Let's wrap up relationship week with a long sad BougieTale from the DisHarmony Files. When last we visited the Disharmony of eHarmony, I had five potential Mr. OneCheles to consider. Allow me to share the story of Bachelor # 2, we'll call him Greg.
To truly appreciate my Greg story, I am forced to say a little more about the Ex-Significant Other and our time together. He of the violently imploding relationship, French cuff fetish and truthfulness fail. We'll call him Eugene. Eugene was (still is) a man of means and mental acuity. He is educated and savvy. He is tall, good looking, urbane. He is in a word… slick. He's the guy that guys want to hang out with and girls want to be with and he is well aware of this fact. He earned his dollars in a very high profile job that allows for people who don't really know you to revere you. He had a stint as a model and spokesperson. He sat on company boards and had designers sending him clothes to wear. Lack of confidence and swagger were never an issue with Eugene.
During a lot of the time that we were together, we were both in jobs that required intense travel. Since we lived in separate cities, it was nothing for us to decide to hop a plane and meet in __________. Fill in the blank, we probably went there too. We dined well, I drank wine, and he smoked cigars. I wore heels and diamonds; he wore Armani suits and platinum. We met famous and influential people at charity events. We sipped chi-chi drinks on rooftop bars. Beaches were walked, malls were visited, four star hotel concierges would greet us and say "Welcome back."
Okay, so I've painted the picture of what I was used to. It took a very short period of time for me to realize that I was not going to easily find someone on that high-rolling level. And I was okay with that. So after optimistically trading emails and then phone calls with Greg, I was excited to meet him. He was in Sales and lived in a house outside of Dallas, had sole custody of his two kids from a previous marriage and was a charming person to talk to.
I met Greg at the Waffle House outside of a little town called Mesquite, Texas. I was cool meeting there because it was halfway between our houses and after all, this was a coffee date. Greg was gorgeous. 6'4", chocolate, great smile, wore the heck out of simple jeans and sweater… I was in like. The first month was great – we went to the movies, the lake, grabbed dinner, he came over to my house and we watched TV, football, all good. He called when he said would call, followed up on plans, opened doors and made clear he thought I was the greatest thing since sliced bread. (Rightly so J)
The first crack appeared when he called me frantically one afternoon and asked if I could meet him in Mesquite. I said sure. I met him and he said he was out of gas and needed to borrow twenty dollars. I kind of blinked but said okay. After all, I was sure there was a reason and I was trying not to judge. I gave him forty dollars and drove home.
Later that night he called and said he hadn't been truthful about a few things. He was in Sales but it was used car sales and he hadn't sold a car in weeks. He was a Floor Manager though so he got override on everyone else's sales. He was in a house but it was not his house, he and the kids were living with his brother and his brother's wife. But he had a plan of how to turn it around and get on his feet. I was admittedly skeptical but trying not to be shallow here, people.
Now since I work from home, he took to showing up at my house around lunch time… hungry. The first few days I feed him, he fell asleep on my couch after eating and then got up and went back to work. Now I was not really feeling this but still trying to be nice. On day four when he got up from his nap, he asked to "borrow" money again. Now I was hella-uncomfortable. I had never been that out-of-pocket girl. He was a nice guy, I knew he was struggling but I was starting to feel like a sugar-mama. (Not a good look). So I asked, "What's the value add in me fixing you lunch every day and then you going to sleep while I make money for you to borrow?" He said, "Well I really appreciate it and I'll pay you back, I swear I'm not usually this trifling." Benefit of the doubt take two but I didn't loan him the money. He did stop dropping by for his midday sustenance and siesta.
We went back to the way it was pre-money borrowing until right before Christmas. He lost the job. Got another and one week later, walked out on it. He told me about the $36,000 he owed the IRS. Then his car broke down. He asked to borrow money again and I had to just say no. We were now eating very "down market" (from a Friday's to a Sonic) but I am determined not to be that girl who doesn't give a brother a break because he was struggling. So I decided to hang for a little while longer when he started to make noises about moving closer to me. He introduced me to his kids by saying, "Meet your new mommy." He laughed and said he was just joking but now I was getting nervous on top of the discontent.
My birthday rolled around. Now I'm not the girl who needs banners and balloons and bling for birthdays. Granted, the year before Eugene and I were in Vegas in a suite at the Bellagio shopping Gucci pumps and Coach bags. But I was moving on, right? Greg who started and quit his 4th job since we met said, "I've got some money saved up; we're gonna do it up big." Great! The day came, night fell and soon it was close to 9:00p.m. He called to say he got hung up chasing down some money but was on his way. When he got there and saw me all dressed up while he was in sweats he said, "Oh yeah, I forgot. Well, let's go grab something to eat."
He pulled into Chili's and said, "Is this okay?" At this point, I was way over the day so I said, "Sure." We went in, sat down, ordered and for some reason this was the time he chose to tell me the story of his ex-wife. It wasn't pretty and involved her being in and out of rehab, locked up in jail, custody battle for the kids - just all sort of not-bougie stuff that I was trying to process on my BIRTHDAY. He was so agitated talking about it that he got loud and people send us the "Uh-oh, angry black people in the house," look.
He finally calmed down to say, "I just wanted you to know what I've been through so you can know how much I appreciate having someone like you in my life." I nodded. No doubt. By this time I was on my 3rd glass of wine because as birthdays go, this one was kinda sucky. When the bill came, he pushed it across the table and said, "Oh babe, I'm short." I just sat there for a minute having my light bulb moment.
Now my light bulb moments are not what you think. My light bulb moments are not when my brain kicks in and I have a revelation (those are my ah-ha moments). My light bulb moments are when the light that I had shining (even dimly) for someone or something that I care about turns out. The filament breaks. And as you know, once that little thread breaks – you never get that bulb to work again. Reaching in my wallet to pay my Chili's bill on my birthday; I was surprised no one else could hear the audible CLICK of the light switch.
As Greg drove me home he said, "I'm kinda of a terrible boyfriend, huh? I don't get you anything, make you pay for dinner, show up all late. I can't believe you put up with me." I didn't say anything just smiled. When we got back to the house I hopped out and said, "Thanks, talk to you later" before zipping inside and locking the door.
Two days later I called him. I told him to take six months (or longer), get himself together and then give me a call. I explained that I've got myself and my mother to take care of and as nice a guy as he might be, I couldn't do it. I could already see the road ahead… me working like crazy while taking care of him, his kids, my mother, the IRS bills, the brokedown car all up in my house. It was too much. I just couldn't. In a very sad voice, he said he understood and knew he didn't deserve me and he hoped I found what I was looking for.
One year later, he was living with a woman who had her own house, worked from home and was looking after his kids while he looked for another job, having recently quit another one. Sound familiar?
The whole thing was too much culture shock for me, BougeNation. I could not go from champagne in crystal flutes to Kool-Aid in paper cups that quickly. I needed some sort of step down in between (Sprite in a glass?). I couldn't go from "Baby, bring your passport and let's go" to "Girl, I got a Popeye's coupon". It was too drastic a change. That and all the drama. The taxes and the jobs and exes in jail… eek!
Now I will tell you that my girlfriends HOWLED at me while I was trying to date this guy. They were all, "You wouldn't have dated this guy in high school, what are you trying to do it now for?" My girl Shirl who is Ms. Give-Everybody-A-Shot said, "Uh-uh, Chele- not for you. Not after where you've been. You are not 30 anymore." I said, "I'm trying to be more realistic." And my girl C said, "And how'd that work out for ya?" Heifa. She was right. I tried to be so flexible that I landed somewhere I didn't want to be. I blame it on the rebounding. (Which means really, it's all Eugene's fault – ha!) But let the record reflect, this bougie chick gave a broke-a$$ brother a shot… sort of.
So I ask you… was I wrong to cut and run? Would you have done the same? And is Chris Rock* right- can women never step down in lifestyle with their relationships once they reach a certain level?
*(The quote is at 10:22 of the video on this link, NOT WORK APPROPRIATE, Rated R for Language)