(Originally written Sunday, March 27, 2011)
One thing I can never be accused of is being half-committed to anything. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a passionate guy. You name it, in business, education, family, hobbies or love, I put my all into it, whatever “it” maybe. For example, in 1993 when I decided to learn to fly, I couldn’t just be a regular private pilot. No no, I had to be all up in the multi-engine, instrument commercial pilot category although I had no intention of ever working for an airline. I couldn’t just be happy renting planes either. I had to own the planes and make the flight school pay me to use them.
I could go on and on but something my late granny said to me years ago still resonates in today. She simply said, “Boy, you love hard. That’s just who you are. Keep on loving but know, you do love hard.”
Therefore, it was no surprise that I found myself at convention of 900 professional wedding photographers in New Orleans last year. I had never shot a single wedding but there I was learning from the best. Passionate and committed no matter the expense.
It was night time on Day 3 and I was over the Bourbon Street experience. Not every guy is a scavenger waiting to hump on whatever falls into his lap. For me, Bourbon Street got old, quickly.
Now nearing 11pm, I’m sitting in this quaint hotel lobby bar with smokey jazz music filling the dim lit room. Hundreds of us photographers were milling about the wonderfully adult place.
Finishing the most decadent cajun dessert, I kind of wanted someone to fill my space with good conversation and laughter. Naturally I scanned the room, noticing that the crowd was 99% white-female. They were clearly from all over the country as evidenced by the dress and demeanor. For many, being in N’leans was a big deal.
Looking around, “What if I could” entered my mind but was quickly squashed by an obvious reality. Of the several hundred white women in my immediate site, nearly ALL of them adorned wedding bands or engagement rings. It sort of became a game to find one without a ring. The fat one, the skinny bald one, the one with all the Tats and piercings, the redhead freckled one, surely at least one of them would be unhitched. Not the case at all. None of these woman were for the taking.
I slammed back the rest of my icy Tonic & Lime in protest and I thought, “If this were an AKA or Delta Convention, there would be tons of unwed women.” Maybe it was brain-freeze or sadness but my head began to hurt and I retreated to my room overlooking Bourbon Street. It was time for a little self-reflection and sleep.
Why don’t we marry our women and why don’t we partake to the social and economic benefits of matrimony? When will brothers learn that Options ain’t Equity any more than renting is owning?
Just look at the Black dating scene today and its all very clear. Available women grossly outnumber available men so brothers mistakenly place a false value on the “abundant choices.” We place value in our Options before we even exercise them. Its called the little black book, which is almost standard issue in Black man basic training. You know, keep your Options opened cause “Chicks are like buses, if one leaves, another one is just around the corner.” We so strongly believe in this false pretense that not even creating a child triggers any meaningful obligation because having a Baby Mama is unfortunately also an Option. This “variety is the spice of life” system is addictive and poisonous enough to the point that many of us spend our most productive years exercising the newest Options over and over again like a hampster on treadmill. As decades pass, we never convert our Options to Equity with a particular woman and community-wide downside is there for all to see. Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Now lets look at Ted and Ashley. They met right after college in 1989 while Ted was exercising his Options of being a recent college grad. They had both dated other people but when they realized they shared similar life goals, religious views and political stances, they naturally began to take their relationship more seriously. Really, dating someone else just wasn’t an Option and after 2-years, one abortion and a new job. Ted ultimately took Ashley off the market completely with an engagement ring.
Five years later, married into a community of married couples, Ted and Ashley began their quest toward building equity both in their new home and new baby. Afterall, Equity was the singular unstated goal when they first met. So 22 years later, they’ve paid off that 15-year mortgage on, co-own a little summer home with another couple in South Haven. Ted’s favorite past time, besides lovin’ on Ashley, is to sit on the beach in South Haven and watch the scantly dressed Options traversing the beach. But its just harmless entertainment. Hell, what man in his right mind would trade cash 22 years of Equity for Options? You know who, the Black guy who never accumulated an Equity to begin with. He’ll be at Mr. G’s Stepper’s set tonight checking out his Options. Just look for the cool Range Rover with the Breitling watch hanging out of it.
What brothers don’t seem to understand is that Options are just more opportunities to spend money. Stated differently, being a player player ain’t cheap. You gotta keep a fresh car, latest clothes, cool apartment condo, latest night spots, vacation get aways, spa treatments, hair appointments or you name it. Then you board with her and start all over again. LOL. Don’t be fooled. Ted had just as many Options, if not more. At some point though, he understood that converting an Option to Equity was the only means of a cash return. What a simple concept!
After 18-years of a marriage and living in Beverly, I’m thankful I witnesses this Options vs. Equity relationship, in spite of my own short comings. The Ted & Ashley story is real in millions of households around this country. I just wish we understood what seems to be at the core of so many other communities, white, Asian, hispanic, etc, etc. Marriage and family are the best long-term investments we can make. Everyone, most especially white guys have options, they just instinctively pursue the Equity first. Maybe it’s in the upbringing. Today I know this. I am not responsible for what did or didn’t happen in the past. I am whole responsible for the value I add in the future. Thanking God for my own assets in Chris, Cameron, Malcolm & Mariama. I look forward to reinvesting for 18 more years with someone, God willing.
Let’s just call this one a double-Mocha Latte. Cort’