my mid-30s. Living an adult life with bills and responsibilities and choices. Now, when I think of marriage and the future, the first thing that comes to mind is the dollar bill. (Or the pound, or the euro, etc. Look, I’m an international gal. Anyway…)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those women that needs six figures in my life. I don’t care if my future husband is an accountant or a plumber. But I’ve got bills, ya’ll. And bills will come after we marry. As such, I need someone who will nicely fuse his paycheck with mine and make them eventually go away. Is that bad? Am I being superficial and money-hungry? I don’t think so. I’ve taken care of myself financially since I was in my early 20s. Dealing with finances won’t go away, but the idea of two people backing each other up financially is far more attractive to me than a cute face. Hey, physical attraction is important. Life would be extra, uh, interesting if the guy you’re sharing your life with looks like a resident of the Black Lagoon (or we look like that to each other). In the end, however, I just don’t have those particular stars in my eyes anymore. Share my faith, undoubtedly; love me, oh, yes; make the butterflies jump and dance in my belly, absolutely; be able to support our family financially, yes, yes, yes. And yes.

When people tell me about “available” menfolk in their lives and how they’d like to introduce me to them, the first thing I think about is whether they’re employed. This is a far cry from my 20s, when I was far more concerned with the way one guy’s hair seemed to curl so beautifully in the front or the dimple in that other’s one cheek or… You get my drift. Times and what I consider important have changed. Some say that when a woman meets a man, she looks past the moment and into the future at what their lives will be like. I agree with this because I do it. While I believe men largely stay in the present, women look ahead at what you will be, what we will be, and whether we’ll be living with your parents.

From time to time, I think back to those days of afternoons on the sofa in our basement, surrounded by my glossy teen magazines and reading them like they were historical tomes. That girl was not thinking about 401Ks and renting vs. buying and how that pesky school loan will never go away unless we donate our first child to the Department of Education. This woman is, though. Just saying.

The Unmarried African Woman. (shudder)

Some of you know this woman. She’s your sister, your friend, your fellow cubicle dweller who insists on playing 70s soft rock on her Pandora station, your daughter, your cousin. Some of you don’t believe that the fact that she’s an Unmarried African Woman (UAM) needs to be capitalized, or even an issue. And if that’s you, then you’re surely not African.

(I’m aware that other cultures may experience similar discussions and silly opinions about their unmarrieds and singletons, but my vantage point is mostly African, so I’ll be commenting on my personal experience)

The truth is, this particular community doesn’t understand mid-30s and singleness. It’s not in the DNA, ya’ll. It is not. Marriage and family are the very center of lives and culture. And this isn’t a criticism, by any means. I’ve come to a place where I can look at everything with humorized (not a word) irritation. Sometimes, it’s just pure humor and downright laughter. Anyway. This is generally what I hear as a UAM. Get ready…

  1. Is Your Daughter Waiting for a White Man? This is an interesting question, huh? My mother was asked this question by a family acquaintance about yours truly. (The question in its entirety was, “Is your daughter waiting for a white man? Is that why she’s not married yet?”) Stunned by his question, she very succinctly informed him that her daughter was waiting for the right individual for her, and she wasn’t about to just marry anyone, white, black, or green. Go Mama, huh? When she’s not suggesting I marry someone who just needs to be “polished” (more on that later), she’s definitely on Team Square Peg. Anyway, I suppose he took in the fact that I’m your atypical African woman (read: Americanized, which is a completely subjective term), raised in the suburbs and speaking with her accentless Valley Girl twang, and assumed that I’m waiting for my white knight. Who knows? Who cares?
  2. I know the PERFECT Man for You. No, you don’t. You don’t know me. We’ve spoken two times. Literally. Let that one die.
  3. He Just Needs a Little Polishing. I get that one quite a bit. The future man in question apparently just needs a little varnish provided by me and my lurve, and he should be fine. It doesn’t matter that he’s typically seen talking to himself in a corner somewhere, or laughing at a private joke that only he and the invisible person next to him have shared with each other. Hey, I get that in a relationship, both will be enhancing one another here and there. I embrace it. But that’s a lot of polishing, ya’ll. He (they) needs medication. Not me and my varnish.
  4. So, Is Attraction Important to You? Nope. As a UAM, I definitely want to meet a man who looks like the creature from the black lagoon. No big deal. After all, I’m only getting older, right? And who wants to be vain and superficial? Bring it him on. (But don’t, ok? Don’t do any of that.)
  5. Perhaps Your Standards Are too High. Soooo, we have standards for the car we want to buy, for the pizza we want to eat. And don’t tell me you don’t get hot if they add anchovies when you asked them not to. This is forever. I have standards. Hopefully, so does he.
  6. Honorable Mentions. Don’t marry a short man (Mama), and don’t marry a man with a big head (also Mama). Those are my personal favorites. The reasoning behind these caveats are usually followed by curious African anecdotes that I never fully understand. But I love hearing them.

I’ve no doubt that some of these interesting comments cross cultural lines, but there’s just something about a crotchety African woman telling you that you need to stop being so picky. Kinda feels like home.

Can’t imagine what I’ll hear when I become a MAW (Married African Woman). Sheesh.