Just Say No
I was on a streak that had me riding a high of exhilarating freedom. I was becoming more comfortable with turning men down. I was freeing myself of awkward, one-sided conversations and dates by being blatant about not wanting to spend my time with someone. I realized that after the initial discomforting moments leading up to pressing ‘send’ I was rewarded with relief and a release from the grasp of unwanted companions. It’s not always as simple as shooting a text into the cyberverse though. Sometimes the assertive act has to be done face-to-face. I was recently put to the test.
I met a guy named Marcos at work and agreed to go out with him. He was fair-skinned and blue-eyed from Spain. What initially attracted me to him was his eclectic background and experiences. He told me he’d lived with a family in Mississippi and attended an all-Black high school there. Marcos was well-traveled and generally excited about life. There was a bit of a language barrier between us. He spoke to me in broken English and when that was too difficult I spoke to him in limited Spanish. It created a mystique that was appealing to me…at first.
When he was texting and calling me to set up a date I noticed how excited he was and how excited I wasn’t. His enthusiasm overwhelmed me. I told him I couldn’t hang out with him anymore and wished him well. Then he sent me a barrage of photos of him in different countries with the note, “This is my 2018 and I want to share a piece of my 2019 with you.” I thought it was sweet but I said nothing back. My mind was made up…I thought.
He came to my job again (but not in a way that creeped me out or scared me), we talked, and I once again agreed to hang out with him. This time we shook on it, giving me incentive to follow through. I generally don’t like to be a flake. Also, I thought maybe when I canceled our original date I was being closed off, or just lazy, and I wanted to be open to a new experience.
We met up at a cocktail bar and then went to eat Korean barbecue, a Los Angeles staple. It was his idea to do something neither of us had done before so we’d have a new memory together. It struck me as thoughtful. On our date Marcos had a lot of interesting things to say. We talked about movies, books, and food. We bonded over being the black sheep in our families. It was a solid first date and I didn’t regret going, but I also would’ve been fine with never seeing him again.
I did see him again though. The plan was to meet up for one last hoorah before he left the country on another one of his adventures. He didn’t know if or when he’d be able to return to the states. I suggested going to a museum. Marcos added getting drinks, food, and dessert to the agenda. I was exhausted just thinking about it but I agreed anyway. Hours later he called, then texted me to tell me he had a surprise activity set up instead of the museum.
On the morning we planned to meet it was raining and I didn’t feel like going out. He called me before my alarm even went off! I was turned off by his excitement but I pushed through. No flaking. I managed to get up, put on my face, and meet him in the heart of Hollywood during a downpour. Marcos was late. I waited for him under an awning for at least ten minutes. I thought about just going back home. “Ma bad,” he texted me. “I’m Spanish.”
When he finally arrived he told me the surprise was a “hip-hop tour”, a helicopter ride over south-central LA highlighting landmarks associated with famous Los Angeles rap artists like NWA and Tupac. It would’ve potentially been cool if I knew him better. To me it was a bit over the top for a second date. The inclement weather stalled the tour and we found a cafe to get breakfast. I couldn’t see myself spending the rest of the day with him. I was over asking him to repeat every other sentence because I couldn’t understand his accent. I was drained by the imbalance of energy between us. When I finished my egg and cheese croissant I bailed. “I’m gonna go home,” I said. I told him I wanted to be alone.
He was dumbfounded. The tension between us made it feel like we were ending a years-long relationship. I felt like I played myself for letting it get so far in the first place. I knew from the moment I woke up that I was over it. I tried to explain to him that he did nothing wrong and it was just me and my moodiness. I don’t think it made a difference. I didn’t care.
I got in my Uber feeling like I set myself free. As I drove further away from my bad decision the rain stopped and the sun appeared. I don’t think it was a coincidence.