Damsel in Distress
BY JANELLE COX
“You know what word I fucking hate?” I snarled. “Feminist.”
Here we go again, I thought. I looked across the table at the pasty white man, with blonde yellow hair and blue eyes. Hitler probably envisioned this man when he described the Aryan race, and explained why it was necessary to throw Jewish newborns into a blazing fire. It was such a high contrast to my golden brown skin and chocolate eyes. Our booth, in the corner of my local Starbucks, received a lot of looks.
I was supposed to be on a date. Dates are not usually something I do, this being the very reason because men have never responded well to me. I’ve been told I intimidate them, hyper analyze everything they say, and look for any reason to toss my chai latte in their faces.
“A feminist advocates the social, political, and economic rights for women equal to those of men,” I continued. “A lot of things are wrong with this statement, the first there shouldn’t be a word for someone who advocates for rights of women equal to men. The fact one must advocate for those rights is bullshit and means these rights were never there to begin with. I get called a feminist at least thirty times a day, and then I have to bitch out some poor unfortunate soul, like yourself, who didn’t know what they got themselves into when the fucking word left their mouth.”
He smiled, flashing a perfectly straight, shining row of white teeth. “You know I didn’t actually call you a feminist.”
“Yes you did.”
“I didn’t actually,” he chuckled. “I asked why you didn’t allow me to hold the door open for you. I asked why you didn’t let me pay for your coffee but insisted to pay for your own. I asked you why you nearly broke my hand when I went to pull out your seat.”
“I knew where the conversation was heading,” I snapped. “I’ve been down this road many times before.”
“I have,” I responded.
“Really? Because you don’t seem like the type to date.”
“Well is it not true?” he asked. “I was the perfect gentleman. I acted like any man would act on a date with a beautiful woman. I didn’t do or say anything wrong, yet you act as though I stuck my hand in your hair and asked if it was a weave.”
“Ok. Let me stop you right fucking there,” I yelled as I rose from my seat. If we hadn’t already attracted enough attention, we were now. Everyone in the coffee shop must have turned his or her head to look at me. I didn’t exactly care. This wasn’t the first time I’ve gotten loud in a public place and - to play into the stereotype - my people are kind of known for this type of behavior, but he looked unbothered. He was in fact amused rather than embarrassed. It honestly just pissed me off more. “This is all natural and even if it wasn’t how dare you?!”
“Right.” He laughed as he tossed his hands behind his head as if he was laid out on a beach somewhere south as he tried desperately to get some color that wasn’t lobster red. “I wasn’t asking. I simply used it as an example.”
“Go fuck yourself.”
“Can we finish our date now?”
“I don’t know,” I said, as I plopped back into my seat. “Ben was it? Yeah, normally when someone brings up my race on a date it usually means it’s over.”
“Monica was it,” he retorted. “I thought we already established you don’t date.”
“You said that already,” Ben persisted. “And, once again, I never brought up your race.”
“You made a comment about my hair,” I said as I pulled on one of my defined coils. I spent hours on it every night with a wide range of products twisting and stretching out my kinks so it would look halfway decent in the morning after I hit it with a curling wand and some coconut oil. “It’s distinguishable to my race.”
“Oh is it,” he scoffed “Explain the Jew fro or African albinos.”
“African albinos don’t count.”
“Albinos don’t count,” he laughed. “What an extremely racist statement”
“I can’t be racist.”
“Of course you can.”
“No,” I said. “Prejudice maybe, but definitely not racist.”
“What’s the difference?” he asked.
“A big one actually,” I said. “Racism is based on a system of oppression. Black people do not have any power to oppress another race. White people on the other hand have all the power in the world to oppress and exercise this power frequently.”
“Wow,” he said, as he leaned back into the chair. “So that’s your problem with me?”
“You don’t like me because I’m white.”
“I don’t like you because you’re a dick,” I sneered.
“No, no, no, “ he said as he wagged a manicured finger in my face. “The least you can do is be honest with me.”
I paused for a moment.
“You really want to know the truth,” I asked.
“I really do.”
“Fine,” I shrugged. “Your name is Benjamin Moore.”
“So? Benjamin fucking Moore,” I repeated, which prompted a few heads to turn once more. “When my friend told me she wanted me to meet this guy she thought was perfect for me named Benjamin fucking Moore I assumed Benjamin fucking Moore was mother fucking black!”
Benjamin fucking Moore just laughed at me, which only brought more stares from onlookers. He clutched his stomach as tears came to his eyes. I couldn’t help but join in after a few seconds.
“I guess my name is a bit misleading,” he snickered. “But don’t worry.”
“Don’t worry about what?”
“Like a horse,” he smirked. “I have the stamina of one too. We could go for hours.”
“And you’ve ruined the moment,” I sighed and rolled my eyes.
“It’s okay,” he nodded. “I know you were worried.”
“I really wasn’t.”
“Well now you have no reason not to date me.”
“I actually have every reason not to date you.”
“Why not,” he asked. “The fact I’m white shouldn’t make a difference now. I have a big dick.”
“Not my only concern,” I said. “I’ve dated a white man before and it didn’t end very well.”
“Not fair,” he replied. “You can’t just determine how you feel about our entire race based off of one guy. I’ve dated plenty of black girls and those crashed and burned, yet I’m still attracted to you.”
“Gee thanks, but you might simply have some type of fetish and as I told you before I’m extremely prejudice.”
“It may come to a surprise to you but I date all women. I pay attention to character, not skin.“
“Do not get me started on the whole colorblind debate,” I groaned and tossed my head into my hands. “There is no such thing and people who sa-“
“Stop lecturing me,” he interrupted. Clearly he started to get annoyed with me as he clenched his jaw. A long moment passed before he spoke again. “I know what it means to be colorblind and I’m not. I know you black, and I’m practically translucent but I really don’t give a fuck. And please, dear God, stop putting words into my mouth!”
A few minutes ago I would have expected this reaction from the stranger who sat across from me, but the entire fifteen minutes we’ve been on this date nothing fazed him. He was cocky, outspoken, and not afraid to put me in my place. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t slightly turn me on. I was him and he was I. If I was the color of milk or snow of course.
“So who was he? The guy who broke your heart,” he asked, finally breaking the silence.
“So that’s how you choose to explain why I am the way I am.”
“Yeah, a damsel in distress.”
“I think you mean a woman scorned and this isn’t a Tyler-Perry movie”
“Looks like it’s my turn to teach you something new, but you should get used to it.” He said and winked at me, which immediately triggered my eye muscles to roll. “A damsel in distress is someone who’s had their heart broken, and is in desperate need of one man to restore their faith in love.”
“How incredibly sexist.”
“I can’t be sexist,” he mocked. “Sexism is a system of oppression. Men do not have any power to oppress. Woman on the other hand have all the power in the world to oppress and exercise that power frequently.”
“Do you hear yourself,” I laughed. “What power do I hold over you?”
“It’s called a vagina,” he countered. “Don’t avoid my question. Who broke your heart?”
“Let’s just say this,” I sighed. “I wish I’d let a hundred men break my heart a hundred times before I let him break it twice.”
“I know, I just thought of it.”
“Was he white?”
“Does it really matter?”
“I guess it doesn’t,” he said. “For what it’s worth though another man’s trash.”
“Exactly what I needed to hear in that moment,” I said sarcastically.
“I mean it though.”
“Seriously, his loss and my gain.”
“Benjamin fucking Moore,” I declared. “How about a second date.”
“Just call me your knight in shining armor.”