As the ashy negro sitting next to me sobbed to Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love Of All”, I questioned every life choice I had made up until that moment. Mainly, my choices that led me to the passenger seat of his musty 4-door sedan.
Back in February 2012, after a rough break-up, my best friend bought me a plane ticket to go on a weekend trip to New York with her. Well, after purchasing the tickets she realized that she couldn’t make it due to a last minute obligation. Per her suggestion, I opted to go solo since I had requested the time off work. So, without hesitation I hopped on a flight from the dirty south to the big Apple. Upon arrival I stayed in a basement apartment with a friend from high school who lived in Bedstuy.
After giving me a brief tour of the city we went back to his place to get ready for the long night ahead of us . We’d gotten invited to an off broadway production of ‘High School Musical’ by another friend of mine from our hometown who had made a name for himself as a choreographer in the city. #BlackBoyMagic.
Well during the show, which was in a basement theater, the cast prepared for intermission. Just as everyone exited the stage, the only black girl in the cast popped her head out of the curtain and said five words that caused an uproar within the small room:
“Rest In Peace Whitney Houston.”
To make that unprecedented announcement in a room full of black kweenz was a major risk on her part, because we almost didn’t stay for the second half of the show. Upon hearing the announcement we immediately scrambled up the stairs, hands covering our mouths in shock, to the icy street to get better phone signal. We all were refreshing Google to find out what the hell happened to our Whitney.
To our disbelief, our ebony thespian was right.
Whitney was dead.
The next day was somber but my friend had made arrangements for us to attend a gay, black, Valentine’s-themed singles mixer thrown by a friend of his. Being on the rebound and still depressed about my break-up this so I was bout it bout it.
As I cautiously sipped my drink in a corner of the hip brooklyn Apartment, a tall dark-skinned man with a strong accent approached me. Through minimal drunken conversation I learned that he was from the caribbean.
He said he was 32 although his smile lines screamed AT LEAST 40. But for some reason, (the alcohol) I was intrigued and found him to be handsome and endearing. Well at the end of the night he offered to take my friends and I back to my friend’s apartment.
“Just let me take you boys home. It’s like 10 degrees out and your friend is too drunk. You’ll never make it to the train station” he generously pleaded.
I quickly replied, “I’m sorry but can I see some ID. I watch Lifetime.”
He laughed until he realized that I was being dead-ass serious.
If there’s one thing that the Lifetime Network taught me, besides how to do the quintessential, emotional breakdown, wall slide cry, it was that you don’t get in strange cars with strange men. We went back and forth over this until he finally showed me his license with his thumb covering his date of birth. I found this to be sufficient and took a photo of his license tag and texted it to my friends back home with a physical description of him.
Well shockingly, after all the shenanigans I put him through, upon dropping us off, he STILL asked for my number and to take me out the next day. Once again, being the Lifetime fan that I am I agreed to go on a brunch date if he allowed my friend to come with. He agreed to oblige my request.
The next morning I woke up, hungover, and quickly scrambled to get dressed for my date with the man who would potentially star in my Law & Order: SVU episode. As my friend and I finished getting ready, he called.
Date: Hey, I’m outside.
Me: Umm I’m looking out the window and I don’t see you.
Date: Yes I’m right outside. I’m flashing my lights.
It was in that very moment that I realized, for the first time of many that day, that my drunk goggles had deceived me. The reason I didn’t see his car is because in my drunk memory, he drove a luxury sedan with rims.
As I slowly walked towards the ‘97 Camry with the shiny hubcaps I took several deep breaths before approaching his driver’s side window.
He struggled to crank the window down and wore a huge smile on his face.
Date: Aren’t you going to get inside?
I stared blankly as I had my second realization that when I drink, I’m a blind-ass bitch. This man looked old enough to be my father.
Me: Yes I’m just waiting on my friend.
As my friend approached the car we hopped inside. He turned on the heat and began telling us how hurt he was about Whitney’s untimely death two days prior. He then proceeded to turn on “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”. As the ballad played I looked over to see real tears coming down this man’s face. I tried to change the subject but he couldn’t stop talking about Whitney and how he’d been up crying all morning.
The lord finally stopped my suffering as we pulled up to the restaurant, or so I thought. At this point I thought to myself, maybe things will get better once he gets some food in his system.
Ha! Or nah…
As we ate somehow the subject of Beyonce arose. Now, anytime I hear the queen’s name mentioned my sensitivity antennas begin to rise so I was ready for anything that was to come.
Date: Beyonce is overrated, she sucks. She can’t sing, she can’t dance!
My friend: I do agree she’s overrated.
As my hand involuntarily reached for the nearest butter knife, I took a breath and put it down. I thought I was prepared for anything; I was not prepared for this. I asked to be excused to the restroom where I stared into the mirror and counted in an attempt to calm my battered nerves. After I collected myself I returned to the table and waited for Mr. Wrong to finish his meal, as I’d lost my appetite.
Upon arriving back at my friend’s apartment the man insisted on coming inside. Since he paid for our breakfast I felt bad for just asking him to leave right away so we agreed to let him come inside.
And this is when shit got weird(er).
As he sat obnoxiously close to me on the couch I cringed.
He then took it upon himself to throw his arm around me and pull me in close. I remember praying for endurance until this date ended.
Date: You know I want to take you back to my island country. So many beautiful boys there.
Me: (Struggling to escape his grasp) Oh that’s nice.
Him: Yes, so many boys, but if I catch you looking at them I’ll take your eyes out.
The room stood still and I stopped breathing for the 4 seconds of silence before he laughed.
Date: (Hugging me tighter) It was a joke! I was kidding.
Me: (Eyes stretched wide scanning the room for blunt objects) Ha, ha yeah that’s not funny.
I managed to escape his big arms and told him he should probably go because I needed to get to the airport.
Date: No, I am taking you to the airport I insist.
Since Uber/Lyft weren’t a thing yet and I was a broke 24-year-old I paused before declining his offer. Taking a cab from Brooklyn to the airport wasn’t cheap (based on my income at the time).
This was when I pondered a decision that women probably have to make all too often in life, do I take this opportunity and deal with a creepy, handsy ass man or say no and struggle?
Well, I reluctantly said yes.
During the ride he wasn’t all that bad. I mean he kept talking about our future together and how he was going to come visit me in Orlando (where I didn’t live). The worst part had to have been the kiss he requested as we pulled up to the airport. I remember thinking to myself, “Bitch do it and run. Take this free ride!” So that’s exactly what I did before jumping out of his car.
I would say that I never saw this man again but on a trip to New York later that year I ran into him in the city, on a random pedestrian-filled street and our eyes met but I was with my boyfriend at the time so he didn’t approach.
So was there a lesson to be learned by this bad date? Hell yes! If you can’t remember what your date looks like, request a photo, Instagram name, or type their number into the Facebook search box and their profile will pop up (if they have one.) Second lesson learned, don’t ever sacrifice your personal safety out of feelings of obligation or to get a free ride.
This Bad Date Diary is dedicated in the memory of Whitney Houston, may you always live on in our hearts and your music in our ears.