You Tried It, Facebook…

This is why I just can’t with Facebook. (See Exhibit A below.) 

A few months ago, I put up a video with music (right before the Facebook Overlords put their new copyright rules into effect), they take down and block me from posting anything for 24 hours. 

Now I try to sell tickets that my husband legally purchased but now cannot use, and Facebook takes down the post. Their policy says nothing about event tickets being a prohibited item. But then again, the Facebook Overlords probably took one look at this picture and assumed I was trying to sell a pair of crack smoking, gun-toting raccoons. 

Instead of over-policing my posts, perhaps they should focus their energy on addressing real problems like the colossal failure otherwise known as Facebook Stories. And they need to stop mucking up Instagram while they’re at it. Scrolling through my timeline and seeing that every other post is an ad for obscure and/or useless stuff that is no interest, or an offensive political ad is so annoying. 
Get it together, Facebook. 

Cicada Files Archives: May 21, 2004

Up Close and Too Personal

Friday, May 21, 2004 @ 10:20 PM

I braved the elements earlier this evening to go out to dinner with one of my girlfriends and her daughter.  When they came to pick me up, my neighbor was outside cutting his lawn.  BIG mistake.  As I opened the door, he smiled and waved enthusiastically.  “Hi!  Look, we’ve got cicadas!”  I looked down on the ground to see an entourage of cicadas eagerly following the lawn mower as my neighbor mowed back and forth like he was the Pied Piper or something.  My neighbor’s wife and little daughter were outside eagerly watching the cicadas zip back and forth following the hum of the lawn mower.  As the cicadas realized that it wasn’t a male cicada trying to put the moves on them, one by one, they flew off…and headed straight towards me!  As I ran to hop in my girlfriend’s car, my neighbors were chuckling.  “Oh, they’re harmless.   You should see our backyards!  There are hundreds of them back there!”  That’s when I told my girlfriend Yvonne to pull off.  I had heard enough.

Yvonne was cruising towards Route 40 past all kinds of trees with her windows down.  That’s a blatant invitation for a cicada to fly in and take over your car.

I was dreading the return trip home, so before we left the restaurant, I grabbed my keys, armed and ready to march straight to my front door.  Yvonne looked at me and asked me what I was doing with my keys out.  Apparently, she must’ve thought that I had forgotten that she drove.  I didn’t forget, I was just trying to be on the ready.

Finally, when we arrived at my house, I was very apprehensive about walking up to the front door.  I didn’t know if the cicadas were camped out in my yard, or chillin’ on the door frame.  I stood there for a good 30 seconds, not sure of what to do.  Should I run, open the front door and hope that there’s nothing close enough to fly into the house?  Should I walk slowly and cautiously, so as not to disturb the cicadas?   Or should I ask Yvonne to drop me off at BWI so that I could catch the first flight out of town?  Yvonne, concerned, sent her daughter Kyra to open the door for me.  I asked Kyra if she saw any cicadas on my front door; she told me that she didn’t, and then she waited for me to open the door.  She’s such a sweetie pie.

Later on, my sister Shani called to tell me that she read my weblog and thought it was hilarious.  She was laughing uncontrollably, which to me, indicated that she was laughing at me, and not at my journal writings.  I asked Shani how many cicadas had she seen thus far; she said she’s seen one cicada shell.  Okay, now she’s disqualified.  I’ve seen cicadas hanging from trees, flying around, landing on my shoulder, waving at people, chilling on lamp posts, directing traffic in parking lots, doing the cha-cha slide on the sidewalk, you name it.  I’ve seen a few dozen cicadas to her one…and she has the nerve to laugh at me.

And anyway, why is Shani perpetrating now like she isn’t afraid of bugs?  This is the girl who used to scream when she found a cricket in the laundry basket.  She’s trying to laugh at me?  That’s a shame and a half.

Wait until a cicada lands on her shoulder.  I bet she won’t be laughing then.

Cicada Files Archives: May 11, 2004

Gross Encounters of the X Kind

Tuesday, May 11, 2004 @ 9 PM

I had my first encounter with a member of the Brood X Cicada family.  I live on the outskirts of the Patapsco State Park, so I’m sure that the cicadas in my area will be rolling like P.Diddy’s entourage in a few weeks.  However, it’s still pretty early in the Brood X season, so I didn’t expect to see a cicada this soon.

On Tuesday evening, I stopped at a gas station on Security Boulevard to buy gas.  (I had to take out a second mortgage on the house just to fill up my gas tank…but that’s a whole ‘nother saga).  As I was walking towards the pump, it happened.  This huge bug landed on my right shoulder!  It looked to be about the size of a 4-year-old child…I kid you not!  Okay, so it wasn’t 3-feet tall, but it was way too big to be flying around!  I don’t know if the thing was lost and needed directions to the park, or if God was exercising his sense of humor, but it picked the WRONG shoulder to land on.

For a minute there, I tried to lay aside my fear of insects, and tried to play it cool.  I thought if I could simply brush it off my shoulder, I’d be okay.  My first instinct was to scream, but I was trying to handle it rationally.  So I started flicking at the thing, and then I proceeded to stomp my foot; the bug didn’t move.  I yelled at the bug; it didn’t move.  After exhausting all possible options, I had no choice.  I had to scream.  And you know what?  The bug still didn’t move.  It took a little twisting and turning, and a lot of screaming for the bug to eventually fall to the ground.

A couple of other customers at the gas station asked me if I was okay.  I think one lady was laughing at me as she was pulling off.  But trust me, that sister will have her day.  I was so freaked out by this bug landing on me, that I quickly put the cap back on the tank, hopped in the car and sped off.

As a result of my experience, I’ve come up with a few tips to help people cope with the Brood X Cicadas:

  1. Don’t buy gas from the Shell station on Security Boulevard. This is a cicada-friendly establishment.
  2. Don’t waste your energy trying to yell at, or reason with a cicada. Cicadas don’t understand English.
  3. Don’t move near a state park. Parks tend to have a lot of trees, and cicadas like trees. Hence, where there are trees, there will be lots of cicadas and mass pandemonium.
  4. If a cicada lands on your shoulder, you can easily get it off by turning in a circle twice counter-clockwise while screaming loudly. This will effectively make the cicada dizzy and will scare it (along with anyone within 30 feet of you).

In the coming weeks, as the cicadas sneak out of the Patapsco State Park and start roaming through my neighborhood, I’m sure I’ll come up more reasonable and rational tips to pass along.

Cicada Non Grata

 

I don’t know who told the Brood X Cicadas that they could just show up unannounced four years early. But whoever it is, they will have hell to pay. It’s 2017, and those beady-eyed flying terrors of destruction were not due back here for another four years. I needed those four years to come up with an escape plan.

Anyone who knows me know that I am not a cicada fan. And anyone who knows me well knows that I had a little blog called The Cicada Files back during the last Brood X invasion.

As I will be spending a lot of time indoors over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing posts from The Cicada Files archives here.

Damn you, Cicadas.

“The Four Jesuses” Reading Postponed

4J Postponed

It all started out beautifully.

I submitted my two-act play, The Four Jesuses, to the DCBTF earlier this year. I was delighted to learn that the DCBTF chose my little play to be in the DCBTF’s 2015 New Works Reading Series! Being a first-time playwright, I was excited to have the opportunity to share my work with the theatre community.

I have been writing all my life. Poems, short stories, essays…you name it, I’ve written it. Writing a play has been something that I’ve wanted to do for some time, and finally I had.

The process of putting on a play is new to me. I was looking forward to learning about auditioning, the workshop process and what it takes to produce a play. I was excited, energized and inspired.

That was a few months ago.

Over the past few months, I have been on a roller coaster ride with this festival. My flier, logo and other promotional materials never made it onto the festival website, and no one could confirm for me the actual start time for my reading. There’s so much more I could say, and so much more proof of the foolery and ninja nonsense I have had to deal with, but I won’t get into that. I am trying to temper my words and not lay blame, but it’s hard, especially when my reputation — which is vested in this — is at stake.

Everything started to unravel at warp speed yesterday when I went to the venue for a site visit. The RISE Demonstration Center’s facilities staff advised me that they did not have a signed contract from the festival organizers, even though my fellow playwrights and I were given a schedule of dates and times for our readings. The Executive Director of the Center called me, very apologetic, and told me that without a signed contract from the festival organizers, they could not allow us to use the facilities. She graciously offered to allow us to use the outdoor pavilion instead. However, there were four readings scheduled for the same two-hour time slot on Sunday, and they’re calling for rain. So multiple readings taking place in the outdoor pavilion in the evening…in the rain? There are too many things that could go wrong with that scenario. According to some playwrights, they have gotten word from the organizers that everything’s a go for Sunday. As of this writing, I, personally, have not received such confirmation.

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The past 18 hours have been the most stressful and disappointing in my life. Multiple attempts to contact festival organizers have yielded nothing. And thus, after talking to my talented and supportive cast, I have decided to postpone my reading. I do not want to put anyone in any sort of physical, legal or other kind of jeopardy. I am working on scheduling an independent reading, and as soon as I have preliminary logistics locked down, I will let you all know.

I thank all of my family, friends, colleagues, fellow writers and my new friends in the DMV theater community for their love, encouragement and support. To Tawanza Anthony, Johnnie Leon Hill, Rikki Lacewell Howie, Melanie Burwell, Teneisha Brown, Quentin Briscoe and Albert Prater Jr.: Thank you for believing in me and my play to want to invest in my dream. I am humbled by your talent, dedication and support.

To quote a line from The Four Jesuses Program that I now will not be handing out tomorrow, “The late Dr. Maya Angelou once said ‘Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.’ Thank you for being rainbows in my life, and for brightening my path in so many beautiful and delightful ways.”

Hair Apparent?

I woke up this morning hating my hair.

That was after I stayed up until 3 AM looking at length check videos on YouTube, crying. Yes, crying.

My hair and I have had skirmishes, battles and wars over the past three decades.As I struggle with trying to be natural (meaning my hair is free of any chemically-altering product), I cannot seem to find a style or a state that both my hair and I can be happy with. I’ve always had thick hair. But I have had trouble trying to achieve a decent length. To me, length + thickness = happiness. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so. I mean, I’ve done it before at least once in my life.

Until November 2009 I was on the creamy crack, getting my hair relaxed every four to six weeks. Not only was this habit expensive (as is any drug habit), it was frustrating. I have very thick, coarse, coily hair (classified as Type 4 by natural hair care experts). My hair tends to grow fast (except for when I want it to…like now), so after a month I had enough new growth to require a touch-up. Any reputable cosmetologist would advise against getting a touch-up within the four-week window. The chemicals applied to the hair and scalp are potent enough to burn and cause injury, so why anyone would subject themselves to that on a frequent basis is beyond me. I say that now because I was blind, but now I see.

Me and my long hair in May 2008.

I used to call my hairstylist du jour every month like clockwork looking for a fix. Most times, the hairstylist would oblige and give me a touch-up. Some of the slick, savvy ones would coax me into letting them do a really good press-out of my roots. But there was one who wouldn’t let me have my way: Charles.

Of all the stylists I’ve ever had in my adult life (and trust, there are many), Charles ranks up there in my Top 2. Give him a hair dryer, a paddle brush, and a flat iron and he could do anything, up to and including solving crimes, balancing budgets, and most importantly, making me look fabulous. I would call Charles every month religiously asking for a touch-up appointment, and he would remind me every time, “You don’t need a touch-up as often as you think. You can get a blow-out, but not a touch-up.” Even when I whined and told him my head hurt because of all the new growth, he stood his ground with me, “No touch-up, Kim. None.”

It took a few years for me to realize what Charles was telling me was the gospel truth. But I still couldn’t divorce myself from the notion of needing a relaxer in my hair. At the time, my hair hadn’t been in its natural state since I was in the second or third grade. I had kiddie perms when I was younger, and even yes, the dreaded Jheri Curl. It seemed that my hair behaved better when it had chemicals in it. It would lay straight or hold a curl, or on occasion, bounce and behave.

In my sophomore year of college I discovered the wonder of fake hair. For $9.99 I could get a clip-on or a drawstring ponytail, and for another $2 I could get a jar of hair gel to slick my hair back. I rocked a fake pony for most of the school year, washing and slicking it down every week. During that time I found that I didn’t need to relax my hair as much. That spring after the weather broke, I grew tired of the clip-and-go look. I relaxed and washed my hair one day only to discover that I had shoulder-length hair! You couldn’t tell me anything. That’s when I started showing off, curling it, pinning it up, trying to be cute. And my hair, like a hostage desperate to escape, broke off strand by strand and jumped ship. Pretty soon, I looked like the before picture in those Dr. Miracle ads.

Two years ago when I was planning my wedding, I wanted to have long, luscious, Rapunzel-esque hair on my big day.  As every bridezilla would do, I brought my stylist du jour, Kia, a picture of the exact updo I wanted. Kia didn’t like it. At the time I couldn’t figure you why she was so resistant. But the day before my wedding, I realized she couldn’t do an updo to save her life. She created some crazy-looking geometric sculpture that was bogged down with enough hair pins to short circuit the metal detector at the airport. At my rehearsal dinner, my little sister and maid of honor Shani, said she couldn’t take it anymore and started trying to dismantle the Leaning Tower of Weave-za. My cousin Bridget aided in this heroic effort. They knew what the hairstyle needed to look like and tried their best to restyle it. Shani got my old beautician, Dawn, on the phone at 10 p.m. that night and explained the situation. Dawn told Shani to get me to the salon at 6 a.m. the next morning to redo my hair. She created the hairstyle I envisioned without even looking at the picture in my bridezilla binder. Dawn is simply gifted. She reused tracks from the Leaning Tower of Weave-za and with a lot less bobby pins, made me look beautiful. (Dawn is my other Top 2 hairstylist).

Photo Credit: Rodney Cool, Aesthetic Life Studio

I haven’t had a touch-up since.

Since then, I’ve been terribly disappointed by the lack of hair growth when I’ve worn my hair out. I expected to have at least chin-length hair. Instead, it’s probably about the same length as it was when I stopped getting relaxers. (Before you even ask, yes, Virginia, I do trim my ends. )I had been trying to reason with my hair and take better care of it, but it chants on top of my head incessantly, “Hell no, we won’t grow!” All I want is enough hair to rock a decent-sized curly Afro, or to wear a bob if I choose to press it out or blow it out every now and then. Instead, my coarse and coily hair continues to rebel.

Fast forward to last night. I was contemplating my next hair move, and so I did what any tech-savvy black girl would do, I went to YouTube. I started searching for “length check, two years” as I felt that would give me a good gauge of where my hair could/should/would be. Big mistake! I watched video after video of natural sistahs stretching their curly tresses down to their chins, to their shoulders and backs. I started crying, “why won’t my hair grow like that?” I felt like such a failure.

The other day my hair said to me, “Girl, you gotta get these twists off of us. They’re getting on our nerves!”

That’s the first thing in a long time that we’ve agreed upon.

Ain’t Much Real With These Housewives

RHOA, we have a problem.

This is a post I’ve been wanting not to write, but I could resist the urge no longer. It goes against the very purpose of my blog, which is to be a place of inspiration for writers and breakfast food lovers. There isn’t anything writerly about reality TV. Besides, there are enough blogs out there that focus on reality TV. In any event, I’m suspending my writerly posts for this very special announcement.

I watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta on Bravo faithfully. It’s one of my guilty pleasures. Until recently, I was free-flowing with my RHOA commentary on Twitter. In fact, some of my wittiest tweets were borne out of some of the more ludicrous scenes on RHOA, Celebrity Apprentice and Top Chef (pea purée, anyone?).

I’ve long subscribed to the theory that reality TV is not totally 100% real. If anything, I think it’s 10% reality and 90% ratcheted-up drama. Let’s admit it. Most moments in our everyday lives are not TV-worthy. We wake up, send children off to school, drink coffee, sit through boring meetings at work. We eat. We tweet. We watch TV, talk on the phone, watch the caller ID. We go to the bank, the cleaners, the grocery store. We drive. We walk. Laugh. Cry. Yawn. Sleep. And then we get up the next day and do it all over again. Of course, there are moments that are sprinkled in those monotony of the day that are so incredible, drama-filled, or humorous that they would make for great TV. So to think that every week for eight or twelve or however many weeks that a Housewives season lasts, that there are so many of these incredible TV-worthy moments to fill an entire season. I’m sure there is a team of producers behind-the-scenes who look at these women’s lives and ratchet up the drama enough to make us want to tune in. I mean, who really would want to see one Housewife at a social event when you could actually watch all the Housewives at the same event bickering, shouting, cursing and shoving? Stuff like that is a ratings goldmine.

Watching this week’s special RHOA episode “Law By Sheree”, I was so irritated that I was talking back to the TV. For those of you not caught up on the latest RHOA drama, housewife (rather divorcee Sheree Whitfield) recently decided to take her ex-husband – former pro-footballer Bob Whitfield – to court for failing to pay child support. Leading up to the court date, we’ve seen Sheree driving fancy cars, carrying expensive designer bags, and sporting impeccable fashions. Her children, meanwhile, are sleeping on air mattresses on the floor of their Atlanta apartment. (The apartment arrangement are temporary, I presume, as Sheree has been seen on-camera talking to her contractor about plans for her Chateau Sheree…more on that later.) I can’t help but find it interesting that Sheree, who says in the RHOA open that “I like things that are elegant and sophisticated” just like me”, would be in such a predicament.

Intrigued about the Bravo producers’ fixation on this court case drama, I did a little digging for the real deal. Perusing the ATL blogs, I found a different account. It wasn’t Sheree that took Bob to court; he took her to court! (And for the record, Sheree’s attorney of record at the time of the hearing was not the one & only Phaedra Parks.)

What the ham sammich is wrong with people?

If you watch the show closely, you cannot believe everything that you see. Most of this foolishness is staged. Orchestrated. Choreographed. If you watched Tuesday’s ep of RHOA and believed that Sheree was the innocent lamb going up against Bob, the big, bad, evil ex-husband, then you need to change the brand of crack that you’re smoking. The Atlanta blogs (written by bloggers with a different insight into the RHOA ladies’ personal lives) paint a much different picture than the one that unfolded on the screen last night. Chances are, Bob really isn’t the deadbeat that Sheree has made him out to be. But Bob as a good father wouldn’t make for good TV. There has to be drama, conflict, tension, tears. What better way to show that than through court proceedings?

Yeah, so I know what you’re saying, if you have such a problem with RHOA, then why do you watch? You have your guilty pleasures, so let me have mine, okay?

Ennnnnnnd scene…

Worse Than A Dark and Stormy Night…

Bad writing makes you do this.

“Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.” – Sue Fondrie

Full of hyperbole and overwrought with dramatic imagery, Sue Fondrie’s opening line has won her top honors from the fine folks who run the Bulwer-Lytton Contest. This contest, established in 1983, was named for Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the man who tormented the world of literature with what is probably the most horrific first sentence: “It was a dark and stormy night…”

The Bulwer-Lytton Contest, which was started by San Jose State University professor Scott Rice, celebrates (in jest) bad writing gone horribly wrong.

Fondrie, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, has been included in the “Lyttony” of past years’ winners. You can check out their horrifically wretched sentences, many of which will have you laughing, crying or cringing…or maybe churning your mind like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine.

Don’t try this at home, folks.

 

Source: Poets & Writers Magazine

Scratch Dot Com (Part 2)

In the words of the late Paul Harvey, “And now, the rest of the story…”

I was supposed to meet BroLightEyes at Tyson’s Corner one evening after work for an early dinner and a movie. We had chatted on the phone a few times, and I immediately was drawn to him because of his smooth, baritone voice. In his online photo, BroLightEyes had captivatingly hazel eyes and a great smile. I could not wait to meet him. On that fateful day, I drove to Tyson’s Corner, parked the car strategically facing the incoming traffic and primped in the mirror while I waited. I was dressed to impress, well-coiffed hair, lip gloss gleaming. BroLightEyes wouldn’t be able to resist me.

I sensed disaster when I spotted a beat-up white car sputtering around the corner. My heart sank. It was BroLightEyes. How did I know? Those hazel eyes were blazing. He was studying me as if I was his prey. BroLightEyes parked his car and got out, and as he approached, he chucked a hocking wad of spit across the parking lot. Everything I thought was attractive about him dissipated. He had on a brown leather bomber jacket, and a dull brown shirt-and-tie ensemble. It was 90 degrees outside! He adjusted his hanging work badge around his neck just so that I was able to see that BroLightEyes was Mel Jones, Jr., a Network Security contractor with Lockheed Martin. I supposed he expected that would turn me on. As I watched him shuffle towards my car, my hopes for the date evaporated in the warm, late spring air.

Mel seemed much older and wearier than he appeared in his pictures online, about a decade or two older than what he had put in his profile. He walked like “old Arthur” was getting the best of him, yet he was trying to strut like he was some hip cat from the 70s. Totally deflated yet compelled to go through with the date, I trudged along as Mel wandered through department stores looking for furniture for his new apartment.

It’s been a long time coming,” Mel warbled along with Sam Cooke whose voice floated from the store speakers. I could tell by Mel’s stupid grin and his winking eye, it was going to be a long time going.

During our aimless walk through Tyson’s Corner, Mel made several attempts to grab my hand. My mother taught me never to hold hands with strangers. And so I didn’t.

While I was silently suffering, Mel was happy to have a companion he could drone on to about the ex-wife, the son she won’t let him see, the roommate with the vomit-spewing cat, the arthritic knee and persistent back pain, eye problems, knee problems, the on-again-off-again love affair with cigarettes, and a whole lot of other stuff I wasn’t listening to.

“I can’t believe it,” Mel said. “In a couple of weeks, I can’t wait to move into my very own apartment.”

Then he pumped his fist in the air with an awkwardness and utter lack of coordination that made me want to hide myself in the clearance bin.

“Finally!” He cheered.

What the eff?

Mel, who looked like he was old enough to have had a couple of his “very own apartments” already, didn’t have his own place? Never had his own place?

Mel grinned sheepishly and tried to tell me in his deep Mr. Smooth voice that he never had his own apartment. He sounded like Mr. Magoo.

“How old are you?” I blurted out, not caring what he thought of me asking such a question right behind his overdue declaration of independence.

“Well,” Mel sighed. “There’s something I need to tell you…”

I already figured it out, Mel, I thought. The good angel on my left shoulder was trying to tell me that Mel was just a year or two older than his profile stated. But the bad angel, who had become my best friend over the past hour, bet the good angel that Mel was much older than that. My money was with the bad angel.

The bad one was right.

Mel’s profile claimed he was 36. The joker admitted to being 49. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being 49. It’s a great age. But not for Mel. He actually could pass for much older.

As he talked and gestured, the big, dangling gold earring from his left ear bothered me. No man with the amount of gray hair that Mel had should be allowed to wear an earring that big or a leather bomber jacket in 80-degree weather.

“So did you want to grab some dinner?” Mel asked, gesturing towards The Cheesecake Factory. That was the first question he asked me the entire time we were together.

The Cheesecake Factory would have been a wonderful place to go for dinner with a date, but just not this date. Besides, it was Wednesday, Results Night on “American Idol.” Simon needed me. America needed me. And that became my perfect excuse to escape.

On the drive back to Baltimore, I reflected on my streak of bad luck with men I’ve met online and restaurants. There was a pattern here, a dangerous one.

Now MrBrandMan2U had a slightly skewed view of the world. He considered Horn & Horn and Red Lobster to be “upscale restaurants.” When he went out to for dinner, he brought his own special blend of Old Bay Seasoning and crushed Cayenne Peppers to restaurants and would send a little container in the back for the cook to season his crab legs with. He was so well-known throughout the restaurants in the area for being a BYOS (Bring Your Own Seasoning) patron, that they usually accommodated him.

I realized for sure that this cat wasn’t the one when he took me to a breakfast restaurant: Happy Family Restaurant. The name was a misnomer. Nothing was happy about that dump. It was a bland, blah-looking eatery, its style harkened back to the days of Howard Johnson and your local diner trapped in the 70s. Our server’s name was Velma, typical server name, I’d guess. She was a plump, surly-looking woman stuffed in an old-school pink waitress uniform complete with the frilly lace ruffles. She snarled at us as a form of welcoming us, and took our orders.

MrBrandMan2U was giddy. “This is going to be so much fun,” he chirped.

He asked for his milk to come out with his breakfast platter. Velma replied, “Oh you’re one of those types, huh?” Then she rolled her eyes and sauntered up to the counter. Stunned, I asked him if he thought she was being rude. Apparently, he didn’t.

“It’s part of the gimmick,” he said bouncing in his seat like a 4-year-old.

When our food came out, she slammed our plates on the table.

“Excuse me, you forgot our syrup,” MrBrandMan2U giggled like a third-grader.

“Go up to the counter and get it your damn self,” Velma barked, and walked off in a huff.

He was laughing hysterically. “That’s what they do here! They’re rude. On purpose!” MrBrandMan2U popped out of his seat, amused and very animated. “If you ask for anything extra, they make you go get it!”

Wow.

Then Velma came stomping back to collect the tip from the people at the next table who seemed to enjoy being insulted as much as my date did.

“You forgot my milk,” he was on the edge of his seat waiting to be insulted.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it in my life.

Velma put one hand on the table and the other on her hip, and assumed the I-Am-Black-Woman-Hear-Me-Roar stance.

She leaned in, and in a low voice filled with attitude, “Just like you took your happy ass up to the counter to get your damn syrup, you can carry your happy ass back up there to get your damn ‘I want it with my meal’ milk. It’s that simple.”

I lost my appetite.

MrBrandMan2U bounced and ate as the sound of rude waitresses insulting patrons ricocheted off the walls. He later said that was the best date he ever had at the Happy Family Restaurant. And not because of me. But because Velma cursed him out.

And he left her a tip!

The next morning, I logged into Scratch.com, clicked on “cancel profile”, and the computer screen frowned. “Are you sure you want to leave Scratch.com?” I clicked the “yes” button. “We will miss you,” the next screen chirped. “Are you sure?” I clicked “yes” again. “We can make your profile inactive in case you want to take some time off from the dating scene,” the screen chimed. “Are you sure you want to leave Scratch.com permanently?” Underneath the question was some syrupy blurb about being patient, remaining hopeful, and giving Scratch.com another chance. Once again, Scratch.com asked if I wanted to leave. I didn’t see a “Hell yes” button on the screen, so I just clicked “yes.”

And with that, Mocha1Mocha and her legion of online suitors – MillionaireBy40, BroLightEyes, SuaveRev007 and MrBrandMan2U – vanished. I was looking for Mr. Right, not Mr. Will-Do, Mr. Liquid-Crack-Seller-Slash-What-Does-He-Do-Anyway? or Mr. I-Am-Just-Getting-My-Own-Apartment-At-Age-One-Hundred-and-Six. It was obvious to me that Mr. Right wasn’t online. On a site like Scratch.com, he didn’t stand a chance again

Scratch Dot Com (Part 1)

DISCLAIMER: All names have been changed to protect the identities of persons mentioned. No animals have been harmed in the writing of this piece. Furthermore, this essay does not reflect the views or opinions of anyone other than me. Do not try this at home. Or anywhere else. Ever. I mean it.

Every time I see the eHarmony commercial featuring Neil Clark Warren and those sappily-ever-after eHarmonized couples, I have flashbacks to my own dramatic experiences with online dating.

I made the foray into online dating  about three years ago after a string of unsuccessful relationships. I lamented about my dreary state of singleness to anyone who would listen. I had painted such a sad picture for myself. I would be single forever while the rest of the world would bask in a lifetime of marital bliss. It just isn’t fair, I whined to Stephanie, one of my happily coupled-up girlfriends one rainy Saturday. After having endured several of my dramatic, well-rehearsed soliloquies, she stopped me.

“Have you thought about online dating?”

Dumb question, I thought.

I met Warren, Satan’s first cousin, on a site I like to call Scratch.com. His profile stated that he was a hard-working brother with an executive job in sales, and a beautiful townhome in Northern Virginia. It also said that Warren enjoyed traveling, sports and hunting. In reality, Warren was a lazy copier salesman hanging onto his cushy job by a thread. And the stately townhome in a swanky Northern Virginia neighborhood was about to go into foreclosure because his ex-fiancée had had enough of his wandering eye (a hobby he forgot to mention). When I met him, I saw a tall, chocolate brother who looked more attractive in person than he did in his online photo. After a few short months of dating, Warren, the polished, smooth-talking, attentive gentleman who obsessed over fine suits, ties and crisp creases in his dress slacks, turned into a sadistic Class-A jerk that had a woman for every day of the week.

Warren’s horrible behavior and inconsistent lies had me sprawled out on my friend’s couch crying over my broken heart. So for Stephanie to suggest I venture back into cyberspace on another quest for love was ludicrous.

Stephanie, a self-professed online dating expert, offered to tweak my online profile to help me get more hits from potential suitors. After all, she had just met a great guy herself on the internet, and she was still racking up winks, nods and online kisses. Stephanie’s edits ended up being edited by my friend Marissa, a dating expert in her own right. Wild and brazen, Marissa wasted no time in marking up my profile with drastic and racy changes.

“You look like a goddamned saint in this picture,” Marissa pointed out over drinks one evening. “Loosen up, let your weave down. Get some big hoop earrings, and for God’s sake do something with your makeup.” Marissa frowned. “You need to turn up your oomph factor, ‘cause right now you need to be a 100 and you’re really at negative 500. You need to look like a good girl who’s just a little bit slutty.”

My new and improved profile ended up being a hybrid of Stephanie’s distinguished edits and Marissa’s tawdry suggestions. The first day the new and improved Mocha1Mocha appeared online, she got over 100 hits. I was delighted.

I hastily scribbled down the user names of the cute gentlemen I wanted to respond to: MillionaireBy40, BroLightEyes, MrBrandMan2U, SuaveRev007. Eager to erase the memories of Warren from my mind, I started firing off responses to my admirers.

MillionaireBy40 was the first to respond. His real name was Ray. He lived in Baltimore. He was 41, and not a millionaire. Ray was an entrepreneur with big dreams and lots of dumb ideas. His goal was to get rich selling “liquid nutritional products” through his internet-marketing website. He claimed he also had a side business as an independent contractor, for some lucrative business on the verge of big profits. Doing what, you ask? Hell if I ever found out. The only real clue I had was that Ray said his workday normally started around two in the afternoon. By then, half the day was gone. Ray wondered why his business was so slow. I guessed he assumed that the average person didn’t start working until late in the afternoon, and that banks, merchants, vendors and hospitals opened at two in the afternoon. Just as frightening images of me being the wife of a liquid-nutritional-product-hocking-slash-independent-contractor-of-nothing flashed before my eyes, Ray said he had just read the book The Secret. After reading the book, he wrote himself a $10,000 check and taped it to his bathroom mirror.

“Interesting,” I deadpanned.

“I just know that I am going to cash that check one day soon.”

I wondered why he just didn’t write himself a check for a million dollars. After all, he was MillionaireBy40, and according to his age, he was slightly behind schedule.

Ray insisted that the positive energy of wealth was flowing through him. But apparently, it wasn’t flowing strong enough to keep his gas, electricity or telephone on. It seems that MillionaireBy40 was in the middle of billing disputes with the utility companies at the time. I only found this out when I asked about this Jesse Anderson person whose name appeared on my caller-ID screen whenever Ray called. When he attempted to offer an explanation, he stammered “see, what had happened was…” the first five words in a chronic liar’s vernacular. It turns out that Jesse Anderson was Ray’s good friend who had good credit. I saw no future with the liquid nutritional product marketing executive slash part-time independent contractor of nothing who couldn’t get a line of credit with BGE or Verizon, and crossed him off the list.

SuaveRev007 called me one rainy evening to ask me out on a date. During the conversation, he seemed like a great guy, decent conversationalist, well mannered. I was kind of touched when he offered to pray before ending our phone call.

The first date — at a outdoor concert on the Sunday before Labor Day – was rather uneventful save for a trip to his office in Warrentown where he wanted me to check out the lobby and the restrooms. I think he was more concerned about me being impressed that he had a key to his office building. Wow.

Then another Sunday (all of our dates were on Sundays, it seemed) I accompanied him to a guest-preaching gig at a friend’s church. Before he began his sermon (which was about a dry as the Mojave Desert), he took a moment to acknowledge me – his girlfriend – Michelle for coming out to support him. I wanted to raise my hand and tell him, “Excuse me, but my name is Kim.” But I didn’t.

And there was another Sunday…the Sunday I’d like to call Salad Bowl Sunday. We visited a big, vibrant church, and the singing was so good, I felt compelled to put a little extra in the offering plate when it came around. “God loves a cheerful giver”, that’s what the Bible says.

God loves babies and fools, too.

SuaveRev nudged me and asked, “Can I borrow five dollars for my offering? Things are tight for me this week.”

Alrighty then!

After church, we headed up the road to Ruby Tuesday’s for something to eat. We both ordered plates of those cute little Ruby mini-burgers and unlimited salad from the salad bar. SuaveRev let me know halfway through the meal that he was broke and wouldn’t be able to pay for the meal, yet he continued to eat heartily assuming I would take care of the bill (I did.) When the server placed the check on the table at the end of the meal, SuaveRev slid the check, face down, towards me and asked for two carryout boxes. Between the two of us, we had just three teeny, tiny burgers and five French fries left. Why would he need two carryout containers? Was he planning on feeding the multitudes like Jesus did with the three fish and five loaves of bread? Actually, he took one of the containers up to the salad bar and loaded up as if there was no tomorrow. I should point out here that I go by the general rule of thumb when it comes to all-you-can eat restaurants: all-you-can-eat generally means “all you can eat while you’re at the restaurant.” And if I were to put that in a way for the SuaveRev, man of the cloth to understand: “Thou shalt not loadeth up on stuff from the all-you-can-eateth salad bar that thou art planning to carteth home.”

To be continued…(Trust me, there’s more.)