“Instruction in sex is as important as instruction in food; yet not only are our adolescents not taught the physiology of sex, but never warned that the strongest sexual attraction may exist between persons so incompatible in tastes and capacities, that they could not endure living together for a week, much less a lifetime.”   ~George Bernard Shaw, 1944

            I love my job. What’s not to love about being a photographer? Imagine being paid to be creative. Imagine meeting new and interesting people (most are) on a regular basis and doing what you love as a career- a career that began with aspirations of becoming a fashion designer. Road trips with my fraternity brothers and a used Nikon film camera became a catalyst for the present day career I enjoy. The public began to take notice of the images I took on road trips-mostly images of us goofing around, scenery, and the occasional attractive college girl. A demand soon arose from female college students wanting professional photos, and I happily obliged. The demand and financial compensation never stopped. I had the option of toiling away in obscurity, waiting to be discovered as a fashion designer …or the current opportunity in front of me to realize my artistic potential…and a fashion photographer had emerged. I’ve been adding to my brand ever since.
            The life of a professional photographer is not the glitz and glamour that the typical consumer thinks it is. After all, it’s an industry overpopulated with people who already have overinflated egos, and you provide a specific service that further fuels their narcissism. When shooting weddings, one would think it’s the happiest day of a couple’s life. It’s also one of the most stressful. People are on edge because it’s running late, lots of guests didn’t shown up, the bride doesn’t like her makeup, the florist is stuck in traffic, she’s nervous…and it’s finally sinking in how much debt this new couple has gotten themselves in by putting on a fairytale wedding that no one is impressed by. This industry is extremely competitive and like any business, you’ve gotta be able to give them what they want, or they’ll spend their money elsewhere. That means that for the right money, I’ve shot glamour, fashion, weddings, corporate events, bad-ass children, creepy fetish stuff, maternity shoots with bitchy women, and even funerals.  
            Today a friend asked to use the Internet feature on my ipad to check email. After viewing it, he closed out the window, which took him back to the ipad’s home screen-a full-length fashion shot of one of my models. He ventured into the photo galleries of my ipad, categorized for the diverse clients that I provide services for: Glamour, Fashion, Special Events, Photojournalism, Travel, Commercial/Editorial, and Urban. Urban is really just a euphemism for Eye Candy photography…affectionately known by the fellas closest to me as “the titties and ass shots.”
His eyes widened with each image and he surveyed the photos. I knew what he was about to say and ask next. His head shook in disbelief as he continued to view.
“I don’t know how you do it,” he added. I knew what his next statement would be. Almost on cue with my thought, he exclaimed, “Yo…I couldn’t be a photographer. If I were you…I’d be bangin’ every one of these girls.”
I waited for the most asked question from my male friends. Then it came. “Yo…have you ever smashed one of the models? There’s no way you could be shooting them and not fuckin’ em.”
           I told him that when you start to do that, your career is essentially over. After explaining that I’ve never indulged in sex with a client and never would, he still didn’t seem convinced. Since my friend was in real estate, I decided to answer his question in a manner in which it would be relevant to his career. I told him it’s a lot like owning property. Let’s say you’re the owner of a Duplex, and you rent one of the units to a single, attractive tenant. You fully understand that this is business and this woman pays you for a service-in this case it’s $800 a month for rent. Still your carnal instincts get the best of you and you find yourself laying more pipe than what’s found under the granite kitchen countertops. Now that you’ve mixed business with pleasure, your tenant is guaranteed to look at you like you’re crazy the next time you ask her why the rent is late or wasn’t paid that month. Women often sign contracts in invisible ink. Congratulations…your dick just signed a new 12-month lease for some free, or severely discounted and late rent. I’m a photographer. I shoot for the art and the money, and not for the women.  Many people who don’t work in the field naively think that one can have both, but it will not work. People don’t want to pay. No one likes paying for services. They realize that they have to pay. Once you begin to cloud the lines of business, the pussy will become the unofficial payment, and you’ll find your business taking a huge financial hit. It’s also never a good look when you have the reputation as the photographer who fucks models-and models talk.
            Besides the fact that you’ll be standing there looking dumb and not getting paid, banging the models is also a huge risk to your reputation and livelihood.  Bad news travels much faster than good news-and lurks around a lot longer. Google popular New York Photographer Lloyd Parks and see what comes up. He was recently arrested on rape charges and was awaiting trial in the Bronx section of New York. On February 3rd, he was arrested on 3 counts of 3rd degree rape from a model-who claimed she had forced sex with him. Indulging with a model resulted in a brief stay at a Riker’s Island Jail. Do I think Lloyd raped that model? No. I’ve met him and know about his work in Black Men Digital Magazine. I highly doubt that a successful photographer would risk his empire over some model pussy. However, it’s likely that he did sleep with that model. Who likely initiated it? Doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, a photographer could attempt to bring things back to business as usual and the model will be staring at your invoice…and thinking, what the hell is this?
            Contrary to how TV misleads the masses, most “models” aren’t making lots of money and some are in fact just opportunists with inconsistent income. If they see an opening to make a false or true allegation against a photographer who gives off the perception of immense financial success-be sure that they’ll take it. The model (whom I don’t know personally) alleged that Lloyd locked his 7-year-old son in one room, while he raped her in another. A harsh lesson learned? Or false allegation? Only God truly knows, but I strongly believe in avoiding opportunities for it. In addition to keeping model relations strictly business, I keep my female makeup artist present during shoots and my studio has video surveillance. I’ve worked too hard to have someone ruin it.
           Many have made requests to get hooked up with a model, but my suggestion is to first appreciate the attractive, educated sistas with conventional jobs and stable futures. I always tell them that dating should be less about matching outward circumstances, and more about meeting your inner necessity. That’s not to say that looks don’t count-you just can’t have looks be the basis of your attraction to another. Looks, much like a model’s career, won’t last forever if you don’t have other things to bring to the table. When people ask why I’ve never secretly indulged, I remind them that the caliber of woman I date has so much more to offer…besides sex. And there’s no guarantee that sex with a model is better! (laughing) If you’re self-consumed in your everyday life, it likely transfers over to the bedroom as well. Selfish is selfish. We as photographers also see people for who they truly are. We see the model prior to the shoot-before the professional makeup artist gets to them, before the fashion designers and stylists drape them in exclusive garments and accessories. And we see them before the photoshopping, airbrushing, tanning and weaving. Such is life. You hafta channel that ability to weed through the bullshit and see people at their core. If you’re a male interested in a model, there are things that you must know…otherwise you will find that it’s not the fairytale fantasy that you think:
            Although not applicable for everyone, Models can be arrogant and can brush off secret admirers quickly and often (I see it all the time). In many cases the best approach is no approach. You get more attention from them when you come off as uninterested and coy. Very attractive woman means lots of competition. Although it’s always best to be yourself, interest levels of highly sought-after women is best maintained by playing distant. That fact alone should tell you everything you need to know about what you may be in store for. All models are not the dumb entities stereotyped on television. Some are extremely intelligent, with advanced degrees. Be intelligent. An intelligent conversation can impress or expose a model, and give you a better feel of what you’re working with.
            It’s also important to not just speak intelligently, but use common sense as well. High fashion models, as opposed to urban models must maintain a specific figure and weight. Planning dates around food can blow up in your face. A lavish date at an expensive Brazilian Steakhouse may leave you frustrated (and broke) when you’re sitting across from a model-who orders just an appetizer, or orders a full meal, but doesn’t eat it. It happens. If you don’t like to plan lavish dates or are unwilling, you may find yourself on the end of a reality check. Many models are used to a high standard; don’t think you’ll be getting away with Chili’s for long. Models are often in the company of people in the fashion industry. People in that industry tend to have money. That means designers, photographers, lawyers, execs, and businessmen. Dating a model is not for the insecure man.
            At the end of the day, all people have good and bad traits. Dealing with someone exceptionally beautiful on the outside can come with it’s own unique drama, whether male or female. Make sure that whatever issues are there, are issues that you don’t have to convince yourself don’t exist. Every time you date someone-male or female-with an issue that you have to work to ignore, Guess What? You are settling. I read a facebook status from someone the other day that pretty much summed it all up. It said:
An attractive dude (or female) who lacks fundamental insight and/or ambition might as well be physically unattractive…’Cuz there ain’t shit sexy about a clueless muthafucka who has no intention on getting a clue. Thank you, Holta for that great quote…

…These Are The Random Thoughts Of Ronald Gray…



“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”
                                                         -Tom Bodett

            Totally Random, but I hate Philly’s radio stations. The same ten songs are always in rotation, no matter the station, no matter the time of day. Every R&B song on the radio has some New York or Southern rapper on it-their rap lyrics often having nothing to do with the song. Every other track played has Drake, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne or all damn three on it. The radio personalities-many employed here after being released from New York stations-seem more concerned with hearing themselves talk than actually discussing things of substance and playing the music that people tune it to hear. I can’t prove it, but I swear I lose a brain cell or two every time a Waka Flocka track gets played. Today, calls were taken and the topic of the day was: The appropriate time for a person infected with herpes to tell their mate. I cringed at the thought of things getting hot and heavy with a female, only to hear her say, “Ron…there’s something I gotta tell you before we do this.” She then goes on to tell you that she has herpes. Your eyes survey her face for a hint of a smile or laugh, hoping… wishing… praying that this is all just a bad joke. The blood rapidly flowing from your penis, back to the rest of your body as you search for your boxers and car keys.  Although I’m sure people living with herpes don’t think it’s an appropriate topic for a first date, it’s information that I would want to know ASAP. The calls came in and personal stories of infidelity, scandal and failed relationships poured in- reminding me why my weapon of choice while driving is my ipod plugged into the auxiliary port and not the radio.
            The radio personalities gave relationship advice to the callers-each of their stories appearing crazier than the last. Plato once said, Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. Wearing a slight grin, I wondered how many of the callers would actually heed the advice given to them. After all, I was taught that the greatest discovery of all time is that a person can always change his/her future by changing his/her attitude. Will they? Likely not. Countless female friends call complaining about the latest bum hailing from Loserville, who made his way into their bed and heart. Recently, a female reader of my blog requested that I write about why men take so long to commit to relationships and why we take so long to marry women. Great topic, but I’m not sure if ladies are ready for those honest answers from me….yet. But, in an effort to bring you one step closer to the answers you seek, today I’ll discuss some of the ADVICE that Men and Women get, yet FAIL TO APPLY to their relationships.

WE READ THE WORLD WRONG AND SAY THAT IT DECEIVES US-This a direct quote from Rabindranth Tagore. Yeah, many of you are thinking Who the hell is that?!? But it’s something that both men and women can apply to relationships…especially those who are still looking for that special someone. How many brothas out there love to date gold-diggers? none, right? But ask yourself if you know a man right now that consistently gives the false illusion of wealth, yet complains about the kind of women he attracts? They say we spend money we don’t have…to buy things we don’t need…to ultimately impress people we don’t like. Some of us do everything in our power to impress women with our money, and then when we meet the women who are impressed with our money…we complain.  You’re reading the world wrong, and then claiming that it’s deceiving you. 

IT IS FAR BETTER TO BE ALONE, THAN TO BE IN BAD COMPANY- This has woman written all over it. Most of them admit that they hate to be alone. So they spend the best years of their lives, in failed relationship after failed relationship-tallying unnecessary sexual partners, experiences of infidelity and taking on more drama than needed. Time alone helps us to evaluate what went wrong in a previous relationship and will usually give us the opportunities to appreciate something new and different when it comes along. Sad thing is…the most beautiful women you meet often fall into this category. They date the same idiot over and over and can’t understand that the pattern has not only to do with them, but the bad company they keep. There’s a common psychological test given to small children, in which they have the option of receiving a shiny nickel on the same day, or a shiny new dime if they wait until the following day to get it. In every study at almost every school, the children choose the nickel. The nickel is larger in size than the dime, but worth less in value. Perception and immediate gratification-as opposed to waiting out for greater reward, equal in value of twice the time. Hold out for the larger reward and save your self the mess of lesser-valued men. The next time you come to the store to pay for some food, think about how a clerk would feel if you pour $10 worth of nickels on the counter and want them to count it. Now you’re one step closer to understanding the plight of good men who meet women who are afraid to be alone…recovering from a lifetime of dating lesser-valued men.   

YOU SNOOZE YOU LOSE- Confucius once said only the wisest and stupidest of men never change. I have plenty of male friends who have had the great fortune of meeting good women, but they say they aren’t ready to settle down. That stated from a man in his 30’s loses validity unless used when you’re fresh out of a lengthy relationship. The good thing is many good women out there will be patient with a man they feel is worth the wait. The problem is that there are still many good men who make a woman wait too long, and the next thing you know...she’s gone. With every good sista, there will always be a line forming for her time. Although good brothas are said to be rare, we’re not the endangered species many of us believe we are. That woman you’re taking your sweet time to lock down will be long gone before you know it and you’ll be old news faster than you think.

 PAIN IS INEVITABLE, BUT MISERY IS OPTIONAL- every scorned woman should know that for every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness. So why do women harbor old pain and carry them from relationship to relationship like a badge of honor? Perhaps many realize that the “moving on” part is actually easy; the hard part is what moving on leaves behind. I was always told that the one who loves the least controls the relationship. For years I was always the one who loved the most, and the one hurt in the end. Things changed when I learned that the pain from relationships was inevitable…but the misery was an option. Women saw me transition from the man who was once viewed as “too nice” to someone well seasoned and aware of the kind of woman he deserved. Robert Anthony once said, you can have anything you want if you are willing to give up the belief that you can’t have it. Are women truly ready to become butterflies? They must first be willing to give up the life of being the caterpillar in order to do so.

 MARRIAGE IS NOT ALWAYS THE ANSWER-IT CAN SOMETIMES BE A REALLY BAD IDEA- I watched the relationship of one of my male friends and his girlfriend since they met during our college years; the relationship a continuous cat and mouse game of infidelity and secrecy. Men always have the stigma of being the cheaters in a relationship, while women are often viewed as the innocent victims of our carnal addictions. The truth is that women are just much better at cheating. Men will cheat with coworkers, next-door neighbors and close friends of our counter-part, using reckless abandon…wondering How The Hell did she find out?!? When a woman fucks another man, he lives across town and is someone that doesn’t run in the same circles. The male ego will often fool us into thinking that our woman doesn’t or won’t creep. Tired of fucking the same pussy for the last 5 years? Guess what…she’s tired of looking at the same dick too.
            I watched this couple in college continue year after year of their tumultuous relationship. Somehow they thought it would be a good idea to actually get married. Problem is, when a couple has problems-specifically cheating-marriage can further exacerbate things. Now your significant other transitions from someone living with you, cheating under the same roof-to someone living with you, married to you, cheating under the same roof…and can take half your shit.
Sometimes they say desperate situations require desperate measures. Well this isn’t one of them. Marriage is not always the answer.

I’m suddenly reminded of this story…

10th grade:
As I sat there in English class, I stared at the girl next to me. She was my so called "best friend". I stared at her long, silky hair, and wished she was mine. But she didn't notice me like that, and I knew it. After class, she walked up to me and asked me for the notes she had missed the day before and handed them to her. She said "thanks" and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I wanted to tell her, I want her to know that I don't want to be just friends, I love her but I'm just too shy, and I don't know why.

11th grade:
The phone rang. On the other end, it was her. She was in tears, mumbling on and on about how her love had broke her heart. She asked me to come over because she didn't want to be alone, so I did. As I sat next to her on the sofa, I stared at her soft eyes, wishing she was mine. After 2 hours, one Drew Barrymore movie, and three bags of chips, she decided to go to sleep. She looked at me, said "thanks" and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I want to tell her, I want her to know that I don't want to be just friends, I love her but I'm just too shy, and I don't know why.

Senior year:
The day before prom she walked to my locker. My date is sick" she said; he's not going to go well, I didn't have a date, and in 7th grade, we made a promise that if neither of us had dates, we would go together just as "best friends". So we did. Prom night, after everything was over, I was standing at her front door step. I stared at her as she smiled at me and stared at me with her crystal eyes. I want her to be mine, but she isn't think of me like that, and I know it. Then she said "I had the best time, thanks!" and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I want to tell her, I want her to know that I don't want to be just friends, I love her but I'm just too shy, and I don't know why.

Graduation Day:
A day passed, then a week, then a month. Before I could blink, it was graduation day. I watched as her perfect body floated like an angel up on stage to get her diploma. I wanted her to be mine, but she didn't notice me like that, and I knew it. Before everyone went home, she came to me in her smock and hat, and cried as I hugged her. Then she lifted her head from my shoulder and said, "you're my best friend, thanks" and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I want to tell her, I want her to know that I don't want to be just friends, I love her but I'm just too shy, and I don't know why.

A Few Years Later:
Now I sit in the pews of the church. That girl is getting married now. I watched her say "I do" and drive off to her new life, married to another man. I wanted her to be mine, but she didn't see me like that, and I knew it. But before she drove away, she came to me and said "you came!". She said "thanks" and kissed me on the cheek. I want to tell her, I want her to know that I don't want to be just friends, I love her but I'm just too shy, and I don't know why.

Years passed, I looked down at the coffin of a girl who used to be my "best friend". At the service, they read a diary entry she had wrote in her high school years. This is what it read: I stare at him wishing he was mine, but he doesn't notice me like that, and I know it. I want to tell him, I want him to know that I don't want to be just friends, I love him but I'm just too shy, and I don't know why. I wish he would tell me he loved me! `I wish I did too...` I thought to my self, and I cried.

  …These Are The Random Thoughts Of Ronald Gray…


Volume 58: A Lesson In Being Selfish

“By nice women…you probably mean selfish women, who have no more thought for an underprivileged, overworked woman than a pussycat in a sunny window for the starving kitten in the street. Now in that sense I am not a nice woman, for I do care.”
-Nelly McClung

Georges Courteline once said that a woman never sees what we do for her; she only sees what we don’t do. Today’s Random thought-my first of 2011-is inspired by recent events that have led me to reevaluate the mindset of some women around me, and also to question the brainwashed masses who abide by and support their thinking. Today I’m gonna write about being SELFISH. When I first began recording my random thoughts, some of my female readers found my writing style to be biased. They felt as though my entries-although fun to read-targeted women. Sistas already enjoy countless magazine articles, talks shows, tell-all books, websites and scorned video vixens-who show little mercy towards us with their man-bashing technique of choice. But to please not the masses, but my female readers-many whom I consider friends, I made adjustments in my writing-discussing diverse topics and taking the focus off them. This one however…will be different…
            Now selfishness is commonly regarded as the concern with one’s own welfare and one’s own advantages with the exclusion of regard for others. A man or woman isn’t called selfish for pursuing their own good, they’re called selfish because they neglect the good of their fellow neighbor. Here’s how the story unfolds…
            During an uneventful evening, my close friend and frat brother called me up to see if I was busy. Retouching photography images on Photoshop wasn’t exactly my idea of a thrilling adventure, so any plan sounded good. He knew some ladies in grad school at UPenn- also suffering from a similar night of boredom, and wanted company. Those words from my frat brothers have produced some legendary stories, and have also produced nights that I wish I could forget. We figured that hanging out with some ivy-league women couldn’t be bad. Could it?
            We arrived at a modest 3-bedroom apartment shared by 3 women-all enrolled at the same school- graduates of Cornell University in NY and were all pursuing master’s degrees at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania. They were all from the suburbs of New York (Long Island) and had just moved to Philadelphia about 5 months ago. The night began with drinks and typical conversations of the educated Negro: (school, careers, sex, and the lack of money) and then a game of spades began. Now I may be the only black man who feels this way, but playing spades all night just isn’t my twist. Our people take spades way too seriously; seeing everyone complain about their shitty hand and yell at their partner is about as boring as women’s golf. After a few games, the night ended and we drove home to prepare for the next day- my initial impression of them being positive, even though I had reservations when I discovered their ages (the trio of ladies were all 22, whereas my frat brother is 28, and I’m 31). I’ve always avoided hanging around young-bucks (anyone under 25), because that age group tends to be concerned only with them selves and partying-their presence over a sustained period leaves you mentally annoyed, rather than stimulated.

            It didn’t surprise me when they contacted us to hang out again-this time inviting us to join them and some of their friends at Dave & Buster’s. Again the options were weighed, and on what had been a boring ass Friday night, we agreed to meet up.  I’m not a big fan of video games, but I am a fan of people and alcohol and D&B’s has lots of both! The vibe tonight was different-they had a friend in tow. Every female clique has several roles that members portray, though most never realize it. Almost every clique has a socialite, a good girl, a designated slut, and a bitchy prude. Tonight, the new addition was the bitchy prude. She was anything but social and spent most of the night muttering to her friends and wearing her patented agitated expression. I attempted to introduce myself and initiate conversation, but I guess the thrill of being a bitch seemed more fun. I was suddenly reminded why I don’t care for and don’t hang with twenty-two year olds.
            It’s always awkward to be invited somewhere and then be treated as though you’re imposing by someone you don’t know. Still, my frat brother attempted to make the best of the night, graciously paying for everyone’s overpriced video games and maintaining his rare friendly disposition. After some time, they decided to call it a night and mentioned that they were going to go home to play spades. Uh-Oh. We drove home. Twenty minutes later and almost at our destination, my frat brother gets a text asking if we could turn back around and come over. My frat brother…never one to hold his tongue, began to text a response to the invitation. I had no doubt that it would be something funny, or controversial, given his inebriated condition. A drunk man’s words are indeed a sober man’s thoughts. Being true to form, he told me while texting that his response would read: Which one of y’all are fuckin?
I leaned over to view his phone, doubting that he’d really send that to someone. My eyes widened and I unleashed a drunken laugh. He did send it. (shaking my head) I knew the response to his text wasn’t gonna be good.
            The female’s response to his text read: No one’s fucking anyone. There are no whores here. I shook my head in disbelief and knew that my frat brother would now make things interesting.
He responded with: No one called y’all whores. I just asked a question.
She went on to call him a slew of names and remind him of how rude he was and how his misogynistic texts had offended them. I just laughed. If sex were ever the goal of that night, the accumulation of the bitchy prude, mixed with cyber arguments via text, would have given any educated brotha a huge “soft-off”… the term given to a situation that produces the total opposite of a hard-on. I took a moment to reflect on the text in question. What he said would have offended most women, but is the universal thinking of most men-educated or not. Nothing in this world is ever free-even good company. To me…it was simply a night of good conversation and a break from the monotony. I expected no more or less. I went home and slept soundly…

           Most girls familiar with my friend would have blown that text off. We’re often stereotyped as the dogs that our fraternity embraces as its mascot. Most inner city women would have ignored his response. Shit, some would have found it amusing. These girls didn’t. They were pissed. To be honest, I found the shit hilarious. He was just being himself. He was just being honest. We had no reason or motive to turn around and drive 30 more minutes over to their apartment to play spades.
            I spent the next two weeks attempting to quell the tension between this group of females and my frat brother. I knew he wasn’t gonna apologize, so they could forget that shit, but I did acknowledge to them that I understood their position on being offended and apologized for him several times. They had no issues with me; after all, I didn’t send that text, and I never wanted anything. They seemed like nice girls, but I found it strange that they were so angry with someone known for speaking his mind.
            I received a rare call from one of the Ivy League ladies one evening shortly after. She informed me that her girlfriend from Cornell, who also happened to be a Delta (member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority), would be in town Friday-Sunday and wanted to meet some Ques while visiting. Yeah right. My fraternity is very closely associated with her sorority, so she wanted to know if I had some time to take them all out to one of our spots for some drinks. Due to a busy weekend of photography assignments, I was left with very limited time to hang out, but offered to contact some of my frat brothers who would feel like hanging out. Tensions were still running high between them and my frat brother who introduced me to them, so I switched gears and sent one of my other frat brothers to meet up and show the visiting Delta a good time. It’s very common for greeks to send frat brothers/sorority sisters to show visiting greeks a good time. My frat brother…let’s call him… “Steve”(not his real name)…met up with them at one of our favorite local spots-cheap strong drinks, good food and a social atmosphere. I had no doubt that they would enjoy his company.
            Apparently, everything went well, because I received several texts of thanks. Several of my frat brothers came out and showed the ladies a great time. Drinks were paid for and everyone enjoyed the random crazy conversations. Afterwards everyone went back to the ladies’ apartment. I called “Steve” the next morning to ensure everything went well. He was still at the apartment. (laughing) Nice…
The following evening was more of the same: Steve once again taking the trio of ladies out…paying for their drinks and food and showing why they call Philly The City Of Brotherly Love. During the night, I received texts requesting me to join them at a South Street bar. A late night of shooting models in the studio and time spent with my lady caused me to politely decline their invitation. It’s good that they were enjoying themselves and I was glad that my frat brothers could show a visitor a great time, but my gut had reservations about the message that it could send to the others. It seems as though many sistas will quickly get a false sense of entitlement and believe that our “job” as men is to provide a good time. The next day was Sunday and would be my only free day that week to get out and have some fun. I decided it was time for a night out with the fellas.
            My frat brother who sent the infamous text and I came across two familiar faces- friends from another school and also members of the same frat. We were all seated and engulfed in a conversation about our crazy lives and the people in it. A few drinks and a large food order later, I received a text from who else, but the Ivy League trio. They were in the process of leaving a nearby undergrad party and asked about our whereabouts. I simply stated that I was out with my frat brothers getting some food. Mistaking that for an open invitation to join, they showed up at the spot we were at and eventually made their way over to our table. This was quite the awkward situation, because my frat brother who had offended them weeks before was seated right there, scowl on his face. Straight Comedy. I said my hellos to everyone and had a chance to finally meet this visiting Delta. Even though we were seated an eating, I asked if the ladies wanted a seat. Initially no one responded, but when I asked again the Delta accepted my seat and I moved to another empty spot while another muttered: “You offered the Delta a seat first.”
            Unimpressed by her latest witticism, I questioned the validity of her statement. When I offered a seat, I simply looked in the direction of the ladies. The Delta happened to be standing closest to me, and was ironically the 1st to accept. I stood once again and offered yet another seat, but the female refused it. Now I’m a brotha with manners-a throwback to the days of the Southern Gentleman-with the chivalrous ways that today’s women claim are long gone with no trace of resurfacing. But when my kind disposition is challenged, I’m about as uninterested as a Republican Tea Party member at the BET Awards. So now tension was not only in the air with my frat brother, but now I was becoming annoyed with the attention-seeking antics. I ignored the bullshit and continued my meal and rare night off from work and had fun-the women eventually moved to a table across from us, further igniting the flames of attention-seeking behavior. We conversed for the next half hour as if they weren’t there and left.
            I received a phone call from one of them a few days later while I was in the studio wrapping up a shoot. She tells me they’re upset because none of us offered to buy them any drinks while we were there, and none of us even offered to pay for their food. Imagine that. I asked why she thought it was our job to pay for it, and she says “That’s what a real man does.”
I asked her if she thought it was odd that strange men will buy women they don’t know alcoholic drinks upon first meeting them. They don’t meet you in the club and say, Hey…need twenty bucks for gas?  They buy drinks-which lowers a person’s inhibitions. Drinks-which can lower a person’s wall enough to invite strangers back over to their place. Drinks-which increase a man’s chance of getting what he wants from them. You see… an advanced degree from an overpriced university doesn’t compare to every day common sense. And judging by her thinking, common sense wasn’t as common as I thought. Sensing that her pampered, ivy-league judgment was in question, she got into defense mode. With tension rising in her voice, she told me that real men should buy women drinks when they’re out…every timeno exceptions.   
I asked her if she thought that the vast majority of brothas that she knows were chivalrous. She stated that they weren’t. She said exactly what I’ve grown accustomed to women saying: Chivalry is Dead. So I asked, “Do most men pay for your drinks when you go out?” She said: Always.
Then I asked a question that many may wonder but few ever ask: “Now why is it that these brothas…whom you say have no manners and aren’t chivalrous-the same brothas who you say won’t open a car door, or hold a bar door open for you-will pay for multiple drinks for you and your friends at a bar?
            Suddenly she had no answer. See, there’s a difference between a gentleman and an opportunist. There’s a difference between someone who’s an asshole and someone who refuses to be someone’s sucker. Every brotha that doesn’t break the bank to impress you isn’t cheap or broke. There’s a difference between a misogynistic brotha and someone who simply has an opinion and tells it like it is. The Baton of blame is often passed around when the subject arises as to why there are so many single women out there. How many women out there have looked inward at the bullshit that they value? Kurt Vonnegut once said, educating a beautiful woman is like pouring honey into a fine swiss watch: everything stops. To my successful educated sistas out there…do not parade around your city of choice with a false sense on entitlement. Our sole purpose in life isn’t to entertain you, like some buffoon in a minstrel show.  Most gentlemen are nothing more than patient wolves. Some will say only chicken heads feel that way, but these women were clearly professional women with great jobs and highly educated-the alleged cream of the crop by society’s standards. Those who equate “manners” with how much money a man shells out in your direction, regardless of how well or how long he’s known you will quickly find the roles reversing once he gets what he wants. An educated man or woman is no wiser than the person with the I.Q of a pickle jar if they embrace such selfish views. So my message to those with the same mentality of those ladies is: You can continue to live selfishly and attempt to use brothas for their company and resources. Just don’t become offended or surprised when you contact a brotha to come over for spades one night and his response asks: Which one of y’all are fuckin?
…These Are The Random Thoughts Of Ronald Gray…

            “Money is neither my God nor my devil. It is a form of energy that tends to make us more of who we already are, whether it is greedy or loving.”  -Dan Millman