There are a million tales I could tell about the joy, agony and angst of being single. If not a million, then definitely a thousand. OK, hundreds. But today you get this one—said in my best Sophia Petrillo-from-The Golden Girls voice.
Picture this: Washington, D.C. Present day. A young woman is sitting at the bar chatting it up with a young man. They’re laughing and talking.
“Would you like a drink?” he asks.
“Why, yes, thank you,” she says as she motions the bartender over (because there’s no telling how long this window will be open). A drink is poured. She sips it. More chatting ensues. And then this happens: The young man says something along the lines of, “Do you want to buy me a drink?” or, “It would be nice if you got me a drink.”
“I don’t think I want to do that,” the young woman replies.
But it’s not over. She’s now subjected to a diatribe about why women don’t buy men drinks or take men out on dates and how “men deserve these things, too.” She feels hoodwinked, bamboozled and led astray. What kind of bait and switch is this? Was this the plan all along? (Meanwhile, she’s downing that one drink and looking for the nearest exit sign, all while wondering if this is truly life.)
Well, y’all, that young woman is me. This has really happened. More than once. And it’s making me wonder if something about dating has changed that I need to know about, and if the rules of courtship are changing too fast for me to keep up—or even want to.
Is this a trend? Is this the new world order? If so, I wish someone would let me know so I can go reserve some cats and take up knitting—because I want no part of this world.
As a grown, independent, stronnggg black woman (insert sarcasm here) who works a job and pays her own bills, I don’t expect any man to buy me a drink—or, really, anything. Nor do I expect to be charged in liquor for conversation. So I was truly surprised when one of the dudes who went on a “Women need to buy me drinks” tirade informed me that women had done this before, at his request.
An online guide to “How to Convince a Girl to Buy You a Drink” suggests he’s not alone. And apparently, two full years ago, people were wondering whether this practice represented “the new normal.”
So women have been out here setting precedents? Help me understand the reasoning behind this newfangled practice. What happened to wanting to be wooed? Courted? Treated like a lady? Or, if you prefer, an adult who values her money and doesn’t have to compensate men for their attention?
Is this because some urban legend statistics say there’s one single, available, sometimes-working-a-job, not-even-that-fine-but-at-least-he’s-breathing black man for every 50 single, lonely, desperate black women? Is it because of articles asking, “Why Is It So Hard for Black Women to Find the Love They Deserve?” Do women feel like they have to fight, claw and do whatever they need to do to hook a man, as if we’re fighting in the Hunger Games? Oh, no, I’m sorry, the Thirsty Games?
I’ll be the first to admit: Old school, traditional gender roles are probably playing a role in my reaction. But it’s more than that. I have fundamental problems with any grown person asking another grown person, who is technically still a stranger, to buy him or her something. I don’t ask men to buy me drinks. They just do. I mean, I accept because I am not Beyoncé, and receiving a drink is appealing. Quite appealing. But I would never ask. I know better.
I’m still trying to get my head around what’s happened and to figure out if I’m somehow out of touch for being appalled. (Also, please tell me I’m not the only woman this has happened to.) But right now, if purchasing alcohol for men is the new game, I don’t want to play. So no, I can’t, won’t, don’t want to buy you a drink, sir. Thanks so much for the offer, though.
Diana Veiga is a Spelman woman, a writer and a D.C. resident. She loves Paris, cute shoes and sparkly things. Visit her website and follow her on Twitter.
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