Last summer I decided to venture out into the town and enjoy Atlanta's Sweet Auburn Fest with this young lady I was trying to be friends with at the time. I had a pretty decent time, but that's not what Im here to write about. I wanna talk about something that woke me up in the middle of the night after my outing.

On the walk back to the car, I hear a voice calling out "Sir! Sir!" Now, being use to this environment, I have grown accustomed to tuning out every noise that doesn't sound like the people Im with or danger. But this guy CONTINUES to yell. (Did I mention that this person is across the street?) After realizing that I was the "Sir" that the person was referring to, I look over and the person asked "Can you help me get something to eat?" I gave my automatic "Im sorry" response and kept walking. I had been trained not to give homeless people money a long time ago - not by my parents, but by working downtown and being taken advantage of by people who weren't as homeless as they pretended to be. I knew a former homeless person and he told me to NEVER give a homeless person money. "You give them money and the first thing they do is take it and get pissy drunk" he said. But this guy ain't ask me for money; he asked me to help him get somethin to eat and I didn't do it. I was selfish... but even worse, I had been conditioned to be automatically selfish without giving it a thought. So here I was feeling crazy on the inside at 3 am because I wouldn't stop to give this man $1... or even 50 cents. I didn't share at all. I didn't even think about sharing... and I lost sleep over it that night. I know many may be thinking "Dude, its not that serious." But it is. Imagine the shoe on the other foot.

I'm remembering this after going to the park with some friends of mine to help feed homeless people in the park downtown. When you don't deal with them, you tend to forget that most of these people are really on the street. They are real people, with real feelings, that - whether its their fault or not - fell on hard times. NOBODY wants to live on the street or in shelters. Im pretty sure most of them would go home to a warm bed and good meals if they could... but they couldn't. They're out here on the street freezing half to death (and boy was it cold that day). To let you know how bad off some of them were... I didn't even touch anybody that day; I was few feet back with the camera but the smell stayed on my clothes for what seemed like hours. I almost felt bad for pulling out my camera, but I was asked to do it as a favor for the homeboy who is trying to start a movement. If it wasn't for that, I wouldn't have even pulled the camera out. Looking through the lens of a camera kinda removes you from reality for a moment but the truth of the matter still sunk in: these weren't all derelicts who were on drugs and full of alcohol as some tried to paint them (some where a lil crazy tho); they still had a lot of pride and probably just happened to miss those three paychecks that would make most "check to check" people homeless. Some of them were asking for me not to get their faces on camera in an effort to try to save face from mass humiliation and, I imagine, with the hopes of returning to what they use to know as "normal" without having "homeless" on their resume.

I kept my video shooting brief, got back into my car, and later praised God after experiencing yet another reminder of how good we actually have it. We complain that our heated leather seats take too long to warm up... meanwhile, they don't even have a coat.


Think about it.

Chasing Statistics

I fought myself about writing this for years... I refused.

I refused to talk about how I have bumped into so many people, both male and female, that have standards that they place on the opposite sex that are just absolutely ridiculous. They spend all day complaining about how they can't find a person who is good enough; always finding something wrong. Moving desperately from "as long as they're cute" and "as long as they have a job" to bitterly saying "I deserve a '10' who has at LEAST 3 stamps on their passport, makes at LEAST 6 figures, no kids, no previous marriages, volunteers on weekends, hits the gym 4 times a week, has a character that is on par with Jesus and a car that is less than 3 years old and runs on premium gas." Meanwhile, you just turned 30 for the 5th year in a row, are emotionally damaged (possibly beyond repair), work a dead end job in a call center, can't cook, don't wanna clean, and your best days (physically) left you around the time you dropped out of college.

But the longer I live, the more I see the need to talk about it.

I was talking to this girl for a lil while on the phone about the last guy who attempted talk to her. This was another "deal breaker moment" where she basically described a great guy but kept him in the friend zone over something to which I replied "Is that it?!" She replied "Yep"... I shook my head in disbelief. I know, in reference to the deal breaker listed in the other post, sex is a big deal for many but the thing is, her complaint wasn't even sexual. It wasn't kids. It wasn't money. It wasn't looks. It wasn't other women. It was something 98% of us would have deemed a non-factor. It was something (I felt) she could have dealt with... or at LEAST talked to the guy about it to see if this ONE (kinda small) thing could be fixed.

At this point I said to myself: "Self?"

Myself said: "Hm?"

I said: "Are you prepared to devote a lot of time and attention to this young lady, while walking on eggshells, knowing that at any point in time you could be placed into that abyss known as the friend zone in her mind for barely any reason at all (without her telling you)? Would you be ok with continuing to spend all this time (and possibly money) in an attempt to date a person - who's personality you don't even know because they have 'walls up' from being 'hurt before' - with the risk that, once you DO find out their personality (6 months down the line), you might not even like them?!"

I couldn't say yes... And that's when it clicked. I had been chasing after statistics and so was she. Had I been in love with her personality, things may have been different... But I wasn't... Even after talking on the phone for a couple months and going out a few times, it dawned on me that I still didn't have any idea of what her personality was. I'd been chasing her based on her representative; the resume she advertised and not who she really was. The situation looks good on paper - she has all her teeth and she could read. The problem is, as in basketball, just cause two players with awesome individual stats join the the same team doesn't automatically get them a ring. You gotta learn to play together. You gotta have chemistry.

From what I observe, most people are visual... at least initially. We see something we like; we go after it. Its just that simple. Now, the problem is, this physical/materialistic attraction often fails to hold our attention for longer than a few weeks. Let's be honest; no man or woman (lames aside) sits and stares at the person they are attempting to date while continuously and endlessly showering them with complements and telling them how beautiful they are. If it happens at all, it only happens for a short period of time until either a) the predator feels like the prey has given in or b) the predator gets bored. Shortly after this moment you realize that all that unnecessary, over-the-top, superficiality ain't all that important once you start actually dealing with the person. I guess what I'm trying to say is, that moment of "awestruckeness" dies very shortly after we meet and hang out a couple times, at which point your non-physical attributes need to kick in and take over... And if they don't kick in, you'll probably be left alone.

This is where many of us fail. We spend so much time trying to look appetizing (or chasing what looks appetizing) that we forget that the most important thing is our flavor. Its good to have standards, but be careful of people who appear to have it all together. A person's "statistics" and looks may grab a potential mate's attention - but personality and character KEEPS a potential mate's attention. There MUST be substance and character behind that flawless exterior.

I remember seeing long ago how fast food restaurants spray paint their food, hold them together adhesives and toothpicks and use all types of preservatives to make sure their combo looks perfect on their television commercial advertisements. They show you this perfectly stacked all beef patty accented with a slightly melted yellow american cheese square on a sesame seed bun with the freshest of lettuce and a perfectly sliced tomato on it; served with a soft drink that looks like it was specially created by Willy Wonka himself to never lose its fizz. If you ate what you saw on that commercial, there is a chance that you might die. It IS true that, on the flip side, its understandable that the company doesn't want to show you what they really deliver when you order.... you get this wimpy piece of brown lettuce, a small under-ripened tomato and a processed piece of heat lamp warmed mystery meat on a stale bun and a soda that has a little bit too much carbonated water in it - that doesn't sell.

To relate that to relationships, we DO have to sell ourselves (note: most people don't want an ignorant, ugly faced mate who can't dress) BUT we can not spend ages developing our "resume" so that, to the untrained eye, we look perfect, while completely forgetting to be a human being that other people can relate to. Sadly, many fall for the "commercial" and set the "commercial" as the goal and standard... but the commercial isn't real. And so, while chasing this dream, I've seen many end up in an endless cycle of dating the most flawed "flawless" people ever and being hurt to the point where they say "I want the sex but not the relationship" and begin to accept the notion of being single forever.

My advice? Find a cute faced person with morals and ideals close to your own and, as long as they aren't extremely lazy and selfish, give it a shot.

Sidenote: Don't hold others to a standard that you can't measure up to yourself... It'll make dating a lil easier for you.