Photo: Adina Ferguson
America. In Black.America. In Black. is a weekly essay series that examines the myriad experiences of blackness in the United States.  

We sit around the dining room table on the cusp of the itis. Somehow we gather enough energy to keep the party going into dessert—homemade flan. I slide my spoon into the substance. I’m a picky eater with immature taste buds. I already know the outcome. I do not repeat.

“So, y’all got any friends, brothers, uncles, y’all care to hook me up with?” I ask somewhere between them sipping sangria and me pouring water from a glass bottle with a swing top lid.

At the table are five black women who have three things in common, two of which are being writers and being over 30. The collective is collective. Mothers. Married. Divorced. On the verge. Childless. Single AF. I am the latter.

“The Mister and I don’t have any single friends,” Flan Bae explains. I get this a lot from the knotted homies and cousins, alike.

“How do you people not have single friends? You weren’t married all your lives,” I joke.

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I’m not mad. Just exhausted.

From a distance, I watch as high school and college friends become one flesh. Or my fairy-tale favorite, the occasional Tinder swipes gone right. Meanwhile, in Single AFland, all eight (yes, I said eight) of my online dating profiles are attracting gremlins, goblins, and guys who don’t read profiles.

At 32, I’ve gone on enough one-and-done dates, ignored countless WYD conversation starters, and spent too much time in relationships that lost my interest after two months.

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To my surprise, my new sister-cousins are on a mission. Faces buried in phones. This isn’t a date, so no one’s being rude. “Damn, my best friends aren’t even this dedicated to the mission.” I watch as their fingers tap and scroll.

“What are you looking for?” FB asks, not breaking her concentration. I give a short list:

  • In the 30-40 age range. No youngins, no granddads
  • No kids
  • Employed
  • Within 50 miles of my location (because I recently dated a guy who lived close to Waldorf and though not ideal, he was fine and worth it, but I be damned if I do that again)

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“Oh, FB, what about Jay?” one suggests.

“Oh yeah, I’ve looked him up before,” I chime in, outing myself as the unknown friend list, popular commenter research analyst.

“Um, I think he’s gay,” FB explains. “Ooh, what about him? He’s an engineer, and no kids.” She attempts to redeem the prize. I take her phone, size him up. He aight. “OK, we got a possible,” I joke. This is the part where I mention I can’t play Spades.

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Insert Nick Young meme.

Like Spades, no one taught me how to master the game of dating, or anything that’s supposed to come after it. Not even my mother, who met my stepfather at a nightclub in the early ’90s, and told me tampons were for girls who weren’t virgins in the 2000s.

At best, my uncommitted homegirls would go on to tell me all the things not to do on a date:

  • Don’t talk about sports too much
  • Don’t order food you eat with your hands
  • Don’t do that nervous laugh thing
  • Don’t wear heels because you know you can’t walk in them
  • And DON’T go back to his house

Sometimes I broke their rules.

Others, I scanned articles that attempted to put another ring-less finger on the single, black woman crisis.

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  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Mass incarceration of the black male
  • Pastor’s sermon on submission

I side-eye it all. Even the memes shared in the BFF group chat:

  • 75% of black women marry before the age of 35
  • That married by 30ish lookin reeaall 45ish

No need to drop any more “research”; you already know what it ain’t.

But what sista wants to be on the wrong side of a statistic? More importantly, who wants to become the cat lady? Yea, no.

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Back at the dinner table, I glaze over the present and lean back to the past like a scene in a sitcom.

Picture it: Maryland, 2018. I’m driving down the parkway when I see a sign. You know, the one that usually offers to sell your house in 30 minutes. This one was like Single? MDfindslove.com. I figure this could be nothing but the work of the universe coming through for your girl.

Now, common sense should have told me that a street ad was not the road to travel looking for love. I’m a rebel who likes to argue with my GPS. And, sometimes my common sense meter is broken like a McDonald’s ice cream machine.

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That night, I go to the website to set up dating profile No. 9. Two days later, an old, white lady who doubles as a mortgage broker gives me a call. This should’ve been warning No. 2. But, again, gremlins and goblins. She asks some questions. How old are you? Would you date a man with children? What’s your income? Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Do you have any serious medical conditions? Then, we schedule an in-person interview with my “real love adviser,” Erica. The story doesn’t go uphill from here. In fact, here’s the ending:

I show up to the location, step off the elevator to a dark lobby straight out of a horror movie. The floor of gentrified-tight office suites is completely empty, and mortgage broker Mary never returns my call or text.

Let’s unanimously agree things could’ve been worse.

In present-day 2019, my fellow brown writers have exhausted their search. I applaud their efforts and give thanks.

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I drive down I-95 back to the suburbs of Maryland still searching for the answer. If a sista can’t even find love on the corner, where the hell am I supposed to find Mr. Single AF?

If you’re reading this, and want to shoot your shot, call me: 202-OVR-THIS.