two weeks ago we talked about “the list” of must haves and havenots in a potential mate.  the reigning theme among the men at bible study:  a woman who can cook.  tonight i just had to ask, what is this fixation with cooking?  you mean to tell me she could be broke, one leg and a kickstand (nod to spike lee) but if she can burn in the kitchen she’s made her way to your heart?  really?  is that it?

i had flashbacks to my ex who told me he “likes home-cooked food” on our first date.  i was instantly put off.  so what, i like restaurant food.  and?  he explained that where he’s from if a man does not eat his wife’s cooking it is a sign of disrespect, it’s not that he’s turns his nose up at her culinary skills, rather it’s a snub.  according to him the wife would be hurt or offended because it is her duty to prepare food for her husband and family.  really.  if you decided not to eat my cooking that would be your first and last opportunity to snub me.

regardless of the cultural mores at play, i invited him over for a home-cooked meal.  he was 30 minutes late and didn’t call.   knowing  the beef would cook quickly and turn to leather, i waited for him to call, thinking maybe he was lost.  when he finally did call, i learned that he was at a nearby gas station with a broken fan belt.  so much for first impressions (for both of us).  i was annoyed at the dinner i painstakingly prepared that was growing cold, he was undoubtedly preoccupied with the car problem, and to top it off i had to drive him home (40 miles round-trip).

that dinner was a definite sign.  i came unglued because to me, the night was ruined.  he was late, didn’t call, i had to go into the quiktrip looking for him, then had to come back and finish preparing the meat, oh, and drive him home.  so what did i do?   i showed my ass. i was not proud of my little performance and many months later i apologized for acting a fool.

now i’m sure that for him my behavior was quite telling.  he learned a very valuable lesson:  my anger flares up instantly but it disappears just as quick.  as time wore on and we grew comfortable with each other he told me he felt i was “hostile.”  i laughed.  hostile?  such a strong word.  i imagined bobby knight screaming at his players or some motorist on “cops” raising cane with the arresting officer.  not quite how i see myself.

as i see it, if something or someone is standing on my hot button i will quickly to tell them where and how to get off of it, and once i’ve said my piece, the matter is closed.  he didn’t understand that and said i was “snappy” when angry.  uh, yea, that’s often how anger works.  do you whisper when you’re angry?  laugh when you want to tear someone’s head off?  i make it plain why i’m angry and what i intend to do to resolve that anger.

here’s where comes in.

impedimenta \im-ped-uh-MEN-tuh\, noun:

Baggage or other things that retard one’s progress.

before his time i wasn’t so “hostile” or “snappy.  in fact, i was quiet when provoked or hurt by a remark or action taken by my ex.  i would call a girlfriend and spew venom into her listening ear but with him i would take his verbal jabs and seek forgiveness and peace.  what my latest ex didn’t understand was i carrying some baggage:  after 3 years of acquiescence,  i vowed to speak my mind and not allow anyone to “get away” with offense or disrespect.  including him.

his demeanor was the direct opposite of my prior.  he was laid back, i had never seen him angry or irritated.  he was easy to please, simple.  i suppose that was one of the reasons i was attracted to him.  he possessed somethings i did not.  nonetheless, i felt he needed to see the world from where i stood.  as we closed in on the third trimester of our two year romance, the topic of money came up.  he said i was “tight with the loot.”

before him, i was an ATM.  currency withdrawls, emotional withdrawls, sexual withdrawls and very little in the way of deposits.  once again, i made up my mind not to pass that way again.  more baggage.

i can now see that these are the things that impede progress and keep us stuck dating the same type of men or not dating at all.  does this realization mean i’ve changed? mmm, not really.  i cook, but it’s not a ritual, i’m still quick-tempered, and i still refuse to entertain financial trades with men i date.  the difference now is that my responses are laced with self-control and delivered with finesse.  signs of a maturing woman.

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