So, I woke up this morning with a memory of a good friend’s advice fresh in my mind. It reminded me of my worth. It made me take my time in relationships, enjoy the journey of friendships and not rush into being too sweet too early.
It was November, no, probably December or January.
It was January, yes, January. I’m sure of it. I’d been hanging out with this guy for about two months and he was pretty much a secret to everyone around me. No need to make him out to something he wasn’t. We were just getting to know one another so we chilled hard, close to four times a week.
Me: unemployed, in constant search of things/people/activities to fill free time.
Him: grad school student, young, semi-responsible, Ready, Willing and Able! (NYC readers will find humor in this… maybe).
We’d watch movies, quote the silly parts, listen to old school music, dance, laugh and just be. And sometimes I’d cook. It was cold out when we met and neither of us had any dispensable income so cooking in was always the first option. Me, being Southern, saw nothing wrong with a little hospitality, but soon, my mind would change.
One day, over Thai food, I mention to Gigi, my then-new acquaintance, that I’d been chilling with said guy and she choked on pad kee mao.
“Noooo! I know him. He’s never said anything about dating you.”
Bomb = Dropped
I kept a cool face as she rambled out question after question.
“So, how long have you been dating? Have you met any of his friends? Are you seeing him today?”
“Oh, we’re not dating or anything. I just go over, cook, watch movies, write. Nothing big. ”
Her eyes bulged out of her head like I said I’d been sleeping with her man!
“Yeah, he likes my pancakes,” I said nonchalantly.
Gigi laid it out for me. She informed me that “cooking is like sex, you don’t give that luxury to just anyone. It’s a gift. You’ll wake up one day and realize you’ve been in a three-some the entire time – cooking for him and his girlfriend. Just you watch.”
I brushed off the conversation as us being two different people from two different places with different views on dating and especially cooking! Cooking is a necessity. Many modern women don’t do it as much and see it as a chore. Therefore, putting in that kind of effort involves time and energy but you’re not just cooking for him (or her) you’re also feeding yourself, right? Right? *shameless rationalization of foolish past behavior*
A few months later, “He” was having a few people over to watch the fight and asked if I was able to come over and help him with a few things before th fight party started.
Me:Sure, do you need me to bring anything?
Him: remember that mac + cheese you mad a few months back?
Him: Could you make a couple of pans?
The day of the fight party, I arrived at his apartment 3 hours before the scheduled start time. I hobbled out of a Dollar Cab with bags of groceries. While at the store getting mac + cheese ingredients, I also picked up some cereal, milk, chicken, salad, bread, jelly and a few more necessities he had been missing the last time I’d visited him. In hindsight, I was in waaaay over my head, but at the time, rose-colored glasses made everything prettier.
I sent him a text asking if he could come downstairs to help me with the bags.
The door to his apartment opened and out walks a short, curvy, cinnamon-colored girl with a bald head ( a few years prior to the Amber Rose trend).
“[Sepia]? ” she quizzed.
“That would be me,” I said lightly.
” [He] asked me to come down and help while he takes a shower.”
So me and Baldi-locks carried the groceries upstairs. I unpacked the bags and began cooking.
She sat on a stool and watched me prepare my famous, golden, crunchy-topped macaroni + cheese.
“So, you’re the one who made the mac + cheese before? Girl, you can throw down!” Baldi-locks enthused.
“Thanks girl, I’ve been cooking since I was twelve. That’s how we do it in the South,” I tried to lighten the mood.
[He] came out of the shower with a towel wrapped around his waist. Another towel was draped a cross his shoulder. He used the end of the towel to dry his ears out.
I couldn’t keep my eyes off his chest. The same chest I’d laid my head on the week prior while we were watching a black and white movie.
His bare feet slapped down on the linoleum in the kitchen and I turned to face him.
“Hey, [He]. How are you?”
“Great. I see you met [Baldi-locks].”
“Yeah, boo, we met. I was telling [Sepia] how much I enjoyed her mac+cheese. ”
“She watched me make the first pan so maybe she’s picked up a few pointers,” I joked.
“Nah. No one makes mac+cheese like, you, [Sepia].”
I guess that was supposed to make me feel better? I felt stupid and used and like… just stupid, for lack of a better word. Oh, I was stupid!
He nudged Baldi-locks on the shoulder, walked out of the kitchen and she followed him to his room.
My thoughts and I were left in the kitchen to make a few pans of mac+cheese and think about GiGi’s warning.
Friends of friends began filling the apartment. I overheard rave reviews about the mac+cheese. Over in a corner, ignoring the noise of the party, I sent GiGi a text.
Me: I made the macaroni + cheese.
GiGi: I knew she would like it.
From that day on, I never hung out with [He] solo or in a group. He allowed me to cook for him, an intimate act that involves love, affection and time – and he never gave me much in return. I was unaware that he and Baldi-locks were an item, and soon found out that she was just another menu item.
I ran into her while getting a pedicure. She glanced over at me and said a simple, “Fried chicken.”
We laughed and became fast friend.
Lesson: Listen to the advice of your friends. Even if they’ve never walked in the stilettos, they can sometimes understand the pain they’ll cause.
Lesson #2: Don’t cook for a guy too soon, unless he’s:
Other than these four instances, he’s not worth it.