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