When Think Like a Man, the romantic comedy starring Gabrielle Union, Kevin Hart and Michael Ealy among others, hit the big screen, my friend, Trublud, said he "had to" see it.
We were sitting in Trublud's laundromat, called Afro-Suds, discussing the box office smash. It is a dramatization of Steve Harvey's best-selling book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, in which the comedian and radio talk show host offers women tips on how to find, get and keep the man of their dreams. Surely, I thought, Trublud had no need of such advice.
When I looked at him quizzically, he confirmed that he had no interest in attracting men -- although he defended the right of consenting adults to do what they want behind their own bedroom door. "I'm hoping the film will be the Black liberation manifesto I've been looking for," he said, laughing, as if this was the most obvious thing in the world.
In a sense it was obvious. I had written a couple of stories about the so-called seduction community -- in which men exchange tips with each other on how to approach women they're interested in. I had mentioned to Trublud some advice offered by Chris Luna, owner of Craft of Charisma, a date coaching business based in New York City, whom I'd interviewed for one of the stories. After the article ran, Luna itemized a few of his suggestions to me, and I'd shared them with Trublud.
Keep your cool: "Whoever is the most reactive has the least social power," Luna had said. "When the boss walks in, everyone sits up and acts like they are working. Everybody is reacting to him." In relationships, you want to make sure "you're communicating your value and being comfortable with yourself," he said. It means you don't' flip out when something unexpected happens or things don't go your way. "Women call it confidence," Luna had said.
Have standards: "What you're looking for should go beyond physical appearance," Luna had said. It doesn't mean that you're peppering people with questions, but you should probe for the other persons values, and see how they intersect with yours.
Go for what you really want: "Most people go after what they think they can get, not what they want," Luna had said, referring to how men approach women. "I want my guys [the people he coaches] to be the kind who go after what they want. It's ok to fail, but develop the confidence to pull yourself back up."
Move towards your goal in micro-increments: A lot of guys lurch towards a woman to kiss her, when they should have been building towards it, Luna had said. Approach in micro-increments: Shake her hand and touch her like an acquaintance, then like a friend, then like a girlfriend, each time paying attention to the feedback she's giving you. "If it's negative feedback, pull back to the previous step."
"I thought the advice would be corny, but it turned out to be sound," Trublud had said, after I had recounted Luna's suggestions for successful dating. "That advice would be useful in helping us all become better black men."
"For instance, when confronted by adversity -- racism for instance -- take a deep breath and focus on figuring out how to get over it, around it or through it," Trublud had said.
"Let's determine what really enhances our life, and let's not settle for what is available," Trublud had said. "If what we want isn't available, let's work on changing the situation. Or move to a better situation."
"When we set goals, let's move towards them incrementally," Trublud had continued. "A 'hail Mary' pass will as often as not wind up in a turn over."
As the sun set on this day, Trublud reached into his pants pocket, removed a pocket watch, and looked at it. He then turned to his assistant and said he was leaving early to catch the 8:10 screening of Think Like a Man. After that, Trublud turned to me: "Perhaps Harvey's 'mating' tips will help our sisters, mothers and wives become better black women," he said with a wry grin. "Or perhaps we can all benefit from the advice."
As Trublud ushered me out the door and into the damp, chilly evening, a line from Whoopi Goldberg, which I'd used in my book, Black Pearls for Parents, sprang to mind:
"I am where I am because I believe in all possibilities."
So, let's take time to think about one of our dreams, and devote five minutes to figuring out the steps necessary to attain it.