What would you say is your biggest insecurity? What about yourself draws up enough levels of shame that you could bottle it up and sell it as a discounted fragrance called Self-Doubt at some outlet mall where there's a KFC/Taco Bell/Pizza Hut hybrid conveniently located next door? Ugh, do I want a personal pan pizza, a chalupa, or chicken tenders and potato wedges? The decisions!
For some people, it's their height--others, their weight. There are those who complain that their noses are too wide, their ears too thin, or their breasts and genitals too small. Men worry about their receding hairlines or their patchy beards. Some gay guys take issue with their voices, while a few lesbians I know have complained about being unable to hide their 'butchiness.' And there are people of color who agonize over the darkness of their skin because of mainstream society's obsession with lighter pigments.
For me, my biggest insecurity is my mild case of acne, which I've been battling nonstop since Rihanna first told the DJ to "pon de replay." I've tried every face wash imaginable, and yet I still wake up each morning with enough red dots on my brown face to think, "Welp--life could be worse."
I always wonder the role my acne plays in not only securing dates (both online and in person) but in maintaining a healthy love life once I make a connection. I thought about this as I got dressed for a first date this past Saturday. Looking at my face from every direction to assess the situation, I thought, Hey, fewer flare-ups! I left my apartment optimistic and cold. Oh, right, it's October--I need a jacket.
Upon meeting my 27-year-old date, who I'll call Nick, I was immediately smitten. He was pretty cute, standing there with his chunky sweater, beanie, and thick-framed glasses . He was a bit shorter than me, but I didn't care. OkCupid had already told me he was 5-foot-6. He was graying on top, but I didn't mind. In fact, it looked great on him. Considering his warm welcome to me, too, I thought, "Blemishes me damned--he likes me!"
We walked over to a nearby Starbucks to grab a couple chai lattes, which he paid for. I thanked him as we rushed over to the vacant stools on the other end of the counter before Miss Pumpkin Spice and her husband could reach them. We immediately starting asking each other the usual questions: how long have you lived in New York City? (We've both been here for five years); what exactly do you do for a living? (he works at a public library, and I'm in media); where's your family and what's your background (he's Greek with most relatives in the area, and I'm of Mexican descent with everyone back in Texas).
Eventually we started roaming around the neighborhood and walked into a few stores hoping to find elements for our respective Halloween costumes. He's dressing up as Sweeney Todd, while I'm somewhat committed to a Studio 54 ensemble. By the way, does anyone have a white horse I can borrow?
Throughout our date, Nick kept sneaking in "fun facts" about himself. That's how I learned that he performs traditional Greek dances; that his brother's name is similar to my own; that his grandmother's philosophy on lying is quite hysterical; and that his mother is also a librarian. I clung to that last detail and said, "That's pretty cool. My entire family teaches, so I understand the fulfillment that comes with working in that kind of environment, especially with kids." That's when I told him that my father is retiring from teaching at the end of this year.
Because Nick was headed to a family gathering further north and was waiting for his brother to pick him up, we decided to walk to a nearby subway station that had several benches outside. Up until that point, I was really enjoying myself, and it appeared as though Nick was, too. I was already starting to think about where we could go for our second outing.
As we stood there on the corner, the crosswalk light about to change, Nick turned to me and said, "Hey! Another fun fact about me: I used to have worse acne than you before I started taking medication." A city bus zoomed by. And that's how Regina George died. Or at least my and Nick's future together.
A combination of feelings gathered to form a facial expression that I immediately shot in his direction. It read, "You've got to be fucking kidding me, dude." It prompted a subtle apology from him, but, as far as I was concerned, the date was officially over. Never did I think this is how it would end, but alas, here we were.
Nick tried making small talk to recover, but he formally won the title of "Worst First Date Ever" when he then asked me what my father does (um, I had already told homeboy that my dad's a teacher) and when he first came to the States to work. YES, gurl, HE WENT THERE.
Now, as an aside--let this be a lesson to all of you non-Latino daters out there: don't ever, EVER ask this question to a brown person unless he or she explicitly tells you about their family's immigrant past. Pendejo.
It was then that I looked at Nick and said, "Look, sorry--I've got to go. Good luck with your Sweeney Todd costume." I shook his hand and bolted east toward Central Park because I refused to let the day be a complete waste.
When I finally got back to my apartment about three hours later, I immediately ran into the bathroom and examined my face. Same spots, same insecurity, but, honestly, not the same person. While Nick's forthright comment shook me, I decided not to let it dictate how I'd see myself as a potential partner, one riddled with flaws just like the next person. The old, still-blemished me would've thought differently, though.
So let me be (clean and) clear to any suitors out there looking for forever: We each smell of Self-Doubt, so your job is to simply not call attention to it, especially on the very first date. Otherwise, you'll be stuck eating a personal pan pizza, a chalupa, or chicken tenders and potato wedges--alone.