black women

Vacation Rules

Just got some pictures and daguerreotypes back from a week away I spent with the fella’s family.

To be fair, there is a lighthouse in all of my vacation photos from where ever I go.

To be fair, I can’t take a vacation photo that doesn’t include a lighthouse. No matter where I am.

This is a branch of the family he doesn’t talk to or see all that often, so it was a great chance to reconnect. Even better, unlike visiting the distant arms of my RBP family where we literally had KFC for dinner (don’t worry, eating fried chicken on someone else’s dime is one of the exceptions that makes it okay to consume. Still, I didn’t like it), his extended family are the waspiest. They pronounce their “r” as “ah”s, they went to boarding schools, they start drinking at 4 p.m and don’t stop until after midnight. Hashtag heaven.

Of course, I did learn some things on my visit and will share them here. Feel free to use these tips on your next trip to New England. And please feel free to add any of your own.

Do try to date someone who’s family owns a house from the early 1900s. It will go nicely with your chalet.

Don’t continue to date them unless said house is at a cape or in the St. Lawrence River. Easy, land-locked vacations are for the weak.

Do remember to pack Dramamine. You don’t want to look like you’ve never been in an antique Chris Craft before.

Don’t get into the water! Even if the boat capsizes, do not go in! You’re bright. Figure it out. You may float on it, hydroplane over it, or drink next to it. But one drop of natural river water without a tonne of conditioner at the ready and your freshly pressed hair will kink right up and leave you looking like a q-tip. No one can unsee that. Especially wasps.

I don't care how many floaties you have to stuff in that hull. Do not let yourself get wet! (source)

I don’t care how many floaties you have to stuff in that hull. Do not let yourself get wet!
(source)

Do laugh at their jokes about how you are the only person of non-European descent who has ever visited the house. It is pretty funny when you think about it.

Don’t be surprised when even though your boyfriend has slept in the main, appointed quarters of the house his entire 4-decade life, he suddenly finds himself relegated to the servants quarters because he’s with you. It’s not personal, they’ve just instituted some new rules….this year. House virgins have to sleep in the servants’ quarters with the peeling paint and mold on the walls. That way they “appreciate it more” next time. You’d do the same with your chalet.

Do use the time to catch up on your reading. Proof is still excellent…or maybe it’s Doubt. I get those confused. You know what, bring both. Also, Faust.

Don’t be surprised when the patriarch of the family hands you a book and says he thinks you’ll love it. Spoiler alert, he’s going to give you a spoiler alert and it will sound like this: “It’s really interesting. It’s about sailors who were shipwrecked and became slaves. But here’s the thing. They were white slaves. White. Slaves.”

Do agree that white slavery is definitely the weirder slavery.

Don’t be surprised that two more days pass before the master and mistress of the house talk to you directly and that it only happens after they find out you ride horses.

Do be prepared to show photos of show ribbons or the conversation will be brief.

Don’t take offense to the hundreds of questions everyone has about your hair when you curl it that one time.

Do not let them touch it. No one needs that can of worms.

Don’t forget to drop words like “Main line,” “Colby College,” and “made pony.”

Do go ahead and answer when your boyfriend’s mom continually calls you by the name of his first black girlfriend.

Don’t correct her. Once it happens five times in a row, it’s just going to be awkward to change the pattern.

Do not hug and kiss goodbye at the end of the trip. That kind of showiness is for Southerners.

Don’t forget about to start planning next year’s trip early! And just wait, you might get moved up to the nice rooms.

What was it like the last time you visited your in-law types? Let us know about it in the comments! 

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Can’t Tell Which Hurts So Good-er

If you want to look good, sometimes it has to hurt.

This weekend, as I sat in my salon chair for my regular soul flagellating ritual of a relaxer, I was convinced to try

pressing instead. The results, are thankfully the same–my hair is straight and the little curls of God’s practical joke are gone…and both methods come with pain, discomfort and a credit card bill near or in the three digits…But I’m not sure which is the best way to go.

For those of you who are already blessed with hair that responds to a comb and that your beloveds can easily run their fingers through, here’s a quick primer on what we do to keep our locks in line.

Relaxer: Imagine spreading a slice of sandwich bread with a thick layer of mayo.

Getting a relaxer is like only the sandwich bread slice is your scalp and the “new growth”–tightly curled natural hair that has yet to be tamed. And the mayo is lye a relaxer cream that in about 10 minutes of it landing on your skin begins to cause second degree burns. Luckily, it takes about 20 minutes for a relaxer to do it’s thing, so you’ve got plenty of time to sweat, squirm and stew about how lucky you’d be if you didn’t have to do this.

Pressing: No chemicals, so it’s healthier. But it’s also painful. Imagine raking your lawn. See how pulling the rake through the grass makes the lawn look all pretty?

Now imagine the lawn is your hair and the rake is a metal comb that’s been heated up to about 400 degrees. Also imagine that in order to make the rake work, you have to smooth just a bit of oil on the grass first so that when the 400 degree metal comb touches the oil, some vaporizes, but what doesn’t, melts on to your scalp and causes a quickly cooling, but mild first to second degree burn.

The pain of the relaxer is more intense, but sustained, so you can build resistance and is over in about 20 minutes.

The pain of a press and curl is more sporadic, so you’re not sure when to stop tensing and lasts longer as the oil-then-rake process must occur a couple hundred times (using very small chunks of hair each time) before you’re done.

Relaxers also last longer so you don’t have to endure them as often; but the scars they leave behind tend to last longer than the welts brought up by a relaxer.

Hmmm. Definitely want to make sure that my hair process reinforces the self loathing…there’s beauty in pain after all. Not sure which is the better way to go. What do you think?

All the Single Ladies…are Oreos apparently

So I’ve been catching up on my DVRed shows since I’ve been back and my interested was definitely piqued by this presentation from Nightline.

“Why Can’t a Successful Black Woman Find a Man?”

The conclusion they came to was that RBP males are just kind of okay people and that of color women should lower their expectations and snag themselves a middle of the road mate. The men on the show described black women as “delusional” for wanting men who were, as panelist Sherri Shepard suggested, “ambitious” and who had “a sense of humor.” Men also described women as conniving and petty and said that women should use sex appeal and not reason, logic or passion if they want their men to listen to them.

I, of course, was horrified at this.

They were ignoring the much simpler answer: These ladies should go full Oreo and date white!

They’re obviously headed in the Oreo direction anyway what with their college degrees, bulging bank accounts and not-AIDS. So why not dive the way in??

So many benefits to dating white.

  • First of all, if you’re an of color woman and you date an of color dude…how typical can you be? Why not instead, enjoy the pleasantly surprised smiles when you introduce your new beau to your buddies by planting a kiss on the face of a handsome white stranger at happy hour? Folks just won’t see it coming and you become a great conversation piece.
  • Two revolves around two words: Good and hair. If you reproduce, think of the money you’ll save on expensive relaxers when your half-white kid has loose locks that respond to your average comb.
  • Three: Upward mobility. When you and your non colored partner go to buy that condo or purchase your box seats at the Pantages, think how excited people will be to have a nifty interracial couple sitting next to them. Have two black folks show up with a real estate agent in a neighborhood toying with gentrification and you’re likely to get some uncomfy looks and stares. Spare yourself the awkward welcome to the neighborhood bbq, have a tapas tasting instead and watch your new neighbors grin!

Now, back to the panel itself. Way to go Nightline for choosing the right commentators and solidifying some really important societal tropes. I mean, who better to host a discussion about something as personal as marriage and who ends up with whom and why than comedian Steve Harvey!

Also Nightline, way to remind us that there is in fact a terrifying social problem if women do not get married. This conversation wasn’t centered around people choosing to forgo relationships, it was about women not being able to marry. How dare they.

Like other discussions in the genre, the Nightline special began with the Disney-inspired assumption that marriage is an appropriate and universal goal for women. Any failure to achieve marriage must therefore be pathological. With this starting assumption panelists were encouraged to offer solutions without needing to fully articulate why low marriage rates are troubling.

Writer Melissa Harris-Lacewell outlined the event and shows us how RBP women are really making things difficult for the county and themselves:

In the 1960s, the Moynihan Report blamed black women heads of household for social deterioration in black communities. In the 1980s single black mothers were vilified as welfare cheats responsible for the nation’s economic decline. In the 1990s black women were blamed for birthing a generation of “crack babies” that were predicted to burden the nation’s health and educational systems. The Nightline conversation was suspiciously reminiscent of this prior reasoning. As the nation copes with its anxieties about a black president, a shifting economy and a new global position, black women suddenly reemerge as a problem to be solved.

All this could be solved, ladies if you’d just embrace the Oreo lifestyle. Which yes, includes things like enjoying schooling and employment, but also things like dating the right guys. And by right, we mean, white. Because they’re out there. They can get you into the right clubs. And according to these panelists, RBP men do not want to step up to the plate.

The solution offered most frequently in Wednesday’s conversation was familiar: professional black women need to scale back expectations.

But questionable casting or not, thanks, Nightline for adding to my self loathing. Not only am I an of color woman–the most undesirable of the women according to statistics and you; but I am also but I am an unmarried of color woman-proving your point that we’re hard to place to be correct. Yikes. I’m sorry, me. So very sorry.