…light doth seize my brain with frantic pain. – William Blake, “Mad Song”
Truth is like light; it illuminates dark corners and reveals that which would otherwise be invisible. But when one is used to the darkness, bright light can be painful and so some would rather shut out that light (or at least close their eyes to it) than make the adjustment and see things as they really are. What’s worse, some of these confused souls actually cry out for light, but when they are dissatisfied with what it reveals they claim that something must be wrong with the lamp rather than accept the reality it has revealed.
A young man whom I met in my first semester at UNO provides the perfect example of what I’m talking about. He was one of the most singularly unattractive people it’s ever been my misfortune to meet; he had odd, asymmetrical features, a serious case of acne, greasy hair, terrible posture, a high, shrill voice, pungent body odor and irritating mannerisms. As if that weren’t enough, he wore ill-fitting and unfashionable clothes and was wont to show off his high mathematical intelligence. But he was very nice to me and struck up conversations every day when I walked into calculus, and since I was the polite sort of girl who was reluctant to rebuff overtures of friendship he soon attached himself to me, hailing me if he saw me on campus and tagging along after class. He didn’t stalk me or anything (except for one uncomfortable episode where I found him waiting for me in the dorm lobby when I came down in the morning), and he never tried to touch me or ask me for a date or anything like that; he knew I had a boyfriend and just seemed to enjoy being friends with an attractive girl who didn’t tell him to get lost. All my friends got to know him, and though some of them teased me about him they seemed to understand that I didn’t feel it an imposition to be nice to someone who clearly needed my kindness so badly.
Well, one day Ralph (as I shall call him) seemed very moody and pensive as he walked with me back to the dorm, so I asked what was bothering him and he said he needed some advice. We sat down on a bench near the cafeteria where we wouldn’t easily be overheard, and he told me that he was upset because he was still a virgin. I realized that he had lured me into a minefield, but retained my composure and pointed out that as he was only 17 this wasn’t exactly unusual; he replied by saying that he had never even been on a date and girls obviously didn’t like him. I could see two possible directions in which this conversation might be headed and I didn’t like either of them, but he didn’t keep me in suspense long: he asked, “how can I get girls to like me?” I was quite relieved that he had not tried to recruit me to remedy the situation; however, I didn’t want to hurt his feelings and neither did I want to lie, so I asked if he wanted an honest answer and when he replied in the affirmative I gave him one, as gently as possible. To my amazement, he didn’t seem hurt or offended by anything I said; he simply countered my constructive criticisms as though they were arguments to be refuted! Finally, I got exasperated and said, “Ralph, if you already know more about female psychology than I do, why the hell did you ask me for advice?”
Unfortunately, Ralph wasn’t really all that unusual; there are a lot of men who admit they don’t understand how women think, yet angrily deny any explanation a woman tries to give them. When the light is turned on in response to their requests and they don’t like what it shows, they denounce the lamp rather than accept what they see, and that brings us to the point of this column. A lot of escorts have “NBA policies”, which means that they won’t see black clients; this is understandably frustrating to black men, and “Why do so many providers refuse to see black men?” is one of the most common thread topics on escort message boards. Virtually every single day at least one person (usually more) finds his way to this site via a Google search on the subject; this is because one year ago today I published a column examining the reasons as they have been explained to me by girls with NBA policies, in conjunction with my own observations. A number of black men have written thanking me for the essay; they wisely realized that the first step to dealing with a problem is understanding it. But others react as Ralph did, angrily denying my statements and insisting that the real reason is “racism”, despite the fact that a large percentage of escorts with such policies are themselves black! A few months ago, I was even forced to take the unprecedented step of closing the comments on that particular column because several black men (who had undoubtedly discovered it by posing the perennial question to a search engine) refused to accept the answer when it was given and decided to get ugly about it. So to them I ask, as I did Ralph, “If you already know more about escort psychology than I do, why the hell did you ask me to explain it?”