Only the worst stories start with alarm clocks.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
I pulled the sheets up over my head. The incessant beeping meant that my ridiculous upstairs neighbors had gone on vacation and left their frigging alarm going… Again. Then I realized that the bleating was in my bedroom. The night before I was sweating my weave out table dancing at Flatiron African hot spot Zereoue’s until 3AM. It was only 7AM now.
I squinted at my clock. The beeping wasn’t an alarm. My publicist was calling. Then I realized it was my birthday.
I answered, “Joy, you remembered!”
“Remembered?” she repeated.
“My birthday?” I said.
“Oh. Of course sweetie.” Careful pause. “Happy Birthday. What’s the haps?”
“OK babe, we’re gonna have to lose the girls. Here’s what you’re really doing. A friend of mine in LA represents the uber hot rapper…” And then she said his name. I sat up.
Ah, the publicist hook-up game. When I was hosting my BET show I received calls like this all the time. However, many of those calls were from athletes I’d never heard of. No one even close to the notorious fame scale of… let’s call him Really Famous Guy. And this is not because I’m special, my darlings, although as your friendly neighborhood goddess superhero I am supremely bad ass special. Nonetheless, Every Reality Show Alum and Been-on-TV-Once-Bubblehead gets these calls. Trust me. For some reason famous men girlfriend shop on TV.
Turns out that the sexy-as-hell rapper and producer, whose current single is annoying the hell out of anyone who still listens to radio, wanted to take me out. A cutie pie hip hop dude and recently actor, Really Famous Guy was strangely a fan of my recent TV adventure, a Drew Barrymore-produced “reality romantic comedy.” Of course he was only available tonight.
Now when my publicist mentioned Really Famous Guy, I will admit that my tummy did a little flip-flop. After all, I’d had a crush on RFG for more than a minute. However, a first date on my birthday was not a good plan. Too much potential for disaster. A couple of guys that I was actually dating had also invited me out but I’d opted instead to hang with my friends. I wanted to make sure I had a happy birthday. Plus, I have a personal policy against blind dates. Although technically this wasn’t so blind.
“But I can’t dump my friends on my birthday,” I protested.
“Come on,” Joy insisted. “I already said you’d go. He’s waiting for you to call right now.”
Annoyed, I jotted down dude’s number. And now I had to be the one to call him first? Annoying but it was my birthday and nothing was gonna ruin it!
Disclaimer: If you believe all that black Carrie Bradshaw and Miss Picky hype you think I’m a high gloss chick. But don’t get it twisted. Fancy schools aside, I’m a born Bridge and Tunnel girl from Queens, daughter of immigrants who lives in Harlem. I am not one of those people who finds it impressive to go through life droll and unimpressed. RFG? This was friggin’ impressive. Score, mama, score!
Rewind. I was excited to be truly single for the first time in my adult life. See, I am a serial monogamist who has never been single as an adult EVER for longer than 31 days.
Living in New York City I’ve never had a problem finding a date. The problem is that every first date turns into a relationship. Although my nickname and delightfully edited character on the dating show was branded Picky, in my real life I have been woefully un-picky. Until now. The day before I left for love boot camp I broke up with someone whose obvious lies I should have never believed and sent him home to his on-again off-again wife.
The biggest accidental lesson I took from my pretend TV dating life into my real dating life is, hell yeah, “picky” rocks! I jumped into the 09 recessional dating scene in NYC with my Choos tightly strapped, vowing to be single for at least a year, my Goddesses Year, and fell into a sweet workable pattern of 2+ish dates a week.
My usual type is the good time guy. Fun, brilliant, gifted… and twisted. Really Famous Guy has gorgeous skin, a dimple, killer body, and a fetching smile. The twisted part? Well he had to be nicer than the jerk he seemed to be in interviews, right? And the murderous and misogynistic lyrics had to be fictional– just like my novel, right?!
I felt bad about bailing on my girls but they were throwing me a soiree the next day anyway at the home of one of my best gay boyfriends simply known as “Humanity.” After calling my chicas to brag, um, I mean, apologize, I slowly dialed dude’s digits. RFG answered the phone with a cross between a “yo” and a growl.
Me: Hey! Um, yo. It’s Abiola.
Me: ABIOLA ABRAMS.
Me: Forget it.
As I went to push END CALL I heard, “Yo-yo, Hun, what up!”
“Yo-yo, Hun, what up?” This was a sign, my clue from the universe to hang up, run, bail! A) I HATE being called hun. B) Allegedly, this mo-fo asked me to call him. Now he’s all, Who Is This?
But see, just like Beyonce, I have an alter ego. However, while her alter ego Sasha Fierce is out making millions of dollars and yachting it up with Jay-Z, my alter ego, Lola Intense is intrigued and having 7 unwanted babies by any man who smells even faintly of “issues.” I took a sip of my Yogi Green Tea.
“Just in time,” I said. “You were about to meet Mr. Dial Tone.”
I plopped down in front of my netbook to google this fool. His website opened with a flourish of loud cursing set to thumping music. Embarrassed, I slammed my computer shut.
He laughed. “That’s me.”
“Sooo,” I said. “How are you today?”
“Yo. I find you mad interesting, Abiola.”
I kind of said “thank you,” unsure of the correct response.
“Then you was reverse stalking me.” he continued. “I saw you on the FOX morning show talking about Lindsay Lohan and shit. You was everywhere.”
I didn’t get the reverse stalking implication but BBC radio? RFG listened to the BBC? NICE! Men, you think that you want a lady in the street and a freak in the bed? Well for a Harlem chick a thug who listens to the BBC is jackpot!
“Oh I get it,” I said. “So you figured you’d stalk me back.”
We laughed. He wasn’t so bad. I staved off the 7 babies itch– a good thing since I don’t even really like children and added, “It’s my birthday and I only turn 16 once. So where are you taking me?”
“You only 16, yo?” he shouted.
“No,” I said. “Joking.”
I had a fabulous working birthday, living la vida Abiola. My makeup guru dropped by to tease my weave and apply my new Viktor and Rolf Wing Couture lashes. Every adult woman goes through an eyelash obsession phase. It’s a right of passage. Kind of like dating a Marley. Been there too. Sigh.
That evening, wearing a gorgeously tacky Patricia Field 70s style leopard halter dress and my Christian Lacroix black satin stilettos, I felt beautiful.
Fresh dressed like a million bucks, threw on the Bally Shoes and the fly green socks…
The car that RFG sent for me was a bit over the top for my un-gentrified Harlem block: A huge burgundy vintage Rolls Royce. I felt like Denzel Washington’s drug moll in American Gangster. The seat was covered in rose petals and I was glad that my leopard print wouldn’t show flower stains. As we rolled downtown I called my friends to brag, um, share that I was eating chocolates I couldn’t pronounce and drinking champagne. Very considerate birthday planning on RFG’s part to include two dozen long stemmed roses. Maybe birthday blind dates should be a standard!
When the car pulled up at Rose Bar I expected to see dude outside waiting for me. He wasn’t. Great. Door scenes at velvet ropes are not my fave even though I’ve hung out at Rose Bar a few times. The driver let me out and as I approached the door I heard, “Damn. You wayyyy prettier than you are on TV.”
I turned around to see Really Famous Guy dressed to the nines and looking drop dead fine in a perfectly tailored summer suit and on the feet, leather mandals. A kind of post Miami look. Anyone else in The City would have looked like a jackass but strangely he made it work. I’m not gonna lie. My first thought was that at some point he could get it.
I held out my hand and RFG grabbed me and planted a sloppy kiss with a little too much juice on my cheek. At least it was on my cheek. We went in and sat at “his table” where he already had a bucket of ice and a bottle of Krug waiting. I’ve never met a champagne moment I didn’t like.
RFG smelled really good. Kind of woodsy. Or being a city girl, what I imagine a Saks interpretation of woodsy must smell like. Very sexy.
“So how was your big day so far?” my future baby-daddy asked as the waitress poured us each a flute.
“My day was really cool. Thanks for the chocolates and roses.” I smiled.
“Why you ain’t bring ’em in with you?” he asked.
I took an unattractive gulp of my drink. “Into the club?”
“Yeah. Show ’em off.”
“Like I’m at the prom?” escaped before I could shut myself up. He laughed. Phew.
“Your birthday is about to get hotter,” RFG said, in a very Price is Right manner. “I figured I’d bring you somewhere you wouldn’t normally get to see.” He waved his arms grandly.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I had already been to the Rose Bar at least 4 times, and was planning not to return until the fall. It’s always freezing in there. They overdo on AC to compensate for the blazing hot fireplace in July and double high ceilings.
“You’re just in town tonight?” I asked.
RFG nodded. “You from the NY?”
“I am,” I started. “My parents live–“
RFG turned his head and double-clapped twice Coming to America style at the waitress serving the adjacent table. Was he serious? I raised my internal eyebrows.
“So you like The Rose Bar?” he asked.
“Definitely. Thanks again for the invite,” I said. “Their art collection is crazy. I have a Warhol and Basquiat obsession. My apartment is nicknamed The Goddess Factory.”
“I’ve been buying a lot of art recently,” he said.
“That’s fantastic! Tell me more.”
“My boy P is on lock-down and he has a connect.”
The waitress came over and RFG opened his wallet. It was bulging with cash like we were co-starring in Scarface. He handed her a pinky nail sized drive. “This is my new joint. Not even out yet. See that the DJ plays it at least 3 times before I leave.” The Ethiopian-looking waitress, who clearly worked here in between shooting spreads for Vogue, nodded like an obedient child then scampered away.
RFG stuffed his wallet back into his pants. It was the only bulge I noticed. “Anyway,” he said. “I loved on the show when you said it’s been a year since you last had sex. I was like, that shawty right there is a challenge.”
The perils of editing. I didn’t want to tell him that in that clip I was actually explaining that I’ve gone a year without sex in the past– just after I became unmarried. So yeah, I have gone a year without sex. It just wasn’t this year. Or last year. Or the one before. To clarify this would make the convo even more inappropriate for someone I’d known for 10 minutes.
RFG leaned back and spread his legs. “Like Jay-Z says, ‘Save the narrative you saving it for marriage. Let’s keep it real, Ma, you saving it for carats.’ If I didn’t make it creative for myself I’d be smashing so many broads I wouldn’t get no work done. Then where would music be?”
My mouth opened but no words came out.
“I got a 1 week rule,” he continued. “I gotta hit it within 1 week of meeting a bitch or it’s a wrap.”
Still no words. This feeling was unfamiliar. Me, a known blabbermouth who talks for a living. Speechless.
I stood up. “Champagne and truffles do not guarantee you a day pass to the promised land!“
The waitress returned to the table and gave RFG two thumbs up. Then she turned to me and said “Aren’t you on TV?”
I shook my head no and sat down.
“Yes she is!” RFG declared.
“I knew it,” she said. “The servers were all in the back saying–“
“I’m the superstar at this table,” RFG demanded. “I’m paying your salary tonight. Address all discussion to me.”
Homegirl and I started giggling because we thought surely he was joking. He wasn’t. She sealed her lips and backed away the way one leaves a car crash. You wanna keep your eye on it. Just in case.
“What’s that on your arm?” RFG asked. He pulled out a douche-bag-worthy Ed Hardy lighter and fired it up dangerously close to my arm.
“A tattoo,” I said.
“Aw, man. You defiled? I didn’t know that you was defiled,” he waved his hand dismissively.
“Defiled?” I asked.
“Yeah, you defiled your body. I can’t stand ink on a woman.”
Was dude for real? “What are you, Jewish?” I asked.
“Scientologist,” he said. “I’m looking into it, I mean.”
Yes he really said Scientology. “But you have tattoos.” I pointed to his ‘defiled’ hands.
“Yeah, but I’m a man. With my last girl I paid for her to have hers removed too.”
Too? I started laughing involuntarily. We just met and he’s already having my tattoos removed?
I stood up. “Excuse me.” I picked up my vintage clutch. “I’ll be right back.”
“When you get back, Abiola, we can go up to the private roof. Big names only. Strictly big names.”
I knocked over his glass of champagne as I rushed over to the dude that holds the bathroom passes. Yup, Rose Bar has actual passes to go to the powder room. I didn’t look back to see RFG double-clap the model/server over to help him clean up the spilled drink.
The little voice in my head punched Steve Harvey in the jaw and chanted bail, bail, bail, bail…
Then I remembered that my birthday for me is the start of my new year. I am not a little girl who needs to run away. I am a grown ass woman having a grown ass woman birthday. If you are going to walk out on somebody, do it face to face.
I walked up to the table just as RFG’s song came on. Mr. Tool stood and tried to slow grind on me although it was a fast thumping beat. I stepped back with my hands on both of his shoulders. We were about the same height.
“Thanks for everything,” I said. “I’ve decided to celebrate the rest of my birthday with my friends.”
“Bring your bitches here,” RFG said. “And let’s really set this party off. Wait– what color are they?”
I bit my tongue, smiled a the ludicrous nature of the night, left dude bopping to his own tune, and bounced. The line outside had doubled even though it wasn’t that full inside. RFG would have no problem finding new groupie company that he could “smash” before the week or even the night was out.
I saw his Rolls and driver across the street.
Yes, the classier thing would have been to hail a cab but I hopped into his ride. Hell, it was still my day! I picked up my girls and we headed to Greenhouse, a hot spot that realizes that it’s a club, not life or death. We got our dance on, gave out RFG’s two dozen roses, and ate every single Knipschildt chocolate. My birthday night and the party the next day ended up being beyond fun.
Yes, there are a few handsome and successful guys in my dating cipher right now who could be my future “Mr” when I’m ready for all of that. Meanwhile, I’ll just turn up RFG’s latest hit and dance. Cheers to being picky!