Monday, March 22, 2010

Attention, time and money

I'd known Conspiracy Theory since my freshman year. He was a fixture on the Yale campus. He'd stop by the African-American Cultural Center (better known as "The House"). He'd come to "white Yale" events of interest that were open to the general public. He'd stroll through the Yale campus.

And everywhere he went, he talked to students.

And everywhere he went, students talked to him.

You see, Conspiracy was a bit of a local celebrity. A self-proclaimed "radical revolutionary," Conspiracy had been a member of a famous organization known for its Afros, berets, black leather jackets, feline emblem and firearms. He had been a defendant in one of the most famous criminal trials of the late 1960's/early 1970's.

And now, 20 years later, he considered it his duty to make sure that Yale students and New Haveners alike knew American history as he had experienced it.

He was not a stalker, a predator, a man obsessed with fresh young meat. His ex-wife was in his age group. So was his ex-girlfriend, a middle-aged white woman he had lived with for many years. And after me, to his credit, he went back to dating women who were "age appropriate."

I think that him dating me was much more of a departure than me dating him.

I already had a history of dating older men. My first sexual experience at age 16 was with a 40-something. And courtesy of my mom, whose second marriage was to a man more than 30 years older than she was, I didn't think the age difference was all that strange.

So how did a 52-year-old radical revolutionary and a 20-year-old Yale student get entangled in a live-in romantic relationship that lasted over two years?

Attention, time and money. In that order.

It was my junior year at Yale, and I had moved off campus with two other girls. My entire time at Yale, I felt angry, isolated and depressed, and moving off campus hadn't made much of a difference.

The biggest difference was that I could no longer count on the dining hall to feed me.

I had to feed myself.

And I hated to cook.

So, initially, one of Conspiracy's greatest selling points is that he would take me to dinner.

At first, our get-togethers had the air of platonic friendship, no strings attached.

After two years of feeling like an invisible black girl lost in a sea of indifferent, rich whites, someone was actually listening to me and using words like "smart" and "beautiful" to describe me. Attention.

On a campus that moved at a frenetic pace and where I found it hard to make meaningful connections, someone actually wanted to hang out with me. Time.

And as a broke girl living on Fruit Loops and Brach's Orange Slices (because the T-Factor diet said I could eat anything I wanted as long as it didn't contain fat), having someone buy me dinner made me feel powerful. Money.

Attention, time and money turned Conspiracy into an instant friend and in short order, into a lover as well.

Conspiracy Diaries Part 2 of 25 (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25)
Conspiracy Lessons Learned 1-4 (1 2 3 4)


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