The Great (Date)Debaters

My upcoming firm dinner is the stuff suicide notes are made of.

As I may have mentioned, I am a very young, very female, very black attorney at a decent sized law firm here in the DC Metropolitan Area. Though my firm is a good size, I remain the only non-staff black person. I’m one of two women that are not staff. Also, I happen to be one of very few Gentiles (do people still say “Gentile?”).

As such, to my betters, I remain a creature of considerable mystery. I generally keep to myself and the one to two partners I’ve deemed reasonably harmless. I have relatively few career aspirations, no desire to see my name in the title, and do enough work to keep me flush in bonuses and pay raises, and away from the soul-siphoning Dementor that is malpractice.

As you can imagine, my mere presence is ample fodder for left-leaning, white-guilt plagued senior associates and their equally inquisitive spouses.

Unfortunately, I’m not much of a schmoozer. And I’ve no talent for ass-kissing. I’m sure I could effectuate these things well enough if I was sufficiently motivated (a cocked and loaded double barreled shotgun wedged conveniently between my shoulder blades springs to mind), but alas, I am not. And it is comical, as I can tell my presence makes some of my colleagues uneasy. Maybe not my presence, so much as my proclivity for one-word answers and awkward silences (not awkward for me, mind you).

Anyway, there was a time when these functions made my insides quiver with nerves. Today, I’m generally pissed about being made to endure the whole torrid affair. Seriously. A room full of lawyers is like warm, Massengill compote being served on moldy, raisin bread.

Here’s the point of it all. Being a single girl at these things is rough. And I’m talking, we-make-brief-eye-contact-at-the-club-let-me-take-you-out-to-this-back-alley-and-press-your-face-up-against-the-brick-wall-“do-you-carry-any-lube-on-you?”-“no-I’m-sorry-i-don’t-just-take-it-bitch” rough.

Mind you, I’ve taken a different date, to three separate functions. And you know what that means? That’s right. I’m starting to enter “flighty, suspect, whore” territory. And the wives, at these things. I swear. They descend upon you like a pack of rabid, flesh-hungry, wolves. And since none of them work, they all want to know your “secret.” “How do you do it?” “I hear you’re a workaholic.” “It’s just impossible to manage with a family.” “Are you two a serious couple?” “How long have you been together?”

Not for nothing but, “I sleep with him, occasionally” and “I don’t really know him all that well” aren’t well-received answers. Even when you have zero career aspirations.

So, my quest for the perfect date begins. And I don’t have much time. While I have a veritable bevy of male friends and acquaintances, I can’t seem to make any of them fit into my “perfect for a firm function” dinner model.

Here’s the list, so far.

Men I Could Take to My Firm Dinner but for the Fact that Doing so Will Either Result in My Immediate Termination, or Catapult Me into a Downward Spiral of Fitful Depression:

-“Michael”—Too gay, but not gay enough. Now, this is not to say that I don’t love Michael, or that I don’t think that he’d be great at a firm function. Here’s the problem. He’s gay, but not gay enough. Michael doesn’t exactly fit the mold of any stereotypical gay. And that is precisely what makes him unfit for the dinner. I can’t have party goers suspect that he is gay, but then think that I’m not aware of his gayness, and then feel bad for me because I’m the poor schmuck besotted with the gay guy. e.g.: “Look at ____. Little, dear. The fellow she’s with is nice enough, but she probably doesn’t even realize he’s frightfully gay. Poor dear.”

 -“Dre”—Too rugged. Though Dre has done well for himself in the world, he still has that faint shimmer/sheen of “hood” all about him. To this end, I fear several fates should he accompany me: a) After a third round of drinks, he might refer to his friends, his business associates, or my colleagues as his “niggas;” b) he might become nervous in our surroundings and go into asshole braggart mode and inform everyone of how much money he has, and how he didn’t even have to make it “flippin pies;” c) after a third round of drinks, he might refer to his friends, his business associates, or my colleagues as his “niggas.” It’s mainly a) and c) that keep me awake at night.

-“Mark”—Too young acting. I’ve twice heard Mark refer to the soul-patch under his bottom lip as the “flavor saver.” Also, Mark has a soul-patch under his bottom lip.

 -“Jonathan”—Too white. Not terribly pc of me, I know. Believe me, under ordinary circumstances, I balk in the face of convention. I shake it up as much as my liberal, progressive sentimentalities allow. But I can’t help but feel like bringing a white man to my all-white firm party is the rough equivalent of Jonathan bringing a 40 oz bottle of Old English and a troth of pigs’ feet to my family reunion. It’s overkill.

-“Richard”—Too white and old. Take everything I said about Jonathan, and then add 30 years. 30 years, and a tendency to touch me a little too much. Which, may or may not compel esophageal refuse to flow forth from my open mouth on any given Sunday.

 -“Austin”—Too damned nasty. Taking a page out of Richard’s book, one wonders whether Austin’s elevated blood-alcohol content will incline him to fondle, cup, nuzzle my breasts in the company of the partners and my colleagues. Think I’m kidding? Austin and I once went dancing, and by the end of the night the twins looked like two bruised coconuts.

-“Derek”—Too sexy. Seriously. Though I’m not certain, I have it on good authority that people have been fired for considerably less than straddling one’s date mid salad course at a firm dinner party. And this is a very legitimate possibility. Sometimes when Derek talks, I imagine him saying things that he really didn’t say, like, “I want to come over.” In all actuality, it’s usually something like, “Did you see Morning Joe, today?”

-“Art”—Too married. Not that Art’s wife would mind. And not that Art is one of those wet blanket sorts perpetually hiding under his wife’s skirt (Art wanted me to say all of that, by the way, but it’s all true). Really, the idea of taking another woman’s husband to a firm function is just too pathetic. It’s like taking your first cousin to prom. Which, when you think about it, is way worse than taking like, your brother, cause it says, I tried; I made some semblance of an effort to bring someone, and I still fell short. If I have to take Art, I can’t promise that the maid won’t find me curled up in the fetal position in the bathroom, cutting my forearm with a shard of champagne flute, absently humming some Joni Mitchell song to myself.

Upon closer review of this list, I’m starting to give serious thought to the “I’m having an abortion that day” excuse I keep in my back pocket.


1 Response to “The Great (Date)Debaters”

  1. 1 Mark
    January 22, 2010 at 4:54 am

    Um you can take me I’m just the right amount of gay. Sassy enough to tell witty jokes and be the purposeful center of attention, even if for a brief minute. Reserved enough to not swish my hips on the way to restroom or cocktail table.

    Its the perfect recipe. Mix one white gay male with a heaping spoonful of southern baptist up bringing, whisk in a liberal arts degree back at 369 degrees and…PERFECTION!!

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a history of my meanderings….


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